Tag: society (page 1 of 27)

Cambrian governance models

I think it’s fair to say that this article features ‘florid prose’ but the gist is that we should want society to be as complex as possible. This allow innovation to flourish and means we can solve some of the knottiest problems facing our world.

However, we’re hamstrung by issues around transnational governance, and particularly in the digital realm.

To summarise, we are traversing an epochal change and we lack the institutional capacity to complete this transformation without imploding. We could well fail, and the consequences of failure at this juncture would be catastrophic. However, we can collectively rise to the challenge and an exciting assemblage of subfields is emerging to help. We can fix the failed state that is the Internet if we approach building tech with institutional principles, and an Internet that delivers on its cooperative promise of deeper, denser institutional capacity is what we need as a planetary civilisation.

We don’t need a worldwide technical U.N. to figure this out. Rather, we need transnational topic-specific governance systems that interact with one another wherever they connect and overlap but that do not control one another, and that exercise subsidiarity to one another as well as to more local institutions. Yes, it will be a glorious mess — a Cambrian mess — but we will be collectively smarter for it.

Source: The Internet Transition | Robin Berjon

Logging off from AI?

An interesting and persuasive article from Lars Doucet who considers the ways in which AI spam might mean that people retreat from ‘open sea’ social networks (including gaming / dating ones) to more niche areas.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with interacting with AIs in ways that include emotion. But it’s a solipsistic existence, and perhaps not one that leads to human flourishing.

What happens when anyone can spin up a thousand social media accounts at the click of a button, where each account picks a consistent persona and sticks to it – happily posting away about one of their hobbies like knitting or trout fishing or whatever, while simultaneously building up a credible and inobtrusive post history in another plausible side hobby that all these accounts happen to share – geopolitics, let’s say – all until it’s time for the sock puppet master to light the bat signal and manufacture some consensus?

What happens when every online open lobby multiplayer game is choked with cheaters who all play at superhuman levels in increasingly undetectable ways?

What happens when, from the perspective of the average guy, “every girl” on every dating app is a fiction driven by an AI who strings him along (including sending original and persona-consistent pictures) until it’s time to scam money out of him?

What happens when comments sections on every forum gets filled with implausibly large consensus-building hordes who are able to adapt in real time and carefully slip their brigading just below the moderator’s rules?

I mean, to various degrees all this stuff is already happening. But what happens when it cranks up by an order of magnitude, seemingly overnight?

What happens when most “people” you interact with on the internet are fake?

I think people start logging off.

Source: AI: Markets for Lemons, and the Great Logging Off | Fortress of Doors

Four forces that constrain our actions

‘Pathetic Dot’ is not a great name for a theory, and the diagram on the Wikipedia page isn’t the best, but Christina Bowen reminded me of it during an introductory conversation yesterday.

I can’t find it again quickly, but this also reminds me of a discussion I saw about how credit scores can exert almost as much unseen social control over people in the West as very visible social control mechanisms in more authoritarian countries.

The pathetic dot theory or the New Chicago School theory was introduced by Lawrence Lessig in a 1998 article and popularized in his 1999 book, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. It is a socioeconomic theory of regulation. It discusses how lives of individuals (the pathetic dots in question) are regulated by four forces: the law, social norms, the market, and architecture (technical infrastructure).

Lessig identifies four forces that constrain our actions: the law, social norms, the market, and architecture. The law threatens sanction if it is not obeyed. Social norms are enforced by the community. Markets through supply and demand set a price on various items or behaviors. The final force is the (social) architecture. By that Lessig means “features of the world, whether made, or found”; noting that facts like biology, geography, technology and others constrain our actions. Together, those four forces are the totality of what constrains our action, in fashion both direct and indirect, ex post and ex ante.


The theory can be applied to many aspects of life (such as how smoking is regulated), but it has been popularized by Lessig’s subsequent usage of it in the context of the regulation of the Internet.

Source: Pathetic dot theory | Wikipedia