Brief description of the Sci-Fi Economics Residency

@nadia, I do not have appropriate permission on Climate Gains, so I have to fall back on Edgeryders. Which is better anyway. I propose to replace this:

Vision and Theme:

In the backdrop of 2024, we find ourselves amidst a resurgence of post-neoclassical economic thought, with prominent thinkers such as Hickel, Raworth, Mazzucato, Kelton, Wray, Peters, and others paving the way for innovative concepts like degrowth, doughnut economics, mission economics, modern monetary theory, and ergodicity economics. The seminar seeks to build upon this momentum by bridging the gap between theoretical frameworks and tangible policy implementations.

To this, even more factual:


We are economists, social scientists, science fiction authors and artists. We are working on a description of the social and economic landscape of a near-future that succeeds in complying with the Paris agreement, and of the future history that gets us there. Think of it as a kind of model, but with narrative and argumentation instead of equations and spreadsheets (though we will use some of those too), in the spirit of Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel The Ministry for the Future.

In doing this, we are inspired by the new economic thinking we see coming to the fore in the last few years, developed by scholars such as (among many others) Ha-Joon Chang, Jason Hickel, Giorgos Kallis, Stephanie Kelton, Mariana Mazzucato, Kate Raworth, TImothée Parrique, Ole Peters, Thomas Piketty, Julia Steinberger, Randall Wray. Their work not only carries theoretical novelty: it comes with new and exciting policy instruments such as job guarantees and universal basic services, which give our policy makers new tools in the scramble to cope with climate change and our many current crises.

If it is too long, you can cut the last sentence (from “their work”). If if is still too long, you can cut the entire second paragraph.

Good to go for me.

Ping: @Nic010 @zazizoma @giacomo.pinaffo

Hi @alberto, thanks for this.

Here’s a mini-rant about the modern hetero econ space.

There’s a difference between theorising about how economic structures and dynamics form, evolve and interact, and describing the current state of affairs via econometrics. Recently, with the exception of Wray et al, I don’t find that much has been worked out on the theory side. Meaning there’s not a lot I can pop into a generative model to run forward and explore. That said, the econometric and values-based work represented by most of the list is valuable in that it highlights the biases, inconsistencies and hypocrisies in the dominant paradigm.

I understand why you’d like to use recent work to emphasize ‘the time is nigh’, but for theoretical direction I rely on Ostrum, Granzini, Kyrk, Kalecki (Robinson), Hirschman, Minsky, Graeber and Jacobs, even Schumpter, all of whom are dead. It should be no surprise that I see complexity framing as the way to bring the theoretical insights presented by these thinkers into modern and actionable context.

Which leads me to the one allegedly complexity economics on the list, Peters. Despite the cool name, ergodicity economics is little more than reframing standard expectation theory applied to finance in terms of an alternative mathematical framing that doesn’t assume ergodicity, where emergent properties with heterogeneity always match those determined from the means.

So, I’d prefer to leave Peters off the list because the nature of the contribution is oranges to the others’ apples in terms of nuance, relevance and usefulness, and I’d like to demonstrate some discernment here with regard to hype. I’ve also heard him claim that ALL the problems with econ are solved simply by using non-ergodic techniques, which is absurd.

Finally, given the above, I don’t think the majority of the work ‘carries theoretical novelty’ exactly, but it does open the door for questions that could lead to theoretical novelty. Would be happy to debate this last point. For example, does Raworth’s and Mazzucato’s new value framings represent novel economic theory as such? Maybe Pikkety’s r > g constitutes theory?

Granted. But the former is still theory. Recognizing the under-formalized state of affairs, I speak in the copy for the residency of a “narrative model”, a bit like Marx’s dialectic if you will. That said, I would love to see an ABM arise from this discussion at some point. But it’s a very difficult call.

These are excellent theorists, with three of my personal intellectual heroes (I do not know Kyrk and Granzini, and cannot find the latter online. Do you mean Augusto Graziani?). But what I have not read in their work is “here is a way to avoid the planet being fried by climate change, oh, and by the way we could all get a good life while we are at it”. In policy terms, we are unlikely to sway the World Bank by pointing to Jacobs.

As for Peters, I have myself asked him why the confusing label he adopts for his work. But at Beyond Growth I felt he should have been there, because he has a critical piece of the puzzle: he can show how “the economy” can grow while everybody is worse off, even in GDP terms. In a way his is an explanation for ever-increasing inequality competing (reconcilable?) with r > g, which to me is, to a first approximation, a description rather than an explanation (but here I am uncertain).

Yeah, this won’t fly for sure.

I suspect we will not be able to hold back from debating it. But, eyes on the ball: in the residency, we are building a future history for a world that made the Paris agreements work. This is going to be very messy, like a thunderstorm occasionally lit up by the lightning of high theory.

@alberto, thanks for all that!
I do find the narrative model approach very appealing for lots of reasons. I’ll be thinking about that ABM.
Yes, Graziani! Kyrk presents a theory of evolving consumption behavior.
Maybe Peters has himself evolved; I’d written him off as a typical statistical physicist with all the answers. Sounds like you have a compelling case to include him, though I can’t find that growth model you described.

Link, intro and 10 lines of Python here: Ergodicity economics for the win!

The code has a nice story. I once had a discussion about this model with a friend, a computer scientist with no interest in economic theory. We were in a bistro, but that did not stop him from pulling out a laptop and cobbling a program in less than 5 minutes. He ran it a few times, frowned, and said “by God, it’s true!” The distributive implications of multiplicative growth were staring right at him. So, I cleaned it up, added some comments, and there it is.

It’s a low stakes decision. I use Peters as pars destruens: his work shows almost comically how neoclassical models are built on contempt for the empirical evidence, and kept alive by ideology. Of course he has nothing to propose, except, in that paper, a clever indicator. But it’s not like we are going to invite Peters (does he even care about sci-fi, the climate etc.? no idea). He’s just a name in the website copy. If you object, we take it down.

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Yes, great story! I’ll play with the model a bit and post on the linked page to explain my skepticism, not in the results, but that the results are 1) unique, 2) non-obvious and 3) relevant to econ growth. (I could end up proving myself wrong.)

I believe my apples and oranges point still stands.

Let me know when logistical and travel and accommodation details are worked out . . .

This one is for @Nic010 and @giacomo.pinaffo .

Here’s a video describing the Climate Almanac: Another output were ‘Postcards from the Future’: Create your Postcard from the Future - Climate Imagination Fellowship

I think I’ll get the KSR interview recording, I’ll post that as well.
He talked about ‘structure of feeling’, and that literature, film etc allow us to live an experience and see what it teaches us. Novels are better than film because the reader is engaged collaboratively with the writer to build something. Hope is a political stance. Migration won’t be an issue because people won’t be able to migrate, but creates fear around climate issues that shut down discussions. Etc.

how about this @alberto:

We are a diverse team of economists, social scientists, science fiction authors, and artists working together to create a vision of a near-future society that successfully adheres to the Paris Agreement. Our approach, inspired by Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel “The Ministry for the Future,” combines narrative storytelling with analytical methods, including arguments and some mathematical models, as opposed to relying solely on traditional equations and spreadsheets. We are motivated by recent advancements in economic thought by scholars like Ha-Joon Chang, Jason Hickel, and Mariana Mazzucato, among others. Their innovative theories are complemented by actionable policy ideas such as job guarantees and universal basic services, which provide new tools for policymakers to tackle climate change and the current global crises.

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@zazizoma - website is now online

@nadia please check your metadata. Why does the URL return a preview of

Wonderful, @nadia, thanks! I liked the first font much better than the second curly font. I’ve asked for a link to the proper SEC page from our Interplanetary Initiative team, and will send that along when I get it.

Not sure I follow re: fonts - got screenshot?

You wouldn’t happen to have a short (2-3 sentence) bio + photo I can use? putting up list of participants on that page. Same request for @alberto & @giacomo.pinaffo

Here’s the space economy camp link, and I’ll send 3 sentences and a photo soon.

Do we have details yet about accommodation and catering?


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This looks different from the version I saw this morning, which was cleaner.

aha. I’ll check in next time but for now running with this one.

all logistics are → @Nic010

cool thanks, that cheat sheet for scifi writers- is it ready or still in progress?

I should get a first draft next week.

FYI, we’ve got two outcomes in the website menu bar, though the second links to program.

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fixed it. should be ok now