A real functional control room has no reason to look like anything but a pretty standard office setup, maybe with a few extra displays. An example of a modern one: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacex/wp-content/uploads/sites/227/2...
They can have negative effects too (the effects above can be negative depending on context), but I wouldn't discount the influence a decorated room can impose on sentient meat.
Cybernetics ... well, let's just say it was the "AI" of its time, which eventually evolved into something useful (I guess Germans call operations research this name). Beer had nothing to do with Weiner; he was a hanger on and a professional wanker. Reading Beer in current year would be like reading Eliezer Yudkowsky or Bostrum and hoping to learn something about deep learning.
Mind you I found Beer an extremely likeable mountebank. Compared to current year "AI" numskulls, 9/10 for personality alone.
You captured my angle perfectly with your first sentence. I really wonder whether those who tried planned economies would've done better at it if they'd had better tools. I don't want to see an experiment in that vein anywhere I live, but I do wonder.
If you still remember it well enough to do so, it'd be interesting to see more detail about how Beer's work is horse shit. Mostly because I like the rest of your take on cybersyn and you might save me reading the horse shit for myself if you post it.
> The futuristic operations room was designed by a team led by the interface designer Gui Bonsiepe. It was furnished with seven swivel chairs (considered the best for creativity) with buttons, which were designed to control several large screens that could project the data, and other panels with status information, although these were of limited functionality as they could only show pre-prepared graphs. This consisted of slides.
I dunno, seems like instead of having an entire design team led by a famous designer, they could have just had a guy put some prefab chairs and slide projectors in a room, for a total cost of like $500. But then you're not living your power fantasy of controlling the entire economy from a war room. Of course, the power fantasy itself is why the project failed, not the room layout.
Again, seems like the commentary would be generated from those who would spend their limited discussion time budget on the color of paint on a bikeshed.
...Pinochet's power fantasy, maybe.
This is not true. Rather, the deposal of Allende in a coup by Pinochet caused the project to fail. The coup was condoned by the US because - what's not to like about a failed socialist government in your hemisphere?
In 1971 any "standard" office setups with computer looked like StarTrek because StarTrek was made after those computer offices just a few years before. Even in the 198x the control room of USSR clone of IBM 360 reminded StarTrek.
The real operations centers I have been in are much more mundane.
2019 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19487476 (1 comment)
2013 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6037276 (1 comment)
Cybersyn also attempted to solve this not by distributing decision making but by distributing information capture, in the form of the 500 telex machines at various factories.
Logistics networks show how this model can outperform the free market model, and anyone familiar with genetic algorithms should be able to recognize the local maxima problem. Each consumer might take the most rational action locally and result in a poor result overall.
Think about how at the start of the pandemic it made sense for each consumer to attempt to secure food, medicine, toiletries, etc. Toilet paper became a punch line for a while, but the logic was simple. Toilet paper is shelf stable, it's low cost for a large amount, it has guaranteed demand as long as you are alive, and the cost of needing toilet paper and not having any is high (for a nation like the US where alternatives like bidets are less common). Each consumer runs the numbers, if they have sufficient storage, the cost of buying and storing additional toilet paper up front is low compared to the potential cost of needing but not having it later. This resulted in a run on toilet paper and widespread stock outs.
I don't follow. People living in non-capitalist systems go shopping as well. What's the difference to capitalism from the point of view of the consumer or the shop?
So I can assure you, the people living in "non-capitalist systems" do not in fact "go shopping".
The difference to capitalism is that in capitalism this kind of information does trickle "upwards" to the wider economy, because the store orders more of the popular stuff and less of the unpopular stuff. In a planned economy, the information is not propagated upwards because the planners don't care, or wouldn't be able to do anything about it. But the "local knowledge" that the OP mentioned is there.
(Also I'm confused whether you count 1990s Finland as a non-capitalist system.)
This is where the Cybernetics management system come in.
I'm willing to bet in 20 or so years they're going to admit to pulling the same shit in Venezuela right now.
This is the main summary I take from the article of as regards the political picture, when the author was discussing Allende's successor, who took power during a military coup backed by the US CIA:
> It is estimated that during Pinochet’s rule about 38,000 people were imprisoned and most of those prisoners were tortured. Close to 3000 people were executed, another 1200 people went missing, and around 200,000 people were exiled to other countries.
and it seems to consist solely of well-corroborated facts.
Can you specify what you read in the article that you consider "really biased and dishonest"?
Edit: as the karma now reflects.
But if I've understood you correctly, you're equating "risky" with "could lose some imaginary internet points on this site" and not some more tangible risk? (I'm not calling that an illegitimate definition of "risky" but when I heard that word I was thinking of something much worse.)
While we're at it, a reminder that economic left/right distinction is not the same as command/free-market:
On one level, command vs market is just about what kind of algorithm you use to get a goods allocation that makes the economy run. If the idealized market Turing machine can compute a local optimum to a nonconvex optimization problem in polytime given some inputs, there's nothing prohibiting an explicit algorithm that runs through the same steps from doing so. If finding an equilibrium is in some hard complexity class, then it's hard for the market and the command system both, given the same inputs. The market's computational capacity isn't magic. Most likely the market only finds an approximate optimum and a dedicated algorithm can do better, if it has the same inputs.
That then gets confused with the problem of getting those inputs. Hayek makes a big deal of the local knowledge of the market in contrast to the hierarchical nature of the Soviet planned economy. But that should cut just as viciously against big corporations, and what it really means, I think, is that the system must be bottom-up in some fashion.
You can have bottom-up systems running on top of the market, or on top of some explicit optimization algorithm. But the Austrians have managed to convince people that market = bottom-up and explicit algorithm = top-down. That's where the dismissal comes from.
I don't think he does justice to Cybernetics itself, but you should read e.g. "Introduction to Cybernetics" and make your own call. http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ASHBBOOK.html
Information Theory is the attempt to make the real world act like symbols, Cybernetics is the attempt to make symbols act like the real world.
In logic "A = not A" is a pointless contradiction, in Cybernetics it's an oscillator.
The ideas of integrating holistic information, planning, and acting as a government to succeed in goals make sense to me. However, I feel that it is crucial for the system to be able evolve with some freedom and flexibility in the parts.
So my belief is basically that we need to update the technocratic ideas with our knowledge of distributed networks and human psychology.
So the starting point for me is things like Ethereum and maybe IPFS, where the government, rather than trying to dictate a lot of things, is largely encoded as a set of distributed protocols that allow for large scale information collection and aggregation and multiple forms of implementation as well as fine-grained regulation where necessary.
But it's not a monolithic pre-planned structure. It's more like a technology platform for working together that allows for new and better ideas to compete while sharing data and cooperating in core ways (such as ubiquitous markets). And let's individuals or companies have some degree of autonomy and reward.
In the case of Etherium, right now, the platform is, for example, making it very easy to accidentally write contracts with flaws such that value can be extracted by bad actors, and the process of finding and fixing those flaws is technically difficult. (Contrast this with US fiat contracts which cannot encode automated security flaws, because the only mechanism of execution/enforcement is voluntary human action and/or lawsuits). I don’t think that was intentionally designed into Eth? Did anyone say “we’d like to replace formal conflict resolution with hacker battles”?
Though, to my uninformed self it seems that other more specific and down-to-earth disciplines just stepped up and remade the field into a dozen different specialized topics that are easier to reason about technically.
If you look at the application of systems thinking and cybernetics to ecology (Donella H. Meadows; limits to growth etc), or Russ Ackoff (stakeholdership and interdisciplinary management over specialisation and monolithic business goals) I think it's clear why it died off or maybe more accurately, killed off.
The point of Cybersyn was to build an actually fairly decentralised system in which local data is gathered, decisions are made, fed into a system that also enables high level planning, and create a short of real-time feedback loop.
I've found it really interesting that, along with all of the other fin and interesting things he does, he seems to me a very competent game show designer and host!
This was a highly experimental social science management theory which in a way actually worked in practice. The field is still alive, albeit quirky. I was exposed to it when at a cutting edge management theory research conference about 5 years ago.
Today we absolutely do possess the technology which would make viable model possible. It is also likely that is would make managing a company much more efficient and competitive.
Project Cybersyn itself is not, but it was developed under Allende's administration, whose policy was called La vía chilena al socialismo (The Chilean Way to Socialism).
It resulted in a large, cascading failure, with scarcity and shortages everywhere. So as a last resort they created this solution, which seemed better than the previous approach: manage the economy via government appointed people, usually union leaders and friends.
Cybersyn was dismantled after the government was replaced through a coup.
Allende's form of socialism was distinct from the centrally planned soviet style economy, focusing on responding to problems and creating high level economic goals, but otherwise focusing on a self organizing, bottom up, worker led economy extremely distinct from the Soviet system.
This idea started actually working, and the United States fearing, in the CIA's own words, "a successful socialist experiment" tried everything they could to remove Allende and push the country away from socialism. They even looked at the idea of invading the country, but couldn't because of the public opinion of how poorly Vietnam was going. The most successful intervention was, in the United States government's own words again, "making the economy scream". However despite this Allende still kept being elected clearly in elections that no one has disputed the validity of.
So enough being enough, the US government backed one of the most brutal dictators ever, Pinochet, to illegitimately take over the government, killing Allende in cold blood and beginning a reign of terror. Theyd do stuff like rape your wife and children to death in front of you, so that when they took you out to sea on a "helicopter ride" to dump you at sea still alive, you welcomed death. We as the United States trained his staff in torture in the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, and provided an immense amount of funding. Over 10,000 people were killed.
To rebuild the economy after the intervention, they brought in the Chicago Boys, a set of Chicago school economists, to "unleash the economy" from the socialist practices of Allende, but it didn't really work. Chile's growth trailed the rest of South America's until those practices were rolled back.
And even now the scars of all this still exist in Chile, with the massive protests that have been going on for over a year focusing on demands to replace the terrible Pinochet era constitution, and state security forces openly killing protestors.
people unfamiliar with the story might find it interesting that the exact manner of his death is somewhat disputed. obviously he wouldn't have died then if it weren't for the coup, so it's not like what you wrote is really a stretch.
They also sent a letter to the armed forces so they enforce the constitution.
Also, going to throw out there that the ones screaming about how unconstitutional Allende's actions simply wholesale replaced the constitution as Pinochet took power.
Allende believed in an armed revolution and his house had a large stash of Soviet-made weapons. He destabilized the country because he wanted his revolution at any cost.
And there was a revolution, just of another flavor that he didn't like.
And yes, while I'm sure you prefer the events as they occurred, I take a different approach of preferring democracy and peaceful transitions of power rather than the aristocracy killing presidents they don't agree with.
Mitrokhin worked 30 years for the KGB and defected to the UK in 1992, bringing a collection of notes now known as the Mitrokhin archive. These notes contain the facts I am mentioning.
Some of the funds sent to Allende were raised by KGB director Yuri Andropov himself, the guy that then went to become the 6th paramount leader of the Soviet Union.
After Allende was overthrown, the Soviet Union refused to play Chile in the 1974 FIFA World Cup for political reasons.
The KGB directly supported Allende, and Allende directly received help from them. It's well documented.
And them refusing to play Pinochet's government says more that they don't like a brutal fascist (surprise surprise) than any support for Allende.
And in 1970 Chile you could do a lot with today's equivalent of $3,000,000.
And everything else you said is pretty much pretentious nonsense.
If you want to join a personality cult, at least follow someone worth following not a failed alcoholic communist sponsored by the KGB.
I bet Allende met Stafford Beer by accident while looking for beer.
While the School of the Americas would eventually move to Fort Benning, it was in Panama (in the US controlled canal zone) when this was happening. I don't think it was moved to Columbus until some time in the mid-1980s, about a decade after Pinochet's rise to power.
Not because Pinochet was not brutal, of course he was... he killed 3,000 people in brutal ways for 17 years. Sure... But add 2 zeroes to that death count and multiply the regime length by 3 and you get Fidel Castro.
The Chilean armed forces (navy, army, air force, police) intervened when they saw an imminent civil war, combined with a likely Argentinean invasion.
That would be effectively the end of Chile.
And Allende's regime was very far from suceeding. He had inspiring speeches but in practice he was a failure as a leader. Allende was a demagogue on the KGB's payroll with drinking issues, his administration was undistinguishable from anarchy.
And the Chilean military would have been part of that civil war. "There would have been a civil war because we would have attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government and they would have fought back, so we took american money and 'advisors' to move so quickly that there was no chance of the legitimate government fighting back" doesn't really hold moral water with me.
Also, the Beagle Conflict was five years into Pinochet's reign so not really sure how that's a reason to overthrow Allende.
> Allende was a demagogue on the KGB's payroll with drinking issues
The KGB hated the shit out of Allende. Their bottom up socialism stood to be an alternative that would have taken away the KGB's legitimacy even with die hard communists at the time.
Most of the South American dictators from Operation Condor were more brutal than Pinochet, and many of them stole everything they could and left nothing behind.
And the Cuban and Venezuelan dictorships are far more dehumanizing and brutal and Pinochet's regime. Also, Castro's regime started decades before Pinochet and is still there.
Pinochet stole money but left behind a working economy, that was a substantial improvement over what came before.
Allende was trying to consolidate power and eventually turn Chile into a 1 party communist system, through a communist revolution.
Pinochet had a 44% approval rate towards the end of this dictatorship in 1988. Although many people was unaware of the extent of the regime attrocities at that time.
There were extremists/terrorist groups in Chile, such as MIR and FPMR. Some of the Pinochet victims were inocent, others were not.
If Chile had a civil war, that would have accelerated Argentina's invasion plan.
In addition to that, Bolivia has manifested territorial ambitions over their former territories, something that is even in their constitution.
A civil war followed by an invasion by at least 2 countries, or a Cuba/Chile/Soviet union alliance were all excellent reasons to remove Allende. He failed, his ideas were bad, his execution was bad. Beautiful speeches, but a failure nevertheless.
Next time some Mr. Che Guevara t-shirt guy tries to sell you the Communist miracle, go to Cuba and see how they live there, and tell me if you would like to raise your kids in a place like that. Or go to Venezuela, another "miracle". Technically they have equality because most people (except for the regime and party members of course) are equally poor.
Fidel was such as charismatic leader he would only eat food from his own personal garden out of fear of being poisoned, he also lived a life of excess and lived in an oppulent mansion unlike most Cubans.
Following those defintions, the Beagle Conflict goes all the way back to the 1880s. Still failing to see how this is something to remove the legitimate government over and install a brutal dictator.
> If Chile had a civil war, that would have accelerated Argentina's invasion plan.
So, alternative plan, don't have a coup _or_ a civil war. Respect the democratically elected government rather than killing the president in his office.
As illustrated in a quote from one of your favorite comrades:
"Every society is three meals away from chaos", Vladimir Lenin
These people would rather destroy their own economy than give the socialists a fair chance, then use that destruction as "see that's why we need to kill the president".
Now, imagine you hypothetically decide to call yourself exactly that. And then, run for president of a country and manage to get elected.
What do you think will happen to you if you do that? It does not take much IQ to figure out that is certainly going to end really bad for you.
It is a really stupid idea, and that is what Allende did, and he suffered the consequences.
Because that is how things work in the real world.
This comment assumes that in the past, governments around the world always made decisions to placate the U.S., as if whether the U.S. approval or disapproval is required for nation-building. While this may have been true for some countries that considered the U.S. response, it wasn’t widely known that if you made an earnest attempt at “new” social organisation, you’d be killed and replaced by a newly minted, U.S. approved fascist.
>Because that is how things work in the real world
It may look like that’s how things work; i.e. make the U.S. mad and suffer the consequences. But in 1970 there were multiple conversations about how to build a country, and by 1973 there was one less. I personally prefer a reality in which there are multiple methods for governing people, instead of this one-size-fits-all approach that, in 2020, appears to be ill suited for solving modern problems.
If you oppose the international community and their leaders, they will oppose you in different ways.
They will sanction, boycott, sabotage, denounce, impoverish and indebt your country... and if none of that works they will invade you. That's the way it has always been.
A "fun" excerpt from the School of the Americas training manual: https://twitter.com/LLinecook/status/1314164836427857921