Re: Isn't spontanious order overrated?

Anders Sandberg (
07 Sep 1998 20:00:36 +0200

"Max M" <> writes:

> It has become quite a dogma (on this list) that self organisation in
> spontaneous systems is the best way to do most things. I can certainly
> understand the fascination with this way of thinking.

The extropian principles doesn't say that (at least not 2.6, I seem to recall that the 3.0 draft is a bit stronger), but I have also noted that many get a bit carried away about SO. It is good and useful, but not always applicable.

"Top-down" and "Bottom-up" solutions both have their place, the trick is to discover which works best for a given situation. That is really the big question underlying (say) the capitalism debate, and could probably be resolved with a lot less emotional heat being dissipated if treated as a problem in understanding the system (not that I think it is a simple problem). In some cases it is clear that one works well, sometimes combinations might be useful (local top-down solutions, or perhaps a planned system containing reserve pockets of diversity?). This is really an area that can be developed - I wonder what has been done in it?

> It's the kind of fascination that makes some computergames so great.
> "Boulder Dash", "Lemmings", "Command & Conquer", "Sim City" and others.

:-) Your'e right, all the best games are in some sense self-organizing. Most likely they are great because they are complex, the SO creates surprises which doesn't occur in non-organizing games.

> Especially in politics and economics spontanious order and the invisible
> hand is hot. But if the free market is the answer to most economical and
> political problems, then it's a bit like saying that intelligence has little
> value. If simple interconnected systems can perform wel in complex
> enviroments why the have intelligence done so well until now.

Because intelligence is able to "jump ahead", finding stuff that the simple systems have trouble discovering. A computer can search for a solution to an equation by brute force, but I can find an elegant proof (sometimes). A market consisting of simple, stupid actors is likely less useful as a market of smart actors.

> Then my question is, at what level will spontanious order work best?

Exactly. How do we find out?

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y