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pattern integrity [Jan. 25th, 2012|01:37 pm]
Civil Energetics

I've been playing way too much World Of Goo lately. I'm particularly charmed right now with what happens when you push the reset button on the sandbox game. All the balls disconnect from each other except for three at the center, just above the button. If the game didn't leave those three to start with, there would be no place to start a pattern of goo balls.

In some game levels, the challenge is simply to transmit that pattern across the board to 'wake up' more sleepy units, and add them to the existing pattern: you don't even need to keep the old thread going. here's a spoiler for Misty's long bony roadCollapse ).

The pattern exists independently from the container. When Buckminster Fuller is explaining pattern integrity, he uses the metaphor of rope, spliced into a different kind of rope, spliced into yet another rope. If you tie a knot at the hemp end, and move the knot through past where it becomes nylon, and well into the steel cable, the knot doesn't care what kind of rope is containing it, it's still a knot. So too with the cells of the human body: each type of cell is individually replaceable, and in seven years, none of your cells will be the same cells that exist now. Most of the patterns will remain, and you'll have a continuity of life.

I also think the horcruxes of Harry Potter are an imaginary example of this kind of thing: instill your life's force into such an object, and the pattern can continue, you'll come to live in a completely different body from the one you started with.

Lately when I rummage through my parts bin, I imagine I'm looking for a horcrux, the one magical item that will remind me what it is I wanted in the first place. It's hardly my soul's true pattern, but it's part of the puzzle.

And when I turn my gaze to OWS and its goals, I see the same challenge turned inside-out. How can we completely shift the pattern that our institutions have been following, without creating a lethal discontinuity of service? Like upgrading a computer operating system while still maintaining day to day service levels, it's a nontrivial problem.

Such patterns are infectious!
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fractal drama [Nov. 21st, 2011|10:33 am]
Civil Energetics

Lately I've been playing some video games. The deep role playing games that tell a fairly large story- every character you see seems to have some kind of back story. With the Mass Effect games, you can even play some of that back story, as a side track to the main drama. It's kind of cool.

It's almost like a kind of fractal tree of narrative. The main thrust of the story is easy to describe: save the galaxy from the reaper threat. That's a pretty big one, and clearly the main thread that you are expected to attend to. But plenty of smaller threads also invite your attention: help a jellyfish critter practice freedom of religion, deliver a package to a destination, help out a former team mate, investigate cerebrus...

It reminds me of how I try to make sense of the 'real' world outside, and the way the media tries to shape that picture I have. If there's a story that threatens to get too big, too interesting, then I expect the main channels to find some other tiny facet that's suddenly very important. Celebrity lifestyles are always rich ground for that sort of thing if it's an otherwise slow news day.

Occupy wall street doesn't seem interested in taking up that bandwidth, except to ask bigger questions. If the infrastructure we use for solving problems can't be trusted, then that becomes a big problem to solve right there. Whether it's oil pollution, fracking wells, radiation fallout, or global warming, none of those things can be addressed with a political system so deeply crippled by money.

I like how George Lakoff puts it: Define your frame, don't let others do it for you.

When I think of my own shopping list for what needs to change, it could easily take on a fractal drama shape: the main trunk of the tree is learning how to live with each other on the planet in a way that can persist beyond the next economic downturn. Side branches from that have to do with communities- queer, poly, geeks, spiritualists - with something to teach the rest of the world, and finding our voices with each other. And way out here on my own little leaf of the branch of the tree, is how to get my own individual needs met when I don't yet really know how to communicate with the dominant species of this planet.

Thinking of it all as a fractal doesn't make the question any easier to frame- but I think it can avoid some trivial distraction. It's something to remember next time some instant celebrity comes on and tries to interest me in their personal life.
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Re-thinking THE END [Nov. 6th, 2010|02:48 pm]
Civil Energetics

I was just reading some urban legend version of the story of Victoria's Secret. Some bored husband notices something about the way frilly underthings are sold, comes up with a seemingly minor innovation, and becomes a multi-millionaire.

OK, fine. We all love a success story. The Social Network has a similar sort of narrative: build a better mousetrap, and the world is your oyster... or something like that.

Then, in another corner of the story-space, is the account of how some money nerds learned how to invent deeper abstractions of money than the regulatory system could deal with, and they made a zillion dollars by pumping up the Ponzi scheme a few levels deeper. Same kind of genius innovation, same kind of capitalist success story... different ending.

I'm reflecting lately on how many kinds of addiction this world can celebrate, and asking myself what it would feel like for enough people to collectively go cold turkey, and make it stick.

...and the cliched image leaps to mind, some post-apocolyptic world that's made up of blasted landscapes, young desert ecologies, and mostly dead people and their leftover belongings.

So here's my idea: I'm thinking of a better mousetrap, a vastly superior, highly competitive economic idea, and it doesn't need anywhere near the kind of technical footprint that the others examples do. No expensive computer network, like Facebook. No mail order catalogs, snail mail infrastructure, or intimacy-starved buyer's market like Victoria's Secret. And nothing so esoteric or complex as fictional real estate futures.

The only problem I can see with my better mousetrap, is that it's allergic to addiction: it can't function well at all with people who are addicted to oil, or money, or Legos, or computer games, or any of the zillion things we've invented addictions for.

After this economy crumbles, it's a different story. People will still have innovations in that future world, people will still grow prosperous from working with better ideas and better infrastructure, and people will still compete with each other for opportunities. It's a world much like this one... except better informed, less violent, and far less addictive behaviors. (certainly fewer sanctioned ones, and less celebration of such insanity!)

The only real confusion I have about this transition, is how violently people are going to resist giving up these addictions. It might indeed take a nuclear war or something like it, before we can slow down, endure the withdrawal, and move ahead with a better story.

But I think it's more likely that the apocalyptic version of things is really the addictive part of us that doesn't want to be confronted with a deeper examination. If people decided to skip the whole apocalypse stage, and move directly to recovery, I don't think it would be nearly as painful as the most frightened among us would insist.
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Modes of Community [Sep. 21st, 2010|02:31 pm]
Civil Energetics

I started off with just 3.
(And then I tried to assign a number to each- you can see where *that* got me!)

1)There's the people I share a house with, and the dishes and the dog, and all the housekeeping involved. It's not exactly intentional community, in the the choices are often overwhelmed by the compromises. But it's real, and it registers when i talk to my housemates about it.

2)There's the community I participate in when I vote, or when I march in a street protest, and when I spend money or even just go outside my house. It's the opposite of intentional, I was just born into it. To the extent that I even call this a community at all, it has to do with the mercy I can muster for a bunch of offensive strangers who aren't asking for my forgiveness.

3)Then there's this idealized community of the mind. It started when I read Walden 2 and Brave new World, and 1984 as a teenager. Books like Always coming Home and The Fifth Sacred Thing and Ecotopia, are part of this conversation. It's intentional in the sense that I choose to open these books and let their ideas spill into my mind.

(Let's not forget the Whole Earth Catalogs, Coevolution Quarterly, Z magazine, and Utne Reader!)

For the last 15 years, I've been able to tap into this electronic conversation, that takes all the choicefulness and idealism of these paper stories, and hyperslices them into a constant hum. The intention is a bit harder to maintain, with spam-bots and popup screens and unwanted office humor, and more deliberate malicious software.

Those were my first three examples, but in working those out, I came across two more:

1a)Inside the intentional community of my household, there's the intentional community that remains when I shut my bedroom door and am alone with myself. Or when I'm traveling alone, or when I'm out in the world but alone. The intention there is sometimes hard to find: Short of killing myself, I can't very well choose to be anywhere else! And I'm not always very good company, either for myself or for other people.

0) Finally, there's the intentional element of falling in love, whether it's with a yummy looking individual, or a whole group of shiny humans. Usually it's with 4 or 6 other people who are the last ones left at a party, but I've felt it at Burning Man, at the Rainbow Gathering, at the WTO protests, and most recently at the successful autumn camp I helped host.

This fifth example of community is hard for me to wrap my mind around because it's so much bigger than I am. I suppose it's bigger than *anyone*, by it's very nature. I don't know that you can even make it happen at all, you can at most just remove some of the obstacles that keep it from happening, or decide to go ahead and try to interrupt it in whatever way you can.

It's the feeling I think about when WAR is declared... it's also the only real engine for peace that I can seriously consider.

An image leaps to mind, of five lily-pads in a pond. It's not possible to step up onto any of them if you're in the water... you have to jump from one of these platforms to another.

In this moment, I find myself doing a lot of jumping!
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Generals and Majors [Aug. 12th, 2010|11:36 am]
Civil Energetics

So the Postmaster General is still a civilian position, but I like the idea that there's someone in DC with a uniform and general's stars whose job it is to watch the mail.

Same appeal with Surgeon General, a healer who's also got major rank.

Attorney General isn't as much fun, no one likes a lawyer these days...

But what I really wish we had, was a Librarian General. Make them the Czar of informatics.

I suppose you have to draw the line someplace... who's the highest ranking plumber in the country? Does the US keep a master swordmaker on the payroll? How about a poet laureate equivalent for Clown School?
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Language of the invisible [May. 11th, 2010|12:37 pm]
Civil Energetics

The teabaggers are teaching me something. As well as the climate change denial overlap, and any number of other fringe movements who don't think of themselves as fringe.

The problem with trying to talk to someone in this category, is that I don't live in the same reality as they do. We don't have enough of a language overlap to agree on anything substantial.

While I violently disagree with one of their premises, I can certainly understand it: It's unthinkable that human activity could significantly change the planet's life support system, to the point where any humans would feel it.

Christian Capitalists have been granted title to the planet by Yahweh itself: it's up to them to decide how best to invest the talents. If someone comes along to say that they're not in ownership of the world, they have no alternative language for who *does* own the world. And if the world is not owned by someone, then that's a problem in need of fixing.

Agnostic Capitalists don't need Yahweh to legitimize their claim: They are in competition with other capitalists, and the threat of another company far outweighs the threat of a broken planet. On the micro economic scale, they're right: no single cow can be blamed for the tragedy of the commons. On the biggest scale, the end result is inevitable no matter who you decide to blame.

The copyfight is another place where I'm not on the same playing board as my opponents: I'm not even playing the same game. They've got a highly evolved system that's worked out very well for them since Gutenberg's time, but the carpet is being pulled out from under them. Rather than learn new ground rules, it's easier for them to try to nail down the carpet.

The biggest problem I have in these arguments, is that I'm arguing a case built on ideas that aren't immediately visible. The reality I'm trying to protect can only be addressed indirectly. You can tromp through the seedlings in this garden without even noticing anything has changed.

Probably the closest pop culture analogy I've seen, was The Matrix. It was clear to me that it wasn't so much that we literally live in some physically controlled, simulated environment, but rather our language is controlled and the significance of the physical world is open to interpretation. And that interpretation can be manipulated.

These days when I go into the city, I don't think of the Matrix as a metaphor representing a physical reality, rather it's the city itself that's the metaphor, representing a deeper reality.

Just as a trivial example: the buildings themselves are pretty much functionally identical. For the most part, they could house any sort of human activity. It's the software that determines that this building is going to be office space and another building is going to be sleeping quarters, while a third is going to be shopping.

That software is weightless, it doesn't exist on any central filing system, but in its own way, it is more durable and harder to change than the physical structure of the city itself. Easier to build a fresh city than to change the rules of the existing city.

So I started this blog to try to talk about this software. And if I couldn't talk about it, I'd point to it instead. But it's hard to develop any sort of complexity when the basic premise is continually open for debate.

And it just this morning occurred to me that this kind of thing has happened before. Nobody really knew what a chemical element was, until someone isolated the vital principal from air and demonstrated the difference between lead and gold.

The germ theory of disease was quite controversial in its day until enough people had demonstrated that it worked.

These days, if someone comes along with a claim that contradicts the periodic table, or sells a cure for a disease unrelated to germ theory, we're skeptical, even though we can't directly see germs or atoms.

So I guess I'm looking for the same kind of credibility with my idea.

So far, the best I've got is an analogy with the Hohmann Transfer orbit: Without knowing astrophysics, you can intuitively guess that there's a single 'easiest' way to get from one planet to another. (Easiest in this case means the least delta-vee)

This could be completely wrong: someone else might come along, claim they'd solved the three body problem, and by the way here's another orbital trajectory that's just as fuel efficient as the Hohmann Transfer. They might make that claim, but we'd be skeptical until shown otherwise. It's our collected knowledge of physics that gives us confidence that they're probably pulling our leg.

There are minor adjustments you'll have to make to your spacecraft that Walter Hohmann can't talk about. Solar wind, Gas Giants, astroids... they'll impact your calculations and you'll have to correct for what can't be predicted. But the basic trajectory doesn't change.

...And that's what I want to puzzle out for Politics, Economics, and Military Strategy: What's the planning equivalent to the Hohmann transfer, as applied to human affairs?

Let's try to be a little more rigorous: Given what we know about the planet's ability to support (human) life, and given what we know about human needs and wants- what course of action gives the most people the best chance of survival in the highest style?

Already that question rubs some people the wrong way. Do "most people" really deserve to live? What are the threats to survival that we face? And who gets to decide what high style means?

One problem I have with the "most people" idea, is that nationalism is still used to keep human beings under control, but it no longer means anything at all to the corporations that we must compete with. Multinationals live by a completely different set of rules from mere citizens, and the only way to get some of that privilege, is to align yourself with one of these bad boys. As far as Fuller's World Game is concerned, nationalism is just an obsolete way of coloring the pawns on the board.

Threat to survival can be manipulated quite easily, if you're willing to live with blood on your conscience. The sky's the limit when it comes to protection from violent terrorists, but if you want to talk about education, health care, or environmental safeguards, that's a different budget entirely.

How to describe 'living in style' is the hardest of all. Experts all agree that the world will demand more energy than is used today, without taking into account how much of that is wasted or is used to keep some of us at a relative disadvantage. Having great wealth in contrast with your neighbors means safeguarding that wealth- and there are some mathematical limits to how cost-effective it is to be much richer than your poorest neighbor.

Even with the controversy around these ideas, I can still entertain the concept of a single best set of solutions. These hypothetical 'orbital trajectories' all share some defining characteristics:

They don't contradict each other- one strategy isn't at the expense of another.
They can be politically defended. They serve the most people in the least controversial way.
They all keep some resources in reserve, for rainy days and better opportunities ahead.

If an agenda can be shaped that conforms to these limits, then it shouldn't require any sort of powerful central authority to push that agenda. We don't have to wait for World Federalism to swoop in on a black helicopter, to displace this bully that's running the world into the ground. The same rules of physics that define how much delta vee you need to change a spacecraft's orbit, also apply to how much physical force you need to change the course of history.
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politics as if science mattered [Apr. 26th, 2010|04:42 pm]
Civil Energetics

Every time I wonder what it would look like to design a human operating system from scratch, the same kinds of objections stop me in my tracks.

You can't design corruption out of human nature. You can't make rich people's voices count as much (or as little) as poor people's voices. You can't make a perfect system from flawed parts.

Yet I still have to wonder if it's not possible to wrap our scientific minds around these limits. Communication theory evolved out of the quest for noise-free transmissions. When it was proved that noise-free transmissions was mathematically impossible, we were able to design closer to that ideal, because we could define that limit.

So it makes sense to me, to try to puzzle out the limits to a human operating system, and work backward from there. Like Qwerty, the system we have is so bad that it wouldn't be that hard to design a better one.

(design isn't the problem, I know. Implementing it is the killer. Gotta start somewhere!)

One difficulty in designing stuff that works for everyone, is that you can't involve everyone in the design. It may be impossible to even represent everyone in the design. Illiterates are not deeply involved in literacy drives, only at the receiving end. Blind people can't work the computer displays used to design ADA accommodations. Children can't be asked what should be left out of their curricula when it's textbook time.

And most of the time, the people who are making these choices on everyone else's behalf, can tell themselves that they've listened enough, they've asked for enough public input, and conducted enough focus group sessions, that their asses are covered when someone complains.

Technically speaking, it's an impossible goal to include everyone in such design discussions.We intuitively know this, and we move forward with stuff when we get a feeling of consensus- when we've heard from everyone who matters.

That threshold of 'everyone who matters' may have some hard-wired elements to it. We evolved in tiny little bands, and got used to a certain scale of operating. There's nothing in the human evolutionary path to prepare us to make choices that impact an entire planet full of people we'll never meet.

Instead of trying to arrive at the best possible answer, we're satisfied with a defensible answer, one that has a reasonable chance of withstanding opposition.

If you serve on the board of an energy company, and there's a likelihood that the new energy resources on the chalkboard are going to bankrupt your grandchildren, is it reasonable to expect you to hold off and let some other concern have access to the goods?

One of the hard things about critiquing capitalism, is no one can think of an alternative.

And yet, that alternative clearly exists, even if no one knows it yet. There's some pretty simple logic that tells me it's not hopeless.

First, the counterexample: Humanity cannot think its way out of this, we're too attached to our bad habits, so the most anyone can do is fiddle while Rome burns. That's a self fulfilling prophecy, and it doesn't go anywhere truly interesting.If it's true, then there's no real disadvantage to believing the opposite: we've nothing to lose!

It's much more fun/interesting/game-opening to assume that it's not hopeless, that our choices matter. And if the threat is as dire as we're led to believe, then looking foolish is the least of our worries.

Being naive and optimistic is a survival-positive trait in this case.

Since there's every advantage, and no disadvantage to assuming there's a way through this crisis, then it makes sense to imagine a set of parameters somewhere in the middle of a hypothetical negotiation between you and the rest of the planet.

You don't have to actually hold that conversation with each and every other individual on the planet, to come up with some reasonable compromises- stuff like," I won't try to kill you if you don't try to kill me."

But as you get less abstract, it quickly gets muddier. How much is my labor worth compared to yours, and how unfair does it have to get before one of us decides not to trade?

The muddiest question of all, is do I even have time to think about this kind of stuff? Is it too expensive to even hold out hope that there's an alternative to what we've got now?

It reminds me of Shepard Book talking to Malcom Reynolds about their worldviews: "When I talk to you about faith, why do you always assume I'm talking about God?"

Often enough, Faith has meant God has meant someone's more correct than someone else.

In this case, Faith means Survival means all of us are better equipped to survive than a few of us.
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economics: fear and love [Mar. 25th, 2010|12:49 pm]
Civil Energetics

I just suddenly realized that the fear economy doesn't directly rely on blame to balance the books.

If you point a gun at me and say, "do something I want, or suffer a gunshot wound", then I'm fearful for my own self. Even if I decide to do something you don't want, my actions are shaped by that threat.

But if you pout your lip at me and say, "do something I want, or else I'll have hurt feelings" then I'm supposed to be fearful on *your* behalf.... even if you don't say it, even if I read it between the lines, or even if I'm making it up out of my own head. -it's still the fear economy, even if I don't know who's holding the I.O.U.

It's a tempting distraction to worry about who's sending the threat signal, who should be held accountable- instead of deciding that the whole transaction is bogus no matter who suggests it.

I don't think it matters whether you're talking a sink full of dirty dishes, or nuclear deterrence: the dynamic is infinitely scalable, if you let it be.
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cybernetics of leadership [Jan. 11th, 2010|12:00 pm]
Civil Energetics

I just had a painful conversation with the landlord, where I took up the talking stick for all of my housemates and myself. It turned out OK, and the housemates were fine with what I said on their behalf... but I got an insight into something that's been bugging me about american politics for some time.

We don't talk about it much, but it's kind of taken for granted that a leader gets to take credit for all the strength of those s/he leads. We let that great person stand in for all the individuals who helped them get to their goal.

But what should also be understood as well, is that a leader also has got to represent all the weak points of the people s/he leads. That part is much less fun, and gets glossed over mostly. We want to forget our collective weaknesses, our hangups, cognitive dissonance, and fear.

So looking at the last 40 years of local history, and the figureheads we've supposedly chosen for ourselves, that selective memory problem seems to snowball over time. To the point where some of us can't remember who was president during 9/11.

So when I still want to give Obama the benefit of the doubt every time he backs off on a campaign promise, I have to remind myself that he still has got to represent the weakest of us, the greediest of us, and the most trapped of us, as well as the best of us.

That's just part of the job of leadership. It's a judgement call to decide what in fact makes us strong, and what is actually making us weak.

The way things are set up, leaders who make a good call get to enjoy the benefits, and share those benefits with those below. But when they make a bad call, they don't feel the negative, that's just for the people in the trenches. It's a positive feedback loop that rewards competence, but doesn't punish incompetence.

And the ways we have of communicating to our leaders, with money and votes and praise, those are all encouraged and showcased wherever they bubble up. But try to communicate any sort of negative feedback to the top, and you're a troublemaker or a terrorist or just crazy.

Seems to me, any real democracy would have to be able to transmit both kinds of signals to the core of its leadership, especially in a contracting economy.
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(no subject) [Sep. 14th, 2009|10:44 am]
Civil Energetics

Micheal Moore has a new movie about to be released. I'm inching through Life, incorporated, after having read No Logo and The Corporation. It's not a particularly good time to be a capitalist right now.

But if there's a mass revolt in the works against The market, what about all the other mass revolts in history, against things that *weren't* capitalist?

I'm a lazy engineer, if I'm going to all the trouble to revolt against something, I want to be absolutely certain I'm rebelling against the thing that's actually bothering me.

I don't think it's capitalism, that's just the current flavor of it. For me, the thing worth opposing is an entire way of thinking.

Um, that didn't come out right. I don't mean a school of thought, or a set of wrong ideas, I mean a mechanism for framing and making choices.

When computer geeks talk about artificial intelligence, we usually mean a kind of mental process that's as flexible and robust as what happens in our own heads, taken outside the brain and put in a format that can be saved, loaded, backed up, and turned off-without it being murder.

And my first knee-jerk reaction has always been the labor-union stance. We have people wasting countless clock cycles on dull meaningless drudgery, are we really that invested on taking more of the fun stuff away from people and giving it to the machines?

It strikes me that every cautionary tale about robot rebellion is just a thinly disguised parable about the rise of the multinational corporation, and its asymmetric tug of war with the State. (I'm not a big fan of the State either, come to that.)

In _The Difference Engine_. Bruce Sterling and William Gibson wrote an alternative history of the technological singularity, where artificial intelligence becomes more important than natural born intelligence. It's made from punchcards and cogs and steam power instead of electricity and magnets and light... but it's recognizably the same thing, the same stuff.

What I've come to believe, is that artificial intelligence is not something waiting to happen, but it's been happening for a very long time, longer than our records show. It's not the information processing power that we're beginning to notice, but the integration of all those peripherals.

I don't like calling it "corporate thought" or "the institution", because that puts it safely out of reach foe the viewer at home. My working title for it is Turing Thought, the kind of cognition that can be mapped on any garden variety turing machine.

And the register of a turing machine doesn't have to look anything like a machine at all. You want to play tic tac toe with a computer, you can use beads and a bunch of match box. Clay tablets will work, or knotted cord. As soon as humans begin to be literate, this kind of artificial intelligence will begin to emerge, it can't help itself.

OK, so what? It sounds like I'm speaking out against literacy. Thing is, I don't see any way to live outside this kind of AI, and I don't want to. But there are certain things a natural human mind can do, that a turing intelligence cannot do. Obvious ones like "wear out" "suffer pain" and "Die". (OK, a turing mind can obviously die, but it would die more like an ant colony's death, less like a human's.)

But the one I was really thinking about, has to do with sanity. A natural human intelligence can question its own sanity, in a way that no organization can. it has to do with cycles of metabolism and attention span. In the time it takes for a human to question our own sanity, we can still draw breath, eat and drink, maybe even fire off a reproductive urge. But for a church, a monarchy, or a corporation to question its own sanity, is tantamount to questioning its own existence. It has no body of its own, so it borrows human minds moment by moment. As soon as the component minds start questioning the need to be part of the larger organ, then the organ itself shrinks even before any sort of choice is made.

That's all well and good, but the crops still need to be watered, the rain still needs to be deflected, and sometimes you still gotta have a doctor to call. We don't know how to replace these turing minds with anything better, and for each of us to be materially self-sufficient is a huge waste of time for everyone.

If I want to do something interesting with this idea, I have to ask myself if there might not be a more effective way of organizing and meeting human needs. Yet every time someone comes along promising to make things better, it seems that some kind of undesirable group of humans needs to be displaced, murdered, or blamed. We can't have an inside without having an outside, and the outside doesn't have meaning unless there are people to be ostracized.

Right now the only convergent factor that springs to mind, has to do with our agreement to limit our own power. Ideas like the separation of church and state, the separation of legislative powers from judicial and executive, and fair trade practices. What bugs me, is how each time we set those agreements into place, some clever bloke down the line is able to figure out a loophole and exploit it, and our grandkids have a whole new kind of tyranny to contend with.

I don't know how to do it, but I know what I want to do: Any time humans decide we're going to organize to scratch an itch or solve a problem, it would be great if natural human intelligence could be at the nucleus of that cell. You could still have turing intelligence flitting about most every which way, but it would never develop an identity outside a human body. Kind of like the dumb but decent machinery of Zion, compared to the clever but evil machinery of the AI agents in the Matrix.

Right now, that seems to tell me that you can't form an institution to correct the excess of every other institution. There's no place to fit the homonunculus.

I think this is in some way related to the moral obligations of the officer class compared to the corresponding obligations of the enlisted class in any military. But I'm outta steam.
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