Nate Cull, a ghost in spring is a user on mastodon.social. You can follow them or interact with them if you have an account anywhere in the fediverse. If you don't, you can sign up here.

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)

archive.org/stream/The_Aquaria

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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.

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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 - archive.org/details/JacquesVal

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Love is "a kind of local Utopia"

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

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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?"

Nate Cull, a ghost in spring @natecull

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*?

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

@natecull

> 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?

@icefox
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.