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Sunday, 25 March 2018

The Technocracy Party

The geodesic dome at CAT, Wales, UK.

Should we set up a political party? This is a question that has come up a number of times within EOS and the answer has been “no”. EOS hasn’t been set up as a political organisation but one that aims to research a possible alternative, sustainable, moneyless, socio-economic system. I personally have never liked the idea of setting up a political party till we have something we can demonstrate works. The way to do that is build something and test it out.

Over the years we have had many discussions and ideas. We have held lectures at Universities, had many on-line meetings, and written many articles and other publications. We have had quite a bit of interest on Facebook, with our main group page having 4 157 members as I write.  Most of our ideas are now written up in the Design. We have had some cooperation with other groups and individuals. Frustratingly, however, we haven’t got much to show for our work on the ground. We have had many real life meetings and started with building a bio-dome. However, we are still far from building a community. In addition, the world seems to be doing nothing but paying lip service to the idea of sustainability. Despite international agreements here and there we are still not tacking the main cause of the problem; our current socio-economic system with its inbuilt need to maintain exponential growth with finite resources and resulting environmental damage.  

So, I’ve been thinking about “force multipliers”; the idea of trying to maximise return on the effort we put in, which brings me back to the idea of a political party. I’m now thinking that perhaps my original objection was wrong, or at least, partly wrong. EOS should not, itself, get involved in politics but should remain focused on research. So, I’m thinking of a political party separate from EOS but one that aims to support the same goals. The idea being that through politics we can get a leverage to start getting an alternative to our current system tested and implemented. Start building a sustainable socio-economic system.

Here are my initial thoughts:
The Technocracy Party

1. Foundation ideas

1.1 Pragmatism

1.2 Skill and expertise; those who know what they are doing make the decisions.

1.3 Reality based

2. Goal:

2.1 (a) Highest standard of living (b) for the longest time possible

3. Sub goals

3.1 The appliance of science to society. Follows from 1.1, 1.3, and 2.1 (a) as science is our best way to understand the world and the likely consequences of our actions.

3.2 A sustainable society. Follows form 2.1 (b) as to achieve the longest time possible a society must be sustainable and live within the bounds of nature.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Building Rationalia?

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Prof. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Over the summer, Neil deGrasse Tyson proposed a virtual country called Rationalia. In Rationalia government policies would need a body of evidence before they could lead to laws. The people in Rationalia would conduct observations and experiments instead of basing decisions on unsubstantiated beliefs or opinions. This would lead to a civilisation very different form the one we have today.

The original proposal created a lot of posts that disagreed with the Prof. Tyson, arguing that it would not work. Generally, I would go along with Prof Tyson’s Rationalia but there are potential problems that would need to be addressed. For example, in Prof. Tyson’s facebook post he mentioned: 

That could involve experimentation where we implement capital punishment and see what effect it has on crime. Data gathered would then form the bases of policy. The obvious problem with the experimentation has to do with the fact we would have to implement it to see if we should implement it. Perhaps we could get around this in some fashion or other, we have, for example, implemented capital punishment in the past and perhaps that would supply sufficient data to form a rational policy. However, if not capital punishment then sooner or later something else would come up where to collect data we would have to implement the policy; governing becomes the experimentation. 

I assume that the idea of making Rationalia a virtual nation would form part of ironing out potential problems and a way of implementing something to gain date for policy making. Thus, overcoming the problem above. Way back in the 1990s when I first looked at Technocracy I looked at the idea of creating a “virtual nation”. Virtual nations were popular at the time and people created their own Kingdoms and Empires with themselves as head of state. But it occurred to me that such a platform could be used to experiment with a new way of governing. We could play that we lived in such a nation as Rationalia and see what would happen given certain scenarios. Playing “Rationalia” could become a way of training people to live in such a nation.

But should Rationalia remain a virtual nation? There are many groups who would like something similar to Rationalia. From “Star Trek” inspired groups to transhumanists to our own ideas of a skilled based moneyless society that we proposed in the Design; a society based on the application of science and engineering. 

If we could gather together enough people should we not aim to build such a future society?

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Chimps don’t throw stones

Well, actually they do. It is just that they are not very good at it. Humans, on the other hand do display a high degree of skill when it comes to throwing stones. This skill, argues, Perter Turin forms part of why we developed a reverse hierarchy when compared to other apes. Chimps, like gorillas, have a dominate alpha male; the silver back. But humans don’t have such a beast. It is true that some people do get to such a position in our modern societies but the evidence suggest that for much of our existence as a species on this planet, humans formed egalitarian societies. If an upstart occurred within a community, the ability to effect at a distance was able to put down (i.e. kill) the upstart through cooperation with minimal risk of harm to participants. Spears, bows and arrows, and eventually fire arms just added to our power to effect at a distance. Perter Turin argues that this violence encourages cooperation within groups. Competition between groups forms the main driving force for cooperation within groups. Cooperation is destroyed with competition within groups. Warfare is the ultimate competition between groups. The loser has much to lose! Victory goes to those who cooperate the best.

Perter Turin takes us on a tour of human cultural evolution to make his point.

Over the millennia our culture has evolved from egalitarian societies to god-kings to empires to mega-empires and on to today. Not smoothly. Not perfectly. But over time we have become more and more cooperative and more and more peaceful (with the exception of a rise in violence during the stone age). We lost egalitarianism along the way but not for good. Equality and trust strengthens cooperation so we have tended to return towards more egalitarian societies again. 

Christopher X Jon Jensen & Greg Riestenberg
Stag Hunt Game By cooperating the players get the maximum reward.

The benefits of cooperation are self-evident. We can obtain an exponential increase in our ability to do things if we work together towards a common goal.  Over many millennia we have changed as a species to become the most cooperative animal on the plant. Our ability to cooperate overtook that of ants 2000 years ago.  Today we build complex projects that take hundreds of millions or more people working together, such as the complex distributed network of international air travel. 

But cooperation is not easy.

The benefits of cooperation are self-evident. So why, then, do we have defaulters? The benefits to society as a whole might be exponential but for the individual it can be costly. If it takes 1000 warriors to defend a village and you are one of them then the best action for you would be to default. 999 warriors could do just as well without you and you will not run the risk of injury or death. You get all the benefits but none of the costs. But if everyone reasoned like that then no one would defend the village and you, as well as everyone else, would run the risk of a nasty death or enslavement. So, societies developed ways to punish defaulters. Yet, in cooperative systems we still can find defaulters.

So, how do we build cooperation? Well, it appears there are a number of important ingredients. Although Perter Turin does point out that the science of cultural evolution is still young and we have much more to learn.  However, we can say the following for now:

·         Enhance cooperation within the group
o   Increase openness
o   Increase equality
o   Increase trust
·         Avoid things that destroy cooperation within a group
o   Internal competition
o   Fear of group reprisal
o   Corruption
·         Increase competition between groups
o   War is the best for this. Nothing like life threatening danger to get you to work with others but I hope with the application of intelligence we can come up with a more socially acceptable alternative.

Thoughts on how this would work with EOS? Cooperation between like minded groups seems very difficult within the alternative or RBE community. Perhaps we don’t feel threatened yet?