Thought Overflow…Golda’s BlogIf memes are like genes, then having a conversation in which you share ideas and come up with new ones is like…?

Archives

Archive for the ‘Society & Politics’ Category

this piece makes me happy every time i reread it. it was born out of frustration with fintech bros

A Darwinian Argument

“You must die.” The woman spoke dispassionately, her face blank.

The jowly man chained at the ankle squinted across the room at her. His glasses had broken in the struggle, so were there subtle clues to read he might have missed them anyway. His face betrayed a racing chain of emotions, flickering from fear to contempt to calculation. Which of his enemies sent her? 

continued…

There is really only one question, ever.

Given the state of the world to my knowledge, what should I do next?

Answered shallowly, the answer may be

order pizza for dinner
drink a beer
finish a task on my list
continue or start a conversation with a friend
post on social media
edit a plan or a poem
shoot a gun, make love, spend money

The attraction of the shallow answers lies in how do-able they are.

Social media beckons, a feed as linear as time and digestible as sugar. Familiar routine offers a menu of known actions. Work, as defined by others, is also chunked into digestiible slices and returning a liquid reward, feels perhaps healthier. And expression – artistic, conversational, musical, or the written word feels like a missing mineral, that we didn’t realize we craved until we taste it.

How to weave these small next steps into the pattern we want – and what does that even mean when one moment we want to remake society and the next we want an ice cream sundae?

In our professional lives most of us have known patterns, best practices, colleagues to guide us, and a mission prescribed by our job. On the personal side self-help books abound, and a few cultural groups of changemakers are perhaps starting to share successful practices. Cultural movements define new terms – eg gaslighting, the dictionary term of the year – to synthesize complex behvioral patterns into a word that can be weilded like a weapon.

Much of this happens organically, as it perhaps must. But moving with the flow has proven susceptible to sophisticated manipulation, so we don’t know if our next step is truly ours, if it is driven by our own core self, our values and beliefs and needs, whatever makes up your self – or is it simply what a well funded AI driven cancerous growth is driving us towards?

How then, to make our next step in tune with our inner music, to harmonize with others who share genuine values with us, as tested by dynamic behaviors and not lip service?

To be continued – the how, indeed. Test cases, relationships, and a language evolving from ourselves; uncertainty and critique and feedback. Skepticism but not cynicism. A common past, and test by follow the money. Check in code and patterns to build value based things. Much of this is happening, but how do we recognize it and defend against takeover in the future, is part of the question of how. The devil, as always, hiding in the exploits of the details.

walking over a bridge in san jose, costa rica after talking to an Israeli ex-pat in the hostel and preparing for RightsCon tomorrow, i realized why i haven’t been writing, at least one of the reasons

the work is not so much to pull a thread of sense out of my tangled thoughts – that is work, but its the good part

(oh wow as a side note wordpress has gotton so awful about interrupting while i’m trying to write, i may switch but all my things are here. moving this to a plain text editor)

the bad part, or the hard part, is framing thoughts for an audience, in particular an audience that in my opinion has actively harmful frameworks and assumptions embedded. its exhausting trying to think of how they are thinking, being bothered at it, and then trying to talk in a way that will be convincing or compelling. that is why i do not write more, i think. also where to do it and probably no one in particular wants to read it anyway! the part about voice and personableness might have not a little to do with it as well!

but back to the frameworks. the one that exhausts me most is this assumption of a “state”. i realized, to talk to someone about Afghanistan, for instance, i would say first – hold on, lets back up. the words you are using in shorthand are actively harmful constructs in my opinion, or at least not useful. lets see if we could agree on some others, to make it easier to talk without constant battle over assumptions behind terms

“government” – lets agree this no where near applies. please don’t use that word unless there is some organization that represents people and where harm has recourse. words have to mean something. i met a historian at the book festival in tucson who wanted to say it meant “control on the ground”. there is so much wrong with that.

lets start with, there are a lot of people there, many of them right now have guns and steal from and hurt many women. lets call the ones with guns who fight and work with each other to take things, lets call them mafias. the women, lets call them ‘the unlucky women’ because that is what a group called themselves who i was working with and i love that. so now, here we have a problem, some of the unlucky women are having to hide from these guys with guns, some have trouble getting enough to eat, and also they don’t have a way to cooperate safely and organize and get recognition from other communities to, you know, work and live

so lets look at this problem, that the unlucky women don’t have a safe way to deal with the orgnanizations that have resources, to have jobs and maybe “aid” – that thing that people cooperate to make available to other people in unlucky situations. and when one person is hurt or disappeared there isn’t any system to tell someone about it and make it stop – that’s called accountability, that is a good word not often misused.

if you are trying to solve this problem, then i want to talk to you. lets figure out the words, the phrases, the systems, to solve it.

and sometimes, i will try to write for the people who don’t see it this way, who see other shapes and ghosts and maybe see the world in some geopolitical calculus of moving weapons. but most of the time i dont’ want to talk to you, if that is you.


also published on mirror.xyz – but I think I’ll keep a copy here all the same. some of the thoughts evolved from the previous “minddump” draft…

The dismal science, also known as Economics, describes behavior as “rational” if maximizes personal satisfaction. Markets are held up as a tool for maximizing everyone’s satisfaction, yet they they inherently anonymize the participants, limiting the “rational” values that can be modeled. Behaviors based on principles or relationships are disregarded – yet non-transactional values that cannot be “bought” are central drivers for behavior in most humans that I care to associate with. I prefer to deal with people I know and trust, to work on things I care about, to buy products that were made in fair working conditions. I strongly want never to buy things that murderers profited from, yet today I often do so. An anonymized marketplace does not allow me to easily act “rationally” based on my actual values. A richer ecosystem of information would provide much higher utility, than the current common model of anonymized transactions.

In math, the shape of the universe follows from the axioms chosen. An assumption of scalar rationality in which all values are transactional and anonymizable is not wrong mathematically, it simply determines the shape of the universe described.

In science, we try to describe the observed shape of the world. Models and theories are tested by their ability to predict behavior in the real world. Hand-waving away large swaths of human motivation and observed behavior as “irrational” is a religious, not scientific approach.

In engineering, we try to shape the world. What shape do we want? For very clearly, tools that only allow anonymous transactions lead to a world in which everything is for sale.

The exciting thing in our time is not that we can automate markets, but that we can actualize language and intention. SBTs are a good starting point, that allow us to efficiently encode the values and relationships, the specific judgements and experiences that in fact drive our behavior.

I wrote more about this some time back: Can’t Buy Me Love: An Argument for Implementing Illiquidity which discusses encoding trust, changing cooperative structures and using earned tokens for governance, and offers computational models of love and corruption, among other things.

Sending these to a contact, made me want to pin them here as well:

A draft of an essay calling for more frameworks for stateless individuals: Citizen or Hostage

Started a framework for grassroots policy formation – Open Public Policy RFCs and wrote about it on medium – Taking Public Policy out of the Cathedral and into the Bazaar

Currently focusing on my WhatsCookin’ startup, demonstrating a working model of work-weighted corporate governance, and decentralized tech.

One of the key things to decentralize is trust. I do think we will need a feed of reputation assertions, simple description here – Open Reputation Feed

suppose there were a gene that made the bearer feel entitled to other people’s things.

would it spread?

And before pointing fingers, remember…the bearer would not think of them as other people’s, or that they were taking anything by their actions.

When doing a startup, you talk about it everywhere, with everyone. At least I do.

I went hiking today on a familiar trail; but the monsoons had changed things and I found myself going up and down the canyon looking for the turnoff.

A couple sitting on a rock seemed friendly – we started chatting. The man, older, was a theoretical physicist with strong opinions. He seemed sure where the trail should have been, that the monsoons had wiped it out.

He was also sure that I was a socialist, after I explained a bit about my ideas for work weighted shared governance. Then he expounded on why only top down models could possibly work given his experiences in Poland and Germany. I’m not sure what the woman thought as she couldn’t seem to get two words in edgewise. He seemed to conflate countries and companies, and to be arguing against many things I did not say.

I cannot prove yet that bottom up accountability can beat a top down authoritarian structure, so I cannot say with certainty that he was wrong in his assertions about corporate models. He definitely was wrong about the hiking trail, though. I found the turnoff five minutes up the canyon where it had always been, the trail not at all washed out. Perhaps a bit more experimentation, and less theoretical expounding, is called for after all.

Wrote a quick LTE this morning – I am such a Municipalism fan right now –
——
In a small ray of hope during this contentious time, our city government seems to be genuinely responsive to the neighborhoods. A group of Rio Vista neighbors asked for the city’s help to restore the natural desert and block off wildcat trails; as a result, parts and rec staff brought us brush that they’ve trimmed in other parks and coordinated with a volunteer group of neighbors and civilian conservation core folks to distribute the brush according to a plan that will help restore the ecology.

And when the traffic stops that were used last time to help protect trails wound up scaring some horses, the city adapted and gave us low key wooden sawhorses instead. Its this – government responsiveness to regular people – that gives me hope.
———
(posting this with a delay to see if the LTE makes it in first)

wrote this in response to a NYT op-ed calling for a grand strategy in American foreign policy:

Our grand strategy should be driven by our core principles: liberty and justice for all – not only for those who happen to live in America. If we can achieve that, the world will indeed be much safer, and more prosperous. Madison understood tyrants – the bill of rights is needed everywhere. Freedom of speech provides a corrective mechanism against corruption. Our grand strategy should be to support these rights universally. Whether that means we should act as a policeman, is a matter of tactics.

It seems so obvious to me, I don’t know why the democratic candidates and others are not saying this. Elizabeth Warren comes the closest, I think.

“I’ve made it not because I assimilated, or because I have a little bit of money, or because my voice be heard. I’ve made it because I can disagree with and question what America is really all about. I’ve made it because I can demand more from my country.”

— Julissa Arce, My American Dream, p 285