Saturday, May 2, 2015

How Freedom of Information will Change the World

Another rescue from's wholesale deletion of my articles.

So, 2012 has ended and everywhere you look, despite our having survived the “end of the world” you see pessimism, gloom, doom and negativity. No matter where you live, it seems everyone is convinced that there’s just no hope. So many people have stopped trying to do anything, while they “wait for god” or “wait for the Singularity.” Or simply wait, period.
The negativity is everywhere.
So, here’s one of my longwinded rambling rants, against that negativity.

So, you feel doomed, feel like the corporations have won, that nothing will ever change, or that if it does, the same old same old will make sure that you never get to share in the glorious new future? That only the rich will have immortality, that corporations will ensure that nanofactories are DRM’d, that nothing is ever free, and that the future is one in which Big Brother will control everything in one immortal Dictatorship?
Trust me, I can understand your pessimism. You’ve been handed this line of BS for so long it’s easy to see how so many of you can think it’s the only truth out there.
However, you’d be wrong. The future is not going to be a dictatorial corporate dystopia in which the “elites” rule all while the rest of us exist at the fringe of things, barely scraping by.
You see, that future requires one very necessary element that is missing. Control of information. That control, while efforts are being made to try and get it back, has been missing since the introduction of the internet. Why? The internet allows the universal dissemination of information.
DRM has been being tried for how many years now? It’s still useless. Anyone who is seriously interested can find a way around DRM. The same goes for nearly every other form of “control” that has been tried to re-establish a centralized system of information dissemination.
The feudal system ended when the printing press arrived. Information was suddenly available and accessible to the masses. The Social order was over turned when the knowledge previously controlled by the Church was suddenly uncontrolled. Knowledge previously hard to obtain in very rare tomes owned by only a few suddenly was being passed around by many. The Reformation occurred because the common man could now access the knowledge once only the priests could read.
All forms of Tyranny depend on suppression of knowledge. Our history has proved this time and again. Suppression doesn’t work forever though. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Our modern “war on drugs” certainly hasn’t, and as Climategate and Wikileaks has proved, all it takes is one leak on the internet to open a huge can of worms.
For example, a DRM controlled nanofactory might be tried. But as sure as a black market for drugs appeared as soon as they were made illegal, and a million DRM free mp3 sites sprung up following the attempts to ban music sharing, a black market for non-DRM nanofactories will occur.
And as Drexler pointed out, all it takes is one single self-replicating nanofactory to create a world filled with them.
We’ve been slaves to the Corporatocracy. But we’re moving out of that phase now. They are trying like hell to restore their power through lobbying to kill reform in health and finance and eliminate net neutrality, but all they are truly doing is spending millions on efforts that will fail. They may buy a few more years of life, but that is all.
The only ones who will survive are those who adapt to the new realities. Google seems like it might do well, but those who continue to cling to the past won’t.
We’re at the start of the elbow curve for the internet. It’s been growing in power slowly, but the next decade it is going to skyrocket in influence, especially once VR becomes commonplace.
In 20 years… there may not be a tyrant left standing.
First, the false form of capitalism practiced by the corporate system is dying. It is suffering its death throes right now as we speak, and is desperately doing everything it can to latch a stranglehold onto a lifeline of government bailouts. The era of big corporations is coming rapidly to a close. Either they will be shoved out of the government feeding trough and die normally, or they will bankrupt the government and collapse with it. Either way, corrupt crony capitalism is doomed. The only question is how many years it will take (not decades) and how many people they make suffer and die along with them.
And for those of you thinking that Corporations will never allow this, you have to understand that Corporations will quite happily do themselves in.
The first company to develop cheap robot labor forces will use it. They will quite happily spend billions to put it to work for them, because it will give them a HUGE advantage over their competition.
At which point every company has to do it, or perish.
Shortly thereafter, when all companies have the tech, prices will plummet, because each company will be fighting to sell more products than the others. Due to fast robotic production, fast development times, and the pressure to constantly stay ahead of competition, smaller and smaller lots will become normal, customization will dominate, and R&D and design will become the primary function of the companies. Additionally, since “customers” and “workers” are one and the same thing, as they reduce their human workforce, they will reduce the number of people who can afford to “buy” at higher profit margins.
Eventually one company will figure out that it’s too expensive to maintain manufacturing facilities when they can put desktop units in every home and simply concentrate on design and R&D sold online to customers who can “print” it out at home. Due to the fact that a home unit could easily build all the parts for another home unit, there’s very little profit to be made “selling” the printers, but lots of money to be made in “branded” designs.
But as individuals begin building a database of “open source” designs, even professional designs will begin to have to be charged less and less for.
And this applies not only to manufacturing, but almost every business you can think of.
Cheap robot labor is inevitable. And once it is available, it WILL dominate the business world, because it’ll be the only way to continue to profit… and that very fact will drive the final nails in crony capitalism.
Groups can fight, try to suppress, and ban and outlaw, and all that will occur is the one company which embraces the new technology will begin looking at the rest as lunch.
It’s a dog eat dog world after all.
As for how soon… well if you are a roboticist, you might find this interesting: ( )
To summarize. Graphene directly used in modern chip making processes as a replacement for copper. Orders of magnitude greater conductivity, lower resistance heating, and uses the same technology as currently used to make silicon chips.
Which means the GHz wars are about to start again, with multicore technology.
We are likely to see a leap of an order of magnitude in processing power with 6-10 ghz multicore chips running cooler than current chips on less power, and all in the space of just a few more years. By 2013 or 2014, we just might have enough computing power to run those cheap labor bots. (and yes, this is lagging a bit, but given new information on graphene development, it still appears likely to begin in this decade)

Cheap labor cannot be any cheaper than that provided by robots.
The sole reason that robots have not already replaced humans at many jobs is that they are not intelligent enough to do many of the tasks which humans do. That is changing. We are constantly creating software in which human knowledge is reduced into a series of tasks, all working together. These programs take certain kinds of human knowledge, and make it available to anyone. 30 years ago someone needed extremely good knowledge of the rules of the English language to be an editor. Word now will correct your spelling and grammar as you type. Many of the skills and abilities used in day to day work are all rules based, and therefore able to be done via software of sufficient complexity.
Manufacturing works on the basis that you have to pay people to do the labor. But a robot intelligent enough to cope with the rules needed to cope with nearly any manufacturing job is going to be available soon. It will not only be able to do the job, but will most certainly be designed to do it faster than a human can.
So say the first robot costs the same as the annual salary, benefits, taxes and whatever other expenses exist for 1 single human worker. Downtime, repairs, and daily maintenance is equal to the time spent in breaks, lunches, bathroom breaks, and sick time over the course of the year.
Consider it a 1 to 1 identical cost.
That robot doesn't tire. It doesn't suffer mental fatigue, it doesn't get distracted. It also doesn't need sleep.
By year’s end, working all three shifts, minus maintenance, repairs, and unforeseen events, that robot has done the job of three people for the cost of one.
In other words, it paid for itself, and two more just like it. Next year, since it’s already paid for, it will pay for three more identical units. Meanwhile, those other two units will have also paid for three other units. That's nine additional units by the end of the year, doing the work of 27 people.
Simple math. If the job cost’s can be reduced to 1/3rd, then that equals 2/3′s more profit. 2/3rds more profit than your competitors means you can reduce your products price by 1/3, still make what your competitor does, and totally undercut his product, ensuring that your company makes even more profit than it did originally. You will continue to rake in profits until your competitor also buys robots and can compete with your price.
So, follow this to its ultimate end, you have a society in which material wealth is meaningless. A society where a ton of gold holds no more value than a modern copper penny, if that.
But that is not to say that there will be nothing of value. But that will be in the form of data, not material goods. The “Poor” of the future will be those who have nothing of value datawise, but who will still be able to live without hunger, disease, or lack of any material luxury they may wish.
In the words of Micheal Douglas in “Wall Street”, “Greed is Good”. And I have every belief that corporations will do anything to game the system. I depend on it actually. As an American Citizen I am quite well aware of exactly how hard they are willing to play to make a profit. That’s why I’m not really worried about the economy. Companies are still reaping the vast wealth of cannibalizing each other, but that well is tapped out, so it will be on to the next victim. Very soon I expect prices for many things to actually start falling in order to maximize how much money can be leeched out of America’s pockets. Probably sooner I expect to see some new companies releasing the “next big thing” and needing workers. The big companies might not have realized it before, but they’re not going to be able to simply pull up and leave, because if one major economy falls, the whole ball of wax might collapse. The world is just too small these days for them to escape the mess if they don’t begin taking their own steps to improve the economy.
There will be turmoil, Chaos, and far more human misery than I could wish, but I don’t believe in doomsday, nor do I believe the human race will allow itself to go extinct. I most especially do not see the predators on the human race allowing their food source to perish, though that food source will change from material wealth to intellectual wealth. Call me a cynic if you want, call me an optimist, whatever, but I have a deep and abiding faith in the self serving nature of corporate greed, and it’s ability to adapt and profit.
And provide humanity with unlimited material wealth.
And no, it’s not because I believe humanity will suddenly turn altruistic, because most people don’t realize altruism is as based on selfishness as most other human impulses, my friend. You give not because it helps someone, but because YOU feel better for it. You give to satisfy your own personal needs.
The same with value of intellectual wealth. You have a great idea! Fantastic! It will CHANGE THE WORLD!!!
But it can only do that if you SHARE it with the world.
A mountain of gold is utterly without value if there is no-one to exchange it with for other things.
Wealth only exists in a collective.
You have to understand that the human animal is at heart and genetics, an ANIMAL. We are ruled by Alpha Dominance pack instincts, which is both the biggest danger we face, and in a perverse sense, our biggest advantage next to our intelligence.
Accumulation of wealth is part of that instinct. Greed = Control of more resources = Proof of Dominance = superior breeding material = greater chances of sex = more opportunities to pass on genes.
To be honest, almost everything we do when broken down to its most basic level is about sex. Reproduction is the ONLY thing our genes give a damn about. Wealth, fame, glory, all of the things we humans struggle and fight for, these are all things which arose because our genes wanted to increase our chances of passing them on.
That will not cease. We will still be driven to accumulate wealth to prove our superiority over other potential mates. Wealth will still exist. It is the NATURE of that wealth which will change.
The rich will be those who lead the pack which contributes most to producing knowledge, the Heads of the R&D departments whose designs are downloaded most and copied most often. The CEO’s of the most bleeding edge research firms. The genius who’s gathered a pack of geniuses doing the next big thing.
Today, these people work for money. Many of them do it because they love what they do so much they don’t give a damn about the money. They are unlikely to stop simply because money no longer means anything. That Social Status will continue to reward them once everything money could buy is free.
There will indeed be those who don’t give a damn about contributing, but will only consume. They exist today as well, and in every age they serve a purpose. But in a world where people can live for centuries, are free to educate themselves in whatever they are interested in, and pursue any goal they chose without a worry about failure, then many people will chose to contribute to earn those social “brownie points” and social rewards.
Everything we do is about survival, and social standing. The economy of abundance will eliminate the need to struggle for survival. VR, Cybernetics, Gene engineering, and many other technologies will make us all look however we wish, leveling the social playing field.
It will not however, make us not be Alpha Dominant pack animals, unless we CHOOSE to stop being them. Since doing so more or less means eliminating our sex drive, I seriously doubt we will choose to do so. We will reign it in, most assuredly, by rigidly controlling our ability to conceive, which will essentially free sex from procreation to the point that I’m fairly sure we’ll have about as many taboos about sex as the ancient greeks and romans… which is to say none at all.
But we will still seek the social rewards of approval from our peers, acknowledgement from non-peers, and even such status symbols as fame or stardom.
Not because of any material reward, but because it will provide those social awards we crave.
Additionally, an enormous part of the darker side of human nature is due to scarcity. We do bad things to get for ourselves things we think we cannot get any other way. Unlimited material wealth is going to eliminate many of the causes of human misery, but it’s not going to change people.
But there are other technologies we will use that will mitigate those as well.
However fully covering those will take far more space than I think I can get away with, so I’ll just leave it at this: We face a future in which almost anything is possible. Every path that does not lead to destruction leads inevitably to this future. Every non terminating path goes to the Singularity.
The ONLY choice we have is how many bodies we are going to pave the road with to get there.
Right now, there are an awful lot of corpses ahead of us.
If you are really concerned about the future, work for it now. Vote whenever you can. Educate yourself in the political issues; pressure your congressman to work towards reform for the people, not corporations. And if he doesn't listen, vote him out for someone who will.
The Singularity is going to come either way. We’re too far past the event horizon to go anywhere else except oblivion. I don’t care what political affiliation you are. If you truly want to make a difference in how many bodies pave that road, you can.
Otherwise words about love and compassion are only empty phrases.
The Singularity isn't a savior. It’s simply a point in time in which our ability to predict the future reaches a blank wall because we simply cannot envision what a superhuman intellect could do.

The fact is, we may not even realize it is happening until long after it has passed.
It’s the steps along the way towards the Singularity which are truly inevitable. Only the exact order and timeframes are in doubt.
But until then, working to minimize the body count is the best way to proceed. I don’t care what your political affiliation is, working to save lives is possible. Work to push political agendas which enhance the quality of life for EVERYONE, not just the “Elites” or the “Middle Class” or the “Poor”, nor even for Americans or Chinese, or Somalians, but for everyone who lives on this planet. Support research into technologies which save lives, not those that take them. Vote for whichever policies you feel will save the most lives for the smallest cost, or which will provide the most good for the greatest number. We are all human after all, even the richest and the poorest of us.
Above all, keep an open mind. Examine ideas individually instead of simply allowing entire groups of them to be handed to you as lumps. Educate yourself in whatever subjects interest you, and continue to educate yourself as time passes and things change. Above all, learn to think for yourself instead of letting yourself be controlled by ideologies, other’s expectations, or preconceived stereotypes. Don’t simply take someone’s word for anything without educating yourself on the subject as well. Even authorities in their fields are not gods who’s words should never be questioned. They are as prone to rigid thought and fallacies as anyone else. The more you educate yourself, the more likely it is you will find your own way to help minimize the body count and improve our world without the Singularity.
In many ways, that’s the saddest thing I see about our world today. We could make this world a paradise without ever having a singularity… we simply can’t be bothered while we wait for a savior.
The singularity can occur even if the entire human race dies if you go with the AI version, in fact there are some AI proponents who seem to believe that humanity should be utterly expendable in favor of our AI children. I don’t agree, but I can see no path that does not proceed over the bodies of the dead, simply because we do not yet have life extension technology enough to overcome death. I am sad to say I see it likely that the world will get more dangerous before it becomes safer, because too many radical elements are gaining ever greater power with no effective means to nullify them. I do not believe in doomsday scenarios, but transitional times are always chaotic, because those who want the old ways to remain will inevitably fight against those who are willing to accept the new. It has happened every single time we have had a Singularity event in our entire history, so I have no illusions it can be avoided now. We are already experiencing the first signs of that turmoil now. It will only get worse for awhile, but it will eventually improve. The next two to three decades are likely to see some of the most violent changes occur to our entire world as old systems collapse and new systems are constructed.
But Humans adapt. We acclimatize. We get used to things. We bitch and moan and complain to high heavens, we lash out and fear and hate, but in the end, we move on. We've walked the razor-blade between paradise and oblivion our entire history, and will likely walk it for all eternity.
Maybe the Singularity is just going to give us pair of shoes so we won’t bleed so much doing it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

First You Must Question

Another preservation, since seems to have removed almost all of my articles I had there.

I’m going to insult your intelligence today.

No, seriously, I am. Because today I’m going to be talking to all of you who truly, firmly and completely think you base your world views on science, rational thinking, and a solid grasp of reality. I’m talking to those of you who claim to reject anything but that which can be empirically proven, mathematically defined, and subject to verified repeatable experiments. To those of you who believe that SCIENCE (note the emphasis) holds all the answers.

I deal with a lot of people like you. In fact, I recently wrote an article called “Against Consensus” which was deliberately targeted to draw fire from precisely those people who believe that “consensus” has any value at all in science. Today, I’m going to address those of you who rather rigidly think that “Science has all the answers.”

Don’t get me wrong. Science, as it is SUPPOSED to be practiced is the absolute best tool we have for discovering the underlying mechanisms of the universe, and how to exploit them to our advantage. The problem lies in the fact that for too many branches of science, certain “belief systems” have become set in stone, and no matter how much evidence exists that falsifies certain “theories”, the “true believers” will not allow questioning, or permit examination of any evidence that could prove these “core beliefs” wrong.

I am quite well aware I am setting myself up to be attacked here. I know all too well that I’m likely to be called every name in the book, and that attempts to ridicule what I am trying to say will fill the comments sections. But the fact still remains that “science” has been eclipsed by “Scientism”. Pure rational investigation without predetermined outcomes has almost vanished from many fields.

Take Astronomy, for example. I lost faith in Astronomy a long time ago. Why? Because there is a problem in Astronomy that no-one is willing to address. That problem? The fact that the observable mass of the universe CANNOT account for the behavior of the OBSERVED universe. To clarify, if we take every last bit of matter we can see, we cannot explain its behaviors using conventional gravitational theories, in which the SOLE FORCE is gravity. This “Missing Matter” question has existed since my childhood, and it is still not solved.

But wait you say, what about dark matter? The problem with Dark Matter, provided you are actually willing to examine the concept honestly, is that it is a mathematical ghost. It’s value is constantly being altered to “make the math work” in order to prop up a failed theory. Over the course of my lifetime, it has been altered so many times, and had more mathematical fictions like “Dark Energy” and “Dark Flow” added to it, that the universe is now made up of over 97% “dark somethings” whose values are constantly being altered every time new astronomical discoveries are made.

There’s just one small problem. Despite BILLIONS of dollars spent doing ever more expensive research, not one single CONCLUSIVE bit of evidence for dark matter exists. And I will be willing to bet it never will be, because it is nothing more than a mathematical figment of the imagination. And before you try to tell me that it’s the only explanation, let me refer you to an alternate theory, which doesn’t require you to believe in one single bit of “invisible, undetectable, and unproven dark matter”. It’s called the Electric Universe Theory.  And I am going to ask you to actually read it, thoroughly, before dismissing it.

I am, however, quite certain that none of you will. I’ve had far too much evidence of how unlikely it is to actually expect anyone to do their research prior to blindly defending their faith to expect otherwise.

This same issue exists in other fields as well. All across the “pure sciences” numerous belief systems have cropped up, each of which is “set in stone” and no matter what evidence is found which challenges these beliefs, that evidence is viciously repressed in order to prevent falsification of the “status quo”. Second only to Astronomy, Archeology rabidly victimizes any person who defies the “set order.” And yes, while crackpots by the dozen want to “make a buck” off gullible people willing to believe just about anything, the fact remains that numerous archeological “enigmas” exist. Michael Cremo lists hundreds in his book “Forbidden Archeology”, documenting archeological finds which challenge the established view that mankind has only existed for a few hundred thousand years on this planet. There are hundreds more books out there documenting other “anomalies”, from simple digsites with human remains dating far earlier than “established timelines” allow, to “underwater cities” which have been found, yet never explored due to consensus opinion that “they can’t exist,” to artifacts which appear to be billions of years old.

And yes; I AM QUITE WELL AWARE OF THE ARGUMENTS DISMISSING THESE ANOMOLIES. The problem is that the dismissals have a tendency to rely on a few too many “just so” stories. As in “Just because I said so” by some authority without any concrete, verifiable data to back it up.  There’s been no investigation, no research, no experimentation to validate or disprove, just “it doesn’t agree with consensus, so therefore we refuse to even examine it.”

And yes. I can once again predict how many “defenders of the faith” will be willing to charge in and attack me rather than actually question the “Consensus”. But the fact remains, Science is about asking questions. It’s about finding answers. It’s about examining EVERYTHING without preconceptions and prejudices about what you will find. It’s about being willing to set aside any theory that has been falsified, and searching for a new one that explains ALL the data, not just that part of the data you are comfortable with.

And that is why I’ve probably offended many of you. And why many of you have probably decided I’m a crackpot, and dismissed anything I’ve had to say. But the fact remains, I have questions. I have doubts. I have taken a rational and logical look at evidence, and realized that there are many things that still need answers because the current “answers” fail to address all the data. And unlike many others, I simply cannot be comfortable blinding myself to evidence which indicates that the “consensus” answer is wrong.

Can these questions be answered? I think so. Are those answers the ones presented by the alternate viewpoints I’ve linked to? Who knows? The evidence I have examined merely indicates that the consensus answer is wrong, not which of the alternatives is “right”. That’s for science to decide, through further research, impartial investigation, and examination of ALL EVIDENCE.  And that will not happen so long as “consensus” is allowed to determine what “reality” is or isn’t, instead of allowing reality to define itself.

As a final attempt to provoke actual thought instead of blind reaction, I will link you to a recent talk given by Rupert Sheldrake which inspired this article:
Part One:
Part Two:

Do I agree with everything he has to say? No, but I have to admire him for his willingness to question. Because you will never find an answer unless you are first actually willing to question.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Waiting for "God"

Preserving this because the comments section on H+ seems to have vanished.

Waiting for "God"

A lady lives along a flooded river. She takes her chair up to the roof as the rains continue to fall and the river keeps rising.
A man in a jeep comes by and offers her a ride to safety. “God will save me” she replies. “I’m waiting for him.”
Two hours later, the water is up to her windows. A couple in a boat see her and offer her a ride to safety. “I’m waiting for god” she answers.
Four hours later, the water is up to her roof, the house is creaking, and a coast guard helicopter drops a basket to her. She waves them away. “I’m waiting for god!” she yells up to them until they finally shrug and flay away.
After her house collapses, she drowns, and gets to heaven, she looks at God and asks “I was waiting for you, why did you never come?”
God looks at her and says “I sent a jeep, a boat, and a helicopter, why didn’t you get on?”
Replace god with “Singularity” “Friendly AI” “Benevolent superhumans” etc, it makes no difference.
At the quantum level, everything happens. For every interaction, every choice is taken. A “supreme being” aware of everything everywhere (the definition of omniscient) would thus be aware that every event occurs, every action is taken, every path trodden in one or another infinite parallel quantum states.
Which makes any action on it’s part towards any particular speck of dust in the infinite multiverse a wasted effort.
“Waiting for god” means you’ve abandoned personal responsibility. You’ve decided to do nothing, instead of doing ANYTHING. You’ve decided “It’s someone else’s problem” and “someone else will solve it.” and that you will simply accept what someone else decides to do, because you can’t be bothered.
But too many people trying to equate transhumanism with religion ignore the central tenets of most western religions.
Contrary to popular belief, and despite Jesus himself commanding that we love one another, forgive one another, and above all DO NOT JUDGE, the core of western dogma is not about peace and love at all, but about unquestioning obedience to an external force (God) as represented by his hierarchy (the Church command structure) to whom you must be eternally subservient lest you be punished with “HELL!” and unquestioning acceptance of death, because if you DON’T DIE you can never get those rewards your masters have been promising you for your unquestioning servitude, (your mansions in heaven, etc.)
Can you name any other “government” in which “I’ll reward you after you’re dead” would act as an incentive for obedience?
By it’s very nature Transhumanism is the utter antithesis of the Western Religious ideology, because it is about making a difference HERE and NOW, not in “heaven” after you’re “dead”. We’re about making paradise on earth, giving humans the powers we have fantasized as reserved for “The Gods” and ending the injustices man inflicts on man. We’re about ACTING, not WAITING.
Are there similarities? That depends very much on whether you’ve actually read the bible and know what Christ actually says, as opposed to 90% of the “Christians” who’s knowledge of the bible consists of what little the pastor of their church has told them.
Love one another? Check, most transhumanists seek world wide peace and an end to bigotry of any sort.
Forgive one another? Check, most transhumanists believe in liberty to the point it hurts. Only actions that present a clear, direct, danger to non consenting individuals should be prevented. You want to risk your own life, feel free. Risk someone else’s and you’re going to have to be stopped. That extends to collective entities as well. Risk your own resources, have fun. Risk the entire collectives resources for personal benefits, and you should be expected to make reparations to anyone you harmed. And once you’ve paid your dues, it’s done.
ABOVE ALL DO NOT JUDGE! Check, transhumanists typically seek universal acceptance of all human behaviors, except those which cause harm to non-consenting individuals. You want to dress in latex and like whips and chains? So long as you are only indulging those with others who like the same things, more fun too you. Want to have wings and a tail? Have fun. Feel like turning yourself into a head in a jar ala Futurama, it’s gonna be awhile yet, but if it floats your boat, good for you. We accept the entire range of human desire, quirks, fantasies, and pie in the sky dreams, and we’ll do our best to ensure that EVERY SINGLE ONE CAN BE GRANTED, without judgment. Only those things which cause harm to other humans without their consent will be disallowed.
So yes, there is a case to be made that transhumanists follow the teachings of Christ. Probably even that we follow them far better than most Christians themselves do.
But we do so because WE HAVE CHOSEN TO. Not because we feel an external “deity” want’s us too.
It’s called Enlightened Self Interest. I help you achieve your dreams, you’ve got no reason to oppose me achieving mine.
And yeah, that’s in bible too. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
And it’s a good policy to follow whether there is actually a “Supreme Being” or not.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Individual and the Collective Pt2

Last post we observed the dynamics of the collective in the terms of a small tribe, and indicated that at this size, things worked pretty well. That is not to say that error modes were not possible, but that when error modes arose, there were mechanisms in place to deal with those errors. Essentially, at this scale, the ability of individuals to veil their actions in a wall of secrecy did not exist. While it is certainly possible for the individual to lie, cheat, steal and deceive, such actions could only be carried out to a limited extent, and carried repercussions that were deleterious to that individuals long term well being. 

For example, let's say a farmer lied about the size of his crops. In a small tribe, it would be pretty obvious that he had lied, because many witnesses would exist who could refute his claims. His attempts to deceive would be transparent, and the repercussions of his deception harmful mostly to himself.

And I can hear some of you out there saying so what? If he raised the crops by himself, he's entitled to do what he wishes with them. 

The problem is that in this situation we are discussing the collective. And as an individual within that collective, drawing upon benefits from that collective, the individual has accepted responsibilities to that collective.  The collective's warriors have protected him, the collective's educators have educated him, the collectives other food providers have assisted him in various ways, such as helping him till his fields, provided seed from the community storehouse, etc. We are not discussing a farmer who gathered his seeds from the wild, cleared his land single handedly, and so on. We are discussing a farmer who's ability to grow crops and provide food has been augmented by his participation in a collective.  While his desire to "increase his benefit" to himself is understandable, it is an example of "short term thinking" that ignores the consequences of such actions on his long term interactions with the collective. Simply put, his attempts to deceive will lead to the collective seeing him as a parasite, and penalizing him via loss of benefits created by the collective. In the worst case, he might lose his right to even be a member in the collective.

Which, since I am using an example in which there is only the single collective, and nowhere else to go, means that rather than allow him to become a predator now that he has been expelled as a parasite,  his head goes on a pike to remind others of the consequences of harming the collective.                                                                                                                                                                                 
And yes, I am continually going to use that pike, because history has.

If it is not yet obvious, I am extremely strict in how I define "Self Sufficiency". To be perfectly blunt, unless you are in a situation such as I described of being the sole inhabitant of a deserted island, without tools, or even knowledge provided to you from a collective, you cannot make the claim to "derive no benefits" from the collective. The very fact that you are sitting there, able to read this post on your computer, is a result of the education you received as a member of a collective, and the provision of that computer as a result of collective action making the very existence of your computer possible. In fact, the very existence of language itself is only possible because the collective exists.

And also let me make it very plain that the collective and "government" are not the same thing. The government is the system used by the collective to self organize and self govern itself. The collective creates government as a necessary outcome of organization, but that government can be one of any number of types depending on the will of the collected individuals who comprise the collective. Any "authority" given to "the government" is thus directly derived from the individuals who have consented to be governed.

So, it should be plain at this point that under ideal conditions, the existence of the collective is a positive sum game, in which every individual chooses to participate in exchange for the benefits to be gained from participation, and in which every member, from the lowest "hired hand" to the chosen "head" understands that participation in the collective is a matter of individual alignments of self interest.

It should also be obvious that under ideal conditions, the collective has a system of checks and balances that prevents individuals from engaging in short term self beneficial behaviors that cause harm to the collective in the long term. Because such actions harm the long term health of the entire collective, and thus harm every individual within the collective, the collective will act in its own self interest and penalize the individual taking them.

And yet, one needs only to look at the world as is to realize that those checks and balances seem to be absent.


Well, let's go back to our farmer example.  Now, instead of a single farmer let's assume you have thousands, each of whom contributes different amounts to the collective. Next assume you have no way to match any individual to the amount they contribute, because all you know is the amount contributed, not who contributed it. Let's say the amounts are all tossed into a hat on slips of paper and you pull them out randomly. And let's say that you know that 10% of those figures are bald faced lies.

Now... tell me who has lied about their contribution?

So, why can't you?  Because you no longer have enough information. Because the numbers are no longer attached to individuals. In essence a veil of secrecy has been placed between you and the farmers. Because you can no longer "see" the farmers, they can now do anything they wish, and inevitably, some of them will chose to take the strategy of short term profit in which they receive all the benefits of being part of the collective, but do not contribute to the collective in an equivalent manner. They have lost their accountability.

And that is the error mode we encountered once we grew beyond the tribal stage. The checks and balances we had at the tribal stage no longer worked, because it became possible to keep SECRETS.  Once it became impossible for anyone to know what everyone else in the tribe was doing, because there were just too many people for that to be possible, short term strategy overwhelmed long term strategy.

So, why really, is that such a bad thing? I am quite sure some of you are thinking hiding from the government is a good thing, so rather than looking at this from the point of view of the chief, let's instead start lower down the chain.

So let's say you are a farmer. You have 10 people working on your farm. And let's say you decided for some reason to divide your farm into ten sections, and build a wall around each section so you have no idea what your workers are doing in their section. They of course tell you that they are doing the work you need done, but you have to take their word for it, since you put up those walls. Now let's say that at harvest time, when you are depending on them to deliver the crops you paid them to deliver, instead, two of them say that they had a "bad harvest".

What would you do? You paid them for a certain amount of crop. They claimed they did their jobs. They gave no prior notice of any problems, they just suddenly don't have the crop you paid them to produce.

Bet you are regretting those walls now, aren't you? After all, you have absolutely no way to know if they are telling the truth or lying to you. Nor could anyone else. What went on behind that "Wall" is completely "Secret." Maybe that individual simply took your "payment" and did nothing. Maybe they took the payment, and had a fantastic harvest, but plan to sell it the next town over instead of paying you what they owe. But no matter what the cause, you made a considerable investment for no return, right? And I am pretty sure, you want to hold them accountable too. But how can you, when they are behind that wall of secrets? Why, you'd have to tear down that wall...

And get a little transparency, yes?

But wait, let's complicate things even further, and become one of the hired workers. You've just worked really hard all year, and it's your effort alone that produced such a wonderful crop, right? After all, the seed, fertilizer, equipment, instructions on how to grow the crop... none of that means a damn thing, because it was your labor alone that produced the outcome. That crop is YOURS damn it, and you can do what you want with it, so why should you repay the farmer? Especially since he can't see you through that wall. And if he tries to come through that wall? Well, you have every right to kill him to keep from having to give him anything!

I do hope you are seeing the sarcasm here. After all, it SHOULD be obvious that that a deal was made, and payment is due.

But, this is the argument generally made to justify the "taxes are theft" meme. And like that argument, it ignores the initial investment made by the "collective" (represented by the farmer in this example) in order to justify short sighted self interest on the part of the hired hand. The Farmer provided the environment, the seeds, and everything to the hired hand, making it possible to even grow the crop in the first place. Without that initial investment, the hired hand could have scratched at the dirt all day with his fingers, and gotten the same result he delivered in the end. Nothing. This is a Non-Mutually Beneficial Transaction.

And that makes the hired hand... a parasite.

But let's turn this around again. Let's keep the same setup, the walled off farm, but this time, let's suppose that the Farmer has a walkway around the top of the wall, and the hired hands only agreed to work for the farmer because he says he can get them twice as much for that crop than they can themselves. The hired hands can't hide what they do from the farmer, so when the crop comes due, they hand it over, expecting to get a much higher personal benefit in exchange for their labor as part of the farmer's "collective" than they would as individuals. And let's say that instead of twice the profit, he sells it for five times as much, then turns around and tells the hired hand's he's so sorry, but he only got them the same amount they would have gotten alone, and pockets the rest? Sure, the hired hands did not get "harmed", but don't you think that they would have lynched the farmer if they had known he had lied to them about how much profit their labor had actually returned?  And yet, that wall of secrecy, in this case, prevented the farmer from being accountable to the hired hands. And we have here another Non-Mutually Beneficial Transaction.

Which makes the farmer... a parasite.

But.... I'll lay you odds, some of you out there are going, "but that just good business!"

And from the point of view of short term self interest, it is indeed "good business", because of the veil of secrecy. Because of that veil, the farmer avoided being accountable to the hired hands, and thus exploited them of the benefits that they COULD have earned from their labors.  Had that veil not existed, and the hands known precisely how much profit had been made from their labor, they would have likely insisted on making a much more equitable split in which everyone profited to a greater degree.

And that is WHY short term self interest became so overwhelmingly dominant once accountability was lost, and secrecy became possible.  Because it is ALWAYS in the "Farmers" best interest to prevent being held accountable to the hired hands, just as it is ALWAYS in the farmers best interest to ensure that the hired hands remain accountable to him. So long as the Farmer can keep secrets, but the hired hands can't, the farmer "wins". Just replace the word farmer with "elites" and hired hands with "masses" and I'm quite sure you'll understand what I am getting at.

This is known as "Asymmetry of information." And to be quite honest, we've become so accustomed to this asymmetry, that we've come to view it as a "necessary" and "good" thing. In many cases, we've even confused it with "privacy." The problem is that Privacy is a socially granted privilege, where secrecy is a forced deceptive action.

To clarify, imagine you are in a large barracks style dormitory. You have your bed, and that's it. Whether you like it or not, your every single action is visible to every single individual in that dorm... and yet, given a short period of time, I will lay you odds that every person in that dorm will begin automatically ignoring any activities by any other individuals except those they are interacting with at that moment. In fact, I'll even give you a simpler situation, a party. How many parties have you been at where you couldn't even describe what the people ten feet away across a room were doing because you "weren't paying attention?"

Privacy is a form of "Social invisibility" that every individual chooses to grant to other individuals. Even in situations of complete transparency, privacy is possible, because it is a privilege that has to be granted by individuals to other individuals.

But secrecy is not. There is no choice involved in secrecy, only deception. It's a wall of blindness intended to prevent knowledge of what occurs behind it. And when it's in place, and accountability is lost, inevitably, short term self interest begins to make all the decisions.

And ultimately, that is a bad thing.

To see why, let's keep looking at our farm, but now we are going to examine this farm under two conditions. With walls, and without walls.

In farm 1, with walls, our ten hired hands received a profit exactly equal to what they would have received working as individuals. Let's call this "break even". They all worked collectively, but none of them gained any advantage from doing so, because all of the advantage went to the farmer, i.e. their landlord. Even though they each produced more than they would have individually, only the landlord is better off. Now, while this worked the first time, let's take it several years down the road.

Now, because of the wall, the hands couldn't know precisely what the landlord was doing with the efforts of their labor, but you can be pretty sure they got hints. When the landlord starts wearing expensive clothes as he walks the walls and looks down on them, or when they see the top of his new mansion, or notice that he's putting on a lot of weight while they are barely getting enough to eat, well, it's going to become more and more obvious that someone is profiting, and it's not them.

And, since each and every one of them is a selfish animal only looking out for their own self interests, and only joined the collective because they desired to acquire benefits for themselves greater than they could acquire individually, they pretty soon realize that their self interest, and the farmers self interest are NOT ALIGNED. Eventually, after talking to one another and realizing they each have aligned self interests, and that they each have a single obstacle to realizing their personal self interest, well that is usually when a nice sharp pike comes out, an axe is taken to the wall, and the farmer get's divested of all the profit he's made at the hands expense, as well as getting a nice close shave in the bargain. Ah well, click, click, click, click, click.... Boom.

You see, farmer 1 forgot one very important fact about being part of the collective. It exists ONLY because it is mutually advantageous to every individual in the collective, and when it ceases to be an advantage for everyone, the collective tends to take steps to return it to a mutually advantageous situation by removing the elements that stopped it from being a mutually advantageous situation.

Now I won't lie and say that the Farmer doesn't have options for trying to prevent the hands from settling things with him, but that's not what this essay is about. Besides, I'm quite certain you already know all about suppression and oppression, and how it usually ends up creating exactly the kind of violent revolt it's supposedly suppressing.

So instead, we'll switch to Farm number 2. The one without walls, where the farmer and the farm hands have symmetrical information on each other.  In this situation, the farmer has also made the same "contract" with the hands, and when he goes off and actually makes five times the profit, he can't hide that from the hands.  So... he has to share that excess profit.  He still makes his share, plus his share of the excess, so he profits, but so do the hands.

Now, let's assume that the hands use that excess profit to create improvements to the land they have contracted to manage, so that next year, they have crops that are, say, 50% larger than the previous year. Now, you have the 10 hands, plus what is effectively 5 extra, without having to split the profits 15 ways.  So the Farmer now goes, and makes the same five times, etc, etc... At the end of that same several years, Farmer 2 not only has equaled the profits of Farmer 1... he gets to keep his head and his profits in the bargain!

Yes, this is simplified. I'm making a point here. In example 1, sure, the farmer made more per year, at least at first, but his short term strategy had the nasty long term effect of getting his head a nice spot decorating a pike.  Farmer 2 didn't make as much profit as Farmer 1 did at first, but because his hands also profited, they didn't keep making the exact same amount of crops each year, but increased them, every year, to the point that Farmer 2 ended up earning just as much, but because his self interest and the hired hands self interest remained aligned, he gets to KEEP MAKING that profit. So next year, while Farmer 1 is busy rotting, Farmer 2 is enjoying the benefits of a mutually beneficial transaction.

Click, click, click, clickclickclickclickclick.... hey, this gun doesn't have a bullet in it.

To decorate a pike, or not to decorate a pike, that is the fundamental difference between short term strategy and long term strategy. And why secrecy is really not a good thing to have around.  Transparency keeps you honest, and honesty keeps the collectives self interests more closely aligned.

Next time, I'll discuss why this is so difficult to manage in a massive collective, and how both transparency and accountability are likely to be restored.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Individual and the Collective, Part One

Alright, this is in response to Sam's desire for a logical and rational debate, to quote: "From basis of ethics to specialization in politics/government is what I would love to get into. You make some statements I don't know how you support like ones implying the only reason we don't all have plenty now is because evil people are taking it away from us or keeping it from us. Or your statements against free markets. I would like to see your development of those positions from first principles."

So, let's start from "First principles."

Principle 1: Humanity is an animal. As an animal it is driven by primal instincts. These instincts can be viewed as 2 separate interacting drives. The first drive is to survive. The second drive is to reproduce. These two interacting drives underlay all human activity, and together can explain the majority of human activity.
Principle 2: Both survival and reproductive instincts are necessary, desirable, and vital to our continued existence, and evolution as a species. However, they are currently uncontrolled due to humanities denial of Principle 1, and because of this, have also lead to the majority of human conflict, suffering, and misery.

Principle 3: As man is a "thinking animal" able to analyze both itself and its actions, and react as a rational being with some degree of free will, it has the ability to harness it's instincts into primarily beneficial actions, and minimize harmful actions both on the individual and collective scales.

Those are the starting principles. Everything else is derived from this.

Survival is a basic drive for any animal. It directs us to daily seek out the resources needed to continue one’s existence. To survive, we need food, shelter from the elements, medical care, education, and security.

Let’s use a wolf pack as an example. It hunts for food, creates a den for shelter from the elements, follows certain hygienic practices to maintain its health, teaches it’s young, and surrounds itself with a group to increase the security of every individual.

It makes it very easy to see how a lack of any of these basic needs could jeopardize the wolf’s survival, no? If he can’t find food, he’ll starve to death. If he can’t find a den, he can’t shelter from the elements, meaning every storm could kill him, every blizzard freeze him to death. If he doesn’t take those basic hygiene steps (i.e. grooming, etc) his health will suffer, he could get sick, and die. If his parents hadn’t educated him, he wouldn’t have survived his first day in the wild and died. And if he’s all alone, he has no help to defend himself against fellow predators.

Examining the needs of animals provides us with a very clear understanding that any animal thus has five basic requirements that together constitutes “Survival”: Food to eat, Shelter to live in, Healthcare to prevent illness, education to cope with the environment, and security to be free from threats.  By forming packs, wolves thus self organize into a collective where every member can contribute and share responsibility for provision of these five NEEDS. This is known as division of labor. Each wolf divides the total labor of any one wolf in proportion with the number of wolves in the pack. If one brings down a large animal, they all share, reducing the burden of each wolf towards hunting. Some can stay and watch pups while others go hunt. Some can stand guard while others sleep. The healthy can share with the sick. Etc.

By forming an organization, wolves thus create a system which A: Controls the Collective actions, B: Controls the Shared resources of the Collective, and C: Allocates shared resources to benefit the Collective as efficiently as possible.

We can see the same self organization in a primitive tribe as well. The tribe works together to ensure the tribes survival, using division of labor to multiply the efficiency of each individual, and thus provide the five NEEDS to each individual at much reduced cost in individual effort. In a prosperous tribe, it might be possible to acquire all needs for a week with just a few hours of combined effort by all individuals.

This is what makes such organization a strong survival trait. Any animal which forms such an organization will have a much higher survival chance than those which do not form such organizations. Because such animals will have a greater likelihood of having all five of their basic NEEDS met, promoting species growth. Thus, we form groups not because it is 100% necessary we form them, but because groups improve our overall chances of survival enormously. Without groups, an individual can survive. They can provide the five basic NEEDS of food, shelter, healthcare, education and security for themselves.  However, the amount of effort necessary to do so is vastly higher than in a group in which resources and labor can be allocated efficiently. We know instinctively that co-operation, in general, provides more NEEDS for less effort. 

In humans, we can increase this beyond just providing for basic NEEDS though, because we have created systems which can not only allocate resources efficiently but which can do so across time as well. A resource collected today can be stored for use at a later time, thus enabling human labor to produce far more than just the basic NEEDS. This excess becomes stored for later use, and as the “storehouse” grows, it enables the group to provide for more people, who contribute just that much more to the “storehouse” in an endless loop of improvement.

Now, as we gather into groups, we spontaneously organize hierarchical systems to control the allocation of group resources, labor, skills, etc. This organization is a "Government." How this system is organized is not important. The system itself  governs how communally shared resources are used, and because it "governs" the system, it is a "government" I am making this point to clarify that when I use the term government I am defining it as "any system of organization established by a community to establish order and allocate division of labor and shared communal resources." How it is organized, whether it has a monopoly on "force" etc. is not relevant to the definition of "Government."  It can be voluntary, it can be coerced, it can be democratic, it can be tyrannical, it is still "A GOVERNMENT." I cannot make this any simpler than this.

So, to restate. We as humans form collectives, which spontaneously generate hierarchical systems to allocate and organize the use of labor, resources, and all other shared items for the communal good. I will make no effort at this point to define "communal good". Whatever system is created, from the family unit to corporations to nations, regardless of size or complexity, the very fact that the system will exist makes it a "government". The only way a "governmentless" society can exist is if it consists of a single individual. Any form of collective, even one of two individuals, will create a system to allocate co-operative effort, and thus be a "government."

The reason I am going to such lengths to clarify this point is to illustrate that any argument for a "governmentless" system is engaging in semantic obfuscation, attempting to present a system of preferred government under the guise of it "not being a government" when it is still a system intended to allocate co-operative resources, while demonizing an undesirable system as "government."  The very existence of any system to govern must categorically be understood to be "A Government." Even animals exhibit the basic principles of self organization within a group, because this system of organization is a survival positive behavior. It is an emergent phenomena that is inherent in every form of life that exhibits collective survival strategies. Call it a flock, a herd, a village, a church,  a corporation or a nation, it is still a "Government." Even this forum has a "government" in the form of "moderators."

So, what exactly is the reason this system is so beneficial to survival? In order to illustrate, I would like to have you imagine you are suddenly deposited on a deserted island. On this island is every raw resource needed to recreate the exact same level of technological civilization that we live in right now, but you are completely alone.  Even if you are immortal, would you be able to completely recreate modern technology? Could you, alone, rewrite every classical book that has shaped society, recreate every invention, rebuild your own mini industrial revolution? Could you even manage to recreate the Iron Age?

Every item you likely use daily is a product of collective effort. The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the car you drive, even the computer you are reading this post on, was made by someone else in the vast interlocking series of collectives we call civilization. Through co-operative effort, humanity has done far more than simply "survive." Collective organization allows for a diversity of effort, diversity of effort insures that multiple pathways to any given problem are explored, and thus allows for the possibility of greatly magnified "benefits" provided to each individual that would otherwise be impossible for the individual to acquire on their own. This makes each individual in a collective a potential source of benefits to every other individual in the collective. It also means that every individual in the collective contributes to the well being of the collective, and that no member of the collective is without value to the collective. Any member of the collective allowed to fail deprives every other member of the collective of whatever contribution that individual could have made had the collective invested the proper resources needed to allow that individual to become a positive asset.

If all things were equal, it should be obvious that this survival strategy is a positive sum game when all "players" participate equally, and which provides a orders of magnitude reduction in any individuals "effort" necessary to provide for all NEEDS, thus enabling a surplus to accumulate able to provide for larger and larger collectives to come into being, as well as providing every individual with benefits above and beyond basic needs that the individual would never be able to provide for themselves, such as creative works, insights and various other intangibles produced by the synergistic interactions of the collective.

But... all things are not equal.

The reason all things are not equal is that second little instinct we humans have. The reproductive one. Unlike basic survival, reproductive strategies are competitive, not co-operative.

Now, in order to compete, reproduction does tend to collect us into groups as well, because the larger the group, the more chances of reproductive success there are. The difference is where mere survival encourages co-operation in order for all members to benefit equally, the competitiveness of reproductive strategies encourages the creation of status tiers, also known as pecking orders, the social ladder, social classes, etc. It called by many names but it comes down to the fact that we tend to arrange ourselves into a hierarchical systems due to reproductive instincts as well as survival instincts. 

The problem is that the hierarchal systems of survival are an organizational and efficiency tool, intended to make co-operation easier, more effective, and more efficient, while the hierarchal systems of reproduction are designed to select "best genetic material" and they encourage competition. They don't care about making things easier, or to be blunt, survival, so long as they can reproduce prior to failing to survive. Survival is about the organism. Reproduction is about the gene. Your genes don't care if the organism itself dies so long as the genes have successfully reproduced. Anything goes so long as the goal of reproduction is met. Lying, cheating, stealing, killing, you name it, so long as it results in reproduction, it's a successful tactic. Understand that. Genes know no morality.

Neither does survival. co-operation is not based on morality, it's because it's an effective survival tool. It enables each contributing member to do less to get more, and as such it is entirely a selfish act. Both of these instincts make us create hierarchal systems, but their focus is different. Survival uses a long-term strategy, while reproduction uses a short-term strategy. Nothing I am about to discuss is based on morality. It is entirely based on how these two strategies interplay to create human society. The reason I stress this is to illustrate that morality is an artificial system imposed by a system of belief about how the world "Should Be," while what I am discussing deals with the world "As Is."

Now, back to status. As I discussed above, the reproductive instinct encourages competition, which leads to "ranking." This is not a "male" or a "female" specific trait, regardless of what you might believe. At the genetic level the human animal is not monogamous. The typical male strategy involves mating with as many females as possible, while the female strategy is not as simple. While it involves multiple mates as well, the strategy is to acquire the genetic material of a "superior specimen" while securing the services of a "less superior" specimen to assist with nurturing and child raising. Note, you can disagree all you wish, I am simply reporting on what the most basic level of programming is. We've created more complex behaviors on top of this, but this is still what is we evolved as. (Marriage, monogamy, and all the various rules regarding sexual interactions are essentially various strategies we have tried to reign in the "reproductive" instinct, and control some of it's more negative aspects. )

The result of this interplay is a complex game of "Status", determined by a wide array of "markers," such as physical prowess, appearance, and various other traits. However, as all humans are not equally "genetically blessed" numerous other "markers" exist as well, most markedly, the accumulation of material wealth. Why? Because as a general rule, humans seek to gain the most benefits for the least amount of effort.  As we form groups, the effort needed to survive drops. The greater the resources available to any given member of a group, the less effort must be expended to survive. A surplus of benefits basically means negative personal expenditure, you can pay "others" to gather the resources needed to survive.

So basically, when you add the reproductive "short term" strategy to the survival "long term" strategy, what you get is a system that begins to take the "commonly shared resources" created by the collective, and begins sharing them based not on the amount of contribution made by each individual, but on status. In other words, the long term strategy of equality becomes replaced by the short term strategy of "status" and introduces a weighting system into the resources collectively created. This weighting system effectively forms a pyramid in which the top status tier expects to work far less while gaining far greater rewards than the masses at the bottom of the pyramid does, with those rewards being justified as a tribute to the "superiority" of the top tier. This is because we are programmed to react to status this way, viewing those of higher status positively, while viewing lower status negatively.

Now, in a small tribe, this is not really all that bad a thing, because the community will prevent it from going to excess. As the entire tribe is aware of each individual's status, and aware of what all members contribute, status will still be fairly closely tied to the individual's contribution to the collective. The best hunter might get the best cuts of meat because of his skill, the Chief might have more resources than any individual, etc., but this will usually not be so excessive that any individual will be denied sufficient recompense for their contribution to meet their NEEDS. This is because SECRECY is not really possible in such a limited society. Any member of the tribe actively seeking to cause harm to the other members of the tribe for their own individual gain will quickly be dealt with. That hunter had better stay the best hunter if he wishes to keep his status, the chief who mistreats his tribe isn't going to stay chief long. The system is accountable, with the individuals accountable to the collective, as well as the collective answerable to the individuals. Or to clarify, the individuals who represent the collective are held accountable to the individuals of the collective they have been chosen to represent. The "collective" is just the system, a tool. It has no will or sentience, so cannot be "held to account" for the misdeeds performed by the individuals who abuse the power granted by the collective for individual gain.

And note, this is the generalized "ideal state" of the collective/individual relationship. The "government" of the "tribe" exists to provide a structure to manage and control the collective assets created by the collective. Individual status may vary, but since each member of the tribe contributes to the collective, each shares in the benefits of being a part of that collective. And individuals who refuse to participate in the collective will not long receive benefits from that collective. At this scale, it should be quite obvious how the entire social dynamic works. At a smaller scale, we call it a "family", at larger scales a "nation". The scale doesn't change the dynamic. Nor does separating the provision of NEEDS among multiple collectives. Every subcollective will still exist under the overarching collective, and will still control various subsets of the total "shared resources" of the entire collective, so all subdividing does is complicate the structure without changing the basic relationship of individual to collective. Even Corporations are collectives providing commonly shared resources for the collective, derived from resources collectively harvested. Thus by studying the dynamics at the scale of a simplified "tribe" it's easier to see exactly how the individual and the collective interact.

So, let's look at this further, shall we? If we assume the role of "the Chief", what are our duties? We have been entrusted with the management of the tribe, and a failure on our part to do so properly will obviously spell doom not only for the tribe, but ourselves as well.

Obviously, our first duty is to ensure the basic needs, no? We have to make sure our tribe has enough food. This will involve assigning hunters, farmers, gathers, herdsmen, etc. It would make very little sense to assign those whose skills don't match a particular job to do that job, correct?  But how do we find out who is suited to each task? Obviously, some research is in order. If no-one in our tribe has any knowledge of how to do any of these tasks, we must educate them. If we educate all of them in every task, at least to start, we should be able to assess who has an aptitude for each profession, and who actually likes to do any given specialization. We could certainly assign the jobs at random, which is the quick and easy solution, the "short term" solution, but then we will likely deal with people resenting the work they are doing, and likely sabotaging the job in ways, reducing the benefits created, and thus leading to fewer resources available to the tribe. So, it behooves us as Chief to find jobs for each of our individuals that best suit them, so that they will be happy at what they do, and thus, be at their most productive. As chief, we cannot settle for short term benefits which use our resources less efficiently, but need to use the longest term strategies which have guaranteed returns on investment. Why? Because it is in our own best interests to do so. The better choice will always be the one which is more certain to produce benefits to the entire collective, instead of one which maximizes returns to one group at the expense of the other groups, because failure to do so is almost certainly going to end with a piking by the groups harmed by such a strategy.

This same logic applies to Shelter, Healthcare, Security, and even the education process itself. These are all needs that must be met for every individual, in order to make the collective run smoothly and in order to maximize the resources generated so that all members of the tribe can prosper. It makes very little sense to force a subset of the tribe to work to exhaustion while allowing another subset to idle about doing nothing of worth to the collective, no? While you can run the tribe this way for a time, it should be obvious that the subset forced to work will resent the subset doing nothing, as well as you as Chief for allowing this to occur, no? In other words, while such a pattern of behavior might confer some short term benefits ( the group getting the free ride will certainly appreciate you ), it is a strategy that in the long term will do nothing but harm the wellbeing of not just the tribe, but yourself as well. You will likely find yourself removed as Chief if you mismanage your tribe this badly.

The same goes if you decide to deny a section of your tribe any benefits for being a part of your collective. The group that you decide is "undeserving" is not going to be happy at your decision, no? In fact, they might be SO unhappy, that they will rise up and mount your head on a pike to show you how unhappy they are. So, if you value your own head, it would probably be a better idea to ensure that all members of your tribe benefit at least to the extent of having their basic needs met.

You see, you, as chief have to understand one fact, every single member of your collective has one goal. Their own personal self interest. They are part of your collective because they are expecting to receive benefits from being in your collective. Specifically, they are expecting to have to work less to receive their basic NEEDS by working with your collective, and to actually achieve more benefits by doing so than they can receive by working alone.  Got that? Every individual is a selfish, short sighted, and unreasonable animal. They don't care about "the big picture", nor can they see it, because they are not in the privileged position that you have as chief. Additionally, you have to understand that every single individual who is NOT PART of the collective is a threat to the collective.  Any individual that you fail to include in your collective will have a vested interest in providing for their own needs with the minimal amount of effort, which makes the resources collected by your collective an obvious target. Since they have no stake in the well-being of your collective, any damage inflicted to your collective by their predation will not be their concern.

There is no morality to this. No "good" or "evil". It's all about self interest.  The LONG TERM self interest of the collective dictates that every member of the collective must both receive the complete meeting of their NEEDS, and that it must include everyone, because any individual who is denied a part in the collective is a Predator that threatens the safety of the collective. While some might argue that it is the individual's responsibility to provide for their own needs, this argument is invalidated by the very purpose of joining a collective, which is to reduce the individual effort needed to provide for individual  needs. Unless the individual is receiving their needs from the collective, there is NO BENEFIT TO THE INDIVIDUAL for being a member of that collective. In order to prevent an individual from losing their stake in the collective, and therefore becoming a threat to the collective, it is in the best interests of the collective to provide all of the basic NEEDS at a minimum, and to exceed this minimum if possible.

Simply put, I ignore arguments about "morality", "non-aggression principles" and any others that assume the human animal to be "nobler" than any other animal when put into a survive or die situation. Experience has proven that given the choice between death and doing whatever is necessary to survive, the higher impulses, such as "morality", give way to the animal instincts to survive at all costs. I'm a cynic. I have to view the human animal as an animal, and to believe that they will always put their own self interests ahead of the collective. Thus the ONLY way to ensure that the individual is not a threat to the collective is to ensure that the individual's self interest is aligned with the collective's interest.

It's at this point a lot of people will make the mistake of assuming that this means that the collective is entitled to trick, con, or force what it sees as "the common good" on individuals within the collective. But this is a false assumption based on the historical idiocy that has done this numerous times. The truth is that the "common good" is something that the individuals within the collective determine for themselves, and it is the role of the "chief" to enact their desires. The problem is that the "common good" is very dependent on the "status game".  You see, depending on "status", various groups of the collective will desire very different things. What might be "good" for one group may be absolute "evil" for another. And when you have "Chiefs" who view themselves as members of one "status tier" or another, you often find short term thinking making some very bad decisions that tend to end up with the other status tiers sharpening their pikes to mount the Chief's heads on.

From studying history, it's easy to say what is NOT the duty of a "government", because these actions are things that lead to very poor short term thinking and actions that ultimately result in heads on pikes. For one, it is not the government's job to promote one status tiers interests over another, but it is their job to promote all status tiers equally, and to curb actions by any given group that causes harm to any other group. It is not the government's job to promote and protect any given religion, but it is it's job to prevent any given religion from causing harm to any individual or group.  It is not the government's job to tell you what you as an individual can or cannot do in a general sense, but it is it's job to prevent you from actions that cause harm to any other non-consenting individual.

In other words, it is the job of government to be a true neutral arbiter, the ultimate referee who insures that all members of the collective both have their needs met, and cannot actively cause harm to any other individual in the collective. Any activity beyond this, and it risks turning large sections of the collective into either predators on the collective, or parasites on the collective.

And here is where you have to get down to defining terms. Predators are easy. These are individuals or other collectives who view the collective as "lunch". The defining characteristic is that the predator exists OUTSIDE the collective. They are dangerous precisely because they are not part of the collective.

Parasites are exactly the same thing, only they exist inside the collective. They still view the collective as lunch, and are every bit as harmful as predators, but they are harder to deal with. The biggest trouble is that of actually understanding which parasitical behaviors are the most harmful. The easy answer is obvious. They cause harm to the overall collective. But often times that harm is not noticed. The problem is that parasites are very good at hiding the harm that they cause in SECRECY, or excuse it as the privilege of status.

And as you recall, the very reason I am using small scale tribal structure to illustrate the functions of government is because secrecy cannot really exist in such a small structure. However, as we have expanded past the size of tribes, secrecy has become the primary defense of parasites. They are aware that if the other members of the collective become aware of their activities, then out of self preservation, the collective will enforce penalties on the parasite, up to and including death in an effort to prevent the parasite from causing further harm.

To be blunt, a parasite is actually far more harmful than a predator, because of the fact that they are inside the collective, and disguise themselves. They can come from every level of the social tiers, but the amount of damage they can cause to the collective goes up exponentially with status. A low status individual, regardless of how clever, is very limited in the damage they can cause to the collective as a whole. But High Status actors, because of the roles they play in the overall collective, have the ability to inflict massive harm on the entire collective as a parasite, and there is no argument that can be made to dispute this.

The reason for this is because we are programmed to defer to higher status and to expect deference from lower status. There is no rationality to this, it is hard coded. It is an instinctive response that requires rational objectivity to overcome. And this is something that a Chief, or any representative of a collective that intends to represent the whole collective MUST overcome, because failure to do so will always result in short term thinking. It cannot do otherwise, because Status is a short term strategy based in the reproductive instinct.

As an example, let me discuss a situation you might have at least a passing familiarity with, your car.  Your car is likely the single most valuable item you own, in the sense that without it, your day to day life is likely going to be much more difficult.  You can probably survive without it, but for most of us, it's a "necessity".

Now, we can of course make an investment in our car, perform regular maintenance, oil changes, tune ups, all the basic things which keep that car in excellent shape, and which ensures that the car is going to be as reliable as possible. This is the "Long Term" behavior. Those of us who take such care of our cars are expecting that such small expenditures will reduce or even prevent much more expensive expenditures , or even loss of our car, while simultaneously expecting such actions to provide benefits both now and in the future in the performance and reliability of the automobile.

Then there's the "Short Term" behavior. Hey, who needs oil changes, or tires? That's money to buy beer with! It's idling rough? I banged up the fender when I was drunk? I'd rather have a few more dollars to spend on cigarettes and fast food. What's that? My Ox is starving to death while my grain silo is overflowing??? Let me go kick it a few times and make it keep going till it dies!

Yes, that last little bit was a deliberate reference to a parable, intended to basically illustrate that the vital difference between long term thinking and short term thinking has always been the same, regardless of where we are in history.  Short term thinking is ALWAYS about the moment. It ignores all future consequences. Even when we are FULLY AWARE of the long term consequences, short term logic is always that now is all that matters. It is "Instant Gratification" thinking.  And as my little illustration showed, it usually leads to long term bad outcomes, no matter how "successful" it might be in the short term.  Like Russian roulette, you might win five times in a row, but that single loss will cost you more than those five wins gained you.

By the same token, as a chief, you can certainly use short term strategies that have large immediate benefits for a section of your tribe by taking those benefits away from other members of your tribe, but eventually it will catch up to you in the form of a nice sharp pike.  You can certainly treat parts of your tribe as worthless and disenfranchise them, suppress them, etc., but sooner or later, that pike will be waiting.

The simple fact that I am trying hard to make here is that any stance from you as the chosen representative of the collective other than perfect neutrality, and any actions you take other than those which benefit all members of the collective is a long term failure. Every individual is part of your collective ONLY because being a member is beneficial to THEM PERSONALLY. Remove that benefit from any portion of the collective and you turn that portion into dangers to not merely other individuals in the  collective, but to you personally as the representative of the collective.  Produce a large enough group of disenfranchised, and they are likely to remove not only you as head, but the group you showed favoritism to as well, then redistribute resources and reform a new collective system, while your head makes a nice trophy on a pike.

And this logic works on every scale. From a tribe to a corporation to a nation to a society and even to a planet spanning civilization.

So, to get down to brass tacks, at its most elementary it is the role of a collective to provide for the needs of the individuals who comprise that collective.  And ONLY their needs. The collective can ONLY be responsible for needs that are universal in scope, and it cannot show favoritism in provision of those needs. It cannot and should not be responsible for the "morals" and "beliefs" of the individual, but it MUST prevent any group from harming any other group in the collective in its role as neutral arbiter. This also applies to business. The subcollectives MUST have a master collective which acts as neutral arbiter, and which prevents any subcollective from harming the overall collective. Above all else, the chosen representative of the collective MUST BE ACCOUNTABLE TO EVERY INDIVIDUAL IN THE COLLECTIVE in order to ensure that it continues to use long term strategies for the good of the entire collective, and is incapable of enacting short term strategies which selectively benefit only members of a sub collective.

This should be quite clear here at the tribal level. The problem is that once you grow much beyond tribal size, we encountered a serious error mode.

What that error mode is, and how it affects everything, I will discuss in the next post.