Archive for the ‘Resource Allocation Systems’ Category

We need a new -ism.

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

So, For a long time, I thought I liked communism. Then I learned that communism means the state owns all the resources, and doles them out only to the people it likes. I’ve not yet met a state that I trust with the lives of all my fellow citizens – not while the state is made of fallible people.

Then I thought I liked socialism. After all, socialism is a collectivist system where the resources belong to the workers. That seems fair. But wait, now we have to trust the workers. The phrase that jumps to mind is ‘tyranny of the majority’, courtesy of the founding fathers warning why a direct democracy is a dangerous beast.

What I’m looking for is a -ism that starts where a system is currently at and attempts to crossfade to a more utopic world by replacing wage slavery with automation, and replacing whatever system of governance is in place with a meritocracy that takes advantage of modern technologies to allow direct topic-subscription democracy with weighted voting with the voting controlled by knowledge of the topic being voted on and the opinions of the collective on the individual’s skill level at voting on that topic.

I’ve realized I want a new -ism, a form of collectivism that hasn’t been made yet. I would describe this -ism by the following traits:

a) We ensure that at all times, Earth will remain inhabitable for the foreseeable future. This includes building a skywatch and technology sufficient to swat any pesky asteroids away. It *definitely* includes reducing the amount we live on the capital rather than the interest. One thing we can stop doing is giving people makework jobs that they burn fuel getting to.

b) We attempt to allow people to work in any job they want. To the extent that they can’t do it, we assist them with automation, but we never allow automation to take away a experience someone loves.

c) We attempt to give people any experience they want. To the extent that this is possible, we generate these locally inside their minds with neural software. When this isn’t practical, we use virtual reality techniques for things we can’t actually afford to deliver, and what we can actually afford to deliver, we do deliver. I think we could reach a place where most physical possessions were replaced with neurological software that could easily be copied, reducing our load on the planet while making us far more wealthy than we currently are. I’ve talked about this elsewhere in this blog.

d) For wealth that will always be needed – food infrastructure, housing – we attempt to build wealth that will last at least a thousand years. This will involve it taking longer to build the houses, and using more expensive technology, but it will still be far cheaper than building houses once every hundred years.

e) For any job humans *don’t* want to do, we automate it. We build *good*, reliable, man-rated automation – we take our time, because we can afford to. As #e kicks in more and more, we will have more and more excess wealth.

f) We attempt to *not* make disposable, useless in a few years stuff. We’re trying to build a system that will still be standing tall in a thousand years.

g) We attempt to provide sustenance living for all. Eventually, we attempt to provide luxury for all. Along the way, we offer better experiences to those who work hard, study hard, lean in, and help lift us all. While we might not want to use capitalism in it’s current incarnation, we need to still have competition, and rewards for success, because we’ve got a lot of speed to build up before we have lift, and not a lot of runway left.

h) We acknowledge that we can not afford to do everything for everyone right away. We develop a rigorous scoring system for identifying which goals are the most important and we prioritize those.

i) We recognize that the current system rewards a lot of people that are actually harming us all, and redesign it so it can’t. We need to design a system that actively *expects* to be gamed, and either gains by being gamed or is non-gameable.

j) We need to replace laws with algorithms that we can all agree are fair. We need to replace voodoo morality like religion with morality that we can demonstrate mathematically (i.e. number of people hurt * time of pain * severity of pain = unit indicating how much damage a particular action is doing). More on this later, since I have a pretty functional mathematical system of morality I use. In general, if you can write a meta-statement like a algorithm that solves the problem, it’s a much better solution than a law.

k) If possible, we should be trying to build some people smarter than we are using AI. We *need* help, the current system is running on the edge of disaster and we’ve pretty thoroughly proven that humans find it very challenging to run a planet with 7B souls aboard.

l) We need to focus on the needs of the many first, but eventually, we should try to meet the needs of the one, even when the needs of the one are decidedly out of phase with what the many think is good. However, we should never allow the lone wolves who would hurt us all to have the power to do so. I suggest wide use of simulation to protect us from those who would take more than they give. See #c

m) for the governing of same, I feel we need to have a meritocracy. I’ve spoken elsewhere about the idea of a democracy where your vote counts more if you indicate competence in the area that you’re voting on, and I still stand behind this. A direct democracy, but not one-man-one-vote – instead your vote would ‘weigh more’ if you could indicate knowledge about the subject being voted on, the contrary point of view to the one you hold, and show activity on mailing lists that indicate you’ve discussed the subject with other people. I’d also advocate for the ability to set up and strike or override proxies – so you could temporarily assign someone else you trusted to vote for you, then override them easily on one vote or take back control of your voting. I’ll write more about my thoughts about this later as well.

Anyone got a name for this new -ism?

Y’all right wingers are underinformed.

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

Okay, now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk about why you don’t want to stop with the green energy craze. I want you to forget money exists for a minute, and just think in terms of raw resources.

A solar or a wind plant is a machine that makes wealth. A coal or a oil plant just transforms wealth from one format to another – it’s the same kilowatt-hours, only now instead of being locked in a hydrocarbon it’s on some wires – but a solar or a wind plant is literally making wealth (in the form of kwh of energy) out of energy that’s otherwise just going to end up as heat. Those of you who want to put the brakes on this are saying, “We’d like to be less wealthy as a race, please!”. See, we only have so much coal and oil.. we might have a lot, but there’s a finite amount. So, every time you use some up, there’s less to use. However, for the next $ABSURDLY_LONG_TIME, the sun is going to keep delivering energy to our planet. If we have machines that can extract that energy, we can leave the stored energy in the ground, for a rainy day so to speak, and continue to live a energy-lavish lifestyle, more or less free for nothing.

So, remind me again why you want to stop? You’d say it was about jobs, but for the short term, it’s going to make far more jobs to build a green grid than to keep running the old coal-and-oil one. And in the long term, if we get the energy without anyone having to go dig for the coal, we can pay the coal miners *not* to mine. I bet they can come up with something better to do with their time..

The problem with communism

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

(cut & pasted from something I posted on facebook, because I thought it might be worth saving)

The problem with communism is that by definition, it means the state owns all the resources. Collective ownership of property can work – does work in some cases – but you can not, generally, trust the state. At least, history suggests you can’t. Think about it, do you want the US government to own all the resources, given it’s track record? The government tends to be made up of people who by choice want to have power over other people – who it would appear are the last people you want to actually have that power.

If you find a way to make the state omnibenevolent (say, replacing the humans with very well programmed AIs – or maybe having some powerful incentive for them to remain benevolent to all), then I’d say communism is a wizard idea. Until then, I think socialism (where the resources belong to the workers) or even capitalism (where the resources belong to the bosses) is a better choice.

(I’d also note, apropos of nothing, that capitalism undoubtedly has it’s place. We probably do not want to remove incentives to compete for the best designs, for example, as without those we would not have the computers you all are reading this on, the network that connects them together, or the efficient power grid that runs them). It seems likely to me that no one ideology is going to solve all our resource allocation woes – that picking the right ideology for the right resource is what makes sense – just as no one algorithm is appropriate for all computing challenges. Don’t use a hammer to drive in a screw..)

Part of why I keep talking about using buckets to track money is that I think we likely should be using different algorithms for allocating non-scarce resources like food than for allocating scarce ones. It makes no sense to make someone starve *while we’re throwing food away*, but it may make sense to not hand a yacht to someone who’s not doing anything productive when we are still in a space where yachts are scarce.

Fundamental issues with thinking about money

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

So, I was discussing how large the outstanding money supply is with a friend of mine. His best estimate is there is $20T outstanding, or just about $65k per person currently here.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I see this as likely to be a problem.

We literally do not have enough money to buy even a fraction of the stuff here. If we decided, oh, we want to buy everything that’s in the USA at once, the system would crash, spectacularly. We don’t even have a fraction of the money that we have tangible resource of value.

Now, I understand that most of you take exception to my assertion that the only sane way to think about money in our current system is as being backed by all the real value in the system. It’s clearly not backed by nothing. The value may be propped up by the fact that certain commodities are traded in it, but it’s also clearly not backed by oil.

Backing a currency with a depleting finite resource is exactly the mess we were trying to get out of when we abandoned the gold standard – although, it would appear, in many people’s minds, we abandoned it for the debt standard, which is more than a little nutty. Only 5 countries in the world are not currently in debt to someone – this suggests that loaning money into existence has gotten quite popular – except that I don’t actually think that’s what we’re doing. I think some bean counters have gone ’round the bend. We’re creating real, tangible value – both with intellectual property and scientific discoveries, and with the work we put into building and upgrading physical plant and infrastructure all around the world – as well as, painful as it is to admit, the physical natural resources of the world itself, some renewable, some not.

Anyway, the truth is, if you put on your ‘sane person’ glasses for a minute, that clearly the money is backed by everything you can buy with it. If we could get people to grok this, maybe we could put some more in circulation without people treating it as inflationary. We wouldn’t need to put more in circulation, I should mention, if it wasn’t for the impressive levels of stupidity of the 1%.

We need to give these people something else to use to keep score with, because the money pool – already too small – is spending entirely too much time in their hands. Not only that, ‘interest’ in the financial world does not match what’s going on in the real world. Any time your paper bookkeeping system is out of whack with what’s really happening out there in the world, you’re going to get into trouble. I’ve been avoiding talking about interest for a while now, because I’m still turning over my thoughts about how I would handle it, but I think it is a dangerous thing to do to ask for as much of it as the lenders currently do, because they’re warping the paper tracking system vs. reality. The money is backed by real goods, but while we do have more real goods every day, we do *not* have 27% more of them a year, or probably even 4% of them. I get the temptation to cheat in order to enrich yourself or your corporation, banks, but are you sure you want to court a system crash and play musical chairs with who gets the tangibles when everything comes undone here?

Anyway, back to my assertion that the 1% are being stupid. Every dollar you keep in your bank account beyond your personal needs is a dollar that isn’t out there in the world doing something. In a cash-starved money-based RAS, money that isn’t in motion is useless, worthless. The more money you have in motion, changing hands, facilitating creation and growth and living and the like, the better the quality of life for everyone – including you, none-too-bright 1-percenters, because part of what that money powers is the discovery of intellectual property – which is something you can not buy just by deciding to buy it. Genius is where you find it, and you have no way of knowing which of the many many people around you (some of whom might be starving on the streets) are the genuisi. I encourage you to read about the end of Tesla, and consider that if a few more dollars had come his way, he might have not died when he did, and he might have gone on to create even more cool things that we’d all be using today.

If you read and understood my earlier article on Neurological Wealth, you know that the intellectual property discovered could ultimately be far, far beyond anything that you can currently imagine. There’s good reason to encourage people to get out there and create. This is wealth you can not buy today.. you have to let it grow and accrue naturally, and you’re stifling it so you can *keep score*.

I realize it’s vanishingly unlikely that any of you 1% types read this, and even more unlikely that if you did, you’d understand it. I’ve come to accept that there’s a very small number of people on the globe with both the intelligence and the experience to even understand this discussion, and the odds of very many of them finding their way to my blog are pretty tiny. Nonetheless, I will continue this intellectual exercise, for myself if for no one else.

Neurological wealth

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

The most impressive – and disruptive – technology that we could possibly come up with would be neurological. If we could load software on our minds the way we do on computers, we could give the experience of unlimited wealth to all of us, for virtually no cost.

Now, there are some major problems with this. The security implications alone are terrifying – we already have enough problems with viral propagation of bad ideas via religion and just plain ol’ fashioned entrainment.

However, the win is equally huge. Let me give you a few examples.

First of all, whatever your ‘day job’ is, chances are it takes up a very small percentage of your total mental capacity. It would be possible for you to do whatever task helps keep this old ball spinning using background capacity, while never actually having the conscious experience of doing it.

Second of all, everything you experience in this world is made up of information. And there is no doubt that our 10^11 neurons are sufficient computing capacity to generate any experience you care to name out of whole cloth. Get them working in the right way and you can experience anything *anyone* can experience. The software to do this represents wealth of a very interesting kind. It can be copied indefinitely, without costing the creator anything. It can potentially add value to the experience of everyone who uses it. It would reduce our impact on the planet considerably – since we would no longer need physical ‘things’ for most of the adventures we might want to have.

Of course, there’s absolutely no proof that this hasn’t already happened, and that the controls of whatever network is responsible for rendering our experience of reality are just in the paws of someone who favors a less than utopic experience for everyone else. I think there are people who would enjoy the power that denying utopia to others represents.

Anyway, when I talk about giving everyone everything, I do think this is a reasonable approach to doing it. Yes, the hurdles are high – we haven’t even learned to build software that runs well on digital state machines, the idea of us writing software for our minds is a bit shiver inducing. But, the reward is even higher.

Given that everyone’s utopia is different, this is the only reasonable way I can see for us to give everyone a utopic experience at the same time.

Resource Allocation Systems : Intellectual property – possible solution?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

TL;DR=Treating intellectual property as a resource that has a maximum ROI in real world dollars could prevent some of the IP-related failures our current system has

One possible solution for solving the very real issue that intellectual property presents when working in a money system that has money as a finite resource is to change the way we pay the creators of intellectual property.

It is necessary to pay the creators of intellectual property in some way, because we want to continue discovering it – it’s very high value for all of us makes the continued discovery of it a very desirable thing.

The problem is, wildly popular creations of intellectual property result in large amounts of capital getting stuck in a few bank accounts, and unless the people who get that capital are wise enough to spend all the incoming, you end up with the problem described in this article.

One possible solution is to cap the amount of money that one can generate with intellectual property. I can see several variations on this – one that I like is that once intellectual property has generated more than a set amount of money, it begins to accrue unspendable dollars instead of spendable ones, and the people “purchasing” it are not charged except for the cost of actually moving the content. (Let’s say perhaps a penny per movie, or a tenth of a penny per mp3)

Those unspendable dollars are “keeping score money”, which enables artists to still understand how big of a win for humanity they’ve achieved, but because the customers did not have to pay for the content, they remove the problem of a finite resource (dollars) chasing a infinite one (IP content)

Note that I would set a fairly high cap on this. We do not want to discourage innovation, we just want to prevent having certain innovations break the system. We also would need some system in place to prevent “bogus innovation” to game the system – i.e. the creation of a “new drug” which is actually just two pre-existing drugs in the same pill.

I should mention that intellectual property is not always just content. The surcharge for Apple products, beyond the actual increased cost of production, is a example of intellectual property, as well.

It is possible the idea of “unspendable dollars” – “Keeping score money” will arise again, as we talk about interest.

Resource allocation system implementation

Friday, November 11th, 2016

TL;DR=Go slow, be careful, don’t break it trying to fix it. Do not reassign all the wealth to your new system – any worthwhile system can compete with existing ones and win.

There is something I want to make abundantly clear here.

Some people seem to be under the impression that as I discuss bucketed currency and other alternative resource allocation systems, I want to just go out and grab all the existing wealth, stuff it into the new system, and redistribute.

That would not be a good idea. It is not my goal.

Big systems have inertia for a reason. If my resource allocation system is so superior, it should be able to run in parallel with the existing system and add value without controlling distribution at all, or run standalone competing and trading with the existing system and succeed. If it can’t do either of those two things, then it’s a failure and we should toss it back to the drawing board.

The way to succeed at a big project is to start small, test small, develop small, and scale up. ANY system attempting to reassign the wealth of a economy even the size of a small state would likely fail spectacularly – the people losing the wealth would be justifiably resentful, and the people gaining the wealth would likely be the wrong people, for the wrong reasons – we’d end up just like Communism did, with six sets of boots and no pots.

There are some who want to tear our republic apart and start over. I say to you, unless you have a superior system that you’ve tested small and medium scale, or a idea so good we will *all* agree that it’s time has come, PLEASE DON’T. You will only be adding fuel to the fire of entropy burning against our minds and our land.

Also please consider that the fundamental “bones” of the constitution are sound. Nowhere does the constitution say we are a capitalist society, and we could try alternate resource allocation systems while maintaining the design of government which is, largely, well done in my opinion. It is possible that another, better government is possible – I have a number of ideas on the subject – but I think that most of the problems facing us have to do with the resource allocation system and some of the fiddly implementation details surrounding voting, and that the basic structure of the constitution is a fine work and shouldn’t be tampered with.

People, we can build a better mousetrap – but we must:

1) Make sure it addresses close to everyone’s needs. It must beat the current system, which is doing better than you might think.
2) Treat it like a technical problem. Test. Plan. Work together in teams. Use simulation. Avoid getting overly attached to one idea or set of ideas.
3) Understand that if we damage people’s quality of life, they will not thank us for our revolution.
4) Deal with people as they really are, not as we wish they would be. Deal with our culture as it really is, not as we’d like it to be. A good system may literally require a cultural shift, in which case that must be part of our plans.
5) Do not release it until it is stable enough to run wild and free. If we resist the urge to do anything stupid, we can keep civilization as it currently stands together for quite some time – at least until the oil has almost run out. Let’s not end up starving in the cold because we were in a hurry to release.
5.1) Don’t get so caught up in designing a new system that we don’t also continue to apply band-aids, and look for band-aids that could be applied. However, when band-aiding, remember not to ever think the band-aid is the final solution. Raising the minimum wage is a stopgap solution at best, for example. This is probably my biggest criticism of the plans of Bernie Sanders.
6) There is a compelling reason to keep civilization online. If DARPA’s SyNAPSE project scales according to Moore’s law, in 17 years we should be able to build a neural network bigger than we are. A larger mind than ours might be able to see what we can’t. If we can befriend the entity this network represents, we might be able to get their help.

There will be more.. the next article that is worthy of this series has just not yet been written. If you want to see my meandering thoughts as I try to figure out how to build a resource allocation system that works, check out the resource allocation systems category.

resource allocation as a group

Friday, October 21st, 2016

TL;DR=Humans work as a group – entitlement programs are a reflection of that reality and most are in the best interests of all of us

So, on facebook, someone had stated “the only reason anyone would vote democrat is the expectation of a welfare check”. I had pointed out that there are many reasons, and it’s more complicated than that, and one of their responses was “if you want to help other people be my guest but keep your stealing fingers out of our wallets”. I indicated a interest in further discourse on the subject if they were open to it, and said I’d write a blog article with my opening thoughts on the matter.

(This makes it sound worse than it is – I truly believe, at least at this point, that this person is open to trading ideas on the subject. I am of the opinion that we’ll all get further if we at least consider the ideas of people who are politically opposed to us before rejecting them. I am sure he has valid reasons for believing what he does.)

So, first of all, I will be the first to admit that “entitlement programs” are a band-aid. The right solution would be to have a better way of doing resource allocation to begin with. But, here’s my big picture overview.

We as a species are in the business of creating resources and resource pools as a group. A single individual could almost certainly not build a working power generator, for example. (You think you can? I want to see you try. No buying premade *anything* – every raw material must come out of the ground. And if you’re even doing research to discover *how* to find copper, make it into wire, etc, you’re using the work of the group to help you. If you are using knowledge of what copper looks like, or that it conducts electricity, or that you can dope silicon with phosphorus and boron and get a semiconductor that will generate electricity when light shines on it, you’re likely using knowledge you aquired from the group)

Even acquiring and cooking food would be challenging without contributions from the group. (How’d you learn to make that bow and arrow? How did you know how to create fire, or that fire would make the food more palatable and also let you get more calories from it?). We work as a team, and communicate concepts through symbolic language. It’s part of why our species is so able to thrive in what is a somewhat difficult environment.

So, hopefully by seeing that you can accept that we work as a group. My guess is your objection to entitlement programs is that they appear to compensate nonproductive members. I have a number of responses to that.

First of all, it’s difficult to know how productive a member really is. As I’ve discussed elsewhere in this blog, money has a number of flaws as a vehicle for abstracting value, so if you’re just measuring by the money that they make, you’re likely missing a lot of their contributions. We never know where lightning, in terms of a brilliant idea, will strike – and sometimes, you do literally need the idiot asking stupid questions to help the genius have the next great idea. Not all contributions to a society are obvious.

Also, because our society has a number of, hem, weaknesses, some individuals get misprogrammed in ways that make it very difficult for them to succeed via conventional measurements, through no fault of their own. However, they may still make important contributions to the system as a whole – they are somebody’s friend, somebody’s family. Very few of us are completely disconnected from the social mesh that is all of us.

Second of all, you really don’t want to lose a member (or throw them under the bus) that’s just going through a rough patch. Imagine if you will someone like Tesla, who’s very bad at making personal relationships and business decisions, but very good at creating mind-bending technologies like the induction motor. Now, imagine tesla gets sick – and dies – because of a shortage of funding and a health care system that doesn’t want to help him. Humanity as a whole has now lost the value he contributes, because we were more concerned with the valueless money in our wallet than we were in sharing out resources in order to benefit the species as a whole. Because we all basically have the same 10^11 neurons, the only way to be really mindbendingly good at one thing – like Tesla was at invention – is to be weaker in something else. The human history is full of stories of geniuses that had trouble tying their shoes. Ultimately, the money those people “stole out of your wallet” made us all richer, including you, in real value, in knowledge.

I think it’s important to look at the really big picture when considering resource allocation. First of all, it’s important to recognize that fiat money has no real value other than the value we imagine it to have. (Apologies to those of you who have been reading this blog the whole time and have to listen to me reiterate things you’ve already read). Real value is things like food and shelter and clothing – nobody really wants money itself (unless they’re using it to keep score), they want the things it can buy. It may help you accept the loss of some of that worthless paper in your wallet if you recognize that it really is worthless.. it’s just a pointer to value, it’s not the value itself.

As far as value itself, we have as much as we have. The entitlement program dollars for things like welfare are mostly going to things like food and shelter, which we in fact *have a surplus of!*. In the case of food, it’s *extra* stupid to not give it away, because *it has a short shelf-life*. If we were short on food, I could see making a case for not giving it to the “less productive” members of the tribe, but we’re *not*. Food rots. We might as well give it to everyone, because we’ve got more than enough, and more food than you can eat potentially has a *negative* value because of the need to deal with getting rid of it.

Now, you made the point that there are other types of welfare that go to people who will not spend it on things we have a surplus of like food and shelter, and I think you may have a case there, but overall, the important thing to remember is that in fact, dollars don’t matter. What matters is concrete and steel, because what we can ‘afford’ is entirely driven by concrete and steel. It’s also important to remember that not all contributions are easy to measure. One analogy to consider is if you removed all the neurons from your mind which don’t fire regularly (by denying them blood sugar since they were “dead weight”), the results would be *very bad*. Another point to consider is that the “nonproductive” members do in fact contribute by being the friends of the “productive” members and adding to their quality of life.

Another problem is you never really know what skills, worthless now, will be very valuable in the future, and some skills take a lot of work to hone, which appears “nonproductive” insofar as money is concerned. For example, when the first pioneers began playing with computers, it was not at all obvious how much more value we would be able to generate for humanity with these machines. Many of them went broke trying to build computers before the transistor was invented – but they generated *huge* value in terms of figuring out what sorts of things you needed to think about and do in order to build a programmable computer. It’s potentially possible that my “nonproductive” studying of writing music may turn out to have huge value someday – maybe first contact will happen and my music, not commercially viable for Earthlings, will be *very* in desire as a trading material by ET. You really never know. But – assuming we *do* have enough food, water, and shelter – you want people to explore the unknown fringes and the potentially dry holes, because some of them will turn out ultimately to have water. If there is no social ‘safety net’ there is a lot of incentive *not* to take risks – and the risks are where the rewards are. And in any case, you really don’t want the people who have skills that are not valuable now but will be valuable in the future to starve to death, losing us access to those skills.

As a digression, the transistor itself is a good argument for my case. It was invented by a *government monopoly*, by some engineers who were also amatuar scientists playing around trying to build a better signal amplifier. Without the transistor, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion, and it’s unlikely the “free market” ever would have found it. The Internet is another great case of this.. ARPA designed a flexible network protocol to allow computers to talk to each other. Without the “entitlement” money going to the ARPA engineers, we wouldn’t have a Internet at all. (For better or for worse) – and when the Internet went up against the networks and protocols designed by the “free market” it *stomped all over them*. It was, quite simply, better and more flexible.

It’s also worth noting that that money “being stolen out of your wallet” in fact came from the group. You didn’t print it yourself, and you didn’t create the value yourself that it can be used to buy. (otherwise, you wouldn’t need to buy it, because you already would have it). Instead, the group gave it to you in exchange for the value you created for the group. It’s a pointer to the idea of group resources, and as such, it is reasonable for the group to decide what to do with it. I agree that the current system of give it to you, take it back, give it to you again or give it to someone else is very clumsy and at odds with the way humans emotionally react to things. Hopefully we’ll implement something better – although it is worth noting that what we’re currently doing has gotten us a long long way.

I apologize if I have misidentified your argument against things like welfare – if I have, please speak up so I can respond to what your real issue with it is.

Now that you’ve read this, perhaps you might be interested in some cautionary notes on Resource Allocation System Implementation

Something I was mulling over this morning

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

To what extent were the Jews in WWII the 1% of Germany? I kind of wonder if we’re seeing a repeat of some of the same patterns that led up to that war, and if maybe we shouldn’t back up and consider taking a different path. I mean, granted, you’ve got one set of people hating on the 1%, and another set of people hating on the immigrants, gays, etc, but you certainly have a bunch of people all saying that all our problems are caused by $SOME_OTHER_GROUP, when in fact almost none of them are.

Our problems aren’t caused by the 1%, because there’s as much food, steel, and concrete as there is. They’re caused by how we think about resources and resource allocation – beliefs that lead to food rotting in the field while people go hungry and people being homeless while houses sit empty. But that’s not the fault of the 1%, it’s the fault of the software we’re all running, the things we all believe about property and resources.

I could make similar points about the fatal flaws in the rule of law, in the criminal justice system, in our religions and morals, but what it all adds up to is that we’re running some truly crappy software, memetically distributed, and part of why that’s true is we’re afraid to write something better. And there’s no doubt that writing a new memetic operating system for humanity would involve a fair amount of risk, and would be something that would have to be done carefully and with some consideration, and that most of the people here apparently are not willing to open their eyes far enough to see that the current software we’re running is not that great. (Although, increasingly, there are people who are, and there’s always the hope that if and when we get a working neural network smarter than we are, it could help, or that the current generation, who see a situation where working full time won’t rent you a apartment because of our very stupid beliefs about inflation and the value of time – will rise up and come up with something better. Of course, it’s more likely a bunch of people will get shot and nothing will get better, but one can always hope)

And then, of course, this might all just be my conscious experience. I know there’s something wrong with my mind, and I know it has plenty of crunch, computing wise, so it may be painting me a picture that’s far darker than the real world for reasons of it’s own. If so, I wish it’d stop doing that.

Another currency

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

So, recently a discussion with the domain squatter who bought sheer.org after I missed a email about it needing renewed (many years ago) contacted me wanting to sell it. It quickly became clear that we were not in the same ballpark – my top offer was $1k, they wanted $9.5 – and while I miss it, I don’t miss it *that* much – it did get me thinking about another type of currency.

Domain squatters who register domains as soon as they become available after failure to register by the original owners are a example of one of those things that reduces happiness in the world. Presumably the people doing this are okay with this – they don’t mind being evil as long as they’re making money – but it makes me wonder how many enterprises make money at the cost of happiness. I’m talking about sum total happiness here – and it may be that if the domain squatter does make his $9.5k his increased happiness will cancel out my reduced happiness, or even I suppose be more than my reduced happiness although I kind of doubt it somehow.

But it does make me think about happiness as currency. In specific, the way this world is extremely overcomplicated, with taxes, forms, laws, customs, and the like reduces happiness, and a lot of it can be traced to people needing to do something in order to get paid. I think we’d probably increase happiness a lot if we stopped requiring everyone to have a job, *both* in the fact that people wouldn’t be made miserable by doing their jobs that shouldn’t have existed in the first place, and in the fact that a lot of those ‘makework’ jobs end up making lives worse for other people – I’m especially looking at government here, but I could just as easily be looking at homeowners associations.

Now, I doubt this particular domain squatter is doing this hustle just because s/he couldn’t find something better to do with h* time – but it would be really interesting to know if h* would still be squatting on domains if h* didn’t have to in order to keep eating and living indoors – that is, does h* do it because h* gets some particular joy from it, or is it just a way to keep on keeping on? Which leads me to think, not for the first nor I’m sure the last time that our insistence on everyone having a job is hurting us, since many jobs, by their very existence, hurt the happiness level of the person doing the job, and some hurt the happiness level of many people. (Domain squatting would be a example of a job which hurts a lot of people a little bit.)

I titled this another currency, because I’m starting to think of misery and happiness as something to be tracked and optimized for. Imagine a capitalist society where happiness was a capital that was optimized for.. I think my friend Andy is already thinking along these lines.. and how much better of a experience for all involved it could be.