Fragile / Resilient


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Consider all the different manifestations of pressure on a system, which Taleb calls the “disorder brothers”: uncertainty, variability, imperfect knowledge, chance, chaos, volatility, disorder, entropy, time, the unknown, randomness, turmoil, stressors, error.

If something doesn’t “like” any one of these, it’s not going to like the others (and will therefore be short-lived before failure). On the other hand, if something is made stronger by these, it is antifragile—and therefore also displays the “Lindy” effect (the longer it lasts, the longer it is expected to continue lasting).

The insights are useful to check the ambitions of modern power. Should we trust a model that recommends engineering drastic change in the atmosphere, or should we defer to and protect the Earth’s proven, inscrutable systems of climactic balance? Should we tinker with DNA to design a new kind of pest-resistant crop, or should we respect the nucleic wisdom encoded in long-proven varieties?

Risk management’s “precautionary principle” can be understood as respecting essential systems that are Lindy and making sure one doesn’t interfere with whatever makes them antifragile: solve world hunger with better distribution logistics (low downside, huge upside), not by playing God with crop genes (huge possible downside).

In social life, this suggests a bias in favor of traditionalism (including respect for religion) as well as encouragement for experimenters and entrepreneurs (tinkerers, who actually try new technology, not scientists and economic “experts” who merely theorize).

In political organization, it shows the wisdom of localism—or what Taleb calls “fractal localism,” to distinguish it from simplistic decentralization [...] Political community is healthiest when people making decisions also have the most at stake in their outcomes (“skin in the game,” the title of Taleb’s fifth book).

[Joshua P. Hochschild]
'Optionality and the Intellectual Life: In Gratitude for the Real World Risk Institute'


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Related posts:

Global / local


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I don’t trust [Steven Pinker’s] optimism […] more and more kinetic energy, like war, has been turned into potential energy, like unused nuclear weapons - [but] if you don’t have a potential energy term, then everything’s just getting better and better.

[Eric Weinstein]


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The tide is out, and globalism is exposed. In its place, watch for the rise of localism.

This won’t be some Jeffersonian agrarian world where we’re all threshing our own wheat, but a complex, locally–adapted system that is vibrant and resilient because it’s interconnected but not centrally controlled. 

Our current supply chain and financial system evolved by using standardization to create efficiencies. Finding “synergies” led to geometric growth of certain companies, lowering nominal costs for customers and concentrating decision-making among few. For example, four companies are now responsible for 70% of the pork production in the U.S.

The sticker price might appear lower at the grocery store, but hidden costs exist.

Think of it this way: A $4 Mr. C’s hotdog sounds like a deal, but it comes with the low-probability kicker that if a virus/terrorist/cyber-attack occurs, we might be sheltering in place for an extended period of time and our economy could go down the toilet along with millions of jobs. Now consider a locally–sourced hotdog that costs $5, $6, or even $15. Localism would likely result in higher nominal cost, but if localized decision-making, supply chains and finance prevented being shut-in at home, hoping centralized governments and corporations can avoid being overwhelmed, what is that worth?

Some things are better managed at scale, just not ALL things. By pushing most decision-making to the locally-dispersed, what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls “fractal localism”, we can maximize customization, adaptation, and responsiveness while still keeping those systems and institutions that are most effective across locales.

[Eric Weatherholtz]
'Localism: Retail’s Coronavirus Hangover Cure'


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Things appeared to be getting better and better but our prosperity was built on credit. The things we gained came at the price of an increasingly fragile system, caused by ever-increasing imbalances.


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Notes: Dave Snowden - '#12 MANAGING IN COMPLEXITY - DAVE SNOWDEN | Being Human'


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'#12 MANAGING IN COMPLEXITY - DAVE SNOWDEN | Being Human'
[Dave Snowden]

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39:58 - We’ve got very few polymaths left in the UK under the age of 50, because the education system is now highly specialised. That’s a major mistake, because one of the strengths of British education has been our ability to produce generalists, but we’re not producing them any more.

A collection of specialists is not the same thing as a generalist. A generalist knows a little bit about a lot of things and can integrate disciplines; a specialist can’t integrate.

Exaptation is a process by which you suddenly notice novel side effects and associations.


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41:19 - Art comes before language in human evolution - we learned to draw on the walls of caves before we really spoke.

Like everything in evolution, its accident. Basically we draw because it has use for the hunt, but what it also does is allow us to shift up a level of abstraction. If you go up a level of abstraction you make novel associations. I have some of my best ideas either walking or at the opera, because I’ve moved up a level of abstraction. My mind associates things in a less concrete way. Abstraction is key to innovation.

It is one of the arguments most of us from a scientific background are making against the focus on STEM education, because if you don’t have art you don’t have innovation. It is this engineering culture coming through again. Engineers who appreciate art are more likely to be exaptive.


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50:28 - The problem with a hypothesis is it’s based on what we understand from the past. So if something novel has happened, it will restrict our ability to see it.

If you have a hypothesis it’s highly risky under conditions of uncertainty because the past is not going to repeat. You have massive asymmetry between the past and the future, so hypothesis based approaches don’t work. You move from deductive logic to abductive logic.

Abductive is sometimes known as the logic of hunches - what is the most plausible connection between apparently unconnected things. Human beings have evolved to think abductively which means we’re brilliantly inventive, but also prone to conspiracy theories. 

We’ve got fifty-five people who come with these wild ideas. [To objectivise these abductive leaps] we present the wild ideas to panels of several thousand, they interpret it - if we get a dominant pattern we know it’s probably okay.

You can’t rely on individual judgement. Human beings evolved to make decisions collectively, not individually. That’s our strength, we can cooperate. We can [also] cooperate outside kinship groups - the advantage of that is that you can have specialists.

So-called educational deficiencies [autism, dyslexia, etc] are actually part of the collective intelligence. This is now called cognitive diversity. If you can increase the number of people in the collective decision cycle you can make it more objective.


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Notes: Dave Snowden - 'Multi-ontology sense making: a new simplicity in decision making'


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'Multi-ontology sense making: a new simplicity in decision making'
[Dave Snowden]

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Order / Un-order

The vertical dimension of the matrix contrasts two types of system, namely order and un-order. In the earlier story of the childrens’ party the first approach, namely that of objectives, planning and best practice is in effect an illustration of the type of approach that is typically adopted in an ordered system and it can be legitimate. Where there are clearly identified (or identifiable) relationships between cause and effect, which once discovered will enable us control the future, then the system is ordered. It can be structured on the basis of a desired outcome with structured stages between where I am “now” and where I want to be “then”.

This is contrasted with un-order in which the relationships between cause and effect do not repeat, except by accident and in which the number of agents interacting with other agents is too great to permit predictable outcome based models, although we can control starting conditions and monitor for emergence.

“Un” is used here in the sense that Bram Stoker uses it of Dracula: the un-dead are neither dead not alive, they are something different that we do not fully understand or comprehend.

--

Undead/un-order - liminal, in-between states. This implies that complexity = in-between. The limit of control is the line between order and un-order.


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Efficient / Inefficient

A strong mechanical metaphor characterizes [process engineering] approaches. The focus is on efficiency, stripping away all superfluous functions in order to ensure repeatability and consistency.

The engineering process takes place in a specific context and once achieved, shifts in that context require the engineering design process to be repeated to some degree before efficiency can be achieved again. Radical shifts in context may make the entire approach redundant or lead to catastrophic failure.

Manufacturing plant, payment systems in a bank and the like are all closed systems that can be structured and standardized without any major issue. We can in effect define best practice. However when we apply the same techniques to systems with higher levels of ambiguity, for example customer interactions, sales processes and the like we encounter more difficulties.

[Some of these] arise from the impossibility of anticipating all possible situations and shifting context. In these cases we need a different focus, one of effectiveness in which we leave in place a degree of inefficiency to ensure that the system has adaptive capacity and can therefore rapidly evolve to meet the new circumstances. 

Examples would include apprentice schemes of knowledge transfer, maintaining mavericks or misfits, allowing people to take training in subjects with no apparent relevance to their current jobs and providing more delegated authority.

There is nothing wrong with an engineering approach; there are many things that need high degrees of order and control. However taken to excess, and it has nearly always been so taken, it sacrifices human effectiveness, innovation and curiosity on the altar of mechanical efficiency .

--


Efficient                            -                      Inefficient
Engineer                           -                      Artist
Specialist                          -                      Dilettante
Narrow base                     -                      Wide base
Closed                               -                      Open
Order                                 -                      Chaos


Complex situations/interactions cannot be standardised. Standardisation implies known territory.
In complex circumstances, an abstracted/wide view is more advantageous than a concrete/narrow view.


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Engineering thinking - top-down (controlled), bottom of pyramid (specific, narrow)

Systems thinking - top-down (controlled), top of pyramid (general, whole)

Complexity thinking - bottom-up (emergent), top-of pyramid (general, whole)


Systems thinking widens the scope of engineering thinking by attempting to map a whole system, as opposed to a part. However, it still assumes that the system can be mapped (and therefore controlled).

Complexity thinking does not assume that the extent of the system can be known, and instead of coming up with a theory of the system, it widens the range of its view as much as possible and looks for emergent patterns.


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Humans make decisions based on patterns

This builds on naturalistic decision theory in particular the experimental and observational work of Gary Klein (1994) now validated by neuro-science, that the basis of human decision is a first fit pattern matching with past experience or extrapolated possible experience.

Humans see the world both visually and conceptually as a series of spot observations and they fill in the gaps from previous experience, either personal or narrative in nature.

Interviewed they will rationalize the decision in whatever is acceptable to the society to which they belong: “a tree spirit spoke to me” and “I made a rational decision having considered all the available facts” have the same relationship to reality.

Accordingly in other than a constrained set of circumstances there are no rules to model.


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We both create and maintain multiple often parallel identities shifting between and amongst them as needed without so much as a second thought.

Accordingly in other than a constrained set of circumstances there are no clear agents to be modeled.

--

A clear agent would have to be unipolar (consistent) in all contexts, across the board. Human beings are tricky to model because they are inconsistent.


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Humans ascribe intentionality and cause where none necessarily exist.

There is a natural tendency to ascribe intentionality to behavior in others, whilst assuming that the same others will appreciate that some action on our part was accidental.

Equally if a particular accidental or serendipitous set of actions on our part lead to beneficial results we have a natural tendency to ascribe them to intentional behavior and come to believe that because there were good results, those results arose from meritorious action on our part.

In doing so we are seeking to identify causality for current events. This is a natural tendency in a community entrained in its pattern of thinking by the enlightenment.

One of the key insights of social complexity is that some things just “are” by virtue of multiple interactions over time and the concept of a single explanation, ascription of blame or for that matter credit are not necessary.


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Bret Weinstein's Probability Map


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It is best to approach a complex issue with a provisional, probabilistic approach (allowing room for uncertainty i.e. the ability to move to a better position in line with further information) rather than be tempted into premature certainty.

Weinstein's chart is a neat way of laying out an ambiguous issue (i.e. one that allows a number of interpretations), allowing a certain narrative to be favoured whilst keeping the door open to competing interpretations.


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You know you're in a complex space if you have competing hypotheses and can't resolve them.

[Dave Snowden]


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Notes: Dave Snowden - 'LAS Conference 2013 - Keynote Dave Snowden - Making Sense of Complexity'


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'LAS Conference 2013 - Keynote Dave Snowden - Making Sense of Complexity'
[Dave Snowden]

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A chaotic system is one in which there are no constraints, which means every agent of whatever nature is independent of every other agent.


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Heretics, outliers

The line which goes through the middle is called the line of coherence. If we’re on that line it’s okay.

We really don’t want to have excessive proof but not have [?] - if we do that we get heretics and mavericks. This is where a small group of people know they’re right, but nobody else believes them. Their solution to this problem is to explain to people why they’re right, and when that doesn’t work they explain to the people why they’re wrong. Then they wonder why they get [burned as heretics].

You need heretics in an organisation because they think differently. 

There are two strategies from a management perspective. One is coaching: this is finding people that can interpret them to the wider community. What you’re doing is pulling them back onto the coherence line. One of the big roles of coaches is to reinterpret material because the people with the bright new ideas are very poor at explaining them, in the main. The other alternative is hide it until it can prove itself.


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Notes: Dave Snowden - 'Dealing with unanticipated needs'


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'Dealing with unanticipated needs – Dave Snowden'
[Dave Snowden]

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Inattentional blindness, heuristics

'Inattentional blindness' - we do not see what we do not expect to see.

The most anybody [...] will scan of the available data before you make a decision is about five percent. That’s on a good day, if you’re really focused. If you’re Chinese it is ten percent (there are actually different evolutionary processes in the brain as a result of symbolic as opposed to non-symbolic language).

You then make a decision based on a first-fit pattern match privileging your most recent experiences - that’s called conceptual blending. You scan five percent of the data, that causes trigger of memories of your own experience - things you were taught, things you learned from other people in narrative form - you blend that together and you come up with a unique form of action.

That’s how you make decisions - unless you’re fully autistic. The only people who make rational decisions by assessing all available data are autistic, which is why they can’t operate.

If you think about it in evolutionary terms, you can see why this happens. If you imagine the first hominids on the savannahs of Africa, something large and yellow with very sharp teeth runs toward you at very high speed. Do you want to autistically scan all available data, look up a catalogue of the flora and fauna of the African veldt, and having identified ‘lion’ look up best practice case-studies on how to avoid lions?

We evolved to make decisions very quickly based on a partial data scan, privileging our most recent experiences. 

In modern cognitive science we don’t call these biases, we call them heuristics. Evolution doesn’t produce things that have no utility. So-called biases are actually heuristics that allow us to make decisions faster.


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Art comes before language in human evolution. 

We drew and produced music before language happened. That’s unique to us as a species. That actually then continues to develop to the heights of modern art. If you look at modern fine art and music it’s usually sophisticated.

The reason that is so valuable to us in evolutionary terms is that if you move up a level of abstraction you see novel connections. Art has been critical to human inventiveness because it disconnects us from the material and moves us into the abstract.

Which is why the focus on STEM education is a potential disaster for the species, because if you don’t have art you don’t have inventiveness. You’re just connecting them with the material.


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If you want innovation forget people between the age of twenty-five and forty-five. 

They don’t innovate  (unless you put them under considerable stress and so increase brain plasticity). By the time you hit about twenty/twenty-five, you’ve locked down how you see the world based on what you need to do in the society you belong. It doesn’t really change until you reach your late forties/fifties.

You don’t see racism in kids before puberty. Racism comes in after puberty because by then the brain is starting this lock-down process to meets the needs of the society to which it belongs. Therefore it will assume the prejudices of that society.

Chemically triggered in the fifties, the same things happens - the brain becomes plastic again.

So if you look at innovation in the humanities its older people, in the natural sciences its younger people. In the older people innovation is synthesis, in younger people it is originality. 


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Notes: Dave Snowden - Managing for Serendipity


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'Managing for Serendipity or why we should lay off "best practice" in KM'
[Dave Snowden]

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Best practice

In an ordered system a “best way” is theoretically possible as we are dealing with repeating relationships between cause and effect […] If, and it is a very big if, there is a stable and repeating relationship between cause and effect in a common context then best practice can and should be mandated.

Human social systems are uniquely able to create such stable contexts by agreeing and establishing conventions for matters such as payment systems and traffic regulations.

If we are dealing with a complex system then there is no such repetition. Even in an ordered system the degree to which we understand the relationship between cause and effect determines the degree to which we can define best practice. This is true even of scientific knowledge where serendipity is as frequently the cause of major breakthroughs as is disciplined method and where old knowledge frequently used best practice to exclude new thinking.

For complex systems best practice is dangerous, for ordered systems it is valid, but not universally and only in very stable situations, in all other cases it is entrained past practice.

--

‘Best practice’ - codified knowledge, devoid of context. Script, code. You can only run the code if the situation is known, predictable because the code has been written for specific circumstances. When the situation is complex, running code - doing what has worked formerly - will not work.


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Habituation

It is also true that habituation is necessary for the consistent application of best practice. Fire fighters do not just enter each situation with a manual, they practice daily to ensure that best practice is engrained in their thinking, and that practical experience provides both knowledge of when not to follow best practice, and also creates high levels of trust based on interdependency (Weick & Sutcliffe 2001).

This has implications for much of the so called attempts to create efficiencies in human actions. A large part of the attempts to introduce process improvements in professional services for example fails to recognise this need for habituation.

For a computer there would not be an issue as each task would look up the processes on the basis of articulated decision rules, but humans do not work that way, they need to build and habituate patterns to be effective.

We actively seek out multiple encounters to increase the probability of an emergent solution, that does not just repeat the past, but which opens up new possibilities.

The loss of content, but particularly context involved in codification means that written knowledge is only ever a partial representation of what we know.

[…]  innovation is dependent on disruption of entrained patterns of thinking.

--


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Pattern matching, patterns of expectation

[…] humans do not make rational logical decisions based on information input, instead they pattern match with either their own experience, or collective experience expressed as stories. It isn’t even a best fit pattern match but a first fit pattern match (Klein 1998).

The human brain is also subject to habituation, things that we do frequently create habitual patterns which both enable rapid decision making, but also entrain behaviour in such a manner that we literally do not see things that fail to match the patterns of our expectations.

We do not see what we do not expect to see - and you can't train yourself to see the unexpected 

--

Cyclists on roads. Most drivers are habituated to see cars, not cyclists. When they scan, they scan for car-shaped objects. A cyclist does not, generally speaking, match the ‘pattern of expectation.’ The cyclist has a greater chance of breaking into this scan if they can catch attention - i.e. move erratically or wear something jarring.


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Efficiency

Unfortunately while efficiency does achieve effectiveness in mechanical or highly structured human systems it does not in respect of the majority of human interaction which, as previously stated is complex in nature.

An interesting feature of complex systems, particularly in social insects, is that for a system to be effective there needs to be a degree of inefficiency in the operation of its agents. Humans are the same; the efficiency focus of best practice harms effectiveness because it assumes repeatable past patterns of cause and effect. Driving out inefficiencies increases vulnerability to new threat as the adaptive mechanism of the complex system has been withdrawn.

--

Efficiency= 'minimum wasted effort'. Something that is efficient has been stripped of any redundancy, boiled down to its essentials. It makes a minimum of moves to reach an intended goal.

Inefficiency is more desirable in complex systems as it implies a wider base, and a potentially wider range of movement. Inefficiencies are doorways to alternate patterns.


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Top down / bottom up

A true narrative database uses only original material and searches it based on abstract questions that discourage directed enquiries to create serendipitous encounter.

Attempts to engineer a network through design and allocation of staff to groups generally fail as they create artificial relationships that are not sustainable.

--

Define boundaries in which things can emerge. Define the playing field and let the game take care of itself. Bottom-up (emergent) within top-down (planned).


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Outliers


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Normal                            -                      Divergent
Centre                              -                      Periphery


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Dave Snowden: There’s a level of dissent you want to have permanently present within the organization. The thing [is] to measure the degree of inefficiency a system [needs] in order to be effective.

Jim Rutt: Do you have anything you can explicate on on how one would think about what’s the right amount of diversity? I suppose it’s situationally dependent.

Dave Snowden: That links in with apex predators. If you’ve got a stable ecosystem you don’t need so much diversity. If the system is suddenly destabilized you need to increase diversity very quickly.

[Jim Rutt & Dave Snowden]
'EP11 Dave Snowden and Systems Thinking', Jim Rutt Show


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Related posts:

Notes: Daniel Schmachtenberger - Jim Rutt Show


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EP7 Daniel Schmachtenberger and the Evolution of Technology
Jim Rutt Show



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Anything that has bottom-up coordination only, but abstraction-mediated capacities, like markets, is going to fall to multipolar traps. Multipolar traps with exponential tech will be catastrophically bad.



43:35 - Because of the nature of evolved systems we get antifragility. Complicated systems subsuming their complex substrate increase fragility.

If I burn a forest it will regenerate itself, if I cut my body it will heal itself. If I damage my laptop it won’t heal itself.

Humans take the antifragility of the natural world and turn it into fragile stuff. We turn it into simple and complicated stuff. So we turn a tree, that’s antifragile and complex, into a two-by-four that is simple; or a house that is complicated; but both are fragile. 

We have complicated systems subsume the complex systems, so we’re creating an increasingly higher fragility-to-antifragility ratio. We’re trying to run exponentially more energy through an exponentially more fragile system.



45:20 - The way humans solve problems tends to create worse problems. For the solution to solve the problem it has to be larger, faster, somehow bigger than the problem was.

The solution typically is to solve a very narrowly defined problem - [a small number of] metrics - and yet it’s going to interact with with complex systems that affect lots of other metrics, where it will end up having harm-externality that will be larger than the original thing.

The plough solved the problem of local famines, but ended up causing desertification, and species extinction - and all these things writ large globally. The internal combustion engine solved the problem of too much horse shit in the cities and the difficulties of horses, but climate change, oil spills, wars over oil, and the destabilisation of the Middle East are the unintended externalities.

We can see the same for the value of Facebook compared to the unintended externalities it created.

I can define a problem in a narrow way, but that’s actually not the problem it’s a little part of it. It’s the same with biotech - I can say the problem is one biometric that I’m trying to address, for instance LDL, and I can give something that lowers that, but it also might do a bunch of other things that are negative which are the side effects. This is not a good approach to medicine.

The information processing that it takes to come up with a new piece of tech is orders of magnitude less than the information processing it takes to ensure that tech won’t have any externality in its long term application. The safety analysis is going to end up being NP-Hard relative to the work that it takes to come up with the tech being expressible as polynomial.



51:43 - Why do we get so much concentration of sociopathy in the top of Fortune 500 companies, and politics, and especially finance?

They’re basically systems to attract, reward, incentivise and condition sociopathy. 

People who are attracted to power and people who are good at winning a bunch of Win-Lose games get to the top of a power game. At each step they move up the ladder they’re winning against somebody else, usually via things like disinformation and deception. If you think about the nature of a government, or a corporation, or any top down power system it is basically a strange attractor for people who want to have power.

If there are forty, fifty - up to a Dunbar number - of people living in a tribe there is an extraordinarily high degree of transparency that is forced in that scenario. Everybody pretty much sees what is going on with everybody else, everybody knows everyone, everyone has fealty relationships with everyone.

So sociopathy is not going to be advantageous - you’re not going to have an evolutionary niche in that environment for much in the way of conspiring and lying, because it will get found out and punished.

So the forced transparency creates an accounting system where you don’t get an evolutionary niche for somebody fucking the other people in the system. As soon as the system starts to get large enough that…

- there are anonymous people, so I can harm people who I don’t really know and care about
- I can do stuff that people won’t be able to see; if I can have a corruption of the accounting in the system…

…we get an evolutionary niche for internal defection, rather than participating with the system. I’m not externally defecting and leaving the system, I’m internally defecting and playing the system.

Most people inside a corporation or a government are optimising what is good for them and their direct fealty relationships, rather than what is good for the whole - and nobody can tell.

We do our social science inside of a world where these systems have become ubiquitous, and we assume that those properties - where there is ubiquitous conditioning - are intrinsic to human nature. We have to be careful about that because I think a lot of them are not intrinsic to human nature, they are a result of the ubiquitous conditioning - and we could create conditioning environments in which things like sociopathy are not advantageous and don’t get up-regulated.

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Accept / Aspire


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Accept                             -                       Aspire
Maternal                          -                      Paternal
Communal                      -                       Individual
Communism                    -                      Capitalism
Saturn                              -                      Apollo


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The world for Nietzsche is full of people who are incapable of accomplishing what they hope to accomplish, people who want in vain to be brave, generous, strong, perhaps even cruel, or at least notorious in some way - people who want to, but cannot, leave a mark on history.

These are “the suffering,” those who […] have finally convinced themselves that their weaknesses are actually their virtues, the results of their choice rather than the shortcomings of their nature; they even take their weaknesses to be reasons why they will someday be rewarded “in another life.”

Unable to distinguish themselves from the rest of the world, they come to consider uniformity a virtue and impose it on everyone: this is how “the herd” is created.

The values of the weak, which Nietzsche considers moral at least in part because they are intended to be virtues that all must exhibit, aim to ease suffering caused by impotence by construing such impotence as an achievement.

The weak actually suffer from envy, from ressentiment, of the few “fortunate accidents of great success” who are not like them and who are unaffected by the morality of the herd.

[Alexander Nehamas]
Nietzsche: Life as Literature, p. 120-1


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When you explain the way in which we behave on a genetic level there’s something that is missed, which is why I’m much more fond of explaining it in historical terms; [accepting that] ‘these are the things that have always been with us,’ and then to an extent making your peace with that. It means that you have a reasonable approach to things that you can’t do anything about.

You’ll never get rid of the hucksters, the liars; you’ll never get the world without hate. So have reasonable aspirations.

[Douglas Murray]
'Trust, truth and media in the pandemic, Douglas Murray' (53:00)


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"I can't ever lose control with you"

The beloved compels us to be on our best behaviour, to be the best we can be at this moment in time.

And, inasmuch as this best behaviour runs contrary to our default patterns, it may sometimes seem like an act; as if we are playing the part of being good, whilst deep down maybe it isn't who we really are.

But the act needn't seem false; it is necessarily put on, and in putting it on we are able to craft ourselves, mould ourselves into the shape we want to be.

"Enough. Remember who you are"

Maintaining the act involves a frequent remembering. To stay on course may require constant minor adjustments, because we all forget the way from time to time.

Abstinence becomes a sign of inner strength, the hardest act to maintain. In conquering of one the strongest instincts (one of the strongest defaults), we light the road that leads to other victories.


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The chaste brain has tremendous energy and gigantic will power. Without chastity there can be no spiritual strength. Continence gives wonderful control over mankind.The spiritual leaders of men have been very continent and this is what gave them power.

Chastity in thought, word and deed always and in all conditions is what is called Brahmacharya. Unchaste imagination is as bad as unchaste action. The Brahmacharin must be pure in thought, word and deed.

[Swami Vivekananda]


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Related posts:-
A Higher Power
Budo
Walk a Straight Line
Stand Tall
Sailing the Turbulent Seas

Daniel Schmachtenberger - The Portal

'Daniel Schmachtenberger on The Portal (with host Eric Weinstein), Ep. #027 - On Avoiding Apocalypses'
The Portal


54:07 - Basically economics has perverse incentives - we try to create law to bind it, but economics is deeper in the stack of power than law is. So you get a legal system that is supposed to bind the perverse economic incentives, but mostly ends up legislating in the benefit of it.


57:45 - If I’m perfectly ethical I’m going to lose in politics, because I won’t be able to get anybody to support me - so I make certain compromises.


1:52:55 - Up to a tribal scale people could do a better job of accurate information sharing because there was less incentive to disinform each other, because it would probably get found out - and we depended on each other pretty significantly. The Dunbar limit seems to be a pretty hard limit on that kind of information sharing. 

Tribes never got beyond a certain scale within a certain kind of organisation, and if they started to they would cleave - if they were going to get larger they would have to have a different kind of organisation.

One thing that we commonly think about is a limit of care and tracking - up to [say] a hundred and fifty people I can actually know everybody pretty well, they can all know me, and if I were to hurt anybody I’m hurting the people that I’ve known for my whole life.

Something like universal interest of that group, or a communalist idea makes sense if there are no anonymous people, or very far spaces where I can externalise harm. I basically can’t externalise harm in the social commons when I know everybody well. I also can’t lie and have that be advantageous. 

There is a communication protocol that anyone who has information about something within that setting can inform a choice where that information would be relevant. They can actually communicate with everybody fairly easily. If there’s a really big choice to make everybody can sit around a tribal circle and actually be able to say something about it. As you get larger you just can’t do that.

I think there’s a strong cleaving basis in not wanting to be part of a group that would make decisions that I’ll be subjected to that I don’t get any say in - unless it’s really important. [For instance,] tribal warfare is starting to occur more often, and so having a larger group is really important. In which case the bonding energy exceeds the cleaving energy.


1:58:29 - We still have incentives to figure out how to game the game as long as we still have separate interest.

Separate interest - where any in-group can advantage itself at the expense of an out-group, or any individual can itself at the expense of other individuals; which is grounded all the way down to a private balance sheet -  is an inexorable basis of rivalry.

Rivalry, in a world of exponential tech, self-terminates. 

Given that I don’t think we can stop the progress of tech, I think we have to create fundamentally anti-rivalrous system, and I don’t think we can do that with capitalism, or private-property ownership as the basis of how we get access to things.


2:32:02 - I think we get a certain level of empathy up to the Dunbar number just through mirror neurone type effects - the fact that I know these people, they know me, we’ve lived together and so on. If they’re hurting, I’m going to see it because they aren’t somewhere far away. Similarly I’m less likely to pollute in an area I’m in than through an industrial supply chain that pollutes somewhere that I’m not.

Proximity [is significant because] as we start to get to much larger scales, when I [cause something] there is an effect but I don’t get a feedback loop on it. A broken open feedback loop is a problem. 



3:11:40 - I think that status is a hyper-normal stimuli […] what porn is to sex, sugar and salt and fat concentrated in a Frappuccino, or a McDonalds is to food - void of the actual nutrition […]

In an evolutionary environment we couldn’t necessarily have more than 150 people pay attention to us - now we can have a huge number of people pay attention to us and have it metricised with likes.

I think it is like sugar, a hyper-normal stimulus that is [unlikely] not to be bad for us, and we have to have a very mature relationship to it. Addiction of any kind - any hyper-normal stimulus that decreases normal stimulus - is going to end up being net bad for us.

I think one of the metrics for how healthy a society is, is inverse relationship to addictive dynamics. 

A healthy environment conditions people who are not prone to addiction, which means having more authenticity of choice. Addiction or compulsion writ large is less authenticity of choice.

If there is a healthy status relationship - in a tribal environment, where I can’t really lie and people are watching me, and know me - if I’m thought well of it’s because I’m actually doing well by everybody and I have authentic healthy relationships, as as opposed to [being able to] signal things that aren’t true, get more status though negative signalling about other people, and so on - that is the same kind of thing as the fast food, or the porn.

So I think we have a hypo-normal environment of the healthy stimulus which actually creates a baseline well being. Most people, when they go camping with their friends and they’re in nature in real authentic human relationships, they’re checking their phone for dopamine hits from email or Facebook less - because they’re actually having an authentic, meaningful, engaging interaction.

But in a world where there is a lot of isolation, [little] connection to nature and meaningfulness, that hypo-normal environment creates increased susceptibility to hyper-normal stimuli. Hyper-normal stimuli happen to be good for markets, because on the supply side addiction is good for the lifetime value of a customer, but is bad for society as a whole.

Attractors



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You get periods where there is no pattern, and then you get into an area where you get a particular pattern, and then you get into no pattern again. It’s a bit like old fashioned radios, where you tune the radio set and get a station, and then there’s a noise in between, and then you get the next station. You come in and out of these resonant frequencies.

These are like basins of attraction. [There are] patterns that we get at [certain] frequencies, and [there is a] minimum amplitude needed to create the pattern […] There is a point where you get the pattern clearly with a minimum of energy and there is an area around it where you have to have more energy to make [the pattern] happen.

If you look at the vibrations at these bits in between, what you see is something on the cusp... It’s what Chaos mathematicians call a ‘chaotic pattern’, where it is drawn between two attractors.

The in-between is an unstable area.

[Rupert Sheldrake]
Dynamic Patterns in Water as Analogue Models


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While studying turbulence, physicist David Ruelle (1971, 1980), coined the term strange attractor to describe the tendency of systems to move toward a fixed point, or to oscillate in a limited repeating cycle.

A pendulum is a good example of a fixed point attractor. It moves closer to its steady state over time, as it gives up energy to air friction.

Strange attractors imply that nature is constrained. The shape of chaos unfolds relative to the properties of the attractor.

An interesting property of the strange attractor is that initial conditions make little difference. As long as the starting points lie somewhere near the attractor, the system will rapidly converge upon the strange attractor. 

[David S. Walonick]
'General Systems Theory'


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Related posts:
The Colour Wheel
The Eternal Ideas
Escaping Uncertainty
In-between
Shades of Gray

Perspectivism


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Personal                              -                      Universal
Individual                           -                      Collective
Subjective                           -                      Objective

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Is it [...] impossible to present a view as true, by which one can live, without also presenting it as a view that is true necessarily, by which all must live?

[Alexander Nehamas]
Nietzsche: Life as Literature, p. 36


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The Poincaré map is a dimensional compression technique whereby three dimensions are displayed in two dimensional space. Unlike a photograph, which implies the third dimension through perspective, the Poincaré map involves the third dimension in its creation.

It is interesting to speculate on the nature of the patterns revealed by Poincaré maps. The map itself is created by using a line drawn through the origin as a reference for defining the y-axis of the map. Different maps are produced for each of the infinite selections of lines through the origin. Patterns appear and disappear depending on the selection of the reference line.

One interpretation might be that our concept of "order" is incorrect. We generally perceive of "order" as an absolute (i.e., the quest for the "true" nature of things). Poincaré maps imply that order is not an absolute, but rather, something that can only be understood relative to an observer.

An observer using one reference line might see order, while another observer using a different reference line might see chaos, or a completely different pattern. In other words, the nature of a system is a matter of perception and/or beliefs.

[David S. Walonick]
'General Systems Theory'


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The history of philosophy is to a great extent that of a certain clash of human temperaments.

Undignified as such a treatment may seem to some of my colleagues, I shall have to take account of this clash and explain a good many of the divergencies of philosophers by it. Of whatever temperament a professional philosopher is, he tries when philosophizing to sink the fact of his temperament. Temperament is no conventionally recognized reason, so he urges impersonal reasons only for his conclusions.

Yet his temperament really gives him a stronger bias than any of his more strictly objective premises. It loads the evidence for him one way or the other, making for a more sentimental or a more hard-hearted view of the universe, just as this fact or that principle would. He trusts his temperament.

Wanting a universe that suits it, he believes in any representation of the universe that does suit it. He feels men of opposite temper to be out of key with the world’s character, and in his heart considers them incompetent and 'not in it,' in the philosophic business, even tho they may far excel him in dialectical ability.

Most of us have, of course, no very definite intellectual temperament, we are a mixture of opposite ingredients, each one present very moderately. We hardly know our own preferences in abstract matters; some of us are easily talked out of them, and end by following the fashion or taking up with the beliefs of the most impressive philosopher in our neighborhood, whoever he may be.

But the one thing that has counted so far in philosophy is that a man should see things, see them straight in his own peculiar way, and be dissatisfied with any opposite way of seeing them.

[William James]
Pragmatism and Other Writings, p. 9


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Nietzsche is so suspicious of Plato and Socrates because he believes that their approach is essentially dogmatic. He attributes to them the view that their view is not simply a view but an accurate description of the real world which forces its own acceptance and makes an unconditional claim on everyone’s assent.

Apart from objecting to their specific ideas, he objects even more to the fact that philosophers “are not honest enough in their work,” that they write as if they had reached their ideas in an objective and disinterested manner, motivated only by the search for truth.

But according to him these same philosophers “are all advocates who resent that name, and for the most part even wily spokesmen for their prejudices which they baptise ‘truths’ - and very far from having the courage of the conscience that admits this, precisely this, to itself; very far from having the good taste or the courage which also lets this be known, whether to warn an enemy or friend, or, from exuberance, to mock itself.”

It is in the interest of dogmatic approaches to hide their specific origins; in this way that are enabled to make universal claims. 

Having an origin is being part of history, and this implies that it is at least possible also to have an end. It is just this possibility that, according to Nietzsche, dogmatism must render invisible, since it aims to be accepted necessarily and unconditionally - not as the product of a particular person or idiosyncrasy but as the result of a discovery about the unalterable features of the world.

This is one of the reasons, as we shall see, why Nietzsche engages in the practice he calls “genealogy,” for genealogy reveals the very particular, very interested origins from which actually emerge the views that we have forgotten are views and take instead as facts.

Nietzsche’s opposition to dogmatism does not consist in the paradoxical idea that it is wrong to think that one’s beliefs are true, but only in the view that one’s beliefs are not, and need not be, true for everyone.

[Dogmatism and metaphysics] are attempts to project one’s own views on the world, and they are just as much attempts to hide precisely this projection from themselves as well as from their audience.

They lack “the courage of the conscience” that either in warning or in mockery admits that the view being projected is nothing more than a reading onto the world of the conditions under which its own author can thrive, and which need not be the right conditions for everyone else […] 

Accepting a view is therefore not simply a question of assenting to a set of propositions, as the matter is sometimes put. It also involves accepting the values that are the preconditions of that view and the mode of life that is implied and made possible by those values.

And since Nietzsche believes that there is no mode of life that is proper, desirable, or indeed possible for everyone, he also holds, very consistently, that there is no set of views that commands universal assent by virtue of depending merely on the features of the world in itself or of human beings as such.

[Alexander Nehamas]
Nietzsche: Life as Literature, p. 32-4


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They pose as having discovered and attained their real opinions through the self-evolution of cold, pure, divinely unperturbed dialectic (in contrast to the mystics of every rank, who are more honest and more stupid than they - these speak of 'inspiration'): while what happens at bottom is that a prejudice, a notion, an 'inspiration', generally a desire of the heart sifted and made abstract, is defended by them with reasons sought after the event - they are one and all advocates who do not want to be regarded as such, and for the most part no better than cunning pleaders for their prejudices, which they baptize 'truths' - and very far from possessing the courage of the conscience which admits this fact to itself, very far from possessing the good taste of the courage which publishes this fact, whether to warn a foe or a friend or out of high spirits and in order to mock itself.

The tartuffery, as stiff as it is virtuous, of old Kant as he lures us along the dialectical bypaths which lead, more correctly, mislead, to his 'categorical imperative' - this spectacle makes us smile, we who are fastidious and find no little amusement in observing the subtle tricks of old moralists and moral-preachers.

Not to speak of that hocus-pocus of mathematical form in which, as in iron, Spinoza encased and masked his philosophy - 'the love of his wisdom', to render that word fairly and squarely - so as to strike terror into the heart of any assailant who should dare to glance at that invincible maiden and Pallas Athene - how much timidity and vulnerability this masquerade of a sick recluse betrays!

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
Beyond Good and Evil, 5, p.18-19


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The kind of blogging I do has to be based in personal obsession, in spats and rivalry, in a kind of light, oblique but perpetual autobiography.

There has to be a subject for all this data to make any sort of situated sense, and that subject has to be seen to have a body, clothes, a way to wear those clothes, and so on.

As soon as I get tugged out of that embodied, situated world I get bored and anxious and mistrustful.

I want to know always who's speaking, how old they are, what culture they were raised in, what their vested interests are, and so on.

For me, the Anon is suspicious because I can't see what s/he looks like or what life his/her comment is rooted in. For the Anons (or some of them), I'm the suspicious one, because my comments are far too obviously rooted in an ego, a persona.

[Momus]


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An interpretation can appear to be binding on everyone only if the fact that it is an interpretation remains hidden. And this can be achieved only if the interpretation in question is presented as a view that is objectively true of the world and is addressed to all human beings simply as human beings, as rational agents, or […] as children of God.

To say of a view that it is an interpretation is not to say that it is false. It is, rather, to say that it is a view that, like all views, is produced by specific interests, for specific purposes, and that it is appropriate for specific types of people. 

And though this does not make the issue of truth irrelevant, the ultimate question to be asked of an interpretation concerns the interests it promotes: for what type of person is it appropriate? Whom does it benefit? […] interpretation is always an effort to reveal and make obvious the character, the type of person, and the type of life which a view promotes and elevates.

Nietzsche believed that the goal of every philosophical view is to present a picture of the world and a conception of values which makes a certain type of person possible and which allows it to prosper and to flourish. 

“We seek picture of the world in that philosophy in which we feel freest; i.e., in which our most powerful drive feels free to function […]”

[…] asceticism denies the radical contingency of history, the fact that every institution is subject to change, revision, and even elimination. But even more important, it denies that many modes of life are possible at the same time, and that this pluralism, despite its undeniable dangers, holds greater promise than the uniform levelling that Nietzsche finds to be implicit in Christianity and in all other absolutist codes.

[Alexander Nehamas]
Nietzsche: Life as Literature, p. 126-9


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Related posts:
The Colour Wheel
Assuming a Position
Do Not Disturb
Rules of Engagement
What are you selling?
A necessary lie
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Daniel Schmachtenberger - The Future Thinkers Podcast (46)

'46: Daniel Schmachtenberger - Phase Shifting Humanity'
The Future Thinkers Podcast


27:19 - We take this tree, with this radical, contextualised, complex value, and take it out of its context and give it this reduced, abstracted, simplified value metric. 

We’ve done that to eighty percent of the old growth forests that the earth has spent billions of years developing, [and] 90% of the large fish species in the ocean. What does that capital then really do, other than continue to [reproduce and maintain itself].

It’s a process of abstracting value - from complex value to abstract value - and then extracting and accumulating it. Capitalism does that, but socialism and communism have other versions of doing [- they] were really only subsets of this kind of resource concentration system

That’s the core, that’s the ring of power that has to be broken: abstraction of value, and specifically a reductive abstraction; extraction, so you remove the content form its context; and accumulation.

And that’s how you take a complex system - that is resilient -and turn it into a complicated system - that is not resilient, that is becoming progressively simpler - and kill it.

Eric Weinstein (Notes)

Eric Weinstein: Revolutionary Ideas in Science, Math, and Society | Artificial Intelligence Podcast
Artificial Intelligence Podcast



33:13 - I don’t trust [Steven Pinker’s] optimism […] more and more kinetic energy, like war, has been turned into potential energy, like unused nuclear weapons - [but] if you don’t have a potential energy term, then everything’s just getting better and better.

Daniel Schmachtenberger (Notes)

'War on Sensemaking 4: Pandemic & Conspiracy, Daniel Schmachtenberger'
Rebel Wisdom



29:53 - One of the things that I find with regard to conspiracy [is that] people have an aesthetic bias, where anything they hear as a conspiracy is rejected up front. They just auto-reject it without studying it, even though history shows how much people have conspired.

On the other hand there are people who, if they hear any conspiracy they assume it’s probably true and if they hear that anything came from an authoritative institution it’s probably corrupt.



36:10A lot of people have a strong bias towards wanting certainty. Which means that they will adopt more certainty than the epistemic that they went through should warrant. 

It’s generally wanting security, and conflating security and certainty. Recognising how big of an infinity the unknowable is [means we have] to make very deep friends with uncertainty to not be mentally ill. That doesn’t mean that [because] there is uncertainty […] nothing can possibly be known - the fact that I can’t know anything with perfect certainty doesn’t mean that I can’t know things with much higher relative certainty based on certain epistemic processes that inform my action.

A mature relationship with certainty and uncertainty [means] that [we’re] not uncomfortable with either. 

There are a lot of people [with a postmodern mindset] who are actually uncomfortable with any uncertainties, even relative ones. The assumption [is] that all certainty is probably imperialism. But there is a lot we can say with pretty high certainty about [for instance] the molecular properties of water, or the speed of sound, or [other things] that are pretty well established.

It is important to seek certainty - to seek a better and better undemanding of reality [in order] to inform more responsible choice-making. In order to do that I have to admit and be comfortable with [an] amount of uncertainty, so that I can assess where I’m currently at and [ascertain how to progress].



42:12 -  Do I think that there are people erring on the side of unfounded conspiracy theories, and with more certainty - yes, definitely.

Do I think there are also other people erring on the side of being comfortable with more authoritarianism […] that are actually under-paranoid about what we the authorities are telling them and how they will handle things - yes. 

I think that both of those are happening, nearly equally. I’m more concerned by the second one.

I think that there is a problem with people saying that there isn’t a virus, but I think the people who call for national security actions to solve this - that leave authority states - also creates a problem that could be worse than the virus.




50:39 - I definitely see people that have a towards or away-from conspiracy bias, that corresponds with their general bias in how they relate to authorities. 

(This is a pattern that we can observe enough of the time that it’s interesting to look at. The reason I’m careful in saying things like this, is that when someone over-norms their patterns that’s where sense-making becomes bad).

I have seen, relatively often, people who generally think that government bodies [...] mostly regulate in the right interest, [and that] you can largely trust authorities. These people also generally have a frame that ‘things are mostly getting better in the world.’

Generally those people did better in childhood - at school [for instance]. Often times their parents were more successful, or they did better relative to them. So they have this experience that ‘the system actually works for me, and that the authorities are actually trustworthy, and that I have a good relationship with them’.

This creates an intuitive, felt sense, wherein even if they’re in an environment where that’s not true ([even] if it was true in the little micro-environment of their childhood) that’s still the felt sense. They sometimes will keep that forever, or sometimes they have to be disabused of it at some point.

Other people have the general sense that most authorities are probably corrupt and probably abusing power, and that most institutions can’t be trusted, and that people with less power can be trusted more, and [that] there is usually some process of corruption that is required for climbing power ladders.

Those people generally weren’t very successful at climbing the ladders, and often had authorities around that abused power or [had a negative experience with authority] whether that was school, or church, or whatever it was.

I’m giving an example of a kind of bias that can occur which is a towards or against authority bias; a kind of result that can happen - more likely to believe in conspiracies that the authorities are bad, or more likely to reject that the authorities are bad; and the kind of developmental environment that could give rise to it.

Daniel Schmachtenberger (Notes)

36: Daniel Schmachtenberger - Phase Shifting Humanity
The Future Thinkers Podcast



2:21 - I wouldn’t talk in terms of an ultimate system, I’d talk in terms of ongoing evolution - so rather than utopian, as one has previously thought of a perfected system, we’re going to think of a protoptian process of emergence into more elegantly ordered complexity that has more and more emergent properties.



6:29 - We were under half a billion population for all of human history as far as we know - two hundred plus thousand years - until the industrial revolution, and then in just over two hundred years we went up to over seven billion people and growing. That is a profound exponential population curve.

Not only have we been growing in population but we have been growing in resource consumption per capita, so this is a mutiplicative issue.



9:40 - The technologies it takes to build this kind of sustainable regenerative, thriving new set of world systems is technology that we developed via capitalism and linear materials economy, and the military industrial complex.

So they served an evolutionary relevance in terms of where we’re going and they have just completed a particular evolutionary relevant life cycle and now we’re going through a discreet phase shift into a new life cycle, very much like a fetal time period. 

An embryonic time period is unsustainable - a baby couldn’t stay in the belly after 40 weeks, that’s not how it works. It’s a finite evolutionary period of unsustainable development, to then go through a discreet phase shift into a fundamentally new period.



14:45 - If we define a civilisation where we have a sustainable population that does not require imposition from the outside - some kind of eugenics, or birth-limiting programme - it is an emergent, self-organising phenomena.

We’ve already seen places in the world where, when education gets high enough, economics, female empowerment, etc - populations stabilises, and can even decrease to find the right level. We’ve seen that in Japan, and some of the Scandinavian countries.

So to have a steady-state population that is within the sustainable caring capacity of the planet connected to a post-growth materials economy, where the materials that we are using are being designed in a cradle-to-cradle way. Their recyclability after use is built in and there is no such thing as waste. The new stuff is being made from old stuff so it doesn’t require virgin resource acquisition.

We have a system that doesn’t require trash or extraction - that’s what post growth means, is post necessity for growth, so it actually can be sustainable. And we just keep increasing the efficiency of how we utilise those resource and attenuating the forms that they are in.



17:57 - The other major thing that economics has done is human incentive.

When there is a bunch of shitty jobs that society needs done for the quality of life that is related to infrastructure - that nobody, if they didn’t have to, would want to spend all of their life doing - then we need to get people to do these jobs. Adam Smith talked about this, Marx did - this is the core of economic theory.

So if you do some kind of communism, where everyone’s needs are met by the system, then how do you get the people to do the shitty jobs? The state has to force them, and we call that imperialism and that’s why we don’t like communism.

Capitalism says, we’ll let the free market force them - if they don’t do the shitty jobs, they just go homeless. That’s really not freedom - it just moved the forcing function from the state to the market. 



24:50 - There is an important difference between appreciable wealth and exchangeable wealth. When we think about a rainbow or someone complimenting you, or seeing a smile, it’s not extractable and exchangeable wealth for anyone. None of these are things you can put on a balance sheet. But when you think about what makes life most rich, it’s largely these things - that fit into appreciable, but not quantifiable wealth.

One of the beautiful things that happens when the primary balance sheet that we’re paying attention to is the balance sheet of the commons - the natural world commons, and the built world commons, that everyone has access to without possessing - is that we have a system that gets to start optimising for appreciable wealth generation. We’re not only focused on exchangeable wealth accounting systems.



27:05 - One of the issues of the inability to make sense of almost anything is how much of any news or idea has some kind of financial interest associated with it. 

How much education is an advertorial? How much of science is actually just the R&D arm of capitalism funded by something that has a vested interest attached?

Think about what it means to create system that remove all of those agents so that there are no vested interest agendas.



29:55 - That’s the key of the future of macro-economics - the alignment of agency and wellbeing, and that correlates with closing the loop.

We’re closing the loop between agency of individuals/well being of others - moving from an open loop system, where I could affect things but not internalise those effects in the cost equation, to [a system where] all [affects are] internalised in the cost equation.

That corresponds to a world view where my sense of self and my sense of the rest of the universe are not fundamentally separate concepts. I wouldn’t exist without oxygen, or the plants that make the oxygen, or the bugs and fungus that makes the plants work to make the oxygen.

I am not an individual. I have a self-organising membrane that has some individuality to it but I am an emergent property of everything else. 

So when you close the loop between sense of self and sense of others, then what’s in my best interest [is] whats in the best interest of others. There is loop closure between ‘advantage self at the expense of others’ or ‘sacrifice self for the well being of others’, both of which are nonsense in a radically interconnected system.

What we’re looking at is closing all the causal loops so that everything that influences decision making is being informed by everything being influenced.



35:47 Economics conditions human behaviour. And infrastructure actually conditions human behaviour - it ends up being not net-neutral mimetically. 

If you have infrastructure where the only way to get electricity is from coal, which we know is causing inexorable harm to other life - you cannot have full empathy in that infrastructural system.

You actually have to down-regulate your empathy to justify getting along. You’ll not want to look at certain pictures and videos because you know you’re contributing to things you can’t really handle contributing to.

You’ll turn down your awareness, you’ll change your behaviour, you’ll turn down empathy, because infrastructure is actually predisposing patterns of mimetics and behaviour.



41:08 - There is a foundational principle that says complexity will evolve within any organisational system inexorably, because there’s movement, and with movement there are self-interacting dynamics, and that’s going to lead to increased complexity.

Complexity will evolve within any organisational system until it actually exceeds that systems capacity to manage it. When it exceeds it you will get increased chaos, and then increased entropy, and then the dissolution of the organisational system.

Then you’ll get the entropic step down to the previous level of organisation, or out of the chaos you get the emergence of a higher level of organisation.

That’s the place I’d say we’re at globally.


Deviance



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[...] the Eskimos have a word, kunlangeta, which means “his mind knows what to do but he does not do it.” This is an abstract term for the breaking of many rules when awareness of the rules is not in question.

It might be applied to a man who, for example, repeatedly lies and cheats and steals things and does not go hunting and, when the other men are out of the village, takes sexual advantage of many women - someone who does not pay attention to reprimands and who is always being brought to the elders for punishment. One Eskimo among the 499 on their island was called kunlangeta.

When asked what would have happened to such a person traditionally, an Eskimo said that probably “somebody would have pushed him off the ice when nobody else was looking”.

The Yorubas have a similarly abstract word, arankan, which means a person who always goes his own way regardless of others, who is uncooperative, full of malice, and bullheaded.

There are parallels between kunlangeta and arankan and our concept “psychopath” - someone who consistently violates the norms of society in multiple ways. Also some of the specific acts of wrongdoing which Eskimos and Yorubas recognise might in our society be called evidence of “personality disorders.” In Western psychiatry, this term refers to sexual deviations, excessive use of drugs or alcohol, and a variety of behaviours that primarily cause trouble for other people rather than for the doer.

It is of considerable interest that kunlangeta and arankan are not behaviours that the shamans and healers are believed to be able to cure or change. As a matter of fact, when I pressed this point with the Yoruba healers they specifically denied that these patterns are illness.

[Jane M. Murphy]
'Psychiatric Labeling in Cross-Cultural Perspective', Science, Vol 191, p. 1026


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