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[ox-en] conceiving the vision of an algorithmic economy combined with social credits

from a private conversation with Michel, Marcin and others.

----- Original Message -----


great piece. I suppose I may forward this to the Oekonux list because it
is really an eye - opener in respect to the limited imaginations when it
comes to our societal future.

The only thing we should consider is we are not working towards the
replicator on which Bradbury or Star Trek is based. The replicator indeed
would need this only imaginary complete "digitisation" of matter to work.
Thats not the way matter works, nor is it a meaningful contribution to
human development....Humans should be the stewards of the existing web of
life and we are allready in dangerous separation....Rather than that, we
are finding the true generic algorithms that form what we call "life" in
its broadest sense. Christopher Alexander gives an account of this in his
book on the "Nature of Order" - Patterns are
materialized algorithms in a way, structures that reinforce and complement
each other. It is not one universal machine we are looking for but the
multitude of real life transformers according to the processes that are

The energies and patterns that we discover and co-develop are intelligent
living algorithms and thus they are active producing agents of material
processes. Their discovery and realization means wealth for ever, in the
frameworks that you so aptly described.

That is the main axis of societal change. It can only be reached by
research. Research is the most political and meaningful activity today. We
must learn to devote our lives to this research and understand the vast
dimensions necessary. Probably we must top the research needed to produce
the industrial society by a factor of ten or hundred! We need Millions of
researchers, independent and creative minds, and my suggestion is that
they group around basic ideas like Global Villages as human habitat
embedded in a self maintaining cycle with natural energies and agents. But
of course also others. 

Global Villages is one of the patterns I hold valid, and it is the pattern
around which I see a research community emerging.

All the best

I will be offline for some time out of health reasons but I hope for a
vivid discussion. Thanks to Raoul for his wonderful piece on
demonetisation, too.


Eric Huntin wrote:

What I was referring to was Alvin Toffler's three 'waves' of  
civilization, which the title of his book The Third Wave comes from.  
They aren't a transition from resource economies to social credit  
systems but rather the three larger paradigms of civilization;  
agrarian, industrial, and post-industrial. As Toffler defined these,  
the agrarian wave was defined by the characteristics of agricultural  
technology, human, animal, and wind/animal water-based transportation,  
and bulky low-density renewable energy sources like wood, charcoal,  
and animal power, and its key cultural ideas included delayed  
gratification (work now for benefit in the future), perpetual property  
ownership with wealth through land ownership and offspring, filial  
piety creating large cohesive family units, larger than nomadic  
stationary communities with a claim to large territories and organized  
'standing' defense, formalized trade over longer distances and through  
stationary markets, myth- based models of nature (even if the  
philosophy of the scientific method originated during this wave),  
social classes based on caste systems, slavery, divine right and  
feudalism, colonialism, and so on.

The industrial wave was characterized by machine production  
technologies, mechanized transportation, large systems of automatic  
resource distribution (water and energy grids), and water, wind, and  
(though machine industry started running on wind and water and steam  
technology started running on wood) non-renewable fossil fuel energy  
with very high energy density. Its key cultural memes were  
enlightenment philosophies and scientific models of nature,  
massification (efficiency through standardization and mass production/ 
processing), complex finance based on uniform abstract labor-indexed  
currency including credit and insurance systems enabling uniform mass  
taxation, large republican nation-states (enabled by that uniform  
currency concept), nuclear families with allegiance to nation-states  
rather than extended families and regional communities, state-based  
mass social services, Taylorism, Malthusianism, Darwinsim, etc.

The post-industrial wave is characterized by information technologies  
and global networking, flexible automation through machine  
intelligence, miniaturization and ephemerization of technology, and a  
return to renewable energy in more advanced forms. It's dominant meme  
is demassification (reclamation of freedom, identity, self-expression,  
time, and quality of life through deconstruction of massified systems  
and the flattening of hierarchies) resulting in such ideas and trends  
as decentralization and personalization of production, global social  
networking and multinational peer-to-peer activity, deconstruction of  
nation-states and their financial systems, obsolescence of currency in  
favor of automated demand-driven resource economics based on global  
commons, reinvention of the family in non-traditional forms (gay  
marriage, multi-party marriage, non-related non-married family units,  
new tribes), reinvention of functional community and the  
reestablishment of community-based social support/service systems, etc.

Agrarian wave economics were indeed initially resource based  
economics. But when futurists refer to 'resource based economics'  
today, in a post-industrial context, they're usually talking about  
systems where global resources are managed rather like municipal  
utilities and as a result currencies become redundant. No one 'owns'  
water. Communities create facilities for its collection and  
distribution as a public utility. Imagine that all resources and many  
commodities were treated this same way and you have part of the  
picture of what a resource based economy means. Such systems are  
anticipated to evolve from global digital networked market systems  
that become 'commoditized' by the trends in decentralization of  
production. In other words, because production is local, markets stop  
trading in finished products and labor and start dealing in a broad  
spectrum of commodities in increasingly fractionalized unit volumes  
evolving toward just the Periodic Table plus energy. Soon they become  
so efficient -as commodities markets tend to if left to their own  
devices- that they come to 'know' in an algorithmic sense the full  
extent of world resources and demand and their respective cycles and  
'bandwidth', eliminate currency as a metric of market values by  
allowing resource values to be indexed relative to each other, and  
eliminate profit and speculation by compelling capitulation (the  
tendency of participants in a market to conform collectively to its  
trends) and driving the market toward equilibrium. At this point the  
system stops being a market for resources and commodities and becomes  
an Internet (an open-Internet) for them instead, compelling the  
relinquishing of individual control of resources and the management of  
their exploitation to the system itself as a world utility driven by  
demand. The result is a money-less society where all resources are  
free, within reason, and distributed automatically in response to  
demand. This is what futurist Jacque Fresco has dubbed Cybernation;  
world resources managed as a global societal commons by a demand- 
driven computer-based world utility.

The idea of a social credit system may derive from this resource  
Internet in the context of how it would deal with the human component  
of its creation and maintenance. In essence, the idea of a social  
credit economic system is based on people being allowed more bandwidth  
of resources relative to the reputation they build in the society as  
whole, this reputation digitally tracked life-long, and the public  
opinion of a particular activity they are engaged in. It's sort of  
like having a system that Googles your name regularly to see how many  
people know you on-line and how positive their opinions of you and  
then assigns you a credit rating based on that on the premise that  
what you do has a certain greater than average value to the society. I  
sometimes call this Star Trek Economics because the concept was first  
presented in the popular culture in the Star Trek TV series.

In Ray Bradbury's vision of the future we arrive at a moneyless  
resource-based economy founded on 'replicator' use; a replicator being  
a machine that synthesizes anything it has a computer model for from  
pure energy and can recycle it back into energy, with some net loss.  
Thus the global resource budget is simplified to an energy budget.  
Everyone who lives in the Federation of Planets can use replicators to  
make whatever they want when they want it -within reason. You can't  
have everyone going Imelda Marcos on this and luckily most people  
won't because irrational overconsumption is a product of mental  
illness and the culture will treat it as such. (unlike today where we  
casually tolerate public displays of insanity by anyone who is rich  
enough) The system tracks everyone's replicator use just like Internet  
service providers track your personal bandwidth use and if it sees  
that it has become aberrant it raises the WTF flag and a psychiatric  
'counselor' calls you on your lapel communicator and asks you if you  
really did need those five thousand Swarovski crystal-studded pokemon  
figurines. But, in fact, sometimes people have rational reasons for  
needing more than the usual amount of resources, usually because of a  
specific project associated with a vocation; the artist who wants to  
build a large public sculpture, the scientist who wants to build a  
supercollider, the engineer who want to build a spacecraft, the night  
club operator who wants to make a new public party venue. This is  
where 'social credit' comes into play. In Star Trek, if you have  
distinguished yourself 'professionally' and socially as a member of  
the Federation or if the community of your professional peers thinks  
your work is worthy then you get assigned a higher personal energy  
budget based on the assumption that, by the measure of your  
reputation, what you do with this is likely to have value to the whole  
society. You may be assigned this higher budget based on reputation in  
general or it may be temporary, leant from the budgets of your  
personal advocates/supporters, or limited to a specific project. Now,  
this doesn't preclude you going out into deep uninhabited space and  
setting up your own infrastructure so you can make all the pokemon  
figures you want without justifying it to someone else but most people  
won't abandon society to do that -which is probably why, in Star Trek,  
space -like the Earth's near-wildernesses- tends to be inhabited by a  
lot of strange people.

A resource based economic system -a resource Internet- is likely to  
produce a social credit system like this by its own need for  
altruistic human intervention to build and maintain its  
infrastructure. This system would just be a mass of software; an on- 
line trading system that evolved into an expert system. It's not like  
HAL9000 or Colossus. It can't make people do anything by threat of  
punishment or the like. It relies on people 'getting it' and  
voluntarily following its requests for facilities here or there on the  
premise that they're doing good for the society. In reward for this  
aid, it can assign people a slightly higher resource bandwidth than  
average. It's not payment. Everyone who links up to this system will  
get full access to as much as they could -on average- want with the  
system seeking to raise the bar as high as possible to keep it above  
the average of people's desires for personal comfort yet within the  
limits of environmental sustainability -which is pretty high when you  
factor-out all of today's waste and greed. So this bonus is offered on  
the assumption that because these people altruistically helped this  
system they will likely use whatever extra bandwidth for a similarly  
altruistic purpose. From this would come the notion of digitally  
tracking reputation and socially beneficial activity as a way of  
anticipating the demand for the similar activities such people are  
likely to need such extra resources for in the future and assigning  
resource credit accordingly. In effect, the system -just like when it  
was a commodities exchange market- automatically economically  
speculates on your socially progressive behavior! And so we arrive at  
a system of social credit economics. This might sound like a kind of  
communism but there are no political parties or bureaucratic  
institutions or nation-states here. There's just this distributed  
networked machine that scientifically knows the planet Earth extremely  
well, tries to anticipate and give you everything you ask it for, asks  
you for help in doing that from time to time, lets you have extra when  
it knows you'll do good things with it, and occasionally may alert  
your neighbors to come and question your goofy behavior. Would this be  
something open to abuse? Of course! That's what culture and community  
exist to control. It's not the Internet's job to anticipate and factor  
out every possible kind of rudeness, stupidity, or insanity that  
humans may perpetrate with it. That's our job. Besides, we still need  
something to craft SciFi plot devices out of.

Eric Hunting

Contact: projekt

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