Nate Cull

The alien world of the early 1980s, when daring social pioneers imagined the very most terrible thing that could happen to American society was that the government would continue to function, be generous, fair and effective, and make everyone *far too happy and comfortable*

(A sentiment echoed as late as 1999 in Fight Club)

Marilyn Ferguson was a *little* smarter than the Ayn Rand fanclub, though. She points out that corporate capitalism also centralises power, and that isolation isn't a solution.

aaand here's the dawn of the 1990s cyber-hippie Internet, right around the time TCP/IP becomes thing

Jacques Vallee - who may have been part of Ferguson's network, if not he was definitely a spiritual fellow-traveller and hub of his own network - expressed similar sentiments in 'The Network Revolution' a year later -

Could this still be true? Could networks, electronic and otherwise, still link us together rather than tearing us apart? It feels like at least part of that dream is true.


@gdkar @djsundog This is a pretty good Super Mario Brothers soundtrack

Love is "a kind of local Utopia"

and yeah this is exactly why tearing up the EU hurts so much

I feel like the intuition that networks are important is real

But networks have to be guarded, somehow. Not from people, but from automation and money; from centralising forces that can rapidly mobilise a vast but shallow (or even completely non-existent) illusion of support for anti-democratic ideas.

It's hard because huge parts of our existing society and economiy are still wired in the command-and-control model, and the deregulation of finance has only increased this.

Can we somehow get the benefits of money as a means of exchange *without* its power to centralise and command and overrule human common sense?

How many times do people say 'I am so glad this tiny garage business became a billion dollar corporation at global scale, because that transition meant it totally found its soul and became more humane?"


yes, the advocates of cryptocurrencies do appear to hope - against all evidence - that currencies *deliberately designed* to deflate and concentrate wealth among an ever-decreasing circle will somehow disperse it.

I am not able rightly to apprehend the confusion of ideas that could provoke such a belief.


They are making the same error I see often: "It's Just That We Got The Wrong People In Charge By Pure Chance."

The wrong people are in charge because the system is consistently built to pick the "wrong" people.

(And/or humanity's just generally 'wrong' anyway, but I hope it isn't, because if humanity is fundamentally bad then there's a good chance dystopia is the natural state of humanity and things like the Renaissance and Hundred Schools of Thought are flukes.)


Systems built to interface with the existing systems will, by requisite of the interface, be infected with the 'wrong people' tendency, and with growth will become valuable targets for the power-hungry and/or punishment-minded folks. :\

Maybe quantum cryptocurrencies built off of cryptocurrencies as we know them will be able to shelter themselves in some way, or other tricks will be pulled, but the influences always flow, and they are always insidious.


with enough layers, eventually, possibly, the influence may be watered down so much it cannot effectively dictate policy directly


the failure point there is still going to be the humans 'overseeing' the system -- not even in terms of internal weaknesses, but external ones

they'll be what gets gamed, not the system, at that point


This is arguably what I think may have happened with Assange at some point -- enough sources AROUND him are influenced that HE is influenced as well. Sort of like a photocoupler or magnetic induction, nobody has to get to HIM, they only have to manipulate the people around him, and he'll normalize to it. (Or the people AROUND the people around him, but that will take longer.)

@sydneyfalk What I'm saying is it's not about the people associated with cryptocurrencies (dodgy though they are) - *the currencies themselves*, as currently designed, have a built-in tendency to centralise wealth.

It's what they were built *for* - to replace gold as a store of value.

So even a group of pure saints and angels, using those currencies, would end up sorting into a tiered class of wealthy investors and impoverished workers.

We need something with different built-in dynamics.


> built-in dynamics

If such a creature is created, I think the humans of this day and age will by and large reject it.

The lottery economy comforts them -- it's like heaven, in a way. Tell someone a magically amazing reward lies just beyond their current existence, and here's how to get it -- and if they believe it enough, you can get them to do anything on the way to that reward.

The lottery economy is what they're used to, and possibly what they WANT.


The lottery economy tells people they'll eventually strike it rich, they just have to keep trying. After all, they're hard-working sorts -- so logically they will be rewarded. >_> All these biases interlock into one big messy American Dream that nobody realizes is the current American Nightmare.

If everybody says it's not a nightmare, and says their dream is happy to everybody else, they can pretend it right up until the power's turned off and the cars are repossessed. :\


So they do. And if they're lucky enough to stay afloat, they can pretend it's a dream until they die in some cases.

The latter, IMO, was pretty common for a while -- lifespan hadn't yet made it statistically widespread for people to 'age out' of working, so retirement was the 'heaven' at the end of your long sloggy horrid life.

And now, people are figuring out this heaven's not real, painfully and intimately.

@natecull @sydneyfalk Honestly doesn't it just end up with rich people controlling it anyways? Last I checked, mining difficulty only gets harder, requiring more powerful machines to mine it... Ignoring the whole environmental nightmare Proof of Work is... that sounds like something that gets progressively less useful for people who don't have their own expensive dedicated mining setups...

@UberActivist @sydneyfalk Yes, that's a major way in which I consider the fundamental blockchain technology to be a failure.

Although the currency was designed to deflate, the proof-of-work mechanism was intended to force decentralisation at least among miners, to secure the system.

But that definitely isn't working as intended. So it would be cheaper all around to just allow a central organisation (ie a bank or government) to host a ledger.

@sydneyfalk @UberActivist It's interesting to compare cryptocurrencies with Green Dollars, which are also based around a public ledger, but not secret in any way, and designed to inflate rather than deflate.

I dunno how well they work; I was in one for a while but realised I didn't have much to trade.

@UberActivist @sydneyfalk The big weird thing I find hard to understand about cryptocurrency enthusiasts is that they have zero trust for *banks*... but hyper love for *capitalism*. So they don't want a money-free society but bank-free money (that gains value over time).

It's like they think all the problems with the banking system come from a few bad actors in large banks, rather than systemic contradictions in the idea of money itself.

@natecull @sydneyfalk I have a like/dislike relationship with cryptocurrencies.

I like how cool the tech is behind it...

I hate how utterly wasteful it is.

Money - left to its own maximisation laws - doesn't seem to reward humane enterprises.

Social clicks don't seem to reward humane media.

Algorithms don't seem to reward increased human creativity and joy.

Politics doesn't seem to reward compassion.

Can there even be any *mechanism* that selects for and rewards people being soulful and humane? If there was, wouldn't it replace us?

If mechanisms can't save us - what can? Can mere humanity *scale*?

@natecull humanity can scale, but the consumerism and advertising models introduced with 1950s television and popularised by 1990s internet can't.


> If there was, wouldn't it replace us?

I'd like to think it would help us.

But if replacement's all it can do, I would gladly be replaced in that process, for an improved world for the rest of humanity.

@natecull Whatever it is, the mechanism has to give power to those who demonstrate compassion.

This is something I've been thinking about for years; brief lecture available... or, at least composable... on request.

@woozle I suppose we tend to use, socially, reputation as a proxy for compassion

except as we see in the case of Weinstein et al, reputation can be a VERY lagging indicator

@natecull Lagging, and in some cases unreliable. There are people (e.g. Trump supporters, and authoritarians in general) who will give reputation to others for their _lack_ of compassion.

@natecull I mean, if a mechanism could reward people being soulful and humane, that sounds pretty cool.

Every parent wants their children to become better than themselves, don't they?

It would be the Culture dream of a society run by benevolent superhuman genius AIs, yeah.

I don't think that's actually likely to happen though. I think all our mechanisms will continue to reward less-than-human behaviour, because they simply won't be able to grasp what human consciousness actually is.

A bigger problem I see is humans *believing* that mechanisms (market-linked AIs) are rewarding 'truly human behaviour' when in fact they reward and optimise for anti-human behaviour.

@natecull Eh, not in our lifetime, unless you're some kind of super-long-lived AI cybercat.

Doesn't mean it's not an interesting goal to work towards, as long as people don't become idiots about what it's *actually* doing. (Pro tip: they will.)

Also any usage of the word "AI" is a pretty far stretch these days. Any machine learning algorithm is basically training cockroaches to jump through hoops. With MATH.

@natecull Even more rare: "I love how this massive global corporation split itself to cope with demand, help its customers succeed, and lowered the costs of its products to the absolute minimum possible as recognition that they didn't build their organisation alone, and that everyone who contributed to its success deserved a share of the benefits, as well as a voice that matches the compromise of their stake in the business' past, looking forward to a prosperous future"

@natecull Like, never. The profit motive kills everything.

You should check out the zeitgeist movement. Let me know what you think.

@kd0bpv oh god do you mean those utterly terrible conspiracy youtube movies?

if so then thanks but no thanks

Well, that's not quite what I'm talking about. I am talking about the movement that those movies spawned. They do have some interesting insights and ideas, despite whatever we may think of the movies.

@kd0bpv so... did a movement spawned by far-right fascist-adjacent propaganda suddenly become not-fascist?

Would be an interesting transformation if so...

@natecull Not sure. LOL. Like I said, their ideas are interesting. Doesn't mean I agree with them. lol.

@kd0bpv Can you summarise which ideas you find 'interesting' and why?

@natecull I would have to look into it again. It's been quite a while since I last looked into their ideals.

@natecull This somehow never seemed frightening to me. Is it going to stop me from doing the kind of work I like, I asked myself? Hell no; if anything, it would make it possible.

So... yeah, some government paternalism, please...

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