Re: The meta-invisible hand

The Low Golden Willow (
Sun, 21 Sep 1997 17:32:43 -0700 (PDT)

On Sep 21, 6:01pm, "Keith Elis ('Hagbard Celine')" wrote:
} The Low Golden Willow wrote:

} > Alas, evolution does not seem to select for fun. Evolution seems to
} > select for the ability to turn the universe into nothing but
} > self-copies, or the ability to render other-copies inoperative.
} > Competition works. The question, I think, is to what degree can
} > competition be tamed?

} technology than we have at this point. However, while a form of natural
} selection *may* exist in the free market, one can directly increase
} one's chances at being "selected," or "surviving" within that free
} market, far moreso than within the biological system.

Certainly. My complaints are not based on my concern with surviving,
per se. My complaints are based on my preference to be doing other
things than worrying about my survival, combined with a feeling that my
needs -- food, housing, utilities, cheap clothes, libraries, and public
transit within a city -- shouldn't be much to ask of society.
Admittedly I'm not working that much either, so perhaps the system is
working. But I'm a functioning programmer. I'd be happy if society had
more historians, marine biologists, and jungle explorers. Producers of
non-commercial information, in other words. Which raises the question
of feeding these people. Conversely, there are people writing books
which aren't worth much. If they're hacks exploiting an easy market,
then I'd be better off if they were just fed so that they wouldn't feel
the need to pollute the bookstores.

} I'm not entirely sure that I understand you perfectly, but I gather
} you're looking for a way to minimize the deleterious effects of free
} competition on those that cannot compete as well. You call this "taming"

Yes, but when I think of "those that cannot compete as well" I'm not
thinking compassionately of the downtrodden and uneducated; I'm thinking
selfishly of scientists and obscure writers and GNU programmers. I'm
thinking that our system measures success as the ability to collect
money, representing scarce goods, but what I value these days is
information, which is not scarce, once produced. But the leisure to
produce it may be scarce. I'm thinking that P.C. Hodgell is far more
important to me than Bill Gates, but she has to work on a non-Kencyr
book because publishers won't touch her main series, and she can't
afford to write it for love because she needs to eat, while Bill Gates
is worth N billion because our intellectual property laws guarantee him
money everytime Microsoft software is copied.

I'm suggesting that we might be rich enough to use machines to provide a
minimum level of living to everyone, and not stigmatize them for it, and
count on people's not wanting to feel useless or bored to keep them
doing something which might be useful now or later, or just
interesting. And if we're not that rich, perhaps becoming so should be
one of our shorter term goals. Might hasten the Singularity, for those
of you that count the days to that.

(Might _be_ a Singularity, from some points of view.) (At any rate, it
might give Max more time to work as ExI, if he wanted. :)

I'm not arguing for laws. I don't know what the Culture looks like
economically, or how they deal with people who like breeding a lot -- or
rather, with the presumed evolutionary selection for such people. I'm
just trying to perhaps change people's attitudes.

} In a similar way, to pass a law affecting the competitive relationship
} between the successful and unsuccessful actors in the free market
} thwarts evolution and at the same time, glosses over the real problem --

Is free market evolution selecting for what we want? I want knowledge
and art to be produced and gathered. I don't think I'm alone in this.
I want to gather knowledge myself, and hopefully produce some. What I
see is Microsoft with billions of dollars, and GNU slipping by on
contributors' spare time.

} How do we accomplish this? Make a list of the selected characteristics
} based upon a group of successful actors, and publish them along with
} detailed steps for acquiring them. My guess is that these steps will

You want to teach them how to make money. I don't think money and
information should mix, directly, and I'm worried about the information.

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

"I didn't know we could do all this."
"Obviously not. Good grief, man, the Culture's been a spacefaring
species for eleven thousand years; just because you've mostly settled
down in idealized, tailor-made conditions doesn't mean you've lost the
capacity for rapid adaptation. Strength in depth; redudancy;
overdesign. You know the Culture's philosophy." -- _Player of Games_