Evonomics – How economics can free itself

Evonomics – How Economics Can Free Itself from Religious Dogmatism

Pure theory made economics more remote from day-to-day reality.

A lot in what Rapley writes, and a lot more in what Daniel Krynicki writes below, and as what one might loosely class as a skeptic and a humanist, I have some critiques.

Rapley states:
“Contrary to the tenets of orthodox economists, contemporary research suggests that, rather than seeking always to maximise our personal gain, humans still remain reasonably altruistic and selfless.”

That’s is just so wrong when you actually start to understand the depths of evolutionary selection.
Humans do tend to act in their own self interest, and they do so largely through sets of embodied genetic and cultural heuristic strategies that have stood the test of time and context that did work – on average, over generations spent in the communities of our ancestors.
Looked at another way – our conscious level rationality is a very thin icing on a very deep multi layered computational and behavioural cake that is deeply heuristic. Our subconscious heuristic systems create the model of reality that is our conscious experiential reality. Our only access to reality is via that model. Understand that, and you begin to understand something of the human condition.

To understand strategy, one must understand the risk of a player consciously knowing what they will do next in any high stakes game, because if we knew, then we could give that information away at some level, and be vulnerable to exploitation.
So we are a deeply complex mix between social signaling and high stakes gaming strategies.
And the stakes right now have never been higher.

Jordan Peterson does a great job of unpacking some of the very dense information stored in both biology and culture, particularly in the our mythology.

What he doesn’t do, and what is ignored in this article, is make clear how deeply exponential technologies are altering the possibilities available in the strategic landscape we occupy, and how those changes are turning some things that were deeply beneficial in our past into sources of existential risk in our future.

Fully automated manufacturing and delivery of goods and services should be a boon to everyone, but in a market based system that must value universal abundance of anything at zero, it is antithetical.

There are many other levels of issues present in our society.

It is odd that modern science seems clearly to have come out of the Christian search for God’s truth expressed in reality.

That a search started in the premise of “Truth” should deliver an understanding that all understandings of reality are uncertain in many distinctly different and context sensitive ways, is almost paradoxical, and it is in a sense in accord with some of the deeper spiritual traditions found around the globe of the ineffable nature of reality.
We now find ourselves in the presence of measurement errors, Heisenberg uncertainty, Goedel incompleteness, Bayesian uncertainty, chaos, maximal computational complexity, and many classes of undecidability.

Far from truth and certainty, we find ourselves to most likely be heuristic based survival machines in a deeply uncertain world.

And once has reached that depth, one can take a certain level of comfort from what seems most likely to be the fact of the existence of cellular life on the planet for some 4 billion years.

So yes there is risk, and yes there is uncertainty, and it also seems to be true that there are paths available that offer a very high probability of existence and reasonable freedom into the far future (some close approximation to the rest of eternity).

What is very clear now, from a study of the relationship of competitive and cooperative systems to the emergence of new levels of complexity, is that cooperation is fundamental to the survival of new levels of complexity.
Raw competition can happen, and it is almost guaranteed to be destructive of complexity.
Complexity can only thrive in a cooperative context, and raw cooperation is always vulnerable to exploitation, and requires attendant strategies for stability (recurs to infinity).

We are in an age where fully automated systems give us the ability to empower a new level of cooperation.
We have come from an age where competitive market based systems served many valuable roles in production, trade, information, creativity, distributed decision making, risk mitigation, etc; all of which can now be replaced by alternative systems.

As complex evolved social entities we carry deeply embedded systems to punish injustice. In systems that move towards the purely competitive, that provides an internal and inescapable source of existential risk.

And every level of complexity requires a minimum set of boundaries for survival – that is the nature of complex systems. So it is again almost paradoxical that the greatest possible freedom is delivered when one accepts the necessary sets of boundaries required by the levels of cooperation actually present.

We must always have many sets of risk in tension – like the tyrranies of the majority or the minority vs individual freedom; conservatism verses creative liberty, etc.

The simplistic idea that “one true path” is even possible seems one of the greatest risks.

Complex systems theory seems to be telling us that infinite paths from anywhere to anywhere are possible (but a much larger infinity of paths go elsewhere, many to destruction), and the art of negotiation seems to be understanding each other sufficiently that we can all accept such restrictions as are necessary to deliver that greatest degrees of freedom that are compatible with long term survival.

In an age of exponentially expanding computational abilities, markets deliver exponentially less utility at finding such paths (ie exponentially increasing risk).

And we ignore the deep messages encoded in our mythology at our peril.

A degree of humility is required every bit as much as respect for individual life and individual liberty, both of which must be within the necessary minimum sets of restraints for social and ecological responsibility.
And all of those things must be ever evolving conversations and understandings.

Economics seems to have a long way to go to embrace these realities.

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Laurie – Waves of grain

Waves of grain

When was the last time you spontaneously burst into song?

Hi Laurie
Possibly something to do with having a flap of skin under my tongue for my first 5 years, but I cannot hold a note, and much as I love the idea of singing, I appear to be incapable of holding a tune. So I have learned to avoid bursting into song anywhere where anyone might hear me.

Spontaneous singing is a very rare event for me, it exists mostly in my imagination (what emerges from my mouth has very little relationship to song). 😦

And I do get to experience Ailsa’s music.
And I have seen waves in to land (from earthquakes).
And I do enjoy both road trips and flying, though I don’t get to do much of either at present.

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New Economics Series: Part I

New Economics Series: Part I

Hi Daniel,

Align with some of your general themes, and you have some major errors in logic that lead to systemic failure as currently structured.

The term “synergistic dialectical synthesis” is not found by google, not a well defined term – why use it?
Say what you mean in terms that are most likely to be understood.
What exactly does it mean?

How to define value?
Markets cannot do so, as they are scarcity based and generate zeros when presented with any universal abundance (a clear failure).
Exactly what system is proposed as a replacement for markets as a value metric generator?
Markets perform many functions other than value generation – eg communication, arbitrage between value systems and distributed decision making.
How exactly will those functions be replaced?

What if the notion of truth is an over simplification?
What if reality requires a fundamental tension between order and chaos (all levels – Heisenberg writ large)?
What if the very notion of dialectic is an approximation to something that works in certain contexts and fails in others?
What if reason itself has context sensitive utility?

Completely align with vectoring towards abundance as a design criteria – but abundance of what at the cost of the displacement of what? Gaining any sort of alignment on that is a non-trivial task.
I suggest that we may need to take a creative approach.

“omni-consideration” another new term – not well defined elsewhere. Why use such opaque terms?
How do you define “psychopathy”? That is a really important question !!! Cannot use any sort of mass measure or median, and novelty must always be beyond such bounded measures, and the presence of novelty must increase exponentially.
The definition of such base value metrics is foundational to any such enterprise.
I suggest that the minimum such agreed metric must be respect for individual life and individual liberty (in that order), which will require of such individuals responsible action in social and ecological contexts, and the expression of such responsibility will be a constantly evolving expression requiring periodic conversations and negotiations of new levels of agreements.

The notion of “determine behavior” is too strong. If freedom is to have any meaning, then the best that can be asked is “influence behaviour”.

In respect of Governance and World View I suggest that increasing complexity demands that such boundaries as are agreed as necessary be kept to the absolute minimum necessary, and that must be an ongoing conversation as new dimensions of complexity are explored. Only in an environment that restrictions are keep to the minimum necessary for survival and freedom can self expression and the necessary emergent diversity flourish.

Any system may be captured.
The only effective strategy against capture is distributed and diverse systems at all levels, coupled with exponentially expanding instantiations of variations on the theme of “eternal vigilance”.

I strongly suspect that the information encoding density of some systems is extremely dense, and requires very complex decoding systems. In a very real sense, that is what we are, or can be. Non-fungibility of information may be a non-decidable set of conjectures.

There already exist some 20 levels of self reproducing and self maintaining systems. Allocation of resources between the levels of systems already existent, and those emergent is a non-trivial function.
Expansion of systems into orbit and beyond is a relatively trivial exercise once full automation of systems of production is achieved (Drexler machines).

“Needs to avoid/ be resilient to attack from the current economic system including any of its associated systems (media, law, military, etc). It also needs to be resilient to attack from and able to out-compete any other emerging autopoietic systems that don’t vector towards post-transition viability.”
How exactly, in a realm of maximally computationally complex systems, might one make such a decision???
Nice theory, but no certainty available in practice.
In practice, all we can do is work with the probabilities we have, and enroll others in aligning with us and adding their vigilance to ours. The universal values of individual life and individual liberty provide the greatest probability of achieving that; and that must involve some very complex negotiations.

To avoid being seen as a threat, we need to not actually be a threat. That does actually take a bit of thinking about. It goes deep, very deep, even deeper that Jordan Peterson has gone so far.

The current system cannot be allowed to collapse.
The current system cannot be allowed to remain as the dominant system.
Both of those notions are central to any possibility of survival.
Eliminate either, and by definition, we become a threat.
It is deep.
It is non-trivial.

As a strategy that works against the probability of capture, can I suggest fractal resilience in the set of required boundary conditions, with as much free space (in algorithmic and strategic spaces as well as all lower level spaces) as possible.

In terms of the structural flaws of the current economic system, just be straight. Markets cannot deal meaningfully with universal abundance.
Markets, once the bastion of freedom, and the greatest barrier against tyranny, are now, in the presence of the exponentially expanding ability to fully automate the production of goods and services, becoming the greatest source of existential risk to the things they once preserved (individual life and individual liberty).

On the issue of Ownership we part company – seriously.
It is not private ownership that is the issue. It is the very notion of markets.
In the presence of markets, private ownership tends to concentrate wealth – exponentially.
That is a function of markets, not a function of private ownership.

Private ownership is an essential risk mitigation strategy, an essential aspect of distribution and resilience.
Developing non-market mechanisms that ensure that everyone has a sufficient minimum of private property, while allowing free movement and allocation above that, is the real trick.
The only alternative to private ownership is central control, and that is vulnerable to capture and fails the resilience test.

The ideas that “Ultimately, all the perverse incentives require private ownership and would cease without it” is utter nonsense – pure dogma without basis in logic or strategy or mathematics.

Need to go back to the drawing board on that issue.

[followed by]

Some really good stuff in this, and it doesn’t make explicitly clear the essential strategic reality of evolution that cooperation is only stable when there is greater threat from external sources than from within the population. That usually translates to contexts where there are sufficient resources for all. When there are insufficient resources, or there are behavioural sources of threat from within the population of others like self, then competitive modalities tend to dominate.

So yes – focus on generating win-win, and do so in a context that is conscious of the many levels of strategy and strategic triggers in every one of us human beings.
We are very complex entities.
Over simplify us at peril.

We can be the most cooperative species on the planet, and we can also retaliate hard when we detect cheating, and many aspects of our existing political, legal and financial systems are quite easy to characterise as “cheating systems”.

So it is a very complex path. Many levels to consider, simultaneously.

[followed by]

Hi Daniel
Agree with most of those things – except the idea of threat in the deepest of strategic senses – and be very clear what I was saying about threat.
The sum of threats from external sources must exceed the sum of threats from internal sources if cooperation is to stabilise. That can mean maximising external threat, or minimising internal threats – both work – the latter is more stable psychologically (less people in extreme anxiety or catatonic shock).
So we need to work at creating a safe internal environment (which is at odds with the idea of raw competition being in some way a fundamental good). Competition in this sense has many values, and they cannot be allowed to impinge on aspects that pose significant risk to individuals.
That level of balance does not appear to be commonly understood.

[followed by]

Hi Daniel,

Continuing the theme of being explicitly clear about what is involved at the strategic level – it seems to me that doing this requires building a concensus across political, psychological, philosophical and religious dimensions and traditions.
That is a non-trivial exercise.
I see the approach of Jordan Peterson carrying the essence of something, though Jordan himself is carrying too much anger to carry it across all dimensions.

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FoLogic – Ontology and Epistemology

Andrei Mirovan – Ontology and Epistemology

[Rarely do I reproduce someone else’s post in full, and this one is deserving of it]

~~ Some BASIC (minimal, working) DEFINITIONS that I would suggest (presenting and refining some largely shared conventions of language specific to contemporary *analytic* Anglo-American philosophy) ~~
ONTOLOGY” =
1). [as an UNcountable noun] that domain (or discourse) of philosophy that, through rational (argumentative) modalities, tries to elucidate the meaning of the general concept of *REALITY*, its (presumed) sub-types, and the criteria for warrantedly claiming that something is *real*;
2). [as a countable noun] any particular system, doctrine, or conceptual framework, pertaining thematically to “ontology” in the sense “1”;
“ONTOLOGIC” =
1). pertaining to ontology, as a philosophical domain (Gr. LOGOS) that tries to study *what-there-is*, *being*, *existence*, *reality* (Gr. ON/ ONTOS ON);
or
2). loose (and, thus, unrecommendable) synonym for “ontic”;
“ONTIC” = pertaining to *what-is-real* or to *what-REALLY-exists*;
EPISTEMOLOGY =
1). [as an UNcountable noun] that domain (or discourse) of philosophy that, through rational (argumentative) modalities, tries to elucidate the meaning of the general concept of *KNOWLEDGE*, its (presumed) sub-types, the standards and the criteria for warrantedly claiming that something counts as *knowledge*, and the very possibility of ever successfully attaining that what the concept of knowledge purports to describe,
2). [as a countable noun] any particular system, doctrine, or conceptual framework, pertaining thematically to “epistemology” in the sense “1”.
EPISTEMOLOGIC =
1). pertaining to epistemology, as a philosophical domain (Gr. LOGOS) which studies *knowledge* (Gr. EPISTEME)
or
2). loose (and, thus, unrecommendable) synonym for epistemic
EPISTEMIC (or COGNITIVE) = pertaining to *knowledge*
“Ontical OBJECTIVITY” = (supposed) property that something has, of existing INdependently of ANY mind: namely, something is ontically objective if it is NEITHER produced by a mind, NOR conditioned in its existence by the existence of a mind (i.e., something ontically objective can come into existence or continue to exist even if NO mind is around) — otherwise, it’s “ontically SUBJECTIVITY” comes into play;
“Epistemic (or cognitive) OBJECTIVITY” = (supposed) property possessed by mental REPRESENTATIONS (expressed through descriptive, explanatory, and predictive CLAIMS and THEORIES), consisting in RIGOROUSLY and ACCURATELY representing their target/ referent, in a manner NOT distorted by personal INTERESTS, VALUES, and DESIRES — otherwise, “epistemically (or cognitively) SUBJECTIVITY” comes into play;
“MIND” = the totality of sensory, attentional, representational (perceptual and intellectual), emotional, mnestic, and imaginative capacities, as well as their associated contents, properties, states, events, and processes — both conscious AND unconscious;
“CONSCIOUSNESS” (or “AWARENESS”) = the capacity of having (sensory and/ or emotional) *QUALIA* or FEELINGS; therefore, if something is accessible to consciousness, it necessarily has — as long as it becomes (or remains) the *content* (or target) of a conscious state — a sort of *background FEELING* associated to it (even if the mental representation, state, or process that thus becomes the target of consciousness is of an INTELLECTUAL/ IDEATIONAL type).
* * *
It’s always important to distinguish existence/ reality vs. ontology, on the one hand — and knowledge vs. epistemology, on the other.
Thus:
1. Ontology is not existence/ reality; it is rather a philosophical domain that is building a RATIONAL discourse ABOUT existence/ reality; ontology, in this sense, harbours different (often competing) *ontologies* or ontological THEORIES/ DOCTRINES — i.e., collections of KNOWLEDGE claims about “how things *really* are”, in part (“REGIONAL ontologies”) or as a whole (“GENERAL ontology”).
Moreover,
2. Epistemology is not knowledge (or thinking) of reality, but rather a philosophical domain that tries to elucidate through rational discourse the very POSSIBILITY of knowledge; thus, epistemology (as well as logic, but in a different manner) is, in a way, “thinking ABOUT thinking”. When the word “epistemology” is used in the plural (“epistemologies”), it refers to different — often rival — epistemological THEORIES/ DOCTRINES which are harboured by epistemology as a domain.
Anyway:
Although existence/ reality is logically prior to knowledge, nonetheless, in discourse and thinking, it’s rather the other way around: EPISTEMOLOGY comes (or should come) first (as Descartes and Kant have famously suggested), because epistemology is the only philosophical realm of inquiry/ analysis that tries to answer our hopes of finding a methodology for VALIDATING all our knowledge claims — including those about “what there *really* is”. Otherwise, all ontological frameworks risk to remain simply arbitrary stipulations.

Great start Andrei Mirovan

It seems that culturally we have been through many iterations of propositions, tests, and refinement to be able to get to that statement.

When it comes to trying to work out what objective reality (positing that is might exist) might actually be, that seems to take us in the direction of quantum uncertainty in respect of Heisenberg et al, into the realms of unknowability in terms of both Wolfram’s maximal computational complexity and into the truly stochastic (chaos beyond deterministic chaos).

When you delve into the divide between ontology and epistemology, in terms of the evolution of brains, pattern recognition, simulation, and the emergence of high level awareness, then the border between order and chaos seems to get very messy indeed.

I find myself in a realm that is entirely probabilistic, where all knowledge contains uncertain boundaries of confidence not simply about its magnitude, but even to applicability. So many logical and strategic and mathematical realms to choose from.

It seems that all of our abilities to comprehend, to reason, are at base heuristic in an evolutionary sense.

Kant’s strict boundaries seem to be illusions based on false premises.

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Birding NZ – Double Standards

Birding NZ – Double Standards

I’m not writing with my Hutton’s hat on, nor with my Zone Water Committee hat, but just as me, and I do chair both groups, and have both sets of perspectives.

I find human behaviour fascinating, and extremely complex when you actually take the time to look at it in detail.

I find it odd that we tend to see our own self interest as enlightened, and everyone else’s as “greed”.
I just see people doing the best they can in often difficult conditions.

In the recent 7.8 quake here in Kaikoura I watched one farmer put himself in hospital with stress as he worked around the clock trying to repair shattered “effluent disposal systems” (which should more accurately be called nutrient recycling systems). That was one farmer I knew well, and many others were very similar.

Yes we have real problems around water allocation and use, and around the ways in which we manage our environment for human welfare.
I have a background in ecology and biochemistry, and have run a software business for over 30 years, so understand a little of the complexity of the systems involved, and the inadequacies of our current systems to our needs – at many levels.

Just at the physical level, we know fairly well what is going on in the ground, and how to manage nutrients in particular environments, but the complexity of reality is beyond existing technology. The difference in soil structures in the their limits for water or nutrient application can differ by a factor of 10 or more over just 1 meter of ground. Our current water and fertiliser application technologies tend to be worked out on a per hectare average. To manage things more effectively, more micro-management is required. It is coming, and it is not yet economic (actually, it is economics itself that is now our greatest issue – more on that soon).

All of us are at cause in this.
We all drive our cars.
We all go to the supermarket for our food.
We all flick on a switch and expect power.

Very few of us look deeply at the systemic linkages in all parts of the systems that sustain us, from the subatomic quantum mechanical, up through the levels from cosmology to geology to chemistry to biology to culture and technology to complex adaptive systems.

I love the natural world.
The complexity, the beauty of nature is amazing.

Most people have been taught about the aspect of evolution that involves competition, and most of our economic and political systems are built on that competitive basis, but few people yet understand the even more fundamental role of cooperation in the emergence of the many levels of complexity present in us and the wider ecosystems around us.

Reality is so complex (and our models and understandings of it so simple in comparison), that it is very true that we usually see what we expect to see.
It is actually extremely difficult to get any real idea of the complexity and diversity that is actually present.

I have come to see the very idea of using markets to measure value as the single greatest threat to us and to the environment.

The reason for that is that markets must value anything universally abundant at zero (like air, arguably the single most valuable thing to any of us, yet of no market value).
When most things were genuinely scarce, that wasn’t a significant issue.
Now that we have the technical capacity to produce fully automated systems that can deliver an exponentially expanding set of goods and services in universal abundance, the incentives of markets and the needs of humans and ecosystems become diametrically opposed.

Humans need abundance of the basic necessities of life.

Markets cannot put a positive value on any universal abundance.

Therefore, structural poverty (all dimensions) is a fundamental feature of any market based system.

We have the technology to address the issues facing us, but our prime systemic value measure (money and markets) has a set of internal incentives that prevents us doing so.

We need to move beyond markets and market measures of value.

And there are real dangers in that.
Markets have provided many valuable services other that simply exchanging goods and services.

Markets have provided a powerful system of distributed information sharing and governance – we all get to vote with our dollars.
That should not be underestimated.
The dangers of centralised governance are huge.
We must be able to decentralise and distribute governance, in a way at least as effective as markets have achieved, and that isn’t a trivial issue.

Markets provide powerful incentives to innovate, which counter the tendencies to conservatism present in most social groups.
Again, that is a very real issue, and far from trivial in the way one constructs alternative systems that are fully decentralised and distributed, that maintain effective communication and cooperation.

Markets are great tools for risk sharing, and for tolerating diversity.
We can develop technological alternatives, and again they need to be decentralised, diverse, open and tolerant, while maintaining the system as a whole within the necessary minimum set of constraints required to support such complexity.

All new levels of complexity require constraints to survive.
A cell wall constrains the freedom of molecules, and it gives form and function to cells.
Take away cell walls, and all that is left is ocean.

Every new level of complexity has a minimum set of constraints required for its survival.

At higher levels of systems, morality is a necessary set of constraints required for the survival of human beings, which is not to say that any particular morality is actually such a minimum set (most probably have a few components that are not actually required, but are “along for the ride” due to some set of historical accidents).

So restoring our waterways to something we can safely swim in is going to require some fundamental change to our dominant social systems.
It is going to require cooperation at the highest levels.
It is going to require awareness, and tolerance of diversity at the highest levels.

I do think it is possible, and it is far more complex than most people have any conception of at present.

As a “systems geek” I am confident beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that there is no stable “market solution” to the sets of issues present.

Creating a clean and abundant natural world, alongside the world of individual security, abundance and freedom (inside responsible social and ecological contexts), is what I am about.
It is something I am committed to.
It is something I am working towards.
It is something that I see us having the technical ability to construct.

And the only way we can possibly get there is by all acknowledging the many ways in which our unthinking acceptance of existing systems contributes to the outcomes we see.

The systems will change only when we individually demand such change, are such change, at the personal level, consistently.

[followed by]

Hi Jim,

As I read the current double exponential progress of our ability to automate systems (current doubling time under 10 months), we are expanding our ability to do more with less far faster than we are increasing our numbers as human beings.
It is the demands of markets, capital, and profit that are the greatest barriers to the implementation of technical solutions, not the technology itself.

There are minimum energy requirements for a reasonable standard of living, and we are a very long way from them as yet if you actually do the numbers on what is possible with a plant based diet and distributed solar power and distributed systems.

So I see the possibility of technical solutions, though not the certainty of their instantiation.

Agree that if you simply look at existing technologies, then the issues seem beyond solution.
You need to look at the foundational trends in technologies and look at their intersection with issues over time. Ray Kurzweil (engineering director at Google) is great at that.
Once we achieve molecular level recycling, most pollution and resource issues disappear. It isn’t actually far away. I was at the 25th Foresight conference on nanotechnology and the future at Google’s headquaters 5 years ago. Sure we aren’t there yet, and we are on track for 2030 delivery.

It seems possible to deal to most of the issues, and it does require going beyond many of the conceptual boundaries that most have implicitly accepted.

And yes – this is a bit more than simply a birding issue, and it is a foundational set of issues if we want to give many of our indigenous birds a reasonable probability of survival (which I do). That includes species like Hutton’s Shearwater, and the Bittern, and wrybill and B dots and a host of others. Those birds are at the sharp end of the consequences of our cultural drag, the unwillingness of most to challenge the foundational presuppositions of their current world view, perhaps highest among those the notion of value we derive from using markets as a measure.

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Nev’s Facebook post on Cancer Rates


Comment to a post on Nev’s Facebook page from 12th July on Cancer rates in NZ

Given that today is my 7th birthday since being sent home “palliative care only” with “terminal melanoma” – this is a subject rather dear to my heart.

To me it is a really complex topic.
It is complex at the molecular and biological level.
It is complex at the level of understanding and belief.
It is complex at the level of social systems, money, markets, culture, incentive structures within complex adaptive systems.

Being told I could be dead in 6 weeks, and that medical science had no hope to offer me, was not on my plan.
It got my attention.
I put all of my 40 years interest in systems, biochemistry, science and statistics to use reading as much relevant material as I could get my eyes on.
I took on all strategies that appeared to have some evidence that they might work, and didn’t cost a lot.

After getting all tumours to go, then having two recurrences, I have settled on what seems to be a minimum workable set for my particular context. I haven’t had a tumour in over 6 years.

And in the big picture, it now seems beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt to me that the very concept of using markets to measure value is now the single greatest risk to all of us.

And that wasn’t always the case.
Markets used to perform many valuable functions.
When most things were genuinely scarce, markets were a very useful method for allocating scarce resources and incentivising the invention of substitutes.
Markets also perform other important functions.
Markets are important tools in distributed decision making, and in risk reduction. And in today’s digital age of advanced computational systems, we can develop alternative mechanisms for all computational functions that markets have historically performed.

The real issue with markets is that they must give zero value to anything that is universally abundant.
That wasn’t much of an issue when only air was universally abundant.
Now that we have fully automated systems that can make a large and exponentially expanding set of goods and services universally abundant, our economic and social systems are reacting by putting in place mechanisms to destroy such abundance and make it a marketable scarcity – that is essentially what all intellectual property laws are. And we see such things emerging at new levels.

The incentive in a market is always to maximise profit, and that requires poverty for some, because if everyone has all they need, then there is no value remaining.

So yes – our medical systems are a mess.
They are much more about profit, job protection, patch protection, and status (at any different levels); than they are about the health of people in general.
And there are many great individuals in the systems, and the systems wear them down.

The biggest problem at the physical level is diet.
Food sellers like products with long shelf lives, that are easier to manage and make profit from.
Fresh foods are high risk, they spoil easily, and are difficult to manage,
Our personal preferences for sugars and fats were fine when we got our sugars from fresh fruits that we had to forage for, and we had to run down the animals to get their fat.
Now that we can buy long life refined sugars and fats, without all the myriad other essential micro-nutrients that we once got in association with them, we are paying the health costs in diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Our diets need to be at least 50% raw fruits and vegetables, if we are to be healthy.
We also need to be getting at least 90% of our calories from plants.
And we need exercise.

And there are lots of other risk factors.
Vitamin C seems to be the rate limiting factor in immune system function for most people. I take about 20g a day as pure L Ascorbic acid dissolved in luke warm water.

You know my story Nev – and some others may not.

We have the technology to deliver health and freedom to every person on the planet, but the beliefs of our past prevent most from seeing the possibilities present, and prime among those beliefs is the myth of money.
It has been a very useful myth and still is in a sense, and that fact blinds most people to the exponentially increasing dangers it now presents.

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Ideapod – Freedom

Freedom – Bird in a cage – continued

Hi Jessica,
Not way off, nor quite accurate enough to be safe and useful.
All actions have consequences.
There is the very deep question as to the degree that we have thoughts, and to which our subconsciously generated thoughts have us? That seems to be one of the deepest inquiries anyone can embark upon.

Certainly “The ability to have thoughts, questions, ideas and wonders flying free in our minds” is important, and it cannot be “without any restrictions or consequences for having them”.

Science seems to quite clearly be telling us that our brains have several distinct senses in which they are habit forming machines (we have our creative aspects too, and we need to be conscious of both), so novel thoughts may occur, and the degree to which we give such things attention seems to influence the probability of them occurring again in the future. There must be “art” in making such choices, at all levels.

I agree with Seer in part, but only in part.

I do not see us as defective, I just try to see us as we are (at least to the best approximation I can manage).

From an evolutionary perspective, everything alive today, you, me, Seer, every tree, plant, animal, bacterium, etc seems to be part of a continuum of life. Every cell alive today has, from its own perspective (not that they have any sort of consciousness that has perspectives, just using that as an analogy) been alive for some 4 billion years.

When you look very closely at the many levels of systems present, you see that all levels of complexity present are characterised by new levels of cooperation.

If you look only from the perspective of molecules, then you see cell walls as a limitation on the freedom of molecules (which they are). Yet cell walls allow complex cooperatives of molecules to form levels of complexity as cells that are simply not possible if you remove the cell walls and let everything be ocean.

Similarly other layers of complexity allow groups of cells to cooperate to form bodies, and to further specialise to form complex organs within bodies.

At each layer of complexity, it is cooperation that is fundamental to the survival of the group, and raw cooperation is always vulnerable to invasion, so there must exist evolving sets of strategies to detect and remove cheating strategies (just as sets of cheating strategies evolve methods of avoiding detection and removal).

When you look in detail at the sets of complexity necessary to allow us as conscious individuals to emerge in complex social and technological contexts, then there are many levels of cooperation required to sustain the conditions that allow such complexity to exist. These sets of constraints are analogous to cells walls that constrain the freedom of molecules but allow the complexity of cells.

At the higher levels of abstract strategic cooperation, morality is much like a cell wall, it is a level of constraint that is necessary for our existence as socially cooperative entities.

And like all such complex things, it has aspects that are susceptible to capture and exploitation by various levels of “cheating” strategies.

So while I agree with Seer that our individual existence and individual freedom must be our highest values, I also acknowledge that our existence as individuals requires that we live in social and technological cooperatives, and that necessity will require limits on what one might naively think of as individual freedoms, if one did not consider the absolute necessity of social cooperatives for our survival as individuals.

So I am definitely against the classical socialist notions of subjugating the individual to the group.
I am a classical liberal who sees individual life and individual liberty as the highest values.

And I am an evolutionary biologist and systems geek who sees the absolute necessity of social cooperation for the existence of us as individuals – without it there could be no language, or culture or technology.

And we also require the underlying ecological integrity of the biological basis for life on this planet for our survival.

We need to be conscious of all the necessary constraints that allow the levels of systems that are required for our existence, and for the freedoms that such existence makes possible.

Pretending that any of those necessary constraints are not required is a recipe for extinction.

And one needs to be alert to the many levels of potential cheating strategies masquerading as required constraints. In that I completely align with Seer – such can and do exist, and we need to be alert, to test, and to identify and remove them.

So cooperation at all levels, and it cannot be naive cooperation.

Acknowledge the restrictions on freedom that are necessary, and no more than that. And as new levels of complexity emerge, that must entail the emergence of new levels of restrictions, and may allow restructuring of some of the lower level sets of constraints.

So there must be something of an eternal process of discovery and testing and negotiation involved, and a certain level of tensions between different levels is to be expected, and must be managed.

That seems to be be a modern expression of the ancient truism “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance”.
And complexity theory is now clear beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that the vigilance has to come from a fundamentally cooperative context if it is to survive long term.

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