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100 years of whatever this will be (apenwarr.ca)
1475 points by mumblemumble on Dec 2, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 896 comments



This article is profoundly insightful.

I have been searching for patterns and insights in this field for 25 years. What apenwarr concludes is true:

    All we need is to build distributed systems that work. That means decentralized bulk activity, hierarchical regulation.

The problem is, everyone wants distributed systems that require everyone else to agree (global consensus), which is literally impossible (see: CAP theory, and what happens when Partition occurs). There's another word for "require everyone else to agree": Tyranny.

Fortunately, the entire universe and everything in it works without global consensus, just fine (for various definitions of "fine").

There is also methods for building computational distributed systems that work "fine" in the face of CAP failure:

https://holo.host

This is a serious breakthrough. And we really, really need this, NOW.

Just to whet your appetite, here's some high-level observations on how these breakthroughs may affect our lives, in the area of Money: https://perry.kundert.ca/range/finance/holochain-consistency...


Incredible.

> There is of course the most obvious horrifically misguided recently-popular "decentralized" system, whose name shall not be spoken in this essay. Instead let's back up to something older and better understood: markets.

My reading was the author was referring here to cryptocurrencies and you read the article, claim it's profound, and then spruik an ERC-20 token.


I was like "This cannot be the top comment on HN". It is. Sigh.


I usually agree with you, regarding top posts on HN.

Usually I wonder how it is that uninteresting first-order effects dominate.

This is a chance for us all to consider something perhaps more profound.


The project was funded through an ICO a couple years ago; these will be exchangeable for the in-system HoloFuel cryptocurrency, when the project goes live.

Of course, the project isn’t associated with Ethereum in any way.


Look, I'm a fan of this, and thanks for sharing - hadn't heard of this project until today.

However claiming it's not associated with ethereum in any way, really? There's mention of an erc-20 token on the home page. Come on, man.


You know how ICOs are used to fund non-Ethereum projects, right?


> Tyranny

No. What he's saying is that there are 'distributed' aspects like two people deciding on a price for something. Not everyone has to agree on that price and that's fine! That's how markets work.

But we do need rules like if I give you money for something and then you tell me to get lost... that I have some recourse. Everyone needs to roughly agree to those rules.


It's a matter of how much we all have to agree to.

Agreeing to contract law is fine, for example.

It's possible to go too far. If you're going to use force to get people to do things they don't want to, you might be going too far. Naturally, there are such things that aren't tyranny: taxes for example. Even with taxes there are levels of taxation that are tyrannical. For example, a 100% property tax would be tyrannical.

People are going to disagree about where the boundary between tyranny and not-tyranny lies. If you have a very sizeable minority saying "this is tyranny", well, it probably is (but doesn't have to be).


The notion of "using force" to get someone to agree is interesting.

If someone wants to pay me $X for Y. Then you think there's force involved there somewhere? If is X is too large, is that force? If I'm very poor and will accept a really low X, is that force?


As long as you're free to say no, and as long as your poor circumstances aren't caused by the person or entity offering you $X for Y, then no, that's not force.


> But we do need rules like if I give you money for something and then you tell me to get lost...

That would be "larceny", and there are lots of rules prohibiting it & court systems to recoup damages. Credit card companies (for example) are just a more-rapid arbitration mechanism.


That's part of the point of the article. Those rules are not some kind of distributed system. They are centralized.


Larceny (small- or industrial-scale) can only exist if counterparties are kept ignorant of previous larceny on the part of the bad actor.

It takes centralized systems to keep people ignorant.

In good, decentralized systems which demand long-term public track records of agent behaviour, with decentralized memory of these records, malevolent behaviour by an agent would rapidly make that agent incapable of future larceny.

Much of the disappointment with government and their three-letter agencies, is the growing belief (and mounting evidence) of long-term, wide-spread larceny, mischief and even evil on the part of government agents -- with the knowledge, support and protection of the government.

It is critical to use systems that make bad behaviour impossible to hide.

This requires centralized RULES (ie. widely agreed-upon standards of behaviour), but decentralized KNOWLEDGE (large numbers of random actors, confirming that behaviours meet the standards).


> malevolent behaviour by an agent would rapidly make that agent incapable of future larceny.

This is a naïve claim which is disproved by all available evidence.

Markets without central regulation are always exploited by participants with more knowledge. Regulations are required to keep the playing field level.


> This requires centralized RULES (ie. widely agreed-upon standards of behaviour)

yes, or even clearer: the rules for any holochain app are visible/public.

whereas today we meet in Zuck's living room and he dictates what we can speak/do, using the holochain framework (an end-to-end, open source, P2P app framework) everyone holds a copy of the rules themselves and everyone does their own computing and storage. no more black-boxing of the rules/functions. no more straightjacketed client-server relationships.

wanna set up an app with your friends where you can tweet with 500 characters instead of 240? holochain has you covered. the magic of holochain is it's inbuilt forking functionality which makes repurposing and remixing (evolving) any kind of networked app super easy.

one more example to drive this home:

"What I want is to see Uber’s technology become a protocol. Same with Airbnb, same with Postmates, same with other companies in the gig and sharing economies. Same with lots of other important technology companies, while we’re at it. Obviously this can’t happen overnight, but if the technology is useful enough to provide real value, then it’s too useful to be subjugated to the whims of profit forever. I would love to see these technology platforms either fully decentralised, or centralised in such a way that the entity running it is not-for-profit and, ideally, accountable to all stakeholders. The actual mechanisms for making this work are beyond the scope of this post, but I want to throw this idea out there and get people thinking about it, because it’s the only way of making the future work for all of us.

I suspect — and feel free to call me naive, but I don’t think I’m wrong— that the majority of people working on Uber’s technology would prefer to build a system whose social impact they could be proud of. Based on my admittedly limited sample size of people I know in the tech industry, I feel like lots of people working at companies like Uber are there because they want to solve interesting technical challenges and deploy useful innovations in the world. I believe that if given the choice, most would prefer to build a system that makes the world a fairer and more equitable place. The problem is that this choice is, for the most part, withheld from them, and whatever individual intentions they may have are inevitably co-opted by the [current economic structure] in which they make their living. By working together to counteract these prevailing systematic forces, though, they may be able to open up a space in which to envision alternatives."

-- Wendy Liu, https://medium.com/@dellsystem/dont-put-your-faith-in-uber-7...


> people working on Uber’s technology would prefer to build a system whose social impact they could be proud of

the author omitted the part where those people would prefer to also keep the compensation they receive currently. And it is this constraint that prevents people from "building systems with great (positive) social impact that they can be proud of".


> the author omitted the part where those people would prefer to also keep the compensation they receive currently.

well yes, that's what happens when the means of production are privately owned: workers have to sell their labor.


Although in reality enforcement can be selective and vary by jurisdiction so it’s also decentralised in implementation.


True, but it doesn't make sense to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

From what I've seen being argued about proponents of defi (or smart contracts) is they operate on the premise that the centralized authority is the bad actor.

While this is true in some cases, it's not all cases, and despite it's flaws there is still a need for centralized authorities to arbitrate.


The issue with centralized authorities that has to be mitigated somehow is that, once they appear, they tend to accummulate more and more power, and inevitably become a bad actor eventually, even if originally they weren't intending to.

A decentralized approach to this is to have the hierarchy of authority organized bottom-up rather than top-down. The hierarchy can then be toppled by "pulling the rug" at the bottom-most layer when it becomes abusive. OTOH centralized hierarchies tend to fight this by promoting principles such as "democratic centralism" (where all decision making has to flow up before it flows back down, allowing to control it at the top).


> The issue with centralized authorities that has to be mitigated somehow is that, once they appear, they tend to accumulate more and more power, and inevitably become a bad actor eventually, even if originally they weren't intending to.

Which is why we have a democracy so that rulers don't have to worry about getting killed in a rebellion and people can choose a new ruler when corruption gets bad enough.

This of course means that corruption tends towards the highest people can tolerate. So if you see corrupt politicians it is because people tolerate it, if they wanted they could vote them out but people as a group don't care enough to actually do the work necessary to do so. However if corruption grew large enough as you fear then people would start caring and things would change rather quickly.


What we actually have is representative democracy, where the choice is often nominal, and leaders generally come from the same class in practice (and represent the interests of that class). So the fact that people don't "vote them out" is not an indication that they don't care enough - they might care but not have the choice that would reflect it.

It is also susceptible to "don't let the other guy win!" type of propaganda, especially in FPTP electoral systems like the American one. So long as you can find enough emotional wedge issues to ensure that your base will never even contemplate voting for "the other", you can basically do whatever the hell you want.


They can't do whatever they want. They can do more than you'd want them to be able to do, but they can't just take billions of dollars and put them in their own pockets. Company bribes makes every American politician a multi millionaire, sure, but if they could do what they wanted they would be multi billionaires like the rulers of Russia and China.


that's half true.

every actor in the system has its own ledger and they reconcile transactions at a given point in time.

you don't need to know what others are doing or who they are.

your bank authorize your transactions and then some other bank receives the order to deposit the money on another account they control.

in this sense banking is more decentralized than "one true ledger to rule them all"


I was referring to 'larceny' in my comment as being a centralized rule.


One person can hit another person over the head without any centralized authority being involved. So I don't think your claim is correct at all. Assuming if somebody breaks an agreement, you just hit them over the head with a stick.


Right but that gets into scaling problems and arguments... for a hundred people sticks might work, for a thousand it gets dicey, by 10,000 things start to break down as factionalism spontaneously emerges: within our tribe we handle things via social cohesion and weak displays of symbolic force, outside our tribe we handle things via stronger displays of retribution

Point is that "hit with a stick" happens to also centralize power, albeit dynamically, at scale.

If you're really looking for a counterexample to centralized institutions, a better metaphor is probably "ecosystem." No centralized authority tells the lions to be kings and queens of the savannah, their status as apex predators comes dynamically from some transform {biosphere} -> {biosphere} finding a natural fixed point which has stability simply from the abstract mathematics of fixed points. A similar dynamic stability exists in the US in the balance of power between Republicans and Democrats, no central authority says that there have to be only two parties, but rather the rules of the game state "we divide everything into districts and every race is run as winner-take-all" which naturally induces this 50/50 two-party split that will destroy the country eventually


I guess you could argue the set of laws is the central authority that produces a two-party system, even though it may not have been intentional. Presumably you could adjust the laws so that other constellations would emerge.

Also why do people have to live in societies of millions of individuals? Perhaps smaller units would be better. To some degree that is already what happens, as for example villages can decide some things for themselves. The question is just who should get to decide what.


>Assuming if somebody breaks an agreement, you just hit them over the head with a stick.

If this is possible, then it is equally possible to just hit anyone you please with stick so that they are forced to do what you want.

Which means, the most violent eager person gets to rule. Which is what people who prefer court system don't want.


If you just hit people with sticks, they are bound to hit back. I don't understand your example.


I know several people that it would be VERY unwise for almost anyone to attempt to hit them with sticks. Do they get to do larceny as much as they want in this system?


No, because in this perfectly rational world a bunch of weaker humans would inevitably band together to overcome the stronger stick man.

This is exactly how things would go, which is why in human history warlords have never been a thing, and violent, oppressive men have never built empires.


> inevitably band together to overcome the stronger stick man.

and produce the court-based system we see today, with enforcement of the stick centralized to an authority that everyone agreed to (implicitly).


Except there are still warlords, and drug cartels. And police beating black fellows more often than the average.

https://www.thesouthafrican.com/news/africas-top-10-dictator...

You need commanders for war.

Weaker humans usually sit through decimation until the guards come for them. Then they squeal for help. It is also rational. Consider that if you stand agaisnt the stronger enemy, the enemy might come back later with reinforcements and kill you.

Edit: I remembered what the Bible says happened to jews. The egyptians killed the jew children to keep the population in check, before exodus. And shortly after Jesus was born, Herod probably did the same.


> Assuming if somebody breaks an agreement, you just hit them over the head with a stick.

But that's not a society any of us want to live in.


I didn't say you should run society like that. I only provided an example to prove that centralized control is not necessary to enforce rules.

Typically people form groups that enforce certain rules. You can have bigger and smaller groups. Some big countries are very centralized, others less so - I think federalization in the US serves to counteract centralization? Ideally people have some degree of freedom to switch to groups whose rules align with their own preferences.

It is not an all or nothing, there can be degrees of centralization and decentralization.

Of course we can not escape the laws of nature in the end.


Centralized authority is definitely necessary to enforce rules in any practical sense.


> https://holo.host

> HoloToken (HOT) is an ERC-20 token

I'm not sure a hierarchy in which the Ethereum Foundation, who gave themselves the absolute majority of Ether currency, is at the top, is the answer to the struggles/issues postulated in the essay.


I'm pretty sure anything running on the mainnet these days will be 10x more expensive than a classic centralized option just with gas fees and is as such completely useless.


Yep there is so much overhead to making things decentralized. Take a look at filecoin sealing. Its a super cool system with a bunch of fun cryptography and math, but generating the proofs requires a lot of time and compute power and adds a whole bunch of restrictions to how you can upload data.

If you really, really, want to say your storage is decentralized, use it, but S3 is a 1000x simpler.

https://spec.filecoin.io/systems/filecoin_mining/sector/seal... https://docs.filecoin.io/mine/hardware-requirements/


Also:

- Economy of scale means this won't be "AirBnB for hosting". I can't negotiate power costs or get as much efficiency out of my operations as someone with a real datacenter. Not even close. [EDIT: see also, Bitcoin mining, which started out "anyone can do it!" but wasn't anymore as soon as real money got involved. Just buy an expensive rack of ASICs that aren't good for anything else, and find some place to arbitrage power costs. Yeah, real accessible to the masses, that is.]

- All these "decentralize everything down to the end user" efforts neglect that most personal computing devices run on battery and sleep most of the time, these days, and that trend does not seem likely to reverse. See also: IPFS. Most folks don't have an always-on desktop- or server-class computer for this sort of thing, at all, and would have to buy one to participate. That's not super appealing. Also, decentralization tends to come at costs for routing and lookup, which often end up eating cycles (so, power, so, battery) on the end user's machine, compared with centralized options. See again: IPFS. So they end up adding centralized access points that are what most users actually interact with (see, yet again...) or their entire audience is computer nerds. If they have any real, viable use case, it ends up being as part of a centralized system, to help make it more resilient or cheaper to operate.


Just to make a point, it's fine if something's audience is entirely composed of computer nerds or academics at first. After refinement it can gradually make its way into consumer world; e.g., the internet, the most successful distributed system.


What makes you think Ethereum Foundation gave themselves the majority of Ether? I'm pretty sure it was 15% but I might be wrong


https://etherscan.io/stat/supply

72 million Ether were premined


Out of which 12 millions went to the Ethereum foundation. The other 60 millions were given to people who crowdfunded the project (and they did it using BTC). The ETH supply has more or less doubled since now. The Ethereum foundation holds today about 10% of all Ethereum and as far as I know they are "locked" in a smart contract.

One can criticize Ethereum and crypto as much as he wants, Vitalik Buterin (the creator of Ethereum) seems someone to be driven by something he believes in and not by money. If you read his blog posts / Twitter feed / comments on issues / EIP etc. the dude is relentless.


The EF only received 3.5 million ETH initially:

https://i.ibb.co/54sS0NY/FFi-K9m-CVg-AETZNA-format-png-name-...

It holds 350K ETH at this point, or 0.3% of the ETH supply:

https://etherscan.io/address/0xde0b295669a9fd93d5f28d9ec85e4...


Ethereum Foundation had at most 6 percent of tokens, and today has less than 0.3 percent, because it liquidated the vast majority to fund various software projects that made the Ethereum network possible.


Nope, Holo / Holochain has nothing to do with Ethereum; HOT is just the place-holder token (issued during the ICO used to fund the project, initially, a couple of years ago).

When the project goes live, it will be exchangeable for the initial HoloFuel cryptocurrency.


> This article is profoundly insightful.

How about adding a "not" to that and trying it on for size? Is it really profound?

> There is also methods for building computational distributed systems that work "fine" in the face of CAP failure: https://holo.host -This is a serious breakthrough. And we really, really need this, NOW.

Umm.. do we? Is this .. OK, forgive me, I've been penalty boxed for the first time in the last week, and should word this carefully, but.. my skeptical meter is on stun. Is this 'shilling' which is regrettably common in cryptocurrency conversations?


Well, if "excited" and "shilling" are synonyms, then maybe! ;)

But seriously, I spent significant effort over 25 years trying to solve some of the cooperation and communications problems in distributed systems. I'd deployed a cryptocurrency before Bitcoin came out in 2009; foolishly, I downloaded the system and found it hadn't solved these problems, so didn't run it (:/)

So, when I ran into Holochain a few years back, and began to understand what they had accomplished (in theory, at the time), I dropped everything I was doing and went full time on the project. Built the first 2 prototypes of HoloFuel.

Building planetary-scale (or even inter-planetary) distributed systems that can maintain consistency in the face of partitioning or massive latency while maintaining aggregate transaction rates almost linear with node count is now possible.

So, ya -- I think these insights and their successful implementation is "profound". Like, never been done before, and everyone thought it was impossible "profound".

You may have a much higher level of expectation. To me, that would be a lot like watching Free Solo while sucking on a soda, and saying "ya, that's not that impressive".


Enthusiasm is good. CAP isn't going away.


> everyone wants distributed systems that require everyone else to agree (global consensus)

Not really, Secure Scuttlebutt is highly subjective and has been in use for a while. ( https://ssbc.github.io/scuttlebutt-protocol-guide/ )

Some spinoffs adopt that explicit subjectivity of each user.


"There's another word for "require everyone else to agree": Tyranny."

I think this is often thrown out there to push back on liberals and socialism but this is the wrong point. We as a global society _need_ to agree to be productive. We need to work together to find the best solutions for as many people as possible.

Everyone needs to agree that starting a nuclear war is bad. You would likely want to stop China from shooting nuclear missiles at San Francisco. Yet I doubt that when you insist on this narrative, you would think of yourself as being tyrannical.

One of the best observations about why people in urban areas are more liberal, and rural areas are more conservative, has to do with the idea that when you are around more people, you need more rules to guide how to interact with one another. When you live on your own 200 acre farm, you don't want someone to come in and tell you what to do with your tree. When you live in a 200 person apartment complex, you do care when your neighbors are being loud at 2am.

With technology, we are living closer and closer with each other. I don't know how you are going to be productive without consensus.


> Everyone needs to agree that starting a nuclear war is bad. You would likely want to stop China from shooting nuclear missiles at San Francisco. Yet I doubt that when you insist on this narrative, you would think of yourself as being tyrannical.

Extreme examples work, because you can actually count on the people reading your comment to agree with you. But you can't extrapolate towards less universally held examples that you happen to believe in; someone who requires everyone to agree about what's done with trees on your own property could well be considered tyrranical.

> One of the best observations about why people in urban areas are more liberal, and rural areas are more conservative, has to do with the idea that when you are around more people, you need more rules to guide how to interact with one another.

That's a cool observation that I'll keep in mind. However, in my experience, it's not been the primary reason. Rather, it has seemed to me that rural folks live closer to nature than urban folks, and have often had firsthand experience that mother nature tends to be nasty and brutish (or just check out r/natureismetal). That's an experience which tends to create what they would consider (IMHO) a much more pragmatic idea of what it takes to survive in the world.


> Rather, it has seemed to me that rural folks live closer to nature than urban folks, and have often had firsthand experience that mother nature tends to be nasty and brutish.

That's an interesting interpretation. To me, what's more nasty and brutish than a fellow man? I always thought the divide was explained by how in the country everyone knows everyone and have repeated interactions with the same people. It's prisoners dilemma, but the game doesn't end. Who needs rules when you can all punish somebody for an offense (like being gay)?


> Who needs rules when you can all punish somebody for an offense (like being gay)?

That's a...fairly prejudiced generalization you've made there.


Yeah, well...

1) At least they didn't choose that very word for their user id.

2) Old proverb about echoes: "As you call into the woods, so they answer back". All you've written so far sums up to pretty much exactly that generalisation.


>That's a cool observation that I'll keep in mind. However, in my experience, it's not been the primary reason. Rather, it has seemed to me that rural folks live closer to nature than urban folks, and have often had firsthand experience that mother nature tends to be nasty and brutish (or just check out r/natureismetal). That's an experience which tends to create what they would consider (IMHO) a much more pragmatic idea of what it takes to survive in the world.

My experience, having come from Appalachian stock and escaping to New York City, is that urbanites are more open to new experiences and ideas, they see different people and slices of their culture all the time. They are more likely to go to college, further increasing their experience of new ideas.

Rural folk are insulated from the world outside the area they live in. They're mired in conservatism and the past. They suffer from brain drain because most people, once they've been exposed to fresh ideas and people via college, tend to become more "worldly" and don't necessarily want to return to their one stop sign town with its extremely limited social life, culture, and job prospects. They often never master their fear of the other, because they see everyone who is not them AS the other.


I see it more as idealism vs pragmatism. We need both. I think older people tend to be conservative because they've become jaded by idealists and/or politics in general. To many, conservatism is that government and politics screw everything up, so we need less of it.


"someone who requires everyone to agree about what's done with trees on your own property could well be considered tyrranical."

100% agree with the example of someone's tree on their 200 acre farm. However, if I have a dying tree that's a risk to falling on my neighbor's house, it would far less tyrannical for the neighbor to force me to remove the tree through the government. Proximity to others plays a big role.


> it would far less tyrannical for the neighbor to force me to remove the tree through the government

The neighbor wouldn't be the tyrannical one. And, there's better solutions - put the liability for the tree on the person whose property it's on. That's a fair assignment of responsibility. I do think it would be tyrannical for the government to declare that all trees must be removed if they meet certain criteria.


Liability is a good deterrent in many situations but is far inferior to cooperation. Let's take an extreme example: the death of a child by a irresponsible corporation. Even with generous compensation, the family will not be made whole with the loss of a child's life.

Going back to the tree example, if a tree were to fall on the house, even if all the repairs were paid for by the tree owner, the loss in time and inconvenience will not be offset. There is also the chance that something personal is damaged and no amount of money can replace it. It is better if the tree never falls on the house in the first place.


Why is liability -- which can only kick in after some damage has been done, possibly displacing someone from their home -- a better solution than a process by which dying/dead trees can be compelled to be removed?

This sounds like the usual libertarian answer to things like "eliminate government food safety inspection"; the idea being that the market would eventually reflect that some restaurants regularly sicken people and would then go out of business. Why is it better to let people be sickened, even if they can later sue, than put some stops up on risky behavior in the first place?

For both tree hazards and food safety, it's not a surprise when something is risky, even if you can't predict exactly when someone will have their house smashed by a falling tree. Why wait for the damage to be done?


> Why is it better to let people be sickened, even if they can later sue, than put some stops up on risky behavior in the first place?

Consequentialist reason: you don't put barriers and friction in front of (e.g.) biotech and drug innovation. See the pandemic for this (FDA has killed approximately a million people alone by preventing covid vaccines from being available in the market sooner).

Deontological reason: you don't have the right to tell people what they can and can't do with their own bodies (w.r.t. products they want to consume, at their own risk, etc).

There's also regulatory capture, which reliably and predictably occurs in mixed economies (see e.g. public choice economics).


> FDA has killed approximately a million people alone by preventing covid vaccines from being available in the market sooner

This does not seem like a reasonable conclusion.

In a counter-factual where (presumably) the FDA doesn’t regulate much, we don’t have any idea how many harmful drugs consumers would have been exposed to and the damage this would result in.

Nor do we know how many folks would have died of Covid after believing they were protected by whatever ineffective drugs or vaccines.

Nor do we know how many more people would refuse to take effective vaccines due to lack of confidence in them, which is a huge problem even with the current level of vetting.


Who "puts liability on" someone and who enforces the ownership of property in your example, without being the same tyranny you are trying to avoid?

Tree falls on house, tree owner doesn't want to pay their liability, what happens?


> Rather, it has seemed to me that rural folks live closer to nature than urban folks, and have often had firsthand experience that mother nature tends to be nasty and brutish

WTF does that have to do with anything? The vast majority of humanity doesn't, as you so astutely observed, live anywhere near nature. So nature being "nasty and brutish" is absolutely irrelevant to most people. This deep insight you seem to think rural people have is not so much insight as delusion.

> That's an experience which tends to create what they would consider (IMHO) a much more pragmatic idea of what it takes to survive in the world.

Sure, if you're a Real Outdoorsman™ you have a better chance of surviving being plonked down naked and alone in the middle of the jungle. But who lives in a world where that's relevant in any way? (A: Conservatives, in their fantasy world.)


Everyone needs to agree that starting a nuclear war is bad. You would likely want to stop China from shooting nuclear missiles at San Francisco. Yet I doubt that when you insist on this narrative, you would think of yourself as being tyrannical.

I disagree with the premise here. China doesn't need to agree that shooting nukes at San Fran is bad, they just need to agree that shooting nukes at San Fran is going to cost them Shanghai. That's more like markets and prices than it is appealing to a centralized hierarchy.

One of the best observations about why people in urban areas are more liberal, and rural areas are more conservative, has to do with the idea that when you are around more people, you need more rules to guide how to interact with one another.

This might be true, but if you look at the state of LA, San Fran, Chicago's South Side, Detroit and Baltimore, it's tough to say all those extra rules have kept them stable and prosperous. I'm not saying the answer is necessarily "tear it all down and go DeFi", but it's pretty clear that on a long enough timeline, the regulation fails to punish the bad actors and actually restricts the good actors from fixing problems independently.


"That's more like markets and prices than it is appealing to a centralized hierarchy."

My thought process is more like a well regulated market than it is a king of the world. A market requires consensus. With your point about Shanghai, the consensus here is that nuclear war will ensure mutual destruction.

"it's pretty clear that on a long enough timeline, the regulation fails to punish the bad actors and actually restricts the good actors from fixing problems independently. "

Large cities have existed throughout history under all sorts of governance and regulations and they continue to thrive. The downfall of a city is more correlated with economic perils than lawlessness. Even with all the crime and homelessness in San Francisco, I'm willing to bet anyone that for 2021, San Francisco will have one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world. Urban centers will continue to require consensus through governance to be productive.


> I don't know how you are going to be productive without consensus.

At the risk of pedantry (but in this case I think warranted): consensus literally means every single person agrees.

This is as opposed to something like democratic rule, where rules can be made and enforced even if not every single person involved agrees.

I think OP is using the precise (non-colloquial) definition of "consensus" and rightly points out how unworkable that is as a governing principle. You can't get a small room of people to agree on what's good for lunch, much less matters of actual controversy.

In a precisely-consensus-driven system you'd never be able to shut your neighbor up at 2am, since definitionally at least one person involved thinks the behavior is ok.


Where do you get this definition? Wiktionary just talks about widespread agreement, not unanimous agreement: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/consensus

To be fair, I've heard it used (presumably) the same way, but I understood this to be a type of consensus that relies on an agreement by all.

From the wikipedia definition on consensus-based decision-making:

> The focus on establishing agreement of the supermajority and avoiding unproductive opinion, differentiates consensus from unanimity, which requires all participants to support a decision.


There are differing definitions but maybe the wiggle room is in the use of "agreement" vs "acceptance".

As I see it, for humans usually consensus on a topic is:

majority agree

minority disagree...

but in lieu of anything better being accepted by the group, they accept a perceived suboptimal outcome for the sake of getting a beneficial outcome at all. IE it's not great, but it's good enough.


In order to prevent a nuclear war, you need consensus. Anything less than 100% buy-in is insufficient.

Going back to the neighbor example, someone being loud at 2am is a lack of consensus. In order to be productive as a group, you need consensus to be quiet when people are sleeping.


You can certainly get a small room of people to agree on what's good for lunch, if the premise is that there's no lunch at all until they agree on what to have. There will be some compromising involved, so not everybody might get the dish that is their first choice, but the more important thing is that nobody gets something that they hate.

That aside, consensus always has a particular domain of applicability, and by decentralizing, you make that domain smaller - and thus make consensus easier. Federation can be used to replicate this process on as many layers as needed for decentralized organization of larger societies.


A solution is cultural:

Invite people to abandon their preferences and then organize those people so they show the world how many more needs it meets than not doing it. In particular, abandoning preferences allows the need for not to get met more easily.


> more important thing is that nobody gets something that they hate.

but what if there's only a limited set of choices, and at least one person in the group would hate one of the available choices? What then?


Then you split the group.


I studied physics and the agreement I think we need is that we are literally a super-organism about to ensure its own destruction. I hate to use the term mass consciousness or whatever but it's really irresponsible to me how people are still arguing between flavors of ideologies that push us towards being more individualistic.



Woah cool! Thanks for sharing, this actually reminds me of this quote:

The essence of money is … the mediating activity or movement, the human, social act by which man’s products mutually complement one another, is estranged from man and becomes the attribute of money, a material thing outside man. Since man alienates this mediating activity itself, he is active here only as a man who has lost himself and is dehumanised; the relation itself between things, man’s operation with them, becomes the operation of an entity outside man and above man. Owing to this alien mediator – instead of man himself being the mediator for man – man regards his will, his activity and his relation to other men as a power independent of him and them. His slavery, therefore, reaches its peak. It is clear that this mediator now becomes a real God, for the mediator is the real power over what it mediates to me. Its cult becomes an end in itself. - Karl Marx


I would argue that pretty much the opposite is true: I don't know how we can be productive without breaking consensus.

All innovation comes from individuals or small groups going against the accepted dogma, and risking their own resources and reputation to do something almost everyone else thinks is stupid.


I've never seen anyone else define conservative vs liberals like that. Conservatives aren't against rules, they are against changing rules.

Why are conservatives against abortion, gay marriage and drug legalisation if they don't want to be told what they can do on their "own 200 acre farm". All those issues are about enforcing a worldview on others.


This is the general perspective on conservatives and I agree with the sentiment. If you extrapolate this out, people who live happily in rural areas do not want someone (government) to tell them about new changes. Small government and less regulation is a big part of their ethos.

"All those issues are about enforcing a worldview on others."

This seems to apply to everyone involved. Liberals want to impose their worldview on others just as much as conservatives. I think that's ok. We all want to pursue what is best.


> Conservatives aren't against rules, they are against changing rules.

That doesn’t ring true to me. Both liberals and conservatives want to change and preserve rules according to their viewpoints.


Conservatives want to change rules to get back to their view of what was good about the past. Liberals want to change the rules according to their view of what should be good about the future.


"Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect"

https://www.bradford-delong.com/2018/12/frank-wilhoit-the-tr...


This seems like a bizarre definition. As someone who would accept a label of "conservative", and growing up and living in a world of mostly "conservative" people, I struggle to think of a single such person who wouldn't be appalled to find out they they were living under a single such law, let alone many such laws.

Could you be so kind as to identify even a single instance of such a law?


It's possible to craft laws that don't explicitly fail to bind one group, but do in practice. Other times, it's more explicit.

A recent example of the former would be some of the voting security laws that have been popular lately. A recent example of the latter would be disparities in crack vs. cocaine sentencing (I think this is no longer the case? God, I hope not. But was not that long ago) and that's just the de jure part—in all cases, the de facto enforcement is what matters.

Historical examples abound, obviously.

[EDIT] another example is mentioned by someone else in this thread, as abortion laws, but it's worth noting why those are an example: the rich never have trouble obtaining abortions, and there's a history of pro-life advocates doing so when they "need" to, for themselves or for family members (I'm sure their case is different, of course eyeroll). In fact a major factor in the Republican legislature of New York passing early abortion rights laws was precisely this disparity, which was that anti-abortion laws in effect only existed for the poor.


Nearly any instance of a cop interacting with a black man compared to interacting with a white man.

The law isn’t like to explicitly favor one group over another, but the the systems of law have shown they do favor one group over another.


"The law" in gp's quote is not referring to codified (abstract) laws, but rather their application in reality. To wit: we refer to police officers as "the law" because they represent, and wield, the law, and in the moment it doesn't matter what the codes say, the living breathing officer ("of the law") takes precedence.


That is not the definition or description of "conservativism". That is a strawman.


You need to broaden your view from American political culture. Conservatives exist in many different types of governments and many different cultures. This explanation makes no sense.


The rules on abortion have been around for decades.

Conservatives seemed pretty dead-set on changing them.

Pretty sure it goes deeper than that.


Regarding specifically socialism, there was something about this article that immediately jumped out at me from being familiar with online leftist spaces.

Each of the first six bullet points, as well as the last one, sound exactly like the kinds of things that I see leftists bringing up as the inevitable result of "late stage capitalism". The author even sort of admits this:

> Capitalism has become a "success disaster."

It's therefore fascinating to see someone take all those exact points and conclude that these problems are not, in fact, natural consequences of the values and incentive structures of capitalism, but rather the result of just not doing capitalism the right way. We should instead be rebuilding things collectively in a decentralized to achieve the "dreams of capitalism" which we've strayed from.

The author is this close to retreading the philosophy traditional left-anarchism from an entirely different angle.


what's wrong with socialism? in the early days the internet was mostly a fully distributed communist space. the physical internet structure itself is still distributed/communist. it was the Silicon Valley venture capitalist client-server model that enclosed the web and killed it's potential (until now).

i love the Telekommunist Manifesto by Dmytri Kleiner for it's fantastic and concise material analysis of the web, specifically the chapter Peer-to-Peer Communism vs. the Client Server State: http://media.telekommunisten.net/manifesto.pdf

video version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YEzHDxn5nY


I wasn't conscious until the early 2000s, so forgive me if my comment conflicts with any firsthand knowledge you may have. My guess is that those in those early days, the internet was a frontier less concerned with extraction of value because it much less clear how to do that versus today. The internet was probably going to play out roughly how it is now no matter what happened once you got enough people on it, overwhelming those who valued the open culture and structure which came before.

Regarding socialism/communism as you used the word, I personally don't think it is a good system to apply to the total breath and depth of society in the real world, but it seems to me when the internet was in its infancy and on a plane of existence almost entirely apart from the real world, it's easier to be communist. Having a terrible time on the internet probably meant you just lost a bit of time, productivity (esp. if you were one of the early users/academics/professionals which found utility in it before the masses), and a few cents of electricity. Now, everything I care about in real life such as my bank account, social reputation, work, and so on can be connected to, accessed, improved, or destroyed on through the internet in some way. It's made a lot of things more convenient, but there's a lot of power to be had and space for chaos to be sown. The stakes of real life have spilled over and with it all the internal and external problems socialism/communism has to contend with in the real world.


> when the internet was in its infancy and on a plane of existence almost entirely apart from the real world

> there's a lot of power to be had and space for chaos to be sown

i'm seriously not sure if this is a GPT-3 generated response used to waste my time... lol


I think it's rather disingenuous to complain about vague and un-named "internal and external problems socialism/communism has to contend with in the real world" in a thread about explicitly enumerated problems that capitalism has directly led to.

The internet didn't become capitalist because socialism is inherently bad. The internet became capitalist be we live in a society run by capitalists and they realized they could exploit it.


> What's wrong with socialism?

Nothing, in principal. I happen to be in favor of it. But I try not to phrase that more neutrally in a forum run explicitly by and implicitly for capital-c Capitalists.


true, there are subtler ways!


I love your last sentence here - so well stated.


You're conflating Western leftism with liberalism. Wikipedia defines liberalism as "a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law." [1]. Liberals are interested in individual rights and often are opposed to collectivist ideas such as those espoused by state socialists. Your position on global consensus is a more collectivist perspective, not necessarily a liberal perspective.

> We as a global society _need_ to agree to be productive. We need to work together to find the best solutions for as many people as possible.

I'm not sure how familiar you are with the history, but the process of forming a government is often _very difficult_. Even forming governments in relatively small geographic areas is difficult; Europe went through centuries of warfare before it settled on its current set of governments. The aftermath of colonialism has created terrible tensions in Africa and the Middle East which is making it terribly difficult for governments to form in those regions.

What you're asking for, to agree on broad sets of things to be productive, is essentially to form some form of limited government across the world. We're not even close. The UN routinely makes resolutions that are ignored by member states. Many countries still oppose the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I highly suggest you spend some time reading about, and if possible or safe, traveling in parts of the world with very different cultures than your own (again if it's safe, which can be challenging for certain demographics :( ). There's a lot of diversity in human thought.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism


> I think this is often thrown out there to push back on liberals and socialism but this is the wrong point. We as a global society _need_ to agree to be productive.

And when someone tells you "no", how do you respond?

You have three basic options:

1. Submit (but you can't submit to everyone saying no)

2. Take your toys and go home (but then your group will forever shrink)

3. Force people to say yes

The only good answer is (2) but that means some systems are simply untenable if they require universal decentralization.


4. "How about we have a conversation, perhaps if we think about it we can find a compromise that works out for both of us?" Note also that such conversations can even be had that don't involve the disagreeable party (if they're that difficult), but if they are of high enough quality and visibility (such that they can get public momentum) they can change the person's mind based on them seeing which way the wind is blowing.

5. Something neither of us have thought of.


4 is just 1. Compromise inherently involves both parties giving something up. That only works for up to N parties. You can't achieve stable compromise with everyone ever because you have parties that are not rectifiable.

You could also read 4 as an example of 3. If you are going to force someone to say yes by social pressure or threatening to burn down their house, that's still authoritarian.


> 4 is just 1. Compromise inherently involves both parties giving something up.

Submission and compromise may be similar in many cases, but they are not the same.

> That only works for up to N parties.

In the cases where it only works for N parties (which can vary wildly depending on the situation), agreed.

> You can't achieve stable compromise with everyone ever because you have parties that are not rectifiable.

That which is impossible is indeed impossible. However, that which is predicted does not always turn out so.

> You could also read 4 as an example of 3.

If you aren't concerned about accuracy, I suppose.

> If you are going to force someone to say yes by social pressure or threatening to burn down their house, that's still authoritarian.

Depends which meaning of the word you're using, this is the first hit on Google:

authoritarian: favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom.


That which is may be that which is not, unless it is and your senses don't deceive you, and no evil genie is in play, and then it probably is unless you're trapped in a simulation.

But you can't solve everything with consensus, and you're welcome to play word games but forcing people is not "consent".


> That which is may be that which is not, unless it is and your senses don't deceive you, and no evil genie is in play, and then it probably is unless you're trapped in a simulation.

Very nice!

Can you give an example where "That which is may be that which is not" (with or without the "unless it is" part)?

And considering this idea: do any conclusions or interesting ideas logically follow from it with respect to our preceding conversation? I'm not seeing any, but the odds of my senses deceiving me seems high.

> But you can't solve everything with consensus...

Right you are, hence my lack of making that assertion.

> ...and you're welcome to play word games...

As you are welcome to engage in evasion and rhetoric.

> ...but forcing people is not "consent".

Right again, and I've made no assertion that it is.

This is a fun conversation, I hope we can continue it - perhaps we can drill down and determine where it is that you and I disagree (assuming we actually do).


I agree. I dont think all systems require consensus and its likely most things do not. When it comes to things that optimizes for survival, it is likely we will need consensus to be productive.

Consensus only need to happen when we are close to one another. Technology has the side effect of bringing us closer together.


I don't think technology has to bring us closer together.

I agree with you that the current default state is bringing everyone into the same sphere. I don't believe that is actually what we want.

I don't want to listen to every Bob's or Mary's political opinion or outrage take. I'm happy debating with a small group that has agreed upon rules (and excludes people who don't follow those rules). Likewise, there are plenty of political discussion groups that want to exclude me because I don't agree with their rules.

Technology should work to make small, discrete groups able to form while ignoring physical proximity.


What is the pattern in common among all industries politics governments and culture? The article proposes these things are all interrelated but doesn't make the connections among them.

Also for going to identify the pattern we need to have a common frame of reference. The facts have to be indisputable.

>Everyone seems to increasingly be in it for themselves

Everyone? This sort of hyperbole makes it difficult to identify patterns. We have more examples today of public benefit corporations than 10 50 or 100 years ago.

Maybe it's subjective or arbitrary, but let's say at 1 billion dollar valuation a corporation must by law become a public benefit corporation. Do we always need to have regulatory regimes compel corporations to comply with civil or social good? We know about regulatory capture. So we know a regulatory regime doesn't always work. Sure, it works better than outright feudalism.

Is there such a thing as the proper range for wealth inequality? I don't know that we even know the answer to that question of let alone what that range would be or how to maintain that range in a civil way.

The innovation of the United States of America at its founding, was its distribution of power. Forming a polyarchy instead of a monarchy. Of course, it's a biased distribution. Not everyone gets power. But the idea is that centralized power leads to corruption. And creating a competitive environment for ambition, reduces the chances not for corruption, but totalitarianism.

But I wonder if democracies have optimized as far as they can.


Yes, the original US idea was that of a central government that had very restricted power, and a bunch of states that could reach different decisions within that framework. And that the people being governed had more influence over what the state did than over what the country did, so the state was more responsive to the peoples' needs, wants, and desires.

I would argue that over the years, we have moved away from that. We now have a much more powerful national government, that is more ruler over the states. And I think in doing so, we have gained some things, but we have also lost some things.

I think there is merit to the idea of a multi-level hierarchy, where the higher levels have more restricted areas of power, but are also harder to change. But there's one other piece that's needed: Mobility between lower-level domains. If I don't like what California's doing, I can move to Texas, and we need similar things (hopefully easier than physically moving) in other systems.


>But I wonder if democracies have optimized as far as they can.

If you dig your powdered wig out of the closet and look back at the founding of the united States of America, their big idea is still pretty good. The article makes this point, obliquely:

>All we need is to build distributed systems that work. That means decentralized bulk activity, hierarchical regulation.

Having the Big Nationwide Things happen at the federal level, and the Not Quite As Big Local Things happen at the State level was a fine idea. You can't get Tennessee and North Carolina to agree on BBQ; do you really think they're going to have the same ideas on social issues, or how to handle them? It's all well and good to have nationwide building codes, but even that falls apart rather quickly. You don't build the same way in California as you would on the Gulf Coast.

Cramming everything into the federal purview wheelhouse is great if you're in NYC or LA, and you can't stand that some people in Nebraska or Alabama disagree with you.


Paul Frazee (of Beaker Browser) had a thread that got some good reach on distributed without consensus (but often some ability to see people break their contracts). Holo did come up. :)

> Maybe it’s time to dig into the non-blockchain smart contract idea that’s been floating around for a while. Drop the PoW and transaction fees, but maintain the trustless verification and open data/code

https://twitter.com/pfrazee/status/1462491070244208640

As for the 1000 years post being great- in general Avery Pennarum is a world treasure. Great ability to surface ideas & through & make situations legibile. Another very fine example. The "state my assumptions" lead in is divine all on it's own.


One key observation leading to Holochain, is that the systematic breaking of the assumptions of a "Smart Contract" (the shared DNA code, in Holochain terms) is a valid form of agreement.

If some group wants to lie and pick each-others pockets: well, OK, carry on. Just let me know about it, and not take part in it. It's not the end of the world.


The fact that holo introduces a shitcoin when any payment channel (lightning, some USD service, etc) would work means I'm not going to take it seriously.


A cryptocurrency that will continue to work reliably and without a bound on aggregate transaction rate in the face of network Partitioning is … a “shitcoin”?


Point is if you solved a problem, you can sell the solution for USD

Attaching a solution to a cryptocurrency comes off as just wanting to sell tokens, not sell the solution.


> Attaching a solution to a cryptocurrency comes off as just wanting to sell tokens, not sell the solution.

well yeah it's not ideal, yet the holochain foundation does all their work in the open and have to fund their development somehow (https://github.com/holochain/holochain). better doing an ethical ico-like crowdsourcing (based on a unit of computing power, like Airbnb but for processing power) than strapping into the chains of Venture Capital.

most important though is that the main framework created by the Holochain team is fully open source (linked above). so using the Holo host system is optional. it is meant as a way to enable easy onboarding of new users for new Holochain apps. Holo's distributed web of nodes help non-technical users use Holochain apps without being technically literate enough. so Holo users like my mom will be comfortable using Holochain apps that look like client-server apps, until we as a society transition to fully p2p apps, and the ecosystem as a whole matures to a point where we no longer need this 'bridge'.

also cool is that, inspired by LETS and similar systems, the holochain framework allows easy deployment of mutual credit currencies [1]. imo the most exciting implementation of this is the Resources Events Agents (REA) accounting by http://mikorizal.org led by, amongst others, two retired software engineers. you can check out their project http://valueflo.ws. there is another project not building on Holochain, but using the Valueflo.ws ontology/vocabulary called bonfire: https://github.com/bonfire-networks/bonfire_valueflows (main website: https://bonfirenetworks.org/)

anyways, before dismissing this project because of preconceived notions about the cryptocurrencies (which i agree are 99.999999% shitcoins), please read through their awesome developer docs: https://developer.holochain.org/

think of Holochain like a Ruby on Rails framework, but for distributed applications instead of client-server: https://medium.com/holochain/holochain-reinventing-applicati...

[1] https://medium.com/holochain/beyond-blockchain-simple-scalab...


There's no such thing as an ethical ICO.


Raising funds for an interesting project, from free agents willing to fund the project, is never ethical?

Are you certain of this?


true. i wish they'd called it crowdfunding. they sold credits for a mutual credit currency that is very different to centrally issued credit.


Is it a hosting marketplace or did they also secretly break the CAP theorem and forget to mention it on the front page?

Yes, it's a shitcoin. If I saw someone inventing a P2P hosting marketplace and not trying to pump a shitcoin on the side, I would take it more seriously.


Yes


> That means decentralized bulk activity, hierarchical regulation.

Interestingly, he also mentions that central economic planning doesn't work (although I am not so sure I completely agree with that thesis), but this sounds very similar to Cybersyn's design.


Central panning doesn't scale because of limits to economic knowledge and calculation. You can't possibly know enough about what everyone needs or wants in an economy. Even if you did, calculating resource allocation based on that is NP.


People constantly forget that large multinationals like Amazon are bigger that many countries, are purely authoritarian structures and work as 100% centralized economies.

> Central panning doesn't scale

On the contrary, it scaled pretty well in China and in Soviet Russia, leading to the two cases of the fastest economical growth on the planet. The problem is not scalability.

The problem is that dictatorships (both countries and private companies) exist to benefit those in power. When push comes to shove everybody else is expendable.


Take Walmart as an example. If a country, it would rank 25th economically (above 188 other countries and the likes of Austria, Argentina, Norway, Ireland, and South Africa).[1] Walmartian central planning scales at least that far.

1. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3524078


Nobody is claiming the central planning doesn't produce value - i think the language is ambiguous as to the meaning of "doesn't work".

Central planning fails to give the little people what they want. Walmart's central planning is to ensure the profits continue to flow up to the share holders. The workers are expendable, and get a bare minimum the profits (as wages).

Central planning in a communist regime is exactly the same - it enriches the regime, at the expense of the people.


Central planning is the ultimate version of monopoly. It is what happens when a single company owns the entire country and no longer has to compete for anything. It is the only employer and the seller of goods, for every good. They banned the import of other goods, so they are all you get. Also they make the laws, so you can't even protest without having tanks moving you down.

"I really hate these corporate overlords, what can we do to fix it? I know, what about giving the corporate overlords all the power in the entire country? Yeah, that will fix it!"


> large multinationals like Amazon

I don't know about the internal workings of Amazon specifically, but many corporations are set up as hierarchical "business units" that each operate as separate companies within: selling their products and services within the company. There's still a market, not everything is determined centrally.

> On the contrary, it scaled pretty well in China and in Soviet Russia, leading to the two cases of the fastest economical growth on the planet. The problem is not scalability.

China grew much faster after it instituted market reforms. I'm not as familiar with Soviet Russia, but I'd be surprised if it grew faster than similar market-based countries during the same time period.


Sears mostly collapsed because they decided to make their internal departments independent competing companies. The departments acted more in their own interests rather than in the interests of the whole company...


> but many corporations are set up as hierarchical "business units" that each operate as separate companies within

The overwhelming majority of companies, including Amazon, does not allow different units, departments or teams to compete with each other by providing the same service.

Essentially each BU or even team is a little monopolist.


Soviet Russia actually had to reintroduce markets (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Economic_Policy) to dig itself out of the economic hole caused by the hyper-centralized planning of "military communism".


You must not be from a former communist country. The system worked for two-three decades during the initial industrialization phase. When that phase ended growth was hard to find (the whole system was based around factories and moving villagers to cities). That's when the numbers started going down and the system started faking numbers to give the appearance that all is well and nobody could disagree with them.

At a country level (not talking about Amazon) these systems are fragile and don't handle volatility well.

Re: Amazon - you can't compare countries with private corporations.


I wonder if the growth problems that SU came across was more due to external pressures than inherent systemic limitations of a planned economy


> The system worked for two-three decades

Yes, that's my whole point.

> Re: Amazon - you can't compare countries with private corporations.

...and why? The similarity is more than evident.


Amazon has competitors, a central government do not. If the central planning fails to deliver a product then there is nobody there to deliver the product, if that product was food then people starve. This lack of competition is both bad for robustness as I described, and bad for efficiency since it means that people has to get their goods from the government and can't choose to get it somewhere else, so there is no selective pressure to keep the government deliver goods people want. You could say that other countries pressured them via war, but the people couldn't choose to buy American, the competition happened at a way too high level to matter.

Or rather, ultimately the people made their choice, central planning was scrapped and people could but American goods. So in a way the competition helped, people ultimately picked the superior option and the inferior option went under. But it took a very long time for that to happen, capitalism is way faster.


> Amazon has competitors, a central government do not

Countries engage in international trade and also go to war. If anything they compete more ruthlessly.


We definitely do broad-strokes central planning in the US and every other developed country with tax system design, social support systems, and industrial policy.

The Soviet Union sucked, but it lasted an extremely long time.

The moral of the story is central planning kinda does work, just not very well if you do too much of it.


I think it's more that you need layers. A centrally planned layer of regulation and safety nets that provide a base level to keep things running (and people alive), but without the cost and inefficiency of trying to control everything, and then a more efficient, free market–like layer on top that relies on the lower layer to provide the "free" in "free market".

I believe it would be more productive to argue about where the layer boundaries should be, rather than endlessly arguing about whether one or the other layer should even exist. (Because they'll both always exist. People will help each other out even in a free-for-all; and black markets will always come into existence in rigid, fully-planned economies.)


How are the current economic agents solving the NP-hard problem of economy? It seems like they are are just as incapable as a computer (assuming the substrate independence of computation).


You can't just assign random semantics to "consistency", "availability" and "partition tolerance" if you want to apply the CAP theorem.


> Disintermediation is always always always a myth. It only means replacing a previous intermediary with another, supposedly more deserving one.

pic.twitter.com/jTM45MNas0


Enforced uniformity is the law. You cannot have discordance in law. You can choose to either institute law via centralized delegates, and make it mandatory, which is tyranny imposed by central authorities, or through a decentralized protocol that achieves uniformity through opt-in global consensus.

apenwarr prefers the status quo, and ridicules the new cryptoeconomic systems which make the latter possible.


> This article is profoundly insightful.

Insightful? No discussion of environmental, ecological, social, and economic collapse if we continue on the way we're going, yet, somehow, it was "insightful?" Sorry, I do not buy it. Modern civilization doesn't have 100 years on our current course.


Seems nice in concept, but Rust and Node.js is a bad and limiting in execution


I strongly believe that money itself has been corrupted lately, this then causes all number of bad flow on effects to happen. A massive shift happened when central banks started getting involved in direct purchases of various asset types and we started to see a major distortion happen in monetary policy that which has distorted the functioning of money itself. For example who would care if their business is completely unprofitable if it could get access to freshly printed money every quarter to prop it up. What then happens to all the other businesses who don't get access to that freshly created money? When we have situations like the BoJ owning more than 60% of the Nikkei 225 we really ought to be asking some serious questions about if we really have free markets? We also should be asking some questions about the properties we desire in money itself. If a central monetary agency can go about unconventional monetary policy such as purchasing equities we can quickly have a situation whereby an unelected group of bureaucrats can damages the ability of money to be used as a means to convey information. Further there's questions about picking winners and losers that comes up there too. As a whole I think people need to ask what money is again and have some serious conversations about what money and the monetary system should be. It seems that these difficult questions really fell out of favor a while ago and as a result things have been drifting in a direction that many people aren't comfortable with.

If we don't ask these questions then technological approaches to money, like various cryptocurrencies and other financial technologies are unlikely to actually cause long lasting improvements. We have some serious monetary policy problems in the world right now and while some tech could help (in some cases) these aren't primarily technological problems.


You're merely documenting how current regulations are inefficient at catching current abuses. With proper regulations, these kind of abuses could be mostly prevented. With anti-regulation sentiment permeating government and politics right now, this becomes much, much more difficult. People will use the failure of antiquated regulations that need to be updated as justification for removing or kneecapping them, because "clearly they don't work anyway".

All systems trend towards chaos eventually. The answer is always more or better regulation. Sometimes better means more, sometimes better means "take these 50 regulations, get rid of them, and replace them with one simple one that gives you better outcomes". We don't want a rulebook so large no one could ever read all of it (we already have that). We don't want the complexity of the regulations to spiral out of control along with the system -- regulations need to be adapted over time to handle the current (and near future) complexity of the system. And we don't want no regulations -- then the system itself will spiral out of control.

The whole idea of legal precedents works against this too -- the logic is inverted --- instead of constantly coming up with new takes and new rules to govern old and current situations, we hark back to a decision someone made 50 years ago and we say "this is set in stone", when we should be constantly updating and modifying those precedents to better fit the current state of the system. Eventually new laws get passed, but the judicial system itself is largely a damper on progress in this regard, dragging us into the past and making changes that could take 5 years take 50 years. We see this reflected in our astounding incarceration rate, and a number of other areas.

The pace of technological and societal evolution has grown to be much faster than the pace at which we upgrade our regulations. We are speeding towards a brick wall.


Anti-regulation != anti-government. I am okay with regulation and being regulated, but I absolutely am not okay with any of our existing governments having any part of that process. Revolution does not require anarchy as an outcome; indeed, my preference simply would be to install better governance.

Turning the law into a set of constantly shift sands would make it impossible to do business, because that could end up rivaling anarchy. Risks can be taken only when the consequences can be predicted in advance. Without precedents, every single legal case would turn into a gamble. Only fools and the insane would ever stick their necks out; not far from where we are now, I suppose.


I've been reading about the philosophy of Law, and how other cultures deal with legal codes. One of the most intriguing takeaways was critically examining our own system and just how verbose it is. American (and just about all Western Legal Codes) are extremely detailed and contain tons of clauses that are explicitly enumerated.

Whereas an older society might have a law as simple as "Do not break into other people's houses", we will have dozens of codes defining what constitutes breaking and entering, determining what kind of property was being broken into, the scale of theft, whether or not there was intent, and more. And, there are sentencing differences depending on what kind of tools the burglar was carrying, if at all. To me, now that I've seen how other cultures handle law, this is complexity overkill.

We don't seem to be comfortable with "common sense" laws because they are considered too vague. But the alternative is a really dense legal code you have to be professionally trained to understand, and one that is so complicated that offenders can avoid prosecution based on dozens of technicalities.


One thing I've been thinking about lately is that human behavior is inherently complicated and because legal systems need to account for human behavior there's no getting around the introduction of complexity into the system. There's just a question of where that complexity lives.

Here in the US, we have three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. One way we could deal with complexity is at the legislative level by writing extremely specific laws. So in your example the legal code expressly spells out in detail what constitutes breaking and entering, exceptions, etc.

Another way to deal with that complexity would be for the legislative branch to write a fairly broad set of laws and grant the executive branch power to write detailed regulations. So from that you end up with administrative agencies that write very detailed regulations, which, while not quite "laws" (since they weren't written by the legislature), nevertheless function in a similar way.

A third way would be at the judicial level. If the laws are fairly broad and there is no specific regulations, then edge cases end up in court and judges make the decision. So over time there ends up being a large body of case law that handles all the edge cases (or at least, all the edge cases that have been explored so far).

So there's really no way around it. You can put your complexity in the legal code itself, in administrative rule making, or case law, or some combination of all three. There are probably advantages and disadvantages to the different choices, but I don't think simplicity is an option.


Right, but society has accelerated. 50 and 100 year precedents used to make sense. Now it seems like they need to be updated at least every 10 years, because that's how long it takes for society to fundamentally change at the current rate of progress.

Regarding government, if you don't like your current government, then if you think hard about it, what you really want is either 1) additional regulations or restructurings that prevent the government from having the bad traits it currently has, or 2) the removal of existing regulations that are preventing the government from being better in your eyes.

If your statement is "I don't like the current state of the government" then you are simply for transforming it into something you do like. This can be done through a regulatory framework.

If you don't trust the government as it is, then you are one more voter for regulating X, Y and Z such that you do trust the government.


There is also a cultural element though. The laws and regulations may encourage corrupt behaviour, but if there was a strong cultural expectation that the most upstanding people go into government to serve their communities - and if that were actually who was attracted to the role - that wouldn't matter all that much.


Voting is a blunt tool. It destroys too much nuance and freedom of choice.


Agreed. We should revise that process through new regulations and modifications to the existing system.


> Risks can be taken only when the consequences can be predicted in advance.

That sounds like the opposite of a risk to me. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk


Risks can only be intelligently taken when the odds of the different outcomes are at least approximately known in advance.


I'm trying to encourage a discussion about what money itself should be. I think without this discussion it will be very hard to make effective regulations around money and the implications this has on the operations of the banking system. Once people are more informed about these topics better regulation will be possible. Frankly I don't see people talk about the fundamentals of money much, the current monetary system is convenient enough for most people such that they don't have to think about the details of how it works in their day to day lives.


What money is in what sense though? In a centralized/decentralized sense? In a philosophical sense? Are we considering going back to bartering?

My point is, you see companies abusing bailouts and say "oh no, our fundamental concept of money is changing because bailouts". I see that same situation and say "oh no, our regulations are so antiquated that they are 50 years behind in terms of the abuses they are able to prevent, we need to update our regulations and create new ones, and create a framework for rapidly adjusting regulations going forward, because the current rate is untenable."

This problem extends well beyond money and touches every area of society. Society and technology are evolving faster than the legal frameworks that supposedly govern them. Limiting the scope of the discussion to just cover money would do just that, limit the scope of what should be a much wider discussion.


> take these 50 regulations, get rid of them, and replace them with one simple one that gives you better outcomes

But this is exactly the "we need fewer regulations" approach, implemented sanely.


> But this is exactly the "we need fewer regulations" approach, implemented sanely.

The problem is that people conflate "fewer regulations" with "less regulation".

We certainly need fewer regulations (there are too many and they are too complex). But we need more regulation (too much falls outside of the current regulations' scope).

Both aspects of the status quo seem to be a result of regulatory capture by concentrations of capital and power.


Specifically, we need more regulatory coverage coming from a fewer number of regulations. That is the guiding star. More restrictions, more elegant / simpler rules / fewer actual rules.


It’s always refreshing to see a fellow skeptic of legal precedent in the wild. The precedent set by making the just ruling in one specific case may set up far greater injustices in the future.


I think the article would argue you're making the mistake it criticizes: you're ignoring the role of regulation.

> If a central monetary agency can go about unconventional monetary policy such as purchasing equities...

If that's a problem, prohibit it.


I'm not sure why you'd take from this that I'm ignoring the role of regulation when I'm commenting on a situation whereby the regulatory framework of central banks allows them to take actions that damage the signaling power of pricing. I most definitely think that banks and central banks must be carefully regulated because they have the special privilege of creating money and with this comes a lot of responsibility.

The other part though is that if money is corrupted it impacts the process of regulation itself. For example creating good regulation to tax companies is made far more difficult when there's fundamental differences between the nature of the money that those companies themselves have access to. I'm sure it would be possible with a large amount of effort to have regulations with non-fungible money but there's challenges there that would be substantially difficult to address and the complexity of that regulation would come with it's own non-zero costs to society.


In simpler terms, for any complaint you come up with, here's a regulation to fix it. Problem solved.

If the problem is a regulation, let's remove or modify that regulation. Problem solved.

If your problem is there are too many regulations, let's get rid of 20 of them and simplify down to just this one. Problem solved.

Oh, that simplification created its own problems? Let's create new regulations covering those three scenarios. Problem solved.

But if we are much slower at creating regulations than we are at creating new situations that require regulation, it creates the perception that regulations don't work, which leads to rapid de-regulation of everything. Our current legal and political framework simply wasn't designed for this. It was designed for 13 small colonies writing paper letters back and forth, where waiting 3 months for a court to make a decision or 1+ years for congress to pass a bill was considered quite timely and fine. We now live in a society where there is probably a need for 2-3 new regulations per day, and 1-2 adjustments to existing regulations, per day, and an AI chat bot that will tell you whether something is legal based on current regulations.


> As a whole I think people need to ask what money is again and have some serious conversations about what money and the monetary system should be.

Money is not some concrete thing that has some inherent value. It's never been that. It's always been a promise, an abstract thing backed by collective trust.

Fractional reserve banking was not a coup d'etat of an elite few performed to disenfranchise the 99% in order to ballast the 1%. It was a considered decision by rational actors and was necessary to enable economic growth since its introduction.

In many ways it's wonderful that the current generation is questioning the old ways of doing things. This is how progress is made. I'm down. But money, government, everything which is the product of historical trial-and-error is a Chesterson's Fence: you really do need to understand why it's there before you try to rip it out and replace it with something else. And it's just so clear to me that basically nobody trying to replace fiat currency with crypto or whatever actually understands why fiat came to be.


Debt is >50% of advanced economies, and it's price fixed.

Why bother with setting the price of bananas and everything else, when you can set one price and have a greater effect?


It would seem that the temptation to set the price of everything is increased when there are impediments to setting the interest rate (since this removes an important monetary policy lever). I think this has been seen lately as the zero-lower-bound on nominal interest rates has started to come into play in many places.


> the price of everything

Heh, looks familiar. Usually goes between "Some people know..." and "...but the value of nothing".


> As a whole I think people need to ask what money is again and have some serious conversations about what money and the monetary system should be.

Yes! This is an incredibly important conversation and this conversation is already happening. You see MMT becoming mainstream. Because MMT is a description of how money works today. That it's a technology (and always has been) for governments to provision themselves.

In fact, I doubt you would have had the stimulus package we had with COVID without that conversation. And it helped millions of people. It also had the unfortunate side affect of growing inequality. We also have the euro, which is, in my opinion a bad implementation of money (central bank without democratic oversight). And of course bitcoin based on the idea of hard currency economics.

One discussion I don't see at the moment is a vision for society without money. That's a discussion the communists had over 150 years ago. It's a serious question because money IS a technology. Is the telephone the best communication technology? No, we moved on from the telephone. We should be asking the same thing about money. Because money is a technology designed around organizing economic activity. But is it the best technology?

Example, the value that money represents is a single value. But why is it a scalar and not a vector? For example, why isn't everything priced with a value and a carbon cost? That would make prices vectors instead of scalars. In fact people value things across many dimensions and have to come up with a price, a single value. Imagine playing a video game where, instead of 3d vectors, everything is represented as the length of the vector. That's a lot of information that is just thrown away.

In fact, markets have a known flaw called externalities. This flaw is created partly from the fact that value is a scalar. This flaw is so severe that major pollution has been created by economic activity (global warming, ozone, etc) that risks all life on this planet.

People need to have imagination if we are going to survive as a species.


> Example, the value that money represents is a single value. But why is it a scalar and not a vector? For example, why isn't everything priced with a value and a carbon cost? That would make prices vectors instead of scalars. In fact people value things across many dimensions and have to come up with a price, a single value. Imagine playing a video game where, instead of 3d vectors, everything is represented as the length of the vector. That's a lot of information that is just thrown away.

The whole value of monetary prices is that they're fungible - rather than having to compare the value of things in x different dimensions, you reduce everything to that scalar concept of value.

> In fact, markets have a known flaw called externalities. This flaw is created partly from the fact that value is a scalar. This flaw is so severe that major pollution has been created by economic activity (global warming, ozone, etc) that risks all life on this planet.

On the contrary, having value be a scalar is the solution, because it allows us to make tradeoffs between value and pollution. Cap and trade works (it worked for acid rain); the missing part is the will to actually do it.

All that said, you might be interested in China's "social credit" system - that's the main example I know of this concept of "vector value", because it exists to impose a standard of behaviour on individuals that's not tradeable and fungible.


> a vision for society without money.

There are glints, Rainbow Gatherings, for example, are small transitory communities that function entirely without money. There are "intentional communities" that operate (in various ways) without money (althoug usually not without some formal accounting?) And things like Ithaca Hours, a "local currency".


> the value that money represents is a single value. But why is it a scalar and not a vector? For example, why isn't everything priced with a value and a carbon cost? That would make prices vectors instead of scalars

Suppose for the sake of the argument that the main countries making up the world economy agree to re-price everything in terms of length 2 vectors (standard_cost, carbon_cost). The former element is measured in units of USD say, and the latter is measured in units of kg CO_2(e), say.

Suppose I go to shopping to buy a new CPU. Vendor A offers CPU_A for ($200, 15 kg CO_2(e)) while vendor B offers an equivalent product CPU_B for ($198, 50 kg CO_2(e)).

In the current economy, where externalities of global warming caused by market participants are not priced or regulated, I will purchase CPU_B, as it costs me $198, and I save $2 . I choose the product with the additional CO_2(e) footprint of (50 - 15) = 35 kg CO_2(e). The negative impact of that additional 35 kg CO_2(e) pollution is amortized over 8 billion humans [1], so everyone in the world pays the price of an additional 35 kg CO_2(e) / 8 billion = 4.375e-7 grams CO_2(e) per person. Myself as the end-user and the counterparties in the transaction (merchant, distributor, manufacturer, suppliers, etc) get to share in the value generated from the transaction, but most of the 8 billion people in the world do not get a cut of the value or utility, they only pay the cost.

As well as making the prices vectors, it would be necessary to add some other kind of limited resource into the vector-money economy, to constrain individuals from making decisions with large carbon pollution externalities, otherwise we're back to the same situation where we started, but with a lot more bookkeeping that nearly everyone will ignore.

One way to do this could be introduce regulation for a greenhouse gas pollution rationing system: for argument's sake, suppose we allocate each of the 8 billion people in the world an equal quota of kg CO_2(e) / year pollution they are permitted to emit [2]. Suppose there's roughly 40 gigatons of CO_2(e) pollution per year, and roughly 8 billion people in the world. That gives a quota of 5000 tons of CO_2(e) pollution allowance per year per person. Assuming humanity manages to hold the rate of carbon emissions steady and hold population steady, that gives a quota of 5000 kg CO_2(e) per person per year. Each time you purchase a good or a service, the carbon cost is deducted from your personal carbon budget. For efficiency, suppose we also allow carbon quotas to be traded between market participants. Now we have a carbon market where people exchange $ for CO_2(e) carbon emission allowance.

Now, arguably, we can go back to having scalar prices: Instead of the price of CPU_A being the vector ($200, 15 kg CO_2(e)), it can be the scalar $200 + carbon_price * 15 kg_CO_2(e) . Similarly for CPU_B .

If we assume a carbon price of around $200 / ton of CO_2(e) , as has been proposed in Canada for ~ 2030, that gives prices of $200 + 15 kg * $ 0.2 / kg = $203 for CPU_A , and a $198 + 50 kg * $0.2 / kg = $208 for CPU_B . So as a selfish individual trying to make choices that are good for me, now I am incentivised to pick CPU_B , which is also (relatively) a better choice for the rest of society.

[1] conservative working assumption that the current generation of 8 billion humans is the last generation, and no new humans are born. if we assume future generations, then there's even more humans to amortize the cost of pollution over.

[2] in the real world, not everyone is going to get an equal carbon quota. we don't have a world-scale regulator able to regulate a world scale problem. as has been demonstrated throughout human history, individuals and groups with more power will use that power to wrangle a better deal for themselves at the expense of others. we're not all in it together, even if it is a problem with a global pollution sink becoming full. e.g. i am an australian, in our country we have a per-capita carbon footprint of around 21,000 kg / CO_2(e) per person per capita. That's over four times higher than the pollution per-capita if everyone in the world polluted an equal amount. No domestic politician is going to get elected running on a platform of "unilaterally reduce everyone's carbon footprint by 75%" - the stakeholders who would benefit most from that are the 99.6% of humanity who live in other countries, and they aren't allowed to vote in Australian domestic elections. Dear reader, if you have read to the end of this rant, please lobby your government to put tariffs on your trading partners until they introduce carbon taxes -- particular us in australia.


Would this vector stop at length two? How about other "nudge" worthy metrics? See existing cross-border tariffs for a long list of physical properties which influence tariffs for a perceived and often disputed, social objective.


> Would this vector stop at length two? How about other "nudge" worthy metrics?

that's a good point. there's definitely other societal goals that can be nudged toward through prices.

but on another hand, i'm not sure thinking about prices as vectors is that helpful. to change behaviour a regulator needs a way to internalise the external costs into prices, or some equivalent mechanism, and some enforcement mechanism for non-compliance.

but if you have all that, it isn't clear what use price vectors are. and if you only had price vectors but the extra components weren't reflected in the price, with no enforcement mechanism, then they won't change behaviour.


> A massive shift happened when central banks started getting involved in direct purchases of various asset types and we started to see a major distortion happen in monetary policy that which has distorted the functioning of money itself.

Historically, Western democratic states owned a significant amount of assets as measured as a percent of national income - it was only in the period 1970-2008 that the value of total state-owned assets shrunk to near-zero (or even became negative in some cases). So the large increases in value of states' balance sheets (and corresponding impacts) is not at all unusual. That being said, you're correct to point out that Central Banks heading these trends is a little concerning, mostly because it basically represents democracy outsourcing these important decisions to unelected bureaucrats.


I think there's a massive difference between the government owning things and the central bank owning things for the reasons you mention about accountability.


Exactly. I watched read about 2009 watched the Big Short and watched all these USELESS tech companies thrive on empty promises and venture caps where rich people are basically playing the lottery.

The financial system captured our society a while ago.


I really don’t get why so many smart people come up with every possible theoretical solution and yet they fail to observe that Bitcoin was engineered to solve this exact problem


Bitcoin had design goals in mind to avoid certain downsides of centralized currencies. The cryptocurrency space however lives inside the broader economy and questions about what money is and the regulations around it don't go away just because a specific cryptocurrency thought about some of these aspects in it's design. Even if bitcoin were to solve everyone's problems as some maximalists would claim how do we even implement this? Considering much of the world doesn't have holdings in bitcoin what are we to do? Similarly what do we do about people who don't have the infrastructure to run full nodes? What about dealing with interference with using the cryptocurrency imposed by external actors?

There's good reasons why people discuss these ideas, bitcoin, much like anything else is just part of the direction things can go in and it doesn't exist in isolation from the rest of the world.


Assuming bitcoin fixes this like the maximalists claim, the way forward is to continue educating people on bitcoin and more importantly what’s wrong with the current monetary system. Way too many people buy into the narrative of bitcoin being harmful for the environment and being an outdated technology (“Blockchain, not bitcoin!”).

Much of the world doesn’t own bitcoin but as long as you have a mobile phone and an internet connection, there’s a way to buy some. The technology’s been working for 12 years now and it can scale just fine, no need to tamper with anything. People don’t need to run full nodes, it’s already decentralized enough. I have one running off a raspberry pi and a 1TB hard drive, but it’s just because I want to and not because I think the additional node is needed for the network. Bitcoin is resilient against external actors by design, maximum decentralization and security. Remember when China finally cracked down on all bitcoin mining in May? The hashrate has recovered by now and China lost almost all of its 50% foothold on global bitcoin mining. The rest of the world’s bitcoin miners thanks China for its contribution.

It seems to me like Bitcoin is dismissed too easily by people who haven’t done enough unbiased research on it. For me, it’s not so much that Bitcoin is such an awesome invention and everyone should worship it like a cult. My question is what happens after fiat currencies collapse? Every single government backed currency has collapsed from hyperinflation in the past, and there’s still a good number of countries with hyper inflating currencies today. Historically, after chaos and war, some people’s debts are flushed away at the expense of everyone else and a new currency is issued by the affected jurisdiction. Do we just want to repeat that cycle when the USD collapses? I think that a free market currency that cannot be controlled by any organization (including governments) deserves more limelight.


> Bitcoin was engineered

To actually have wasting energy as the base of a system must be the very definition of shitty engineering.



* Everyone seems to increasingly be in it for themselves

I was fortunate to have had a career with mild autonomy to help other team members even if it was slightly out of my job description. But this only happens in a shared office environment where you can see when someone is falling behind or overhear a problem. That physical presence also creates a bond with co-workers that's often more powerful than the corporate mission.

But working from home for the past years I feel like I mercenary working among mercenaries. Working with people that have never met and will never meet and for whom work isn't about the mission or the customer. If I get work done early, I now just call it a day. Why bother with ad-hoc testing, documentation, checking in on that new hire, proposing a conference paper, investigating technical debt, etc. It's liberating but it's also depressing.


> If I get work done early, I now just call it a day. Why bother with ad-hoc testing, documentation, checking in on that new hire, proposing a conference paper, investigating technical debt, etc.

Office workers can have this attitude as well. If you'd think poorly of others having this attitude in the office perhaps you should look at your own attitude with remote work.

I have formed bonds through remote work, and yes, they are different, but a lot of the difference you describe is because of you. That's ok, people are different, just don't assume everyone else is the same.


I know. I'm mixed on this, but isn't it ultimate work-life separation?

Getting a little sci-fi here, but imagine not even knowing the names of your coworkers, project, manager, or even employer in the future; the system is so well-designed that you just have to do the little mission and there are communication channels minimally restricted to just the questions you'd have. Once such a system got up and running it would be the closest thing to a genuine "AI" or rather the more general case of an emergent intelligence; emergent since none of the actors are directly cooperating with the other actors, and hypothetically such a system could independently evolve and evolve with nobody at the steering wheel.

For an example of a compartmentalized operation, see CIA, NSA. I'm not saying these organizations are anything like what I described above. Just examples of highly compartmentalized work systems.

Anyways, just got me thinking ;)


> I know. I'm mixed on this, but isn't it ultimate work-life separation?

Work-life separation originally meant that you were done with work at 5PM, didn’t have to worry about staying late or answering e-mails at night, and your weekends were 100% yours.

This latest iteration of work/life separation has gone to an extreme where you’re supposed to suck the life out of work and pretend all of your coworkers are just faceless screen names instead of actual people.

Work/life balance is good.

Sucking the life out of work is not fun, IMO. I’d much rather work with people, collaborate, and build relationships than be reduced to a robot taking tasks from the queue.


This sounds like a corporate/team culture issue with remote work, rather than remote work as a whole. I can still tell when my coworkers are falling behind and check if they need help, as well as building bonds. The bonds certainly aren't as strong as when we used to all go out for lunch or drinks every so often, but they're still there.


>I can still tell when my coworkers are falling behind and check if they need help

I mean there're only so many ways to effectively bullshit in standup, for one


I know you didn't personally insult me here, but I hate this comment.

I'm a remote worker and I spend a large chunk of my time every week helping other team members. I'm very, very good at it.

From now on, I'm going to ask everyone about their attitude towards remote work during interviews, and I'll be a hard NO on anyone with the attitude displayed here.

You can have employees who hate remote or you can have remote employees. You can't have both.


Lots of people have that attititude (80%?) - and it is not connected to remote work.

They do just the absolute minimum.

In some ways it is debatable if they arent right. Also: if you are the one who cares in a team of those who dont (which is the usual situation), then you are in a world of pain. Snafu.


Blah blah blah, cynicism and disengagement is correct and right, etc. I know it's a prevalent attitude.

People can live their lives how they want but I don't want such people on my team.


Unless you’re a prestigious non-profit, good luck finding anyone at all to hire if you’re filtering on attitude.


I'll go even nerdier. Having implemented raft and paxos many times over (don't ask why, and also don't ask what implementing paxos means, no one really knows) The most efficient distributed systems rely on _not_ having Byzantine faults[1] -- effectively there's a certain amount of trust you need to delegate to the network. The network itself is the substrate in which these algorithms can work efficiently. Short of that you'll need to move to a system that is tolerant to Byzentine faults. The cost of moving there is very expensive transactionally-speaking.

For markets the analogy is the same: a regulatory environment provides the substrate in which an efficient distributed system can rely on to prevent Byzentine faults.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_fault -- for all intents and purposes byzentine == malicious.

edit: I should have read the article to the end, literally the next paragraph where I stopped to comment said what I just said, but better.


I generally agree with this essay, but I think the listed problems with society misses the mark.

"Everyone seems to increasingly be in it for themselves, not for society." Is this really changing? I don't buy that people today have less empathy for each other than they did historically. The bulk of human history was cruel in ways that stagger the imagination.

"The gap between the haves and have-nots keeps widening." The gap between rich and poor is not the correct target to optimize. The only problem you can reasonably try to solve is improving the quality of life for the have-nots. World-changing innovation (steam engine, electricity, printing press) always makes a few individuals exorbitantly wealthy, and the world is better off because of it.


presuming from the domain the author is Canadian and so likely this is more a proximal/recency comment on Canadian society, to which I actually do agree it is really changing.


That's fair, but I think focusing on one region over a limited time period can lead to incorrect conclusions. A single country is not a closed system.

The working class in the US has certainly suffered a regression over the past several decades, while the upper class gained tremendous amounts of wealth. One might assume the wealthy seized their gains from the middle class, and this may be true, to some extent.

However, once you widen your lens to a global view, you will see poverty world-wide drastically improved over the same period of time. So the regression of wealth away from the middle class in the US might more accurately be considered as transfer of wealth to the rapidly-industrializing world.

If you are referring to something different that's been happening in Canada, I apologize. I am not very familiar with Canadian history.


> the working class in the US has certainly suffered a regression over the past several decades,

Do you define regression as absolute position or relative position? For example does it matter if Jeff Bezos has 100 Ferraris if the middle class, on average, have .25 more cars per capital than 50 yrs ago?

I would love to put some data behind this discussion because it's long been mixed up as to which case is the ethical one (absolute vs relative growth).


What I mean is a regression of wealth and income relative to the cost of living for most young people (ie pretty much anyone who doesn't work in tech or other STEM field). I don't mean relative to the most wealthy.

Here is some data that compares the median income to the rising cost of living in the US. https://www.businessinsider.com/america-middle-class-living-...

I think the Bezos-Ferrari question is a good one. I feel it is personally unethical for Bezos to spend that amount of wealth on luxuries when the resources could alternatively be spent reducing the suffering of others.

However I also think it is impractical and misguided for a state to enact policies with the primary purpose of minimizing the number of Bezos Ferraris or to automatically attribute the lack of cars per capital to Bezos's excess of cars (although in some cases it might be)


this is where somethings get really tricky to measure, and i'm not trying to say i have the best answers.. But this article talks about housing being up and that's tricky because sq ft per person (and quality of each sq ft) is way up, I'm sure there is a similar story about health care costing more but also having better outcomes?

I admit it's a difficult thing to measure and to discuss, but I also do think that the tide is rising, but being creatures who's feel good brain chemicals are related to relative outcomes (see the primates w/ cucumber vs grapes studies), we're also feeling a bad feeling because we see others doing better to a greater extent than we are...


Yeah, I see the point. My only good argument against trying to optimize relative outcomes is that it isn't practical to try to do so.

To talk about the difficulties of implementing true socialism would be beating a dead horse, I think. But even if we could remove wealth inequality completely, people would still find ways to feel better or worse than others (sports, looks, social skills, intelligence, etc.). My high school in the suburbs was fairly homogenous from a socioeconomic standpoint, but that microcosm seemed more hierarchical than any other point in life.

I also would expect the good-or-bad feelings people get by making comparisons are more-or-less ordinal in nature, so I think people would manage to feel just as bad about small wealth differences (keeping up with the Jones's) if there were no more billionaires.


I would argue it does matter. Not to say that absolute position doesn't matter, it does, and probably even more so, but relative position has some very real effects.

The main one that jumps out for me is power, and influence. As an example, it doesn't really matter if I can donate $100 to the EFF instead of $50 when a billionaire can outspend me 1,000,000:1 without even flinching.


here we'd agree that money/power should not be used to influence elections. To which I'd say citizens united seems to have been a loss.

I found this interesting on the topic: https://www.forwardparty.com/democracy-dollars


I've been thinking a lot lately about first principles. For example, the Golden Rule is great, but the concept of reincarnation transcends it, making it self-evident. The Book of Genesis probably started "in a beginning", not "in the beginning". And so on.

When I look around at the state of the world today, it just makes me so tired. Everyone's running around on autopilot and not questioning the basic assumptions. It's just more more! now now! to survive. So adamant in their certainty that they've all but forgotten why we're all here to fail and learn and grow as human beings and find kindred spirits.

To me, what's wrong with the world is that people are ok with being wealthy. They're ok with rising to positions of power and then denying empowerment to others. They're ok with the law not being applied equally and fairly to everyone.

They haven't realized that inequity affects themselves in another life, that violence against others hurts themselves, that destroying the planet this century leaves no planet for their next life.

I can't prove any of this, but I know it's true, because I'm here now, just like you.


> people are ok with being wealthy.

Yup. 100%. I doubt you'll find an organism on Earth that's not ok with having access to more resources than it needs.

Can you describe an environment where this wouldn't occur? What would happen if an organism in that environment was able to hoard resources?

Sounds like you might want to also consider as well the iterative prisoners dilemma and the tragedy of the commons with respect to the evolution of groups and cultures (meta groups).


>> Can you describe an environment where this wouldn't occur?

One in which any amount of self-awareness of the negative effects of gluttony (see: Willy Wonka) temper the urge to accumulate and consume more resources above a certain point.

There is only so much French silk pie I can consume after Thanksgiving.


Ok. How exactly would you implement that? How can we get there from where we are now? What are the incentives? Why would people do that? What happens to people that don't do that?

The devil's in the details.


> Can you describe an environment where this wouldn't occur? What would happen if an organism in that environment was able to hoard resources?

Only in a religious context where they see a benefit to vows of poverty or simplicity.

Wealth as we have it right now is a huge pain in the ass. You have to worry about what some idiot in the Fed is doing, what some senile old man in an office is doing, and what some old Boomer with a printing press is doing. You have to worry about a government that runs with the emotion of a Millenial and the depth of understanding of a TikToker, making that affect your personal freedom, your wealth, and your life. I'm talking about the US in this case, but it's really a mess everywhere. No country has good governance at this point in time.

By all means, wealth is nice to have, but there is a function between increasing wealth and increasing time spent preserving it. At a certain point of wealth you realize that the most valuable things cannot be bought, and it becomes a chore rather than a source of comfort. We are also clearly bad at preserving wealth, otherwise Mesopotamia would be the richest place on the planet.

Being rid of wealth can be extremely freeing, but the communities that see it this way also play by completely different rules than society does at large. You don't see a lot of religious being held up as successes by the current global standards for example.


This has problem been rolling around in my head and where I’ve landed is that humans are terrible administrators, mainly because we get bored administering something after it’s built.

We see it in software development all the time. People are less interested in maintaining code they’ve inherited and are more interested in building their own.

I don’t think this is a bad thing per se. We’re creative optimistic creatures. We prefer green field because when we’re working on it, we feel great imagining the possibilities. When it’s older, “played out”, and to the point where we feel it’s something that’s to be administered, there’s less possibilities and we get bored. Time to try something else.

Everywhere you look, this pattern is present. We love building stuff. We don’t love administering stuff.


> mainly because we get bored administering something after it’s built.

That's only for people high in "openness to experience". People low in openness are more than happy to plod along doing the same thing forever.

https://www.thegreatcoursesdaily.com/openness-big-five-perso...


Sorry, I should have been more specific. I've been wary of wealth for so long that I've internalized that feeling, so I forgot to phrase it more like "people are ok with being wealthy while others are poor".

I could never be a billionaire or even a millionaire, and then walk around and not see the countless people suffering all around me, and around the world.

Now, I imagine many of them feel that they are making a positive contribution to the world by employing people, creating products that help people, making charitable donations, etc.

But that stuff stems from the ego. I believe that true wealth is in divine things like the love between a parent and child. Stuff that doesn't cost money.

This isn't just feel-good woo woo stuff. A society could be built around love as surely as it could be built around fear in capitalist societies. Science and technology's greatest failure is that there's still scarcity. A contrived scarcity now, that keeps people working so hard and distracted that they never get a chance to catch a breath and question the system. Just so that a chosen few can suckle on the priceless time of the poor, using them as human chattel.


> This isn't just feel-good woo woo stuff. A society could be built

In addition to my above recommendations you might also want to investigate your ideologies. It seems to me your view of the world and how it works, as presented here in your comments, is from a woefully low resolution representation of the extraordinary detail that goes into society and economic systems.

> around love as surely as it could be built around fear in capitalist societies.

No. Not at all, in any way shape or form. You'll probably want to investigate, as well, human psychology, neurology, and the history of civilization. But start with the iterated prisoner's dilemma.


You had me except for the reincarnation/another life bit. Bedsides scripture, is there any evidence of this in science? I'm asking genuinely here.


There’s not even evidence for reincarnation “on Earth” in the Bible anyways so not sure what the OP is going on about.

I do think it is a useful exercise to imagine yourself in the future though. It’s much easier when you have children to be connected to the future.


There isn't any scientific explanation for "incarnation", let alone "reincarnation". There is still no explanation for how a chemical reaction controlled by persuasive spirals results in "experience", is there?

Anyways: I accept Kant's argument for the evaluation of philosophical maxims ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law."

... and it seems that one can adopt any maxim as guidance for one's behaviour, so I choose to take as a maxim: There is only one "subject" of reality, and that subject seems to be experiencing itself via this particular meatsack known as "me". Anything "I" can do to improve that experience via another meatsack known as "somebody else" is worth doing, because it is the very same "subject" experiencing that act. "Karma" means "action", because any action taken is experienced through another be-ing.

The truth of this is irrelevant, in the "will that it should become a universal law" sense: if everyone acted in this way, seeing each and every being as another aspect of their self, then we surely would all have fewer problems. That's how the categorial imperative applies.

To resort to argument by authority, there's always this:

"The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself." ­— Carl Sagan

I don't always (or even most of the time) follow this, because I'm not sure that the "universal law" makes sense when surrounded by self-centred automatons, so I resort to an even higher authority, Douglas Adams:

Slartibartfast: Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I think that the chances of finding out what's actually going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say, "Hang the sense of it," and keep yourself busy. I'd much rather be happy than right any day.

Arthur Dent: And are you?

Slartibartfast: Ah, no. Well, that's where it all falls down, of course.


No, there's no evidence in science of reincarnation or an afterlife.


I am often inspired by eastern philosophies such as Buddhism and Taoism, but I've not been able to grasp the whole reincarnation things.

It is certainly true that the atoms that make up your body have been transformed from the atoms around you (the food you eat, for example) into what you call "my body". And they will not remain as "your body" forever. Hell, I think the majority of cells in your body do not even carry your DNA.

Same with your habits, with many of the thoughts we think. Would you be exactly the same person if you were born in a completely different culture?

Perhaps the point in talking about reincarnation is not to figure out "how it works", but taking a holistic view beyond the perceived boundaries of "self". Much of eastern philosophy appears to be, at least to me.


I’m aware that it’s pretty whack, but my pet argument for reincarnation is this: you used not not exist. Then, at some point in time, you transitioned into existing. When you die, you’ll go back to not existing again (if that’s what you believe). If reincarnation is just a matter of coming into being from non-existence, then the fact that you exist is an evidence that it’s possible. Obviously there’s many holes in this argument (to start with, is every incarnation a probabilistically independent event?), but hey, what good’s freedom of religion if you can’t make up your own mind about things you can’t possibly know right?


I'd ask you to check your basic assumption about science as an authority.

Science is really good at transmitting information about deterministic processes, but is really bad at transmitting information about non-deterministic processes or even processes that are so complex that they appear non-deterministic e.g. human behavior.

I don't believe in reincarnation, but it's not hard at all for me to see how it can be used as a moral tool that helps people think long term. It's not a bad idea to use tools like this, especially since all attempts so far to design a "science of morality" have been bloody, catastrophic failures.


> I don't believe in reincarnation, but it's not hard at all for me to see how it can be used as a moral tool that helps people think long term.

At first glance things like this can sound good. However, religious ideologies like this are always double edged swords. In India, their caste system is heavily reinforced by the believe that people in a lower caste were "bad people" in a past life, and so there are no reservations about subjugating or otherwise discriminating against them.

This _always_ tends to happen to _every_ spiritual law scheme eventually, under different cultures. If a religion has enough followers, people have used its (seemingly good natured) ideology to kill and discriminate against those they don't like. This is the nature of humanity, I doubt there is any possible spiritual teachings that wouldn't eventually fall into this trap.


Your causation is backwards. People who feel like discriminating find a rationalization for their beliefs post hoc. Yes religious ideologies have been used to justify racism, but so to has there been "scientific racism" with with all its babbling on about skull sizes. If it weren't science or religion then it would be something else. The underlying issue is some people are bastards.


> I'd ask you to check your basic assumption about science as an authority.

Science is the only and ultimate final authority. It really is not a bad assumption. There literally can not be a higher authority than it by definition.

> but is really bad at transmitting information about non-deterministic processes or even processes that are so complex that they appear non-deterministic e.g. human behavior.

No it is not, science functions perfectly fine for complex processes. We can describe and draw actionable conclusions from the behaviours of fluids and gases even though they are made up of inconceivably complex interactions of billions of quantum effects.

We could easily model most of human behaviour if we really wanted to. It is just that it is unethical to do so, so we refrain from it. We make do with observing humans in the wild, and the observations we make sometimes have enough significance to make weak statements about human behaviours.

If the belief in reincarnation could be used as a moral tool to help people think long term, that should be scientifically demonstrable if it's true. It would be a hard ethical argument though, as you're basically trading a persons ability to make correct judgements of their own safety and well-being for a larger "long term" better functioning society. Not saying it's definitely wrong, but it better lead to a much better world for it to be worth it.


> Science is the only and ultimate final authority

Junk science led to the American eugenics movement that included forced sterilization of 64k Americans in the early 1900s.

I love science, but calling it the only and ultimate authoritity leaves a lot of room to create a world we don't want to live in. This happens because scientists disagree themselves on almost everything. Recognizing the difference in science as an ideal versus science put in practice makes me not want to agree with your statement.


Utilizing data to continuous refine one's model of the world is the ultimate final authority.

Some people call it science, some call it the scientific method, etc.


Sure, it's a great method for understanding causal relationships in the world. It's also a method that humans invented, and it's not proven that some future invented method could not provide as much insight into the world as the scientific method. Calling it the ultimate authority and saying that "here literally can not be a higher authority than it by definition" is hard to defend IMO. Science gets its authority from consensus, right now we all agree that science should be granted authority! But it is clearly lacking as an all encompassing tool for understanding: How does the scientific method teach morality? It's not clear that it even can.


And some other people call it delusion, hubris, flawed epistemology, ironic, etc.


That it's the ultimate authority doesn't mean you should always believe it. It's just the best we've got. It's the best thing about science is that it's explicit about the bounds of what we know and don't know.

You don't ask a scientist what you should do, you ask a scientist what they think is true, and what the options are and what their estimated outcomes are. It's always you yourself who make the decision.

Regardless if there was junk science in the early 1900s (don't know much about it but wouldn't be surprised), it was people who decided to sterilize people. Just as it's people who decide to kill people for Jesus Christ or Allah or whatever excuse they come up with.

Even if the science were true, and some subset of Americans is less intelligent or more violent or whatever, it still wouldn't change the fact that now we've decided that eugenics is unethical. We embrace diversity because that's what aligns to our values. Maybe if we're in the middle of famine and war our values will shift again. The authority of science has nothing to do with it.


Perhaps we disagree on the definition of 'the authority of science'. Also FWIW I am not at all religious, in case you think I'm trying to restore scripture to it's rightful place of authority over science. I am just intrigued by this statement that science is the ultimate authority by definition, and that nothing could ever supplant it.


So science as I view/understand it, is the effort to extract knowledge from the observable universe through experiments, observations and logic. If I compare science to religion, this is where I see the difference: In the church you have the clergy, who preach their understanding of the religion, and you have the basis of the religion, usually a book. To the religious the book or some idea from the book is the foundation, and the clergy are the guides. Similarly in science you have the scientists who do the actual science, and the foundation is observations of the universe. The faith I have and my dogma, is in believing the scientists, that is the part where I can have doubt and where I might be corrected in my beliefs, and the foundation is the actual universe which as far as I have been able to tell is consistent with itself so far. It's a bit of a cop out, because any time someone says "oh but these scientists were wrong", then I will go "ok yeah but those were junk science" and move on with my merry life.


Science is the only and ultimate final authority.

Indeed, praise be to science.

It really is not a bad assumption.

More like a leap of faith.

There literally can not be a higher authority than it by definition.

How [onto]logical.

It is just that it is unethical to do so, so we refrain from it.

Amen, brother. We've got to repress those urges of curiosity to appease glorious science. Praise be to science! Amen.


Happy you feel that way ;)

> We've got to repress those urges of curiosity to appease glorious science

No, it's to appease our desire to live in a society that aligns with our morality. If you'd read the religious books for what they are and respect them for their interpretation of what it means to be a kind and loving human being, instead of using them as tools to manipulate the minds of the unwashed masses into behaving as a cohesive unit, then maybe you'd understand.


I believe the parent understood more than you are giving them credit for. You don't think you're being too dogmatic when you replace one authority (scripture) for another (science) while retaining the exact same language?


I understand their point, I just don't think I'm being too dogmati. I'll respond to your other comment with my viewpoint.


The content of science, the body of knowledge, by definition, not supposed to be based on authority. Authority means that exactly the same counterfactual statement is considered either right or wrong based on whether the speaker of that statement has authority.

Science is currently not ultimate or final because is it is changing. For science to be ultimate and final, it would mean that tomorrow's science is the same as today's science. Nothing new or different can follow that which is ultimate.

However, we need to assert social authority in order to defend a discourse against the fallacies like "argument from authority" or other unproductive disruptions.


> I don't believe in reincarnation, but it's not hard at all for me to see how it can be used as a moral tool that helps people think long term.

I find this highly offensive. The people must be lied to so they can do the thing that's best for them, because they can't come to this conclusion in a way that doesn't involve lieing.


I read it as taking a spiritual route to arrive at something like original position, which you can certainly get to by more secular means. (Rawls did, after all.)


For me, reincarnation means that there is always an observer. Regardless of our mental state, whether we're awake or asleep, intoxicated, locked in a sensory deprivation tank, etc, we're still observing our lives.

What happens when we die? I believe that our consciousness finds a way to continue somewhere else. There's no gap, because not being conscious is a non-sequitur. We just fade out and fade in seamlessly, across time, without our memories, like tuning into a new TV station.

I think that self-awareness stems from source consciousness, which is a universal force like gravity. At the most basic level, it's God experiencing itself through every possible contextual reality. Because what else is there to do? We explain it as emergent behavior arising from stochastic processes, but that's from an individual mindset. As a whole, our consciousnesses act more like waves interacting with one another and resonating at frequencies we feel subjectively as harmony and discord.

There are a number of basic operations that science could use to "prove" that reincarnation exists. We could merge and split minds, pause minds and unpause them, turn parts of them on and off, play minds at different speeds, put them in simulations, etc. Aliens probably have access to technology like this, and these ideas have been explored a ton in sci fi. But at the end of the day, would knowing the truth give us any more satisfaction than say, recreational drugs like psychedelics? I'm just not sure.

This wavy-stochastic-quantum aspect of reality may seem far-fetched, except it's looking like the wave equations that underpin quantum mechanics are nothing special, and in fact can be simulated classically on ordinary computers:

https://arxiv.org/abs/2005.06787

https://journals.aps.org/prx/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevX.10.04...

https://physics.aps.org/articles/v13/183

This lends a lot of credibility to the idea that reality is a simulation. And that we can (and probably are) interacting with our reality in macro ways that follow similar math to the micro. This New Age - quantum connection always seemed pretty out there to me, but now I'm having trouble finding a better model for reality.

One way to look at consciousness/life that I find interesting is as a quantum influencer. Life may direct probabilities around it to work in its favor. Reincarnation has a lot in common with multiverse theory. As in, if the observer always exists, then it exists no matter how improbable it is to exist. In other words, when an individual is born, a universe may get created for it. When it dies, it may go on living in its own reality in a separate universe, we just can't be with it anymore. ESP experiments suggest that life may influence "real" probability from quantum random number generators, choosing the reality most beneficial to life. So Schrödinger's cat may always be alive from its perspective, even if it dies from ours, although these experiments may be inherently impossible to replicate:

https://hackaday.com/tag/pear-study/

https://www.enigmaticdevices.com/replicating-the-princeton-p...

My favorite takeaway from all of this is that if we are all one, drawn from the same source consciousness, then each of our beliefs are no more or less valid than anyone else's. We can choose to see the miracle of life and the magic in each moment.

Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about, this is just the best working theory that I've found so far.


We humans are gene making machines. We like to pretend we are superior and full owners of our choices, that we are above animalistic tendencies, that we are special and not like the others, but... couldn't be further from the truth. We are different, but not that different. Gene making still drives our behavior, whether we see it or not. And in more ways than most people imagine.

Why are people ok with being wealthy? Because having access to resources means more chances that your genes will be passed on - based on how it used to be in nomadic times. Maybe now that doesn't apply as much, but genes don't know it. For all our limbic brain and genes know, we're all still cavemen hunting, fighting for resources, foraging, etc. So yes, people will be ok with being wealthy.

Why is there no limit of wealth where people who have it say "ok that's enough, I don't need another one billion dollars"? Why do people keep hoarding absurdly until infinity? Because our genes are not used to infinity. It used to be that "the more the better". Famine would come. Let's save up as much as possible, let's get as many nuts as possible. There never was infinity of resources. We are not built to get it. This is what people need to understand about rich people that seem insane (besides possible trauma that drives other parts of their behavior). This is just how we are programmed.

Why is there so much political corruption and people stomp on top of each other to get more power? Why is it that morality seems to be such a fallible reason for people to act? Same. Exact. Reason. Evolutionary advantage based on millennia old hardware. If you kill my genes, yours go on, and mine don't. If you have more power, you have more access to resources. More chance of survival.

Asking someone to use their higher intellect and go against their instincts in favor of morality is often really hard. All of these are instincts. And unless we change humans' genetic code, or we somehow with AI merging change our intellect, we will continue being this way. We are the same guys that would burn witches, and chant "kill kill kill!" in gladiator coliseums. Just now the way we burn witches and chant that is different. More "sophisticated".


Not the parent commenter, but Thank you fellow Internet stranger. With people speculating about re-incarnation and linking it with Quantum stuff (basically pulling things out of their cloaca), I had to scroll way far down to see your direct, logical and sensible reply.

Having lived (and born into) all my life amongst followers of an eastern religion, I've observed that religious texts in my region of the world that specifically talk about re-incarnation attempt to 'make us go against our own instincts' (somewhat analogous to Puritanism). It's a clever way to make you 'regret your misdeeds' in past lives and be 'hopeful' about future lives (assuming you perform good deeds and don't rock the boat)-- if you learn to believe it. Call it Chicken Soup for the Primitive Soul.

Has all that attempt to promote 'Love thy neighbor, selflessness and self-actualization' from these religious texts been successful ? Mostly No. If anything, humans have used these same religious texts to rationalize their agenda of 'Hate thy neighbor, selfishness and materialism' covertly - Who would've guessed a several millenia old human genes would handily defeat a few thousand year old advice+propaganda disseminated in the form of these religious texts.

Anyone reading this might think I'm only bashing religious texts but as long as someone who cares to casually read any of those texts would realize - If you ignore the miracles & non-tangible stuff (propaganda) like immortality, re-incarnation, teleportation et al, these religious texts does include several down-to-earth advice for humans living in those eras - simple things like - living in the present moment, keeping a calm mind and eating a nutritious diet - stuff that seems so obvious now but is perhaps more relevant in the 21st century


Every time I questioned basic assumptions, my life got better. Not suddendly, but in the long run.


Interesting, I just got more depressed every time.


I like to think of it as a dark tunnel with light at the end. Helps me bear with the depression. But somedays it just feels imposssible to see the light, I gotta agree.



How come?


Not the author - but I can relate - for me most depressing is the fact that most people that I will ever meet in my life will or have already choosen (or it was chooses for them by others) a random set o high level assumptions about the life, the universe and everthing and will treat them as revealed truth.

And they will never allow anyone to disect them because it will as per quote from my old friend "destroy the meaning of life".

And by all means - I sincerlly believe we should all set our own meaning for life, just never forget that every one of us is probably wrong.


> they've all but forgotten why we're all here to fail and learn and grow as human beings and find kindred spirits

Speaking of first principles...

Do you really believe that there's a purposeful reason why we are all here, or is that something you choose to live your life by?


> So adamant in their certainty that they've all but forgotten why we're all here to fail and learn and grow as human beings and find kindred spirits. > To me, what's wrong with the world is [...]

What if the world is not wrong at all? What if we're failing? That's how humanity learns, by failing. Sometimes by failing big time. I think it's human nature to resist change for the large part, except for when the benefits of changing clearly outweigh the benefits of not changing. If that's true, then a large failure in any context is the breeding ground for change.


I presume you’ve read The Egg. I work with some folks who, like me, love it and we have adopted an “Eggist” mindset. Do unto others as you would (and will!) do unto your future self ;)


Right - it's all about the mindset!


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