June 4-10, ’17 ~QofDay~ Following Time

Why do we have time or follow time in this world, can’t we just live without a watch or clock anymore?

Hi Bhatta,

I think OM has the accurate answer, which is all to do with communication and coordination of complex systems.

Some systems require synchronicity, people in the same place at the same time. Knowing the time allows such things to happen.

Many things may be done asynchronously (without all being in the same place at same time). Communications using websites such as this, or by email or txt message are such asynchronous forms of communication (while phone calls, or public meetings, or face to face discussions are synchronous).

Some people are in the habit of doing everything synchronously, even when many things can be done as well or better asynchronously (like work in most instances), but habits of control force use of synchronous systems.

I prefer to do most things asynchronously. That gives me greatest freedom, while still allowing coordination.
I do wear a watch, but don’t often consult it.
Anyone really wants me, they can call me on my cell phone.
Any meeting I have agreed to is in my electronic diary and it will notify my in plenty of time to prepare and get to the meeting.

[followed by]


It does seem possible that our society is moving towards automating and mechanising all tasks that require coordinated human activity at present, freeing human individuals to do whatever they responsibly choose.

And I suspect that many people will still want to coordinate many sorts of activity, so clocks and communication will still be a necessary part of life for many.
I recall going to a meeting of a protest group in the 70s. It was scheduled to start Saturday morning. It was a three hour drive for me to get there. It eventually started Sunday afternoon. To say I was not a happy chap is something of an understatement.
Another time one of that group was scheduled to come with me to a meeting with a government minister. I got to his place an hour early. We left his place half an hour late. He had the fastest trip of his life over the Coromandel ranges – Coromandel to Whitianga in half an hour, over the 309 road. We got to the meeting on time. He never held me up for any significant time after that. (I don’t think he had ever been in a 4WD sport car driven to its limits on gravel roads before.)
Having watches and working to them can have advantages. πŸ˜‰

So many things about modern life are not great for the body, I’d say watches are well down that list. Diet, stress from weapons of mass destruction, mortgages, economic instability, etc are way higher.

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May 22-29, ’17 ~QofDay~ Mood

If you are in a bad mood, do you prefer to be left alone or have someone to cheer you up?

I’m very rarely in what I consider a bad mood (though Ailsa may disagree with that) πŸ˜‰

I’d say Ailsa has never seen me in what I consider a really bad mood, though she has certainly had some experiences of the lesser versions over the last 25 years.

Like Shar and OM, the specifics of the situation matter. Sometimes I just need to be left alone to work through something, sometimes help is useful.

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Ideapod – Sky City

Skycity project

#skycity I would suggest that the bottom level should be water based – perhaps 2/3 available as a swimming pool, with the walls of the swimming pool being mostly clear glass with fish being on the other side of the glass (or plexiglass) – meaning that the glass need not be full structural strength, just strong enough not to get broken by contact. The absence of wind would mean a very light plastic dome canopy could contain the highly humid atmosphere).

At the other levels, I would devote at least 50% of the area to nature – growing plants that can live in low light conditions, and alternating levels between active and passive recreational uses (active games verses just sitting or strolling or playing chess).

Perhaps a couple of levels devoted to public meetings and discussions – perhaps under acoustic dampening domes .

One could use flowing water in recirculating systems to add variety, without the need for much depth creating excessive strain on the structure.

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Evonomics – transformation

Seven Ways to Transform 21st-Century Economics β€” and Economists – continued discussion

Neoliberalism starts on the simplistic assumptions that (a) people are naturally always competitive and (b) the economy is rational and self correcting. ….
It functions through very complex cycles or reactionary human dynamics.
We need a theory of spiral economics that recognizes these facts.

Hi Dan,

Kind of.

It is more complex than that set of assumptions.

People have a vast set of possible strategies available, and what gets to express will be the result of many different levels of contextual factors, involving levels of stress, threat, opportunity, possibility, habits, social relationships, implicit boundaries, values, etc.

What does seem to be true is that for systems to maintain high order complexity, cooperation is required. And for such cooperation to exist, there must be attendant strategies to detect and remove cheating strategies – at higher levels, that is essentially what we define as morality. Ethics, morals, are an essential boundary condition for the maintenance of complex systems.

In so far as neoclassical economics tends to ignore that fact, and tends to act as what is essentially a justification strategy for cheating strategies, it has become an existential risk to the cooperative that is human society.

And it is extremely complex.

Currently economic systems perform many levels of important function in the operation of our society, and we must be conscious of all of those (and they are many {many many}) as we design transition systems to take us from an age based in scarcity and competition into an age founded on universal abundance and cooperation (with competition in a subsidiary role).

Fully automated systems give us the possibility of delivering goods and services to everyone, with little or no human input.
And in creating such systems, we need to be conscious of the necessary limits that are required for all levels of life to exist.

We are social entities,
We require social interaction, and such interaction requires boundary conditions, or it degrades into chaos.
Individual life and individual liberty need to be our highest values, and the value of life requires that we constrain liberty within the boundaries necessary for survival.
So it is a very complex recursive process of complexity and the sorts of boundaries necessary to maintain each level of complexity. And boundaries have very complex sets of attributes, like spatial and temporal flexibility, selective permeability, active transport, etc. A very complex, non-trivial exercise.

And as well as the levels of social responsibility, we must be aware of the lower levels of ecological responsibility required. We need to be active managers of our environment, maintaining non-threatening diversity, enhancing security, etc. Very complex issues.

Adherence to rule based systems cannot get us there.
Any fixed rule that isn’t extremely context sensitive is bound to create perverse outcomes.

The idea of a spiral is sometimes a useful analogy, and sometimes not.
There can be entirely new emergent domains, that don’t really fit the spiral analogy, and it does kind of point in the general direction of something.

Rationality is but the tiny tip of the vast subconscious set of computational systems that makes up a human being in a set of social and ecological contexts.

The very idea that markets measure something useful is now changing.
It really is worth thinking about the fact that oxygen in the air is worth nothing in most markets, yet is arguably the single most valuable thing for every individual human being (deprived of it for just a few minutes and we are dead).
We now have the technology to produce a vast range of goods and services in that sort of universal abundance, but doing so will be resisted by market incentives, because everything that was once profitable in a market situation that becomes universally abundant removes that source of profit. Intellectual property laws are exactly that sort of market response to universal abundance – destroying it to create marketable scarcity.

The system is becoming fundamentally unstable.
Its foundational assumptions are eroding.

We must change.
Reverting to simple assumptions is a classical response to stress.
In this context it becomes suicidal (on a species level).

We are in profoundly complex times.
That complexity must be accepted and embraced.
Any attempt to over simplify it will result in chaos and destruction.

And we need to make progress quickly and universally.

There are many very real sources of risk, many of them not of human origin.

We require massively redundant sets of fully automated systems of production, both on planet and off planet, urgently.
That requires transition to abundance based living.
And that requires individual acceptance of the necessary boundaries for social and ecological survival (all levels).

We have many different sorts of systems present.
Some are simple, some more complex.
Some are linear.
Some are exponential.
Some are cyclic.
Some involve recursive emergence.
Some involve non-linear complexity.
Some involve chaos and randomness.

Being human embodies all such classes of systems simultaneously, whether we are aware of them or not.

[Forgot that I had already responded to Dan above, and did it again in a different place:
“Neoliberalism starts on the simplistic assumptions that (a) people are naturally always competitive and (b) the economy is rational and self correcting. A new economic theory must start with the assumption that (a) people are naturally competitive (greedy, selfish, aggressive) AND cooperative. The choice of competition vs cooperation is a blend of rational and IRRATIONAL (emotions, beliefs, attitude, and cultural values) behaviors. (b) markets/economic systems have no innate intelligence and do not self-correct. It functions through very complex cycles or reactionary human dynamics.”]

Hi Dan

To me it is more complex than that.

Evolution can and does certainly have its competitive aspect, and when you look at it closely, competition does not lead to complexity.

When you look closely at evolution, complexity always emerges from new levels of cooperation, and raw cooperation is always vulnerable to exploitation by cheating strategies, so there develops something of an evolutionary arms race between cheating and attendant anti-cheating strategies – at every level of cooperation (from sub-cellular all the way on up).

One key part of understanding how this works is seeing what sort of conditions lead to the emergence of cooperation, and that comes about when existential threats are more common from sources that are not of your gene pool, either other species or some set of “environmental” factors.

How that works in practice can have a lot to do with reproductive cycles etc.

So the common misconception is that humans are fundamentally competitive.
Actually, it is much closer to reality to say that humans are fundamentally cooperative, and they can compete when necessary.

It is more accurate to say that we have create an economic systems that makes competition necessary, rather than to say that humans are in any way fundamentally competitive.

We actually embody many levels of cooperation.
And we also (necessarily) embody many levels of attendant anti-cheating strategies, like jealousy, our sense of injustice, an urge to punish cheats, etc. What tends to confuse people is the simplistic rationalisations of many of these strategy sets that have been accepted into our cultural explanations of such things. Most such explanations are fundamentally wrong in very important ways.

So your part (a) is correct in a sense, and is sufficiently over simplified to be dangerously open to misinterpretation if left simply as expressed.

Part (b) is partly correct, and partly misses the biggest issue with markets.

The fundamental issue with markets is that they are a scarcity based measure of value.
When most things were scarce, and the only thing really universally abundant was oxygen in the air (which wasn’t even recognised as a thing), then markets made sense, and worked.

Once we developed automation to the point of being able to deliver anything at all in universal abundance, then the problems started to emerge.

Anything universally abundant has no value in a market – by definition – no value in exchange.
When most people as individuals value having an abundance of all the necessities of life, and most of the pleasures, this places the needs of individuals and the incentives of markets in direct opposition, as the capacity of fully automated systems to deliver universal abundance exponentially expands into new sets of goods and services.

Value in exchange disappears when something reaches universal abundance, and with it market value, profit, and capital value.
For those invested in the abstract value of money, that becomes a real issue, and they will attempt to block the emergence of any universal abundance to retain market value.

We see that in IP laws (Intellectual Property), a mechanism to prevent universal abundance of information and to retain market value.
It institutionalises poverty of information.

It creates conditions where the masses experience lack of necessity when the only reason for such lack is the need for the abstract notion of profit to keep the market based system of capital in operation.

And worse, it creates levels of predatory strategies that are fundamentally based in dishonest, in deception and lies at ever more abstract levels – purely to survive in very competitive markets.

One could sort of get away with it, and disguise it, when it only applied to the abstract notions of information and ideas. But as automation moves ever deeper into the physical realms of manufacturing and delivery, then the issue becomes ever more obvious to ever more people.

UBI (Universal Basic Income) gives a mechanism which can give us time to transition to abundance based systems; which may always contain something of a hybrid character (such complexity is in fact quite common in the biological realm).

And without a mechanism like UBI, the systemic injustice will produce subconscious level forces that pose an existential risk to all – where-ever they are in whatever distribution.

So yes – sort of (b) is kind of correct, and it misses entirely the fundamental risk present in markets, in the context of exponentially expanding computation and automation.

And it is not all doom and gloom.

Exponentially expanding computation allows us to do more with less.
And we need to become very clear about the very many levels of very necessary boundaries required to sustain the many levels of complexity present and emerging and likely to emerge in the not too distant future.

Morality is one such set of boundary conditions that is absolutely required for the existence of complex social organisms like ourselves.
And there will be higher level analogs for every level of emergent complexity.

Complexity demands boundaries, just like cells without cell walls disperse and lose their complexity and just become ocean.

We must have the necessary minimum set of boundaries to sustain the complexity present.
And that will be an ever changing strategic landscape as new levels of strategy are explored and new levels of complexity emerge.

So – yes, and it is necessarily much more complex.

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Eric’s Facebook – Most profound

To Eric’s facebook post

What is the most profound thing that you can think of and say in your own words with 50 words or less?

Evolution selects that which survives.
Complexity results from new levels of cooperation.
Attendant strategies to detect and remove cheats tend to be embodied long before they are understood.
At higher levels morality is an essential boundary for survival.
Markets become threats as technology enables fully automated production.
Cooperation trumps competition.

[followed by]

No 50 word limit – yipee!!! πŸ˜‰
It comes down to that it seems very probable that we are evolved entities, complex social apes.
As such, from a games theory perspective, one would expect us to embody many levels of response to all of the contexts that our ancestors have survived through.
It seems that for most of that evolutionary history we lived in contexts where most of the threat to survival came from agents that were not part of our social group – so that we have become the most cooperative species on the planet.
Games theory tells us that raw cooperation is vulnerable to invasion by cheating strategies, so requires attendant strategies to detect and remove cheating strategies to deliver long term stability.
We embody many levels of such anti cheating strategies, some of them built into the biochemistry of our brains, some built deeply into cultural constructs.
We do not need to understand them for them to work, we only need to act them out.
This is the fundamental reason for the existence of morality.
It is an essential boundary condition for the existence of intelligence, without it competitive intelligence drives a spiral of cheating strategies to destruction. That is arguably what we see in most of modern finance, advertising, politics and many of our institutional structures (particularly our educational institutions, but none are immune).

The key concept here, is that rationality is like the icing on the cake of our vast subconscious system of embodied strategies.
By default we don’t understand why we act, we act, then we try and rationalise why we acted. That fact has eluded or confounded philosophers throughout history.

All of that cheating was vaguely kept in check when most things were in fact genuinely scarce, and genuine cooperation at some level was required for the manufacture and delivery of most goods and services.

Fully automated systems are changing everything.
Now it is possible to fully automate any process, so our market based systems are now exponentially concentrating wealth – as anyone who has ever played a monopoly game knows must happen.

Now we have the ability to deliver abundance and freedom to all, but our market based systems actively work against it due to the fact that they value any universal abundance at zero.

So now the injustice of the system is becoming intuitively obvious to everyone, and lots of people are using all sorts of tools to redirect that sense of injustice to targets other than the system itself.

We now have the ability to use modern tools of production and communication to establish a world wide cooperative, with massively distributed systems (distributed at the level of the individual).

We can build a cooperative system that works because the probability of being caught if one attempts any sort of cheating strategy is asymptotically approaching unity, because of the fact of high fidelity digital memory and distributed communication and trust networks.

Any sort of centralised system is vulnerable to failure on at least two levels.
One level is an actual systems failure, an error or an unforeseen condition disrupting the system.
The other level is malevolent attack – where the system is taken over by a cheating strategy in a way that is not easy to recover from.

By personalising and distributing the system, making it open source, and allowing personalising at all levels, then there will be massive variation in the populations of systems leading to resilience and stability.

The trick is getting to there from here.

It seems that the most stable path available involves instantiating Universal Basic Income, at the same time as we place the values of individual life and individual liberty at the top of our value hierarchy internationally.
And one will still be able to get to zero and be out of the game if the ability to charge rents is not kept under check (as per monopoly). Just giving people $200 as they pass Go isn’t enough, once the rents get high enough they are out of the game. Most people now have to pay rents on everything, food, water, heat, transport. All those need limits if the game is going to work for everyone.

And there will be no shortage of issues requiring attention.
Our existing systems of education and employment are in many instances so corrupt and dehumanising that many people have very self destructive habits.
It takes a lot of time and effort to change habits. One either needs a lot of will power (which is often missing by definition) or a lot of support.

So whatever way one cares to look at it, we have some interesting times ahead.
The next 30 years need to either be the most transformative years in history, or they seem likely to be the last years of our history.

And I am cautiously optimistic.
Both the technology and the understanding seem to be coming together, and it is by no means a done deal.

Each and every one of us carries both our angels and our demons deep within us.
Some individuals may have been so damaged by willfulness and injustice that recovery will be a very long process indeed.

So yeah – cautious optimism, and a lot that needs doing.
And such a game does in fact seem to be one that could hold one’s interest for a very long time.

[followed by vocab vs concepts]

While at University many years ago I met a straight As student who had a huge vocab, and had learned all the appropriate responses to questions, but I discovered via in depth discussion that there were no abstract concepts behind that huge vocabulary – just context sensitive vocab sets.

At the other end of that spectrum, I have met kids that have essentially been rejected by the educational system who had very complex conceptual understandings of the strategy sets within their environment, but very little vocabulary with which to express those concepts.

Hadn’t met Covfefe until today – don’t follow either mainstream news or Trump – “coverage” with late night stumble fingers seems most likely.

[followed by Eric’s post – “We are broken portals …. Propping the portal open to understand the big picture is the point of humankind.”]

That seems to have it backward Eric.
It seems far more probable from an evolutionary perspective that we are a mix of strategies both cooperative and competitive, that have thus far managed to survive.
We seem to have multiple levels of existence, simultaneously.
Having a “point” to it all seems to be something of a relatively recent and personal/cultural invention. Mostly those levels just seems to be as the result of the differential survival of various levels of variants on strategic systems over various domains of time and existence (emergence).

Seems like, if we want it to continue to be, we need to learn some very deep lessons from games theory.
Competitive modalities cannot be both dominant and stable in our complex cooperative context.
To sustain the levels of complexity present, we have no logical option other than to acknowledge the levels of cooperation required, and to acknowledge the limits on action required to maintain such a cooperative (the boundary conditions, aka morality). There is still infinite freedom of action, and it is an infinity bounded by the constraints necessary for social and ecological survival – and those are non-trivial constraints (in terms of their Kolmogorov complexity). So our knowledge that the boundaries exist is definite, but the exact nature of what and where those boundaries are is far more probabilistic and evolving.

It seems that we do actually live in very complex systems, and we over-simplify them at our peril.

It seems that our bodies and our cultures embody such complexity, even if very few people are consciously aware of it at any sort of detailed level as yet.
Dawkins and others gave us memes as a concept, and Jordan Peterson seems to have done more with the concept at the level of social evolution than anyone else (and I am definitely not recommending that anyone else go down George Price’s path, or anything vaguely resembling it).

So it is a very complex situation we find ourselves in.

We need to acknowledge the existence of necessary limits, even if the best information we have about the nature of such limits contains many levels of uncertainty. We do not want to be trapped by unnecessary constraints, and at the same time we want to avoid destruction from crossing boundaries with fatal consequences. No simple solutions to that set of problems, other than developing redundancy. At the larger scales, a level of conservatism is indicated, while at smaller scales greater levels of freedom seem to be required.

In some domains, having orbiting habitats where trials can be biologically isolated seems a very good idea.

I see no implicit purpose to life.
I see infinite possibility in survival, and none in death.
Survival seems to be a logical choice.
Applied universally seems to deliver the greatest probability personally (if one uses a sufficiently long time horizon – into the thousands of years).
So doing that which seems likely to deliver the greatest probability of the survival of self, others, and ecosystems of life more generally, and within that delivers the greatest range of freedoms that are not life threatening, seems to be the most logical choice of purpose.

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Ideapod – Solar Energy

Solar Energy From Space

These numbers are not accurate.
It is not stable to restrict people to poverty.
Everyone needs to have high basic standard of living.

The actual energy requirements to bring every person on the planet to a standard of living that we would consider a high basic standard of living, and leave 50% of the land in a natural state, would use 30% of the remaining energy available.

We could bring a high modern standard of living to about 20 Billion people without impinging on the ocean.

If we start to seriously modify the ocean, then we could support about 70 billion people on this planet – at a standard of living any of us would consider reasonable.

Beaming in more energy isn’t necessarily a great idea – maintaining heat balance is hard enough already (think global warming). Doing heavy engineering in space by remote might be a good idea. Building orbital habitats is almost certainly a great idea. Coal would be a great source of carbon and hydrogen, to make water and life.

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Ideapod – Threats

Government adviser reveals the greatest threat facing humanity (and it’s not nuclear war)

Ideapod Blog

Very mixed. More wrong than right.
I was very prepared, solar power, strong house, months of reserve water and food, generators – then a 7.8 quake hit. Day 1 I was fine. By day two, it was clear that most people had made little or no preparations, and without a lot of external help, all of my preparations would have been used up in a few days by people who were hungry and thirsty.

Agree that massive redundancy at all levels is an essential part of security.

And more important is being cooperative, and helping those who need help.
That was done here in Kaikoura – mostly. The response from others was mostly great. Tourists were airlifted onto navy vessels, and transported to Christchurch from where they could continue their journeys.

It seems to me that the idea of using markets to measure value is now becoming the single largest existential risk to humanity. I argue that the fact that markets always value universal abundance at zero is now the single greatest cause of perceived injustice in the world.

It seems clear to me that we have the opportunity to adopt technologies that supply an abundance of all essentials to everyone. So in that sense I am optimistic.
It also seems clear that we are generally becoming more aware of the necessity of being individually responsible in both social and ecological contexts.
So I am cautiously optimistic that things will get better in all dimensions.

And there are some caveats.
We need to acknowledge that high order complexity demands both cooperation and responsibility, and that levels of advanced morality are essential to the survival of complex societies.

So while I am all in favour of individual life and individual liberty, both demand responsible action in both social and ecological contexts.

And sure, with complexity comes expansion of threat, and cooperation and openness are the most effective mitigation strategies to that risk. It is a really complex position we find ourselves in.

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