Meet the Worldbuilders

Aha. More grist for my Manyworlders’ malignant mills.

This is for everyone thinking about ergodicity, which I had never heard of before pitching up here.

Kindly take my non-ergodic perspective that you will all ergodicially like this blog on the subject and laugh out loud at one of its key lines of evidence (“Five out of six russian roulette players recommend it as a fun & profitable game”). I did at least, but I am not speaking for the rest of you, which is the lesson, I guess.

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I am enough of a nerd that I was slightly annoyed at the imprecision. It contains a confusion between Russian roulette players and Russian roulette games. Five out of six games are indeed won, but the proportion of players that can recommend it is 5/6 if, and only if, each player plays exactly one game in the course of her life. If that were not the case, and the funny statement would be correct, Russian roulette would be ergodic.

(sorry) :man_shrugging:

Don’t apologise. Three hours ago I was innocent of the entire concept! Thanks for the useful explanatory note though.

Greetings, one and all! I am Simon Grant, already known to several Edgeryders, with a looooong history of interdisciplinary and inter-perspectival work. Right now, a couple of things on my mind…

  1. Linking up non-institutional research networks. We probably all have our complaints about established academia – I certainly do, as a long-term recovering “academic” – but it is fairly clear to me that the way to transcend institutional academia is to provide a viable, widespread, peer-to-peer alternative. Happy to talk about this.
  2. Knowledge Commons. This is closely related. I see the need for commoning practices which care for a sense of quality and intellectual rigour that is more fluid than that in the establishment world, and even more powerful, not less so. Worth contextualising this immediately, to say that intellectual rigour can only be achieved, in my view, alongside emotional responsibility and maturity, and not (as some intellectual traditions seem to tacitly imply) by abandoning the emotions and in particular the heart, and the perspective of love.
  3. At the practical technical level, none of the currently available wiki software that I have seen does what is needed to support this knowledge commons. I’m not a software developer myself, but understand enough of it and have dabbled enough with code to be able to have meaningful conversations about how this might be done.

People here are more than welcome to connect. I find it helpful to start with one-to-one conversations, to relate world views and perspectives, and to see what we can offer each other, as well as the greater collective.

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Hi,

My name is Jo, and I’m a fiction writer, poet, game designer, editor, and humanities researcher, whose relevant interests include workplace democracy, governing the commons, decoloniality, transformative justice, and money and metrics. I think I’d like to be a theor but I’ve got a lot of incanter-type emails in my inbox.

Here are two worldbuilding-type experiments of mine:


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Hey
I’m Nobody, and I am extremely out of my depth. I’ve never done anything like this before, I feel like I’m not supposed to be here and I haven’t even done my GCSEs yet. Make of that what you will.
Although I’m still a teenager, I’m an aspiring theor and often stare blankly into the void (who knows what I’m thinking) or bore my friends with bizzare ramblings. My favourite philosopher is Franz Kafka and my favourite book is The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I’d really recommend it!
I love philosophy, ethics, fiction and music and I play guitar. My favourite colours are blue and grey.
I’m definitely running out of things to say, probably because I’m inexperienced and unskilled compared to everyone else here. Hopefully I can still help with this a bit because it’s a really awesome project!

(part of me is screaming “back out and leave this to people who actually know what they’re doing”. I’m not paying any attention it as per usual)

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Well… welcome to the club, @Nobody. We are all way out of our depth, as we aspire to understanding and even engineering system change when all Very Serious People claim that There Is No Alternative.

But hey, this is not so much about a bunch of people being particularly good at anything, it’s more about some work that needs doing.

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Hi! Somehow managed to miss your note :slight_smile:

Thought I would reach out about two things that are happening which may be of interest to you:

Ciao Arturo :slight_smile:

I’ve been lurking for a while and together with Yudha, Ivan, Bojan thinking about how we can make space for everyone who wants to contribute in their own ways. Here are two ongoing things we just announced:

Hey Philip,
Dunno if these might be of interest to you?

Hey, @Nobody! I too was a teenager boring my friends with odd ramblings, not so long ago (and later, those odd ramblings became my greatest strength). I love Kafka and Becky Chamber’s work.

(part of me is screaming “back out and leave this to people who actually know what they’re doing”. I’m not paying any attention it as per usual)

If life’s taught me anything, it’s that we’re all making it up as we go along. Welcome!

Hi All, very excited to be here.

Witness looks like the Polytopian co-creation process I’ve been craving for years, but never incanted. I’m happy to have discovered this space of opportunity.

Throughout my life I’ve adopted many roles - my dominant orientation is Theor, though I worked hard especially in my younger years to be an Incanter.

An inventor who can see limitless opportunities, but had to practice grounding them and manifesting them in reality (though my material literacies are primarily mechanical and oriented around primitive toolsets).

Now my present orientation is more Auger as I take tentative exploratory steps to better understand Reality and how better to engage. In a fast changing world I seek what is possible, and to expand my adaptive capacity (and that of others) through play, making small tests and prototypes which I share with others in the form of “seeds”, prior to exploring the next challenge.

The first two parts of my journey are briefly touched upon here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwWQoDSSuJw, before I began to incant floating star domes (unfortunately most of the documentation was lost in the Sundering, but early prototypes can be viewed here) made from whatever is available wherever we land.

Our floating community the Circus of Seeds found its way to Witness and intend make it a part of our annual migration web (though many of us intend to shift our migratory frequency to once in a decade having found great resonance at the edges of the Assembly).

I would love to discuss further our culture, which acts to assist with the cross pollination of ideas, technology, culture, nature and people between global regions and we hope the different residences of Witness.

Our core system of Value and economics is The Infinite Win, though this runs in parallel to whichever Systems of Value we encounter.

I look forward to looking how we can weave our stories and experiences together to find new patterns of possibility and bring them into being.

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Hello @jaycousins, welcome!

Very happy you and the Circus of Seeds are considering sprouting roots in The Assembly. Its system shows great promise, but still needs quite some work to become a bit more… restful, less dependent on revolutionary tension.

From what I understand – and forgive me, I try to parse alt-economic ideas in the light of strands of economic thinking more familiar to me – the Infinite Win is a close relative of green growth:

  1. Human needs do not have to be material, and in fact advanced needs on the Maslow scale tend not to be.
  2. It is possible to think of value as willingness to pay to have your needs satisfied. In fact, that’s neoclassical utility theory, so it’s not only thinkable, but pretty familiar.
  3. Hence, infinite growth with static or even diminishing material consumption is theoretically possible.
  4. For that to happen you need to correctly price environmental and social externalities, and then the dynamic of needs satisfaction will give you green growth.

Did I get it right?

I am personally not a fan of green growth, for reasons explained below, but hey – happy to be proven wrong, and certainly happy to see a development of The Assembly (or any Distrikt in Witness) looking in that direction. Let us know how we can support you.

Why I am personally not a fan of green growth
  1. It has no empirical support. See for example Jason Hickel & Giorgos Kallis (2019): Is Green Growth Possible?, New Political Economy, DOI: 10.1080/13563467.2019.1598964.
    image
  2. Theoretically, it is too simple a model. It assumes that (1) it always makes intellectual sense to price externalities (which means assigning a monetary value to things like the death of coral reefs) and (2) that is possible politically, which means no powerful forces are pushing against correct pricing. Both assumptions have not survived contacts with the facts.

Thanks Alberto, it's valuable to have a discussion about this to better define what I mean.

I wasn't familiar with Green Growth until now, but looking at it, I can't see many parallels. If I understand correctly Green Growth simply seeks to reduce externalisation of cost, and increase environmentally beneficial technology. Business as Usual, but expecting that technology will somehow work it out.

The Infinite Win is closer if anything to Donut Economics (more information on that here), however it recognises that what is framed as Ecological Boundary or Ceiling in Donut Economics is mostly due to poor management and damaging relationships. So rather than seeing the Donut as a Static thing, instead it sees the Donut as having the potential to expand its carrying capacity - even where resources are fixed, how they are used is not - even land can be expanded by increasing surface area through habitat expansion.

So rather than a donut, a cornucopia.

Changing this "Ecological Ceiling" (eg. biodiversity loss, can become biodiversity gain) requires a change in our incentive structures as if defenders of biodiversity are being murdered while those destroying biodiversity are getting paid then there are fundamental issues with our reward structures.

We pay people to make Deserts, and we punish those who would protect, maintain and grow Habitats.

By reversing these incentive structures, we better align the monetary system with the environment.

The Infinite Win system seeks to expand both what we Value, but also who has the right to define Value (increasing agency to non humans).

The aim is a system where our very awareness of what has Value, and what provides Value expands.

So there is no such thing as an environmental or social externality. As a Bioregion and City are both Economic Agents with the Ability to define their own Needs (albeit through symbiotic and cyborg interfaces). Through the lens of the Infinite Win, the externalisation of cost to Environment or Society is a form of entity abuse on a par with slavery (which is another thing our existing system rewards).

I don't believe there is such a thing as "correct price" assigning quantative data to qualitative and contextual Value is a part of the problem. That said I haven't worked out how to address this element yet.

At the core of the Infinite Win is that Value is created at the point a Need is met. Communication of a Need is mining the data that allows resources to flow. It creates Demand. Once the Demand is met through Supply or Service, then Value is created (Money is Minted).

Not all Needs are equal, and are best assessed in terms of Life (opportunity) and Death (maintenance). For example without air a Human cannot survive for longer than 3 minutes (perhaps 10 if you are a free-diver). Yet under the present economy we don't pay for these essential services (and nor could we).

If we did there would be outrage, as the poor would die too quickly, and revolution would swiftly occur. However one can survive 8-21 days without food, at different stages temporary loss of function and eventually permanent damage occur (variable cost). Our present economy deems this acceptable, perhaps because the slowness allows for coercion, without rapid loss of the labor pool.

Under the Infinite Win System the ability to pay for these services is Automatic. The fact that your physical need has been met, means that those meeting that Need have created Value.

Communicating your Need also creates Value, as does communicating the Needs of others - as through clear communication the System can better understand how to meet its Needs. In this way we are incentivised to communicate Needs, and the System creates greater transparency of actual demand rather than imagined or illusory demand. A lot of the Value created is already happening for free, just our incentive structures fail to recognise the Value being created (which harms the ecosystem and causes these services to atrophy).

eg. Each day, you breath 20,000 Breaths. A debt to the Forest and Reef. But not one you pay, one that Society Pays, because you as a Human are recognised as having intrinsic Value through your mere existence. The Commons pays, and the Forest and Reef accumulate wealth and recognition.

Coral and Forests have their own Needs, Humans and other beings meeting these Needs are likewise rewarded.

Neither Forest, Coral, Human, City etc. have an account to pay for these Services. The money is minted at the point the Service is provided. So there is no artificial scarcity for essential provisions and services.

Scarcity however will never be completely eradicated - each human is Unique, specific geographies (whether urban or rural), a table at your favourite restaurant. The Money earned from assisting in the provision of Universal Basic Outcomes can be spent on these scarce goods.

The Forest may wish to use its funds to expand, yet also if forest as a bioregion increases the diversity and variety of beings it can support, then it can further increase its earning potential.

The same can be said of a City.

The Infinite Win System still needs further fleshing out, I presently envisage it working with Bioregional Banks, with both inhabitants, diaspora, and dependants each being shareholders in some form or other.

Likely it will require multiple currencies, or forms of recognition.

I'm also toying with the idea of qualitative valuation, and allowing for internal trading of "Proof of Work" as a means of establishing priority of Service. eg. The chef who Values fresh air, prioritises serving those who Serve the Forest or the Reef. Likely any infinite win system would need to use a combination of both measure and symbolism to define Value, rather than any one solitary and transferable measure of Value.




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Not exactly. The main tenet is to dematerialize need, which seems to be also a feature of Infinite Win (and if it is not, if it is about addressing people’s material needs ad infinitum, then it’s not sustainable for the physical natural systems).

From where I’m standing Doughnut Econ is green-growthist, or at the very least green growth-compatible. The idea is to do growth, while staying away from physical planetary boundaries. That’s what green growth is.

Thanks for clarifying.

Dematerialisation is one aspect - without access to the actual models it’s difficult to engage with any disputes with respect to the efficacy - if you can point me to accessible data sources I’d appreciate it - right now I can’t even download the paper you are referencing.

Dematerialisation is one element of the Infinite Win, and not the primary focus. The primary focus is Habitat creation. The goal is not to stop global warming, the goal is to increase adaptive capacity in the face of global warming and the secondary crises it creates.

Increased Habitat and Variety of Habitat, increases our chances of survival.

Humans are a part of their habitat. Our present habitats (both mental, and material) are misaligned with the Natural World. Both Cities and Rural Environments presently tend towards desert - with serious limitations to which beings are able to occupy those spaces.

In terms of the “Green Growth” models - i don’t see any reference to Habitat generation. This is one of the fundamental differences with respect to the Infinite Win.

Green Growth is more oriented around “do less harm” whilst the Infinite Win’s is more oriented towards “create more benefits for a greater number of beings”. Doing less harm is one factor of this equation, but each harm also offers an opportunity through this lens.

The Blue Economy (Gunter Pauli) is a good example of how this can be applied in practice, with each toxic output becoming food for another productive system (perhaps I should’ve started here as opposed to the donut).

The second core differentiator is that this is not an Anthropocentric model. “All beings” is not humans, it’s all life on Earth. Although we may need to begin with complex assemblages of Being - such as the Amazon Rainforest (or more granular and overlapping bioregions within it). If the Amazon Rainforest is recognised as having both Legal Status (in a similar manner to Corporations), and it is recognised and compensated for its goods and services, then we reach a point where it is able to act with sufficient levels of power in its own defence.

But any such shifts need to have an underpinning of the essential intrinsic Value of any human life - as if the wood cutter isn’t fed, then parallel markets will survive or civil unrest will potentially negate any progress.

As for the externalities and pricing, and the political possibility. This is a harder thing to address.

As i’ve stated already I’m highly skeptical about any form of Measured Valuation, and unsure of how we can ever hope to accurately measure the Value of anything - given that Value itself is contextual. eg. a cup of water in the desert, vs by the mountain spring, or vegetable oil in your compost, vs in the frying pan.

This is the hard part for me, and yet to be resolved, and the Green Growth model seems to address these things as Taxes and Investments.

The Infinite Win doesn’t see the Reef as an externality. It sees the Reef as an economic entity possessing economic agency and rights. With both human and non-human beings dependant on it for survival. If the Reefs losses where actually to be modelled accurately the cost would be an infinite loss. So Reef destruction doesn’t just represent something on the balance sheet that can be taxed once, it represents an infinite future loss.

As for the Political Impossibility. Impossible is not a long term state. Everything changes. Flight was impossible till it wasn’t. To quote Ursula le Guin

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.”

However I don’t imagine transition to come from the political class, I expect it to come from those who pull the strings of the political class.

One question here, is “How do we create a system of incentives that is of greater utility to wealthy sociopaths than fiat currency AND nurtures growth and maintenance of Varied Habitat and social goods as an essential part of any form of Value Creation?”