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FQXi FORUM
May 25, 2019

CATEGORY: How Should Humanity Steer the Future? Essay Contest (2014) [back]
TOPIC: How Should Humanity Steer the Future? -- Sideways! by Thomas Howard Ray [refresh]
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Author Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 18:17 GMT
Essay Abstract

We explore a complex systems model that links global material and communication resources, distributed laterally rather than hierarchically. Such a robust network ideally has the capacity to create and maintain global economic equilibrium, while helping assure maximal individual freedom, wealth and creativity.

Author Bio

Tom Ray is an independent researcher in the mathematics and philosophy of complex systems science.

Download Essay PDF File

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James A Putnam wrote on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 22:54 GMT
Hi Tom,

How much better it would have been had you learned the negative impact of theory. I won't rate this essay. I assume it will be very attractive to many others. I wish you well with it, but only for this contest. One question: Did you heed the leader's 'scientifically based' call for followers to support the Occupy Movement?

James Putnam

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 00:15 GMT
Hi James,

I hope to see you back after you've read the essay.

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James A Putnam replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 00:45 GMT
Tom,



I read the essay.

James Putnam

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 00:52 GMT
So then, you purposely chose to talk in my forum about something I neither said nor implied?

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Anonymous wrote on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 02:03 GMT
Tom,

An interesting analysis of the immediate real world issues we need to face. While we frequently disagree, I would like to offer up a point I'm trying to make in these discussions. If you have been following them, you might have seen some of my efforts, but I would like to state it as succinctly as possible;

In our capitalist economy, we treat money as a commodity, in fact one...

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 02:05 GMT
Damn logouts.

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 08:50 GMT
Hi John,

Yes, I agree -- we speak of the price of money as if it were goods. That's not in itself the problem, though. Money as capital is indeed a commodity that loses value when not traded -- when we reach the state as we have today, that investors are merely trading among themselves and withholding capital from wealth creators, eventually the value of even that limited trade degrades. Not good for either the investors or the investment, because of overproduction and underconsumption, which are two sides of the same coin.

Best,

Tom

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 10:02 GMT
Tom,

One of the main ways of sustaining the value of that excess capital is to have the government, ie. public, borrow it back and fund everything from wars to research with the over-production, then sell off any income producing asset, such as results of the research, to well connected private interests, so while it may not be 'the problem,' it is certainly a problem and one which is shortly going to trigger a crisis and crises are noted as opportune times for change.

I don't see much being withheld from anyone with even a slim idea for wealth creation, but I do see a lot of unsustainable wealth extraction being used to fund this financial production.

Regards,

John

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 02:36 GMT
Tom,

I found your paper refreshingly informative toward the end, but I had to wait until page four for some things I think needed stated to be right up front. It was a struggle getting through the first few pages, but if you had an opening paragraph starting something like this, it would have been an easier read. "Research shows there is promise in a system that preserves freedom within a system community and allows cooperation between them. The image of well-maintained fences with open gates, serves to illustrate this principle at work..."

But if the reader is patient to continue reading, there is a gem in the rough to be uncovered in this paper. You have made a brilliant observation, Tom; now if only you could highlight it better. My rating will reflect both my appreciation of your point and the mixed feelings about how it is presented.

Regards,

Jonathan

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 08:39 GMT
Jonathan,

I agree. I should have taken more care to present the solution before the problem. Instead I put it all in a too-short abstract. The problem is depressing; I think there are too few, however, who understand what conditions the liberal secular ideal is responding to, why we fought a revolution here against tyrants from afar, and then another bloody war against tyrants at home.

In the news, there is this rancher in Nevada who grazes his cattle for free by stealing government owned land, and calls it his right to profit from the property and labors of others. His motives are clear -- he openly wonders if "the Negro" would be better off picking cotton than being unemployed and hanging out on the porch. Clearly, he feels entitled to own and control others and steal with impunity.

That issue is separate from the issue of fairness in land use laws -- it's a deeper flaw in the American psyche that hangs on to pre-Enlightenment ways of doing things. We can't afford it. The world can't afford it.

The rancher rides around on his horse waving the U.S. flag (this is literally true, for those who haven't seen the story) -- while contradictorily proclaiming that he doesn't recognize the government. He thinks the Constitution supports his right to plunder and exploit. If it were just this one crazy individual who holds these views, one wouldn't worry about it. The sickness and the ignorance has spread much further.

All best,

Tom

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 03:15 GMT
Tom,

FQXi asked how should humanity steer the future. Didn't you equate humanity too much with the national perspective of U.S.A.?

At least you left the position of those philosophers and physicists who denied causality and the distinction between past and future: Russell, Einstein, ...

Do you hope for reaching more than emotional resonance? I am still fed up with "scientific socialism".

Regards,

Eckard

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 11:03 GMT
Hi Eckard,

Yes, I had a particular reason for focusing on the U.S. For the time being at least, the U.S. leads in the knowledge and technology management requisite to helping create and sustain a globally linked network of resources that can respond quickly and effectively to local economic and natural disasters.

Best,

Tom

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Eckard Blumschein replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 12:42 GMT
Tom,

The American way of consumption did indeed conquer the hearts of many people worldwide and caused the collapse of Soviet Union. I am however not sure whether this temptation will still suffice as to get control over religious conflicts like in Syria, nationalism like between Russia and Ukraine, and the seemingly harmless unlimited growth of population.

When I was a boy, I read a booklet that told me the main center of power and culture was shifting from Greece to Rome, to Eastern Rome, from Spain to France, etc. Maybe, China could get leading in future if mankind will be unable to install an international secular power. I am sure having Nobel correctly understood in that question.

Regards,

Eckard

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 14:03 GMT
Eckard, I think that an equitable distribution of resources, even with unequal consumption, will obviate 'leaders' entirely on the global level, and the need for them. The world is capable of self organizing around our common needs and desires, so long as we are willing to give up control of people, in favor of rational control of resources.

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 07:02 GMT
Hi Tom,

I enjoyed reading your essay. I particularity like the analogies of the fences with open gates and the knife being as important as the cake. You have set out a well argued vision for USA recovery.

I wonder whether climate change and falling oil production in the future will severely affect world trade because of the rising costs and difficulties of transport and logistics.Outsourcing manufacturing and importation of food and goods from all around the world has been cheap. It isn't sustainable though, it is wasting resources. It may be that local production and consumption become once more the most cost cost effective choice and more sustainable too. Then it would be more difficult to get a cut of the wealth by planning and distribution of other countries' 'cakes'. What do you think?

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 10:55 GMT
Thank you, Georgina. I agree in principle that local production/consumption is cost efficient. However, it leaves the locality vulnerable to economic instability (boom-bust), natural disasters and internal self-destructive feedback.

What I aim to describe is an effective, rather than efficient, global model -- where waste and redundancy are assets. That is, a continually shifting hub of redundant global economic activity is a self-similar, self-reinforcing network that dulls the effects of positive (i.e. out of control) feedback brought on by both internal and external challenges to global stability, while assisting local recovery when needed.

Such a robust network allows network nodes to act independently when they can and cooperatively when they must.

I have done no more than scan your essay -- though it looks delightful! I will comment when I can.

Best,

Tom

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Georgina Woodward replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 04:39 GMT
Tom,

I have been thinking about what you said about redundancy and waste being assets. Modern warehousing, logistics and distribution is set up to minimize redundancy and waste and to avoid unnecessary storage, in favour of "just in time" deliveries and dispatch. Large warehouses have automated computer run systems that "calculate" what has to be where and when and make it happen. The wisdom of our time being that there isn't money to be made on having a warehouse full of stuff going nowhere fast. Is that a problem for your system?

On the other hand I have heard discussion of the need to go back to old ways in hospitals. Trying to save money by cutting redundancy in the NHS has lead to not having enough beds when an epidemic or large tragedy happens.Patients having to sleep in corridors. It also doesn't allow for wards to be closed and thoroughly cleaned to avoid hospital acquired infections. If patient welfare and health is put above cost cutting then redundancy is indeed an asset.

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 09:02 GMT
Georgina, you're absolutely right. To sacrifice effectiveness for efficiency always leaves a gap of scarcity.

In wartime, we never worry about how efficient our supply systems are -- we go all out to get beans and bullets and medical care to the fighters. If we acted the same toward all peoples, as if they were on the front line of fighting for the survival and well being of our human species, we might well make war itself obsolete. We at least owe it to ourselves to try.

Best,

Tom

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Anonymous wrote on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 00:15 GMT
Tom,

One misses concrete examples. For instance the Lim quote ("Violence arises due to the structure of boundaries between groups rather than as a result of inherent conflicts between the groups themselves") sounds meaningful, it makes linguistic sense, but what happens if it's applied to, say, Israel-Palestine or Northern Ireland? What are the "structures of the boundaries" as differentiated from the "inherent conflicts between the groups themselves"? More specificity please.

The sideways idea is interesting. It has a warrant in the structure of societies in mid-evolution (say the feudal period in Western Europe ... distributed nodes were definitely the game). Studying the history trading routes is always fascinating. Why do societies become increasingly hierarchical and centralized? Actually, Marx had some thoughts about that. So does Pitteky more recently. It has a lot to do with initial conditions plus the fact that accumulation tends to accumulate accumulatively.

A TV show my wife and I watch (we even record it when we're not home) is "Down East Dickering" on the History Channel. I see it as a sideways model even though I'm not conned by the scripted quality of some of the narrative. Anyway you observe wealth being created and consumed on a very elemental level by imaginative exchange of goods and services by skilled and decent people who know what they're doing. It makes one proud to be a human being.

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Nick Mann replied on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 00:20 GMT
Actually it's Pikkety.

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Anonymous wrote on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 01:41 GMT
Nick, I agree about concrete examples. The Science article referenced has them -- I think it's available online without charge; if not, ping me and I'll shoot you a copy.

The portion of Lim et al quoted in my essay continues: "Violence arises due to the structure of boundaries between groups rather than as a result of inherent conflicts between the groups themselves. In this approach, diverse social and economic causal factors trigger violence when the spatial population structure creates a propensity to conflict, so that spatial heterogeneity itself is predictive of local violence. The local ethnic patch size serves as an 'order parameter,' a measure of the degree of order of collective behavior, to which other aspects of behavior are coupled. The importance of collective behavior implies that ethnic violence can be studied in the universal context of collective dynamics, where models can identify how individual and collective behavior are related."

So as one expects, the scholarly technical treatment to follow is pretty heavy sledding for an essay format.

Thanks for the historical example; it sounds like something I'd like to look into. Though I agree with Popper about "the poverty of historicism," which is the Marxist-Leninist weakness. I think that the sideways view of history permits self-similarity in historical patterns over time scales, though it denies historical causality, i.e. dialectical materialism. It also seems capable of being the foundation of a true science of history if my own favorite definition of 'science' is true: "All science is the search for unity in hidden likenesses." (J. Bronowski)

I'll also look up the TV show if I get a chance. Thanks for the kind words; I think a committed rationalist cannot but appreciate the harmony of life; local conflict dampened by local self determination.

Best,

Tom

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 12:03 GMT
I meant global conflict dampened by local self-determination.

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Author Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 01:44 GMT
I meant global conflict dampened by local self-determination.

(Damn, what's with these log-outs?)

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Nick Mann replied on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 19:51 GMT
Tom,

I found an article in WIRED that summarizes the New England Institute study specifically re: Switzerland.

CH isn't a good example to counterpose to Israel-Palestine and Northern Ireland. Ethnic conflict in those two locales carries a history of invasion in the Ulster case and an internationally-sanctioned ingathering (against the wishes of many indigines) in the other. In both...

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 20:39 GMT
Nick, even were I to agree that you have a counterexample in some particular node of a linked network, it wouldn't matter to the complex system (CX) model. You write:

"My real problem with the general systems and complexity theory approach to just about everything is that it tries to smooth away distinctions in the quest for common patterns. Everything becomes isomorphic."

Network self similarity is not identical to isomorphism. I think you underline here a common misunderstanding of the model -- the power in Bar-Yam's solution to the problem of bounded rationality is the feature I repeatedly quote: "In considering the requirements of multi-scale variety more generally, we can state that for a system to be effective, it must be able to coordinate the right number of components to serve each task, while allowing the independence of other sets of components to perform their respective tasks without binding the actions of one such set to another." That's lateral over hierarchical, cooperative over competitive, and the self similarity of connected maps is continuous at multiple scales of observation.

A self organized system is everywhere both self similar and self limiting. Point is, that network connections over multiple scales are locally time limited and globally continuous. So saying something about time limited local events (your examples) in isolation doesn't say anything about how the events are network-connected. I tried to get this across in my ICCS2007 PowerPoint.

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Anonymous replied on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 23:03 GMT
I understand that network systems are individually self-similar in approximately the same sense that a Mandelbrot pattern is self-similar and unlike others ... but still they're all Mandelbrot sets and there are meta-rules defining what those are and governing their emergence. (Sidebar: do you see merit in Tegmark's belief that the actual information content of the universe is minimal?)

Anyway, I'm judging here entirely by the results of the NECSI approach. I have the 2007 Science article now as well as the 2011 "Good Fences" piece from the ArXiv. My beef is that the authors take some extraordinarily complicated socio-cultural situations (in South Asia, Former Yugoslavia, Switzerland) with deep, complex, individual histories and evaluate them essentially in terms of physical, including topological, boundaries between communities (as described using a certain one-size-fits-all set of standards) and the presence or absence of local autonomy as they define local autonomy. As though geographical and political boundaries were the essential or only contributing factor to communal violence wherever it arises and if you can just manipulate those factors in an appropriate manner violence will diminish. I just feel something's missing.

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 16:38 GMT
Tom,

Hierarchical certainly has not worked through the ages. Many models of the future do point to decentralization, but these are doomsday -- more primitive without trade and networking.

Capitalism seems to give lip-service to individualism but the model tends to work toward subjugation of the individual for the purpose of control and profit. The self-interest at the top and its control of government oppresses all else. Certainly your reference to 85 controlling half the world's wealth indications the distortions of the current systems - I cite the same example.

Your model seems to bring light and breath into the levels where genius and self-determination can flourish. The problem is that current power structures won't melt to allow this transition.

Jim

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Nick Mann replied on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 17:26 GMT
"Capitalism seems to give lip-service to individualism but the model tends to work toward subjugation of the individual for the purpose of control and profit. The self-interest at the top and its control of government oppresses all else. Certainly your reference to 85 controlling half the world's wealth indications the distortions of the current systems - I cite the same example."

We need to distinguish between capitalism as a system of regulated entrepreneurialism (the social democratic model) and capitalism as a system that permits accelerating accumulation of individual wealth resulting in increased inequality and denial of opportunity. The latter is political and social, the former economic. Command economies didn't work and not simply because many of the people in charge weren't too bright. A lot of them were pretty bright (look at Gorbachev). Those economies didn't work because stuff was manufactured that people didn't want to buy and there was no feedback system to explain this to the apparatchiki.

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 19:59 GMT
Jim, I'll have to agree with Nick on the distinction between capitalist idealism (Adam Smith, John Locke, et al) and political reality. The Nazis couldn't have gotten as far as they did without the cooperation and participation of capitalist "royalty." The whole Nazi blood-and-iron philosophy is driven by feudal ideals. (Indeed, oligarchs of our own generation harbor the same beliefs.)

I also agree with Nick on the dynamics of the self-defeating Soviet system. Hierarchies eventually fall of their own weight.

And I most heartily agree with you, that the least element of any system (in the system of human societies, an individual) is the most creative asset, given sufficient variety of resources. That is the theme of my essay.

Best,

Tom

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James Lee Hoover replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 03:29 GMT
Nick made good points but I disagrre with some. "We need to distinguish between capitalism as a system of regulated entrepreneurialism (the social democratic model) and capitalism as a system that permits accelerating accumulation of individual wealth resulting in increased inequality and denial of opportunity. The latter is political and social, the former economic. Command economies"

I disagree with Nick regarding the social democratic model being "economic". Both, I believe are social and political in operation but perhaps economic in intent. Regulation is obviously vital for shared opportunity but for the US seems to be confined to the period after WWII, cut short by a resurgence of conservative forces which with relentless focus took control of government, media, and the economy. Most other periods of our history have seen capitalism mostly unrestrained.

Certainly the individual is the most creative asset, especially in contrast to the exploitive sterility of those in control: the financial sector is especially sterile and executive leadership (CEOs) obscenely rewarded due to power over boards not productivity.

The implementation of your system, Tom, will be a herculean task.

Jim

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Anonymous wrote on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 16:50 GMT
"Nick, the Mandelbrot construction is a set. A complex network is a system of independent sets."

The point is, in relation to self-similarity, that the slightest alteration of the set's algorithm changes everything. In the case of a network the disappearance of one component set alters the interaction of the remaining component sets and the network's configuration. The question then becomes one of how this global change is expressed in terms of the individual component sets. How much separate freedom do they possess? And if that varies between them, why and how? And to what extent is this approach relevant to human affairs?

Remember Ned Block and the China Brain. Ought to be required reading in all systems theory classes.

Re: Tegmark. The question is of interest only if universes are algorithms because AIT is the context in which he frames the issue. The belief that they are is a belief. It's interesting that Tegmark is a quasi-acolyte of Chaitin's while still believing in the possibility of a ToE, which of course official Chaitinism says just ain't gonna happen.

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Nick Mann replied on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 16:54 GMT
I am not anonymous.

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 19:45 GMT
"The point is, in relation to self-similarity, that the slightest alteration of the set's algorithm changes everything."

That's why multiscale complex systems of sufficient variety are robust, and self similar algorithmic sets (Mandelbrot, Julia, Koch, Sierpinski, etc.) aren't.

The difference is the same as that between linearly dependent mathematics and nonlinearly independent...

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Ross Cevenst wrote on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 11:51 GMT
Hi Thomas,

Thanks for writing this essay. Your ideas are interesting and writing is very good, but like others have commented the essay takes a while to get going. In particular I felt like the first four pages at least were essentially a political manifesto which is not a bad thing, but felt a tiny bit out of place for me (I realise it gave context to your ideas). Of course 'steering' is a partly political task (my entry has a tiny bit of politics here and there) but I would have loved the 'future' part to be a larger part of the essay. None-the-less thanks for your essay and your creative ideas!

Ross

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 12:46 GMT
Thanks, Ross. I was not unaware of what I was doing in setting up the problem. I struggled with whether I should do it at all, and how strongly it should come across.

It isn't usual for me to put my beliefs before the science. To the extent that my beliefs don't conflict with the science, however, I'm glad I got it off my chest, and hope that readers can appreciate the scientific solution.

Best,

Tom

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Ross Cevenst replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 12:07 GMT
Thanks heaps for the comment on my essay Tom. Don't forget to rate it if you get the chance. Good luck!

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 02:14 GMT
Tom

Your essay is wide in scope and creative in its proposals. It reflects your justified pride and concern with what I like to think of as the good side of the global phenomena that comprised the American Century. You propose your country somehow steer the world into an ideal future. Alas your love of country may have blinded you to the 'bad side': the amount of havoc US policies and...

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Anonymous replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 12:00 GMT
Thank you, Vladimir. No question, I love my country -- I am an idealist, though, and not of the "my country, right or wrong" stripe. I spent so much time in the essay setting up the American ideal -- which admittedly the population and the government have never done a great job of fulfilling -- to make the point that a government of "laws, not men" is the only rational way to assure fairness and...

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 12:01 GMT
Irritating. 'twas I.

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 02:02 GMT
Thank you Tom

I am relieved that you took my remarks as well as you could, although you may not have agreed with everything. I grew up in Palestine in the 1940's till the 1960's when all my generation simply loved Americans for their enthusiasm, creativity and cheerful pop culture, and we still do. This was tainted of course by knowing the role of the US government in the creation of Israel and hence the dispossession of the Palestinians. After the 1967 war US policy vetoed every single UN resolution that the rest of the nations of the world approved of, that were meant as a way to support a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict.

The Palestinians had no role whatsoever in what the Jews suffered in Europe, but we had to pay the price. What makes it worse is that the victim has now become the persecutor. I myself cannot return to my homeland and Jerusalem, the city of my birth, while any Jew anywhere, even one who had converted yesterday has the 'Right of Ruturn' backed by US policy and military nuclear might shared between the US and Israel. This is not the place to go into detail to answer each of the points you raised about Arabs and Jews. Too many complicated interlocking facts have to be separated from the overwhelming Zionist-dominated propaganda in the mass media that has made the situation difficult to discuss. Watch some videos of MIT's Naom Chomsky (who is Jewish) explaining the conflict on YouTube.

Anyway we have vented our feelings on the subject and hope to continue our friendly discussions on physics.

With best wishes

Vladimir

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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 02:37 GMT
Tom, let me add this thought about complexity and the Israel-Palestine problem:

Before Zionism took hold, there was an indigenous Palestinian Arab Jewish community living with the Arab Muslim and Christian population, and particularly in Jerusalem. The name " Jewish Quarter" in the Old City testifies to that. The Jews of those days spoke Arabic and rubbed shoulders with Christian and Muslim Arab Palestinians. Within the crowded souks of the walled city what I like to think of a peaceful rich social ecosystem developed. There was a dense network of social, economic interaction but not perhaps religious, as each group had their own revered place of worship. There was occasional conflict as would happen in any crowded community, but none of the outright hostility that came later with mono-polar Zionism (their slogan was "A people without a land for a land without a people [sic]" .) The Judaisation of Jerusalem either by forced expulsion, destruction of whole Arab neighbourhoods, or more quietly by laws and other measures designed to make the Palestinian Arabs leave - and which have succeeded to a large measure. So much for the complexity that your Israeli co-author Bar-Yam seems to advocate.

Please pardon the bitter note here and make an effort to learn the facts about Palestine, rather than rely on what Zionist propaganda has so successfully spoon-fed the American people. Einstein's disgust with Zionist terrorism, and his advocating equal rights in Palestine for the Arabs and Jewish communities is one of the reasons why I wrote my essay around Einstein's happy persona.

Best wishes,

Vladimir

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Anonymous replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 10:31 GMT
Vladimir, I expect that we have the same feelings about discussing this issue, somewhere between leaving it alone and letting it all out.

Einstein was a secularist. The founders of modern Israel were secularists. The majority of Israelis are secularists.

Can a modern secular and democratic state survive without conflict, surrounded by countries ruled by 14th century religious...

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 10:33 GMT
I really don't understand this log-in problem.

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James Dunn wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 10:52 GMT
Hi Vladimir,

quote: In a world threatened by its own head-on clashes

of self-destructive tendencies, lateral distribution

of communications technology and resources – a

globally linked supply chain controlled by high

tech information systems in a robust network –

helps dampen inequality and maximally

enfranchise individuals for an exponential

growth in creativity and wealth generation.

Sideways is the only rational trajectory.

We currently have such a system related to fossil fuels. Coalitions create wars in countries with oil, to steal their natural resources. The people of Iraq get effectively nothing from the export of their resources. This is repeated over and over.

Without systems of broad ethical consideration being built into a global logistics system, a few will benefit while the majority will suffer.

For any major decision, the masses must have sufficient time to reflect upon the broad complexities of ethical consideration before being approved by the masses for implementation. Additionally, the masses need education related to assess broad ethical consideration.

Potentially all corruption can be largely eliminated. Basically, state elected doctors of science and philosophy guided by their state's constitution, helps build the NSA monitoring and analysis systems and manages how the information collected is used.

eliminate-all-corruption.pbworks.com

Imagine the tremendous resources that would be used to take control of a centralized global logistics system. Thousands of people selected to support corrupting influence.

To make your proposal practical and ethical requires a method of eliminating corruption.

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 21:24 GMT
I'm not Vladimir, though that's a nice Freudian twist. :-)

Yes, I agree with your point that corruption must be obviated to the greatest possible extent, for any cooperative system to work. I think the essay's proposal is quite practical, though, for minimizing the role of the "masses" in favor of maximal individual decision-making and self determination locally, to stabilize distribution of resources globally. I find great power in Bar-Yam's result:

"In considering the requirements of multi-scale variety more generally, we can state that for a system to be effective, it must be able to coordinate the right number of components to serve each task, while allowing the independence of other sets of components to perform their respective tasks without binding the actions of one such set to another."

The motivation for corruption is blunted by interlocking checks, in such a system. The knife-cake analogy I use is designed to assure the independence of necessary and irreducible elements of cooperation. One element is useless without the other. This principle applies to every scale of activity.

All best,

Tom

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Don J Chisholm wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 19:43 GMT
Hello Thomas

I’ve just started reading some of the interesting essays, and I quite enjoyed reading yours. I suppose that’s because many of the basic assumptions appear to be in the same ballpark as those that underlay my essay # 2078.

You state: “Bar-Yam introduced multi-scale variety, the idea that independent subsystems allowed to organize around task coordination at different times on different scales, makes the larger system effective.” Yes, or the synergy that makes the sum of the parts much greater than the whole. I suggest, however, that the existing growth drive corporate capitalism cannot be fixed, and we need a significant system reboot with new and clear definition of wealth to be used as an integral regulatory control medium of the dynamic system. Perhaps sideways with a down slope will be needed for a few years after our century of exponential growth.

I wish you well in the contest.

Don Chisholm

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 21:41 GMT
Thanks, Don. I'll certainly get to your essay when I can.

I was hoping to make clear that "wealth" should not be measured in the accumulation of commodities; rather, it should be measured in the variety of resources produced and distributed in a robust network of redundant nodes with shifting hubs of economic activity, which helps close gaps of scarcity, and ensures a continuous trajectory toward equilibrium.

The right wing of the conservative movement in the U.S. has adopted the catchphrase "job creators" to characterize employers. The focus of a net-centric economy is on "wealth creators." That is the essential difference between a system that aims to control people, and one that aims for cooperative control of resources, in which individuals are maximally enfranchised to create, contribute and participate on their own terms.

Best,

Tom

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on May. 2, 2014 @ 10:40 GMT
Dear Tom I do not see how Russian pogroms and European anti-Semitism last century (the alleged "Protocols") justify what Israelis are doing in Palestine today. I agree we should stop here - it is not fair to those readers not interested in the details of this particular conflict. Humanity has to learn to steer the future through the quagmire of such conflicts, but we all must make an effort to understand the other side's views and positions.

Best wishes

Vladimir

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 2, 2014 @ 12:34 GMT
This is the end of this dialogue for me. Just to be clear, though, the reference was not meant to address pogroms in Europe, it was directed toward the persistent hateful propaganda meant to de-legitimize the Jewish people with mythical bullshit. I know you made these uninformed remarks innocently, so I let it go once.

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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on May. 5, 2014 @ 03:56 GMT
It is a difficult subject to discuss, and I think we have both made our positions clear, so as Popeye says 'enufk is enufk!".

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Joe Fisher wrote on May. 2, 2014 @ 16:02 GMT
Dear Mr. Ray

Your essay was very interesting to read and I do hope that it does well in the competition.

Regards,

Joe Fisher

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 3, 2014 @ 16:38 GMT
Thanks, Joe!

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on May. 3, 2014 @ 23:19 GMT
Dear Tom,

Your essay is one of the few entries other than mine which has a political component, and like mine, it will probably thereby repel some readers. However, you also introduced a number of interesting concepts from complex systems theory. I agree that research in this area can only help us understand better how to steer the future as a society.

I liked the analogy with the cake and the knife, although I must admit it escaped me how the transition of the US to a service economy can be seen in terms of this metaphor as a transition from owning the cake to the control over the knife. Surely the US cannot be regarded as a "monolith", and if one considers individual service providers, is it not the case that one can find alternatives, particularly in Canada and Europe?

Also, I think the case if the 85 richest people voluntarily gave up part of their wealth they would end up in some sense "wealthier" is probably not going to convince them. Perhaps a bit more detail about how this could be implemented would have helped.

I am thinking in particular in terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It seems that once one has reached the wealth level that one can get anything that money can buy, if there is still somewhere a "hole" that needs to be filled, then trying to fill it by acquiring ever more "stuff" is probably futile. It would seem more likely that the highest level of actualization could be achieved by looking into concrete ways how one can take on responsibility for (and thereby *claim ownership* of) aspects of making the world a better place. I wonder how many of the super-rich elite think about these things in that way, but I suspect not a large fraction. Bill Gates seems like a person who has given this thought and acted accordingly.

In any event, your essay is very eloquently written and makes some thought-provoking points.

All the best,

Armin

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Anonymous replied on May. 4, 2014 @ 11:08 GMT
Armin, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.

The reference to the 85 getting richer is actually a warning not to "eat the seed corn." The world economy has gotten to be a 2-tier system wherein a small group of the rich trade among themselves, which shrinks the capital resources of the poor and middle class. This is bad for everyone, including the rich, because they are treating capital as a commodity; the free market has become a worldwide case of insider trading, dependent on inflation to succeed and dependent on recession to sustain that success. It's a self-destructive loop, though, when recession becomes depression, the system crashes and everyone loses.

Another negative outcome of this dynamic is that it forces the wealthy to shift from controlling resources to controlling people -- we have created opportunity for the Rupert Murdochs and the Koch brothers of the world to openly subvert the democratic process (and it is getting even worse in the U.S., with a stream of partisan Supreme Court decisions in the last 15 years), because they have no more economic opportunity. Their success is not measured in good roads, safe buildings and clean water; it is measured in the extent to which they can influence social policy. This is a step backward to the robber barons of a century ago.

The cake-knife metaphor is meant to underscore the difference between control of people and control of resources. If the former is relinquished, the latter has a chance to flourish -- and the lateral integration of communication with laterally distributed physical resources has the best chance to make it possible, in my opinion.

Best,

Tom

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Charles Gregory St Pierre wrote on May. 6, 2014 @ 04:58 GMT
Dear Thomas,

Thank you for your essay.

You wrote: "Modern capitalism has learned how to use political cover to protect itself against Marx’s prediction of over-production and under-consumption, by hedging losses and collecting rewards on economic downturns as well as on gains. " That is nicely put. However, the end game is yet to be played.

There seems to be a natural...

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Anonymous replied on May. 6, 2014 @ 11:06 GMT
Charles, you made my day! A writer's greatest reward is a reader's understanding, and your spot on comments are music to my ears.

Yes, there is no incentive for "job creators" to be "wealth producers." They live in a world apart. It is just this insulation (and isolation) by the law of unintended consequences that compels their attention away from the control of resources to the control of people. The Lilliput metaphor is apt; he who seeks to control will be controlled.

On the other hand, well managed philanthropy and investment in capital development multiplies the potential to distribute control of resources, and in fact promises to increase individual accumulation and enjoyment of resources without depriving others of the same freedom. The potential for cooperation is a function of individual ability to act independently.

I agree that Georgina's prediction is very plausible. I am more optimistic. Instead of wealthy isolated communities (like latter day Rome, with gated garrisons to protect against barbarian invasions) -- I see lateral integration of resource access and communication as an 'invisible fence' that cannot be breached by force, and with a guarantee that there is no rational reason to try.

Best,

Tom

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Gbenga Michael Ogungbuyi wrote on May. 6, 2014 @ 23:33 GMT
Dear Thomas,

The first comment is to rate you 10-highest rating for making your article "really scientific" It is entirely new I idea I will comment. I

I also found your "maintain global economic equilibrium" model nice. I discussed quite a lot about global equilibrium which I will want you to read. You will find additional insights in how to keep the equilibrium balance. Because of enormous entries, you can easily access my article here http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/2020 STRIKING A BALANCE BETWEEN TECHNOLOGY AND ECOSYSTEM

Your comment and rating are anticipated

Wishing you an astonishing reward in this competition.

Regards

Gbenga

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 7, 2014 @ 04:44 GMT
Thanks, Gbenga!

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on May. 9, 2014 @ 06:08 GMT
Tom,

I enjoyed reading your essay. It is well written, well thought well documented and actual. About your question

"What would persuade a money farm collective of 85 megabillionaires to turn over all their capital to the rest of the world - voluntarily, because it would serve their own best interests and make them richer?"

I understand it to be rhetorical, because how can they be convinced they will be richer by turning over all their capital? Wouldn't they become as poor as any other guy in the world? However, despite his immense donations, Bill Gates is again the richest man in the world. But obviously not because he donated that much. And clearly Bill Gates doesn't donate to be the richest man. He and others (like those sponsoring this contest and funding FQXi) donate to help as much as possible. So, I think that rich people will help others if they will find a higher value in helping others rather than having much more than they can care. But we live in a world which values more being rich, than saving lives and helping. Moreover, we are thought that the best way to help others is not by donations, but by selling them products and services, and by teaching them to do the same. And most of the products/services which are sold are bubbles. Money is very expensive, but a thought can cost nothing, and yet be invaluable. If half of those 85 will have the thought that they should help others as much as they can, they will do it happily.

Best regards,

Cristi

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 9, 2014 @ 09:53 GMT
Thank you, Cristi. The question about the 85 was not entirely rhetorical:

You write, "... how can they be convinced they will be richer by turning over all their capital? Wouldn't they become as poor as any other guy in the world?"

Because they are not donating -- they are investing -- the capital generates proportionately more resources for them as for those using the investment. That the uber rich are a socialist collective growing money instead of spinach is straight from Marx's prediction of overproduction/underconsumption; ultimately when they have starved the world of capital, they will have starved themselves as well. No one has need of money in a starving world -- as Ghandi put it, to the poor, "God dare not appear in any other form than bread."

The key idea here is to replace the control of people in a hierarchical society, with rational use and control of the greatest variety of laterally distributed resources. That's not socialism -- collectivization is socialism. Capitalist collectives are no more productive than peasant collectives, in the long run.

Hierarchical rule is not rational. Investing in, growing and sharing the diversity of the world's resources, is.

All best,

Tom

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on May. 12, 2014 @ 10:00 GMT
Tom,

It isn't often we agree, but since we do and you have given me so much to bounce off of over the years, I thought I'd give you a bump. The only thing I ask in return is that in some future argument, you step back a few moments and try to see my logic before responding.

Regards,

John

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on May. 12, 2014 @ 22:40 GMT
Tom,

I appreciate your comments on my essay and I'm happy to see that your introduction notes both the fundamental failure of Marxism and the fundamental genius of the U.S. Constitution. Your first few pages review current problems and we're much in agreement there. And I agree that prosperous middle-class societies tend to be more ideal in their behaviors than the extremes. How to develop such appears to be the problem.

I found your section "sharing resources without redistribution" to contain interesting ideas such as: unless one can exchange what one values for what one values more, it isn't wealth. And your observation of wealth distribution as analogous to heat dissipation toward equilibrium. Also like your definition of states rights--and your hope/design in which "down to the least element-the individual-can be effective without sacrificing self-determination to a hierarchical order." And the incredibly lop-sided distribution ("the 85") needs a solution that doesn't turn everything upside down. If your 'sideways' offers a solution, I missed it.

I liked your discussion of Bar-Yam and scaffolding, as an attempt to answer the problem: "how can one help when help creates dependency?" His "multi-scale variety" as opposed to monolithic totalitarian "equality" seems to support the 50 states as experimental laboratories, with your definition of states rights.

And without quoting your bottom line, I do tend to agree with it. And with your comment to Vladimir above about "a government of laws, not men" as being the only possible basis for hope of any solution to our problems.

Thanks again for reading my essay and for writing yours.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Anonymous replied on May. 14, 2014 @ 15:41 GMT
Thanks, Edwin. This topic, while not completely tractable to hard science, is probably the most profound -- or at least, timely -- that FQXi has suggested so far.

To try and answer -- " ... the incredibly lop-sided distribution ('the 85') needs a solution that doesn't turn everything upside down. If your 'sideways' offers a solution, I missed it."

What does it mean for a person to...

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KoGuan Leo wrote on May. 15, 2014 @ 16:27 GMT
Dear Tom,

Thanks for your kind comment for my essay. We share the same idea that not only a free-lunch system is possible but it is mandatory. I pointed out in my essay that the no-free-lunch system is based on the false myth that the no free lunch system is the eternal truth. This is false! We can have a free-lunch system powered by KQID free-lunch engine. I agreed your argument here: "Point is, the metastability of the system over time suggests that a continually shifting range of activity represented by changing hub configurations is self limiting; as a result, the global domain is largely protected from the danger of positive feedback – i.e., a loss of system control and potential widespread self- reinforcing destruction. In the history of the world wars, one can identify such unchecked feedback of escalating hostilities. Even in the present world, one can make a good argument that the specter of damaging positive feedback, festering in individual areas of the world – among failed governments, local armed resistance to despotic regimes, piracy, organized crime and racketeering, human trafficking – is tinder for a future conflagration."

Let us fight together to debunk this false myth. I rated your original unique essay a full ten (10) that it deserves.

I wish you well always,

Leo KoGuan

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 15, 2014 @ 18:53 GMT
Thank you so much, Leo. My confidence grows daily that we can guide the future toward the peace and prosperity we were meant to enjoy as human beings, free and equal.

All best,

Tom

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Anonymous wrote on May. 15, 2014 @ 19:20 GMT
Dear Tom.

I totally and completely enjoyed reading your writing. Thank you for making me think. You've motivated me to read some of Bar-Yam's work. Any works, in addition to your references?

Having read your essay twice, this is what I understand as the meaning of "Sideways" : As things stand, science plays only a minor role in 'steering' while the major role is with the hands/minds doing the 'steering'; These hands/minds are well-meaning but so very deficient that today all we should do is ask a different question: How do we arrange to use science for good?" Am I half-way there?

At the risk of shooting myself in the foot, I'd like to invite you to comment on my essay (here). I come from much the same thinking as I see you express but I think I've come up with a way for "the least element - the individual - can be effective". Please let me know what you think of my way.

I can't find the words to express how much the following kinds of statements/quotes mean to me:

- "right of people to self-determination"

- "Peaceful coexistence need not require complete integration"

- "control of the knife is equal to owning the cake"

- "how can one help when help creates dependency?"

If you will allow me to suggest just one phrase, you might consider adding to a future version of your essay. it is: 'History is written by the victor"

-- Ajay

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Ajay Bhatla replied on May. 15, 2014 @ 19:22 GMT
The logout issue again! The above comment is from me.

-- Ajay

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 16, 2014 @ 13:35 GMT
Thank you kindly, Ajay.

Yaneer Bar-Yam is Professor and President of the New England Complex System Institute. You should be able to find all the information you want, at the site.

"How do we arrange to use science for good?" I think is more than halfway there. Further, I think the question is how we manage to effectively cooperate, with our individual talents, in using the objective method of science to create a more fulfilling life for us all.

I know that "History is written by the victor(s)" is a popular saying. However, I don't accept that history is ever completed. The goal is to help ensure a continuous state of cooperation that obviates the need for victors. In that way, we all win.

Best,

Tom

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Ajay Bhatla replied on May. 19, 2014 @ 16:47 GMT
Tom,

Thank you for making me aware of the Institute. I will check it out.

Your point with individual talents is right on. Free to figure out how to make the something in their head (the true purpose in play) real using individual innate talents is the remedy I propose.

Your point "history is (n)ever completed" is right on.

-- Ajay

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Judy Nabb wrote on May. 17, 2014 @ 21:22 GMT
Tom,

I found that a certainly well intentioned essay, or perhaps two thirds of an essay with a valid argument from a particular perspective. My view is the result of being born in Sri-Lanka, raised in the region, spending time in Australia and (both) the Americas and being involved in universities in various countries in Europe. That my father was a churchman and missionary (as well as (mathematician) help explain.

Two things then jump out at me. First how close the models and ideals are to those ostensibly underlying the British Commonwealth, which encompassed the largest ever empire (on which the sun proverbially never set) which was born, as all are, of rather less altruism. Equality of resource, education and tangible goods and 'gates' in well defined fences were founding principles.

The commonwealth still exists in residue. It's interesting to see how it evolved, and how individualism often overcame reliance on others. With reliance comes subjugation. Now even many in Scotland seek 'independence'.

The second strong impression was of parochialism in your view, even an underlying arrogance born of a limited viewpoint. Your conversation with Vladimir also exposed that. Have you spent any time outside the USA Tom?

I won't mark any essay down on such grounds, but I think you should remember the subject it about mankind not Americans. The USA was originally a small part of the aforementioned empire. Many nations have waxed and waned in influence and wealth, many have made the mistake of arrogance. I hope that won't continue, and perhaps it will be mankind's greatest step when we can all see beyond that. I'm concerned about my own field, and argue that major advancement in the way we think may have the greater and longer effect.

I found yours a rather difficult read. Perhaps not all exceptional but with enough value, good intent and interest to warrant a good score.

I wish you luck in the judging.

Judy

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 17, 2014 @ 23:48 GMT
Judy, I'm afraid your comments reveal more about your own parochialism and provincialism than mine. Yes, in fact I have spent a great deal of my life outside the USA both as a resident and business traveler.

You can't have read my essay with any care, and concluded that it is about America.

I will try and read your essay -- and I wish you well also -- even though the word "eugenics" hits the same button with me as "ethnic cleasing."

Best,

Tom

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Judy Nabb replied on May. 18, 2014 @ 23:46 GMT
Tom,

I feared that may be your response. You wrote off Vladimirs valid viewpoint in the same way. I recognise the same arrogance the British had in the early days of empire I'm sure the Romans were the same and more 'home centred' than the British. We seem condemned to repeat the errors of the past purely by lack of self awareness.

I agree there's nothing wrong with your raising that proposition, but am pointing out there are important lessons which can be learned from the past. Is it a little arrogance or just poor research that condemns us to re-learn them?

Thanks for your comment on mine which I've responded to. You again seem to think mistakenly that I'm supporting eugenics. I flag up the issues and problems because they are NOT addressed, as was your tendency, but must be.

Judy

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Anonymous replied on May. 19, 2014 @ 04:16 GMT
Judy, we disagree on who owns the arrogance. Appeals to historicism always disregard that there are a multitude of trajectories from past initial conditions that could have led to the present condition. To choose one as the 'true' cause is the pinnacle of arrogance, in my opinion.

Were self determination guaranteed, we would know -- as Ajay implied -- that history need not be written by...

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Member Marc Séguin wrote on May. 20, 2014 @ 02:09 GMT
Thomas,

I agree with you that small, local and redundant systems, linked laterally in a robust global network, are the way to go if we want to successfully steer the future of humanity. For this idea to work, we will need the citizens of the world to be knowledgeable about the issues that are the most important for the future, so I see a natural synergy between what you propose and my call for a worldwide Futurocentric Education Initiative. Sideways we shall succeed!

I have now rated your essay. Good luck in the contest!

Marc

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 20, 2014 @ 10:02 GMT
Thanks, Marc! It's encouraging to see so many of us on the same page. The future is looking closer and brighter all the time.

Best,

Tom

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Peter Jackson wrote on May. 20, 2014 @ 15:26 GMT
Tom,

I applaud your application of lateral thinking to complex system interactions. I confess I was struggling to find rating credits up to page 4 but then the coherent and valid theme emerged. It did seem an interesting new take in redistribution of 'wealth' (as a wealth of resources is none the less wealth) You considered the dependency issue, though I'm not entirely convinced there's an...

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 20, 2014 @ 16:45 GMT
Peter,

Is this forum about you, or about the subject of my essay?

Best,

Tom

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Peter Jackson replied on May. 24, 2014 @ 15:22 GMT
Tom,

Are some subjects taboo to you? I think honesty requires none in science should be.

Peter

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 24, 2014 @ 15:50 GMT
Peter, I am compelled to repeat: Is this forum about you, or about the subject of my essay?

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Don Limuti wrote on May. 20, 2014 @ 20:53 GMT
Hi Ray,

I think very highly of your entry. Complex systems analysis is very important for understanding economics, our intuition is inadequate or perhaps has been jaded by too much emotional history.

I do wish you could have made a presentation to that would have made your insights "visualizable", so that it could register with the majority of us.

I got just enough insight to have started a study of Bar-Yam. I have tried to give you 20 points...is that ethical?

Don Limuti

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 21, 2014 @ 12:00 GMT
Thanks, Don! As they say, vote early and vote often. :-)

I agree, the subject is made more comprehensible with visuals. The approach I took is too broad to accommodate the rich supply of graphic images that are in my primary references -- Lim et al's Science article, Strogatz's Sync, and others. One great source of visual drama that I didn't reference is James Gleick's classic, Chaos, the Making of a New Science. The new edition of the book includes a mention of Bar-Yam and The New England Complex Systems Institute. The NECSI site I referenced earlier in this forum is probably the best place to satisfy your visual cravings.

I'll hop over to your essay site and comment.

All best,

Tom

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Robert de Neufville wrote on May. 21, 2014 @ 02:56 GMT
Tom, there are a lot of interesting ideas to discuss in your essay. It's great to see someone approach this question by considering human civilization as a complex adaptive system. The institutional structure of society goes a long way to determining how productive, equitable, and resilient we are. As you say in your comment on my essay, our diversity is a strength. We have to take full advantage of that diversity.

What I didn't quite get from your essay—perhaps because I simply failed to understand—is what specific reforms you would make. I am still not quite sure what exactly it would mean to distribute communications technology and resources laterally or what exactly a globally-linked supply chain controlled by high tech information systems in a robust network would look like. It became more clear in the last few paragraphs, but still I wanted more.

In any case, I hope your essay does well, Tom. Best of luck in the contest!

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 21, 2014 @ 11:21 GMT
Thanks, Robert. As you know, I also have high regard for your entry, and I do hope it gets the attention it deserves.

What I mean by "a globally-linked supply chain controlled by high tech information systems in a robust network" is basically a logistics network with high redundancy -- meaning that trading partners are all equally protected against economic, social and natural disasters. If one hub fails, the others quickly help fill the gap and give it time to recover; the net result is to help ensure a continuous trajectory toward global economic equilibrium, i.e., to keep the system out of equilibrium just to the degree that local prosperity contributes to the health of the network and doesn't make the whole body ill by creating a positive (out of control) feedback loop of negative global consequences.

All best,

Tom

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Robert de Neufville replied on May. 21, 2014 @ 20:35 GMT
Thanks for the explanation, Tom (and for the support!). I think I understand better now. I guess my next question is, who ensures that the supply chain is globally-linked in this way? Does this emerge from the choices of private actors under some system of regulation? Or do governments mandate the structure of the network centrally? Or is the network made redundant and robust in some other way?

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 22, 2014 @ 18:05 GMT
Strange thing, Robert. I replied to your excellent questions last night, and the reply appeared to post. Then next thing I knew, the browser (on all my internet devices) could not find the FQXi site, even though no other site was affected, and I've only been able to get back on just now. Anyway, I'll try and reconstruct:

I think it doesn't matter whether private or government interests manage the local supply chain. And local government regulation shouldn't be necessary, because of global feedback to the system, that make it self regulating. The keys are redundancy, inventory transparency, and coordination of transportation resources to transfer goods. An entity can be disconnected from the network for failure to cooperate, but that wouldn't be of any benefit to the non-cooperating node, nor catastrophically harmful to the remaining network members. Redundancy fills the gaps, whether a member drops out, or when needed to manage natural disasters or other economically damaging events. The risk is spread equitably, and the system should have the effect as well, of helping equalize the labor market to prevent unfair competition.

Once the supply chain at every node is filled to redundancy with essentials, the network members can concentrate on creating new goods to trade, generating more wealth, more creativity in perpetuity.

All best,

Tom

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Douglas Alexander Singleton wrote on May. 22, 2014 @ 23:57 GMT
Hi Tom,

Outstanding essay! And I have not slowly read the entire thing (I usually scan and then go back for a more through read). But from my brief scan this is a great essay. Also it nicely touches on an important issue that I did not touch on in my essay but about which I have strong opinions -- this is the issue of loop sided wealth distribution. Actually I knew the distribution was bad...

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Anonymous replied on May. 23, 2014 @ 03:49 GMT
Wow, thanks, Doug. I was not even aware that there are banned TED talks. It is demonstrably true, though, that trickle down economics is a myth, and that 'job creators' is simply another term for the philosophy supporting master-slave relationships. Plenty of jobs in the field, for plantation owners to fill.

I agree there are substantial political barriers to overcome, worldwide, before individuals can effectively self-organize a robust supply and communication network that renders politics incapable of controlling individual destinies, and social policy is a rationally cooperative endeavor rather than coercion.

That is why I emphasize education and mobility as human entitlements. I don't think we can succeed without personal commitment to maximum individual freedom.

All best,

Tom

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 23, 2014 @ 11:50 GMT
Well, I watched Nick Hanauer's 5 minute talk ... this was banned? I suppose my essay would be banned as well -- he said everything I meant to say, and much more eloquently than I. Nick Hanauer, spread the word.

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 23, 2014 @ 12:07 GMT
Here's the problem with getting the word out, in a nutshell. Paid propaganda from talking heads who haven't any background or knowledge in economics or science, shouting down those who do. It's due to change, very soon.

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Mohammed M. Khalil wrote on May. 23, 2014 @ 18:37 GMT
Hi Tom,

Great essay! It is well argued and filled with interesting facts and connections. I agree with most of what you wrote, and I specially liked the section "The science of keeping the gates open".

Good luck in the contest,

Mohammed

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Israel Perez wrote on May. 26, 2014 @ 22:04 GMT
Dear Thomas

Just to let you know that I read your interesting essay. I think it is well thought and written. I can see that we share some points in common, specially your view on the wealthiest and the basic needs of humanity. I foresee war and economic collapse in the following two or three decades. This will depend on China's ambitions and goals. After this, the USA may lose global power and nationalism will revive. This is quite evident, the USA hasn't been able to administer wealthiness and democracy is not longer the ideal it used to be.

Thanks for reading my essay and leaving some comments, I appreciate it.

Good luck in the contest!

Best Regards

Israel

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 26, 2014 @ 22:17 GMT
Israel,

I admit your prediction is a bleak possibility, though I believe that we will yet regain our sanity and change the trajectory.

Best,

Tom

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Christian Corda wrote on May. 27, 2014 @ 09:26 GMT
Hi Tom,

As I told you in my FQXi page, I have read your interesting and peculiar Essay. Here are my comments:

1) Concerning Lysenkoism, my research field, i.e. astrophysics and gravitational physics, was more lucky in Soviet science than evolutionary biology because of the existence of the famous research group of Yakov B. Zel'dovich.

2) I did not know Eninstein's definition of "insanity". It is enlightening.

3) I think that your statement "Democracy is clearly losing the battle for freedom of education" is one of the biggest problems of the whole world today and the issue that 85 individuals out of seven billion people own and control as much wealth as fully half of the total world population is, partially, a consequence of that statement.

4) I hope that the conclusion by Lim et al. that "Peaceful coexistence need not require complete integration" will be correct as, sadly, I do not think a real complete integration to be possible in our society.

5) Although I am not an economist, I appreciate your explaining of the early 21st century's economic problems.

6) I did not know "mathematical biology" by G. Chaitin, but I surely endorse the idea that the power to understand our physical world can be increased through abstract modelling. This is consistent with my preferred Einstein's aphorism that "Imagination is more important than knowledge" and it is also the main reason because I work on theoretical physics.

In any case, you wrote a very beautiful Essay. I will give you an high score.

I wish you best luck in the Contest.

Cheers,

Ch.

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 28, 2014 @ 17:26 GMT
Thanks Christian! I'll find time for a detailed reply later -- traveling now.

All best,

Tom

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Jun. 1, 2014 @ 15:42 GMT
Christian,

I appreciate your emphasis on Einstein's much-misinterpreted "Imagination is more important that knowledge."

You're exactly right that Einstein meant to suggest that theory is primary to discovery. The whole meaning of science as a rationalist enterprise is contained in that simple statement.

I have already given your essay my high score -- all best in the competition!

Tom

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Anonymous wrote on May. 28, 2014 @ 16:47 GMT
Hi Tom,

I think your idea of a "a globally-linked supply chain controlled by high tech information systems in a robust network" is an interesting one. I see how this would help to recover from disasters, but you also seemed interested in reducing inequality--- is that right? If so, how does the supply chain help with this?

Thanks!

Best of luck,

Daniel

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on May. 28, 2014 @ 17:24 GMT
Hi Daniel,

Quick cooperative relief from any sort of disaster has everything to do with equality. Ask the victims of Hurricane Katrina what they think.

Best,

Tom

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Alex Hoekstra wrote on May. 28, 2014 @ 20:53 GMT
Hi Thomas,

This is a genuinely interesting and exciting concept; one which I hope is given as thorough consideration in its evaluation as has clearly gone into its writing.

Despite the emphasis on technological progress put into my and other essays, I sincerely value the evaluation of the social and political context in which technology has developed, is developing, and will continue (hopefully) to develop. It seems clear and certain that technological enhancement without philosophy enhancement is not sufficient to protect our species (from ourselves, and from external existential threats that we might hope to avoid).

Thank you again for such a thoughtful entry. Best regards in this contest, and in all other things.

=)

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Jun. 1, 2014 @ 15:04 GMT
Thanks, Alex! I think your entry deserves top consideration as well.

Best,

Tom

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Author Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Jun. 2, 2014 @ 21:47 GMT
Readers,

To pass along some relevant news, the PLOS open access journal has published a paper co-authored by some of my NECSI associates, "Good Fences: The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Peaceful Coexistence."

Also, the book referenced in my essay to be published by Springer this year -- to which I contributed a chapter, "Net-Centric Logistics: Complex systems science aims for moving targets" -- will be out sometime soon, so I hope that all of you who expressed interest will be on the lookout. I will post a publication date when available.

All best,

Tom

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Author Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Jun. 3, 2014 @ 19:58 GMT
Readers,

Excessive demands are leading to burnout everywhere.

More evidence that our global plantation-type economy is failing and bringing about the demise the human race is reflected in the statistic that only 13% of workers in 142 countries are satisfied in their work. Even in the U.S. alone, the figure is only 30%. How long does one believe we can endure this trajectory before something bad happens?

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Author Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Jun. 4, 2014 @ 15:43 GMT
My 23 May issue of Science just came in the mail. The special issue is devoted to "Haves and Have Nots: The Science of Inequality."

The magazine comes with my AAAS membership. If you're not a member, buy it at the newsstand. It's the best 10 bucks you'll ever spend, if you want to be informed on the growing crisis, and especially if you want to help do something about it.

All best,

Tom

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Author Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Jan. 11, 2015 @ 00:25 GMT
Readers,

The referenced book by Springer, *Conflict and Complexity: Countering Terrorism, Insurgency, Ethnic and Regional Violence* is published.

http://www.springer.com/physics/complexity/book/97
8-1-4939-1704-4

Tom

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