dot.bubble passive/aggressive game
of UpSideDown Economics
almost three decades I have been thinking about the structure of our
economic system, the deep effects (and often unintended
consequences) it has on many aspects of our lives, and how this
drives the decision processes and life-choices of most individuals.
15 years ago, I started to outline a book. This has remained, largely,
a gotta do although many pages of notes have been filled
and hours of thought have been consumed. In DesignShop after DesignShop
- and in the many ins and outs of starting an enterprise - I have watched
the workings of an economic system based on the assumption
of fundamental scarcity. This leads to the desire (of many) to
over control the work process and spoil the commons which, in turn,
creates more sacristy. It is a closed-loop system. A positive feedback
loop - self fulfilling and reinforcing until there is a system break
and the system fails, resets or leaps to another order.
following Chart shows one way this works.
693 - Matt Taylor Notebook - 11 Jan 85
diagram of the SCARCITY ECONOMICS TRAP
an economic system from the assumption of fundamental sacristy will
inevitably lead to war - time and again. It will also, with the same
certainty, lead to the unnecessary exploitation - and destruction -
of the planet. There is a logic to this, essentially, closed
loop response, that overwhelms good intentions and fosters unintended
now, as a new economy is starting to emerge, the Scarcity Trap
dominates. This is distorting the new economy and its potentially
great economic benefit is being subordinated. We are not yet seeing
a new economy although some parts are emerging. We are witnessing the
old economy on steroids.
from Matt Taylor Notebook, January 1985 - Pages 693 to 695:
ECONOMICS AND FISH:
- The fish in water situation is an old problem. We know something
is there only if it is a variable. Hidden design assumptions
are not - by definition - variables. Even assumptions we are aware
of - if assumed to be true are therefore not a variable.
So lets look at the simple chart: (above)
- Here is a partial map of the logical relentless machine that
is driving our world to death.
- From the 2nd Law (of Thermodynamics) we concluded that Universes
run down just like closed systems like cans of gas
do. Entropy was raised to the dignity of a general social Paradigm,
which made the 2nd Law seem even better; thus, a good engineering
concept merged with 10,000 years of Human history (of poverty,
disease, wars, etc.), the observations of Malthus; and then, the
assumption of fundamental scarcity was institutionalized.
economic systems rest secure upon this rock.
accounting writes-off wealth to save cash and avoid
taxes that we need to wage wars to protect what we have and to
fund welfare for those who cant make it. Tax
laws design more buildings than architects because capital is
taxed but energy bills are deductible (as expenses). All this
leads to the fact that there is not enough to go around
so we must exploit more and protect more, which leads
to the results that very nicely prove our first premises to be
- But, what is economical about a closed society, WWII
or ecological collapse? This is really a very simple Map, the
number of reinforcers and conceptual logic chains that weave in
and out cannot be counted. The open strands and counter concepts
are almost nil. It does little good to be against WWII, or energy
wasteful buildings when thousands of root assumptions held by
millions of people lead inexorably to these practices and these
Human Race is a crowd of wind-up toy robots, marching to their
doom - playing at free will - driven by a program that goes largely
unchallenged. Love you neighbor?... Will you when hes
out to steel your food? Viet Nam, Cambodia, El Salvador all...
all the ruthless result of the assumption of fundamental
- Just to make it more fun are the paradoxes: The ecologist who
argues to protect the Earth, use less because of limited resources,
is working against himself. He is actually encouraging people
to go out and grab more while its there. The businessman
who blindly exploits free resources, maintaining that
we will invent our way out of the resulting mess of pollution
and corrupt 3rd world governments, is in a left-handed way advocating
unlimited resource. Both are right and wrong
- one is on the right side for the wrong reason, the other visa
short term exploitation kills the the living system, we
all will die - if the system is allowed to live and is intelligently
co-designed it will be unlimited.
are two kinds of societies that can be ecologically stable long
term: Very simple ones, or very advanced. Our
present primitive technology is in-between. Advanced
nations are just killing off the Planet a little faster than the
backward. The difference is: 50 years or a few hundred.
wasteful, high metabolism US economy is primed to become the first
recyclable economy. Few of us can go on the way we are.
- The most obtuse argument of all is that we cant afford
to change. If we can afford what we are doing, we can afford anything.
- I call this UpSideDown Economics because, literally, thats
what it is. Look at the Chart on the right hand page (above).
We spend billions preparing for WWIII and billions more trying
to stop it. This is what is known as being results
we even get down to wondering if our practices might be related
to the conditions we face. This promotes cries for more love,
more understanding, or - at least - energy efficient buildings
- all very good ideas, all powerless to stop a 10,000 year
juggernaut. We have to turn that Chart right side up and look
at our assumptions... challenge what we think is real. We must,
as individuals, and together, think clear, re-conceive
our society, re-image our world... or die.
- We have always sensed the relationship between economics and
morality. Adam Smith sat the Chair of Moral Philosophy
at Edinburgh University. Now we face the ultimate moral crises:
a species systematically committing global suicide.
War III, which we are fighting now, is the last 100 years
war. It is a global civil war being fought for control over the
worlds scarce resources. In the process of waging
this war we are destroying our right to be.
are today - everyday - raping the Earth and turning it into a
huge cosmic garbage can. In the name of economics we are decimating
thousands of animal species and committing unspeakable horrors
on our fellow Humans. We hide from the reality of our mindless
acts behind reams of statistics and input/output tables hoping
that, a little more accuracy in our figures, and it somehow will
not be true.
this point the voice of these notes changes
from description of the issue to notes related to the Introduction
of the book:
- Do we have to die? Must we allow - by default - this wondrous
force, that was once so creative, destroy the very culture it
nearly built? No, of course not. But to survive and prosper we
must pay a terrible price: we must challenge the very assumptions
upon which our technology, our power, our society, our very language
smile and say is that all? You can do anything to
a man but this; millions have been killed for nothing more than
the color of some ones skin, her way of praying to God,
his belief about the nature of the Universe, or to keep the price
of harvesting coffee paid to a disenfranchised, starving peasant
less than 4 cents a pound (Time 1/14/85).
lets not underestimate the work that we have to do, together.
If you are holding this book in you hand, you are a privileged
member of a powerful elite. An elite that is, statistically, an
anomaly in the course of Human history. You have been told that
the economy that supports your privilege is fundamentally sound,
that the basis of our system is Honor, Justice, Equality and Freedom.
If you are educated, you can appreciate - even revere - the culture
that has created so much prosperity, opportunity, brilliance and
beauty. If you are industrious, you helped build that culture.
am a member of the same elite as you. I earn more money, by lunch
time, in one day of intellectual work than half the people on
this planet can earn in a year of backbreaking labor - where,
for most, there is no lunch.
you, when I break from this manuscript to snack on a banana, I
am supporting a barbarous tyranny in Central America. Like you
- I hope - I have enormous respect and love for the civilization
of which I am a part.
have chosen - with this book - to attack that civilization at
its base. I am not doing this out of anger, frustration, hate
or malice - I am not pointing a finger at anyone.
I do not write this out of guilt - I dont believe
in guilt, it is substitute for action. I do not wish to
destroy anyone, any institution, nor any idea. I am
starting a dialog about some patterns of thought and action that
has trapped us all in an experience I do not believe anyone wanted.
The purpose of this dialog is to examine the basic assumptions
that underlay our economic reality so that we can take action...
within a new framework.
is not an attack on our economic system - to the extent that it
is free enterprise - but a criticism of how all of us have chosen
to use this system and the unprecedented power it has given us.
It is a warning that the systems power has been turned against
itself - and us; and, it is now destroying what it once created.
is not a technical book on economics; that is not my interest
nor my ability. It is a book about ideas, people, technologies,
cultures and systems - and, how these become forged into a dynamic
that no one created, can understand, can be responsible
for - or can change. This is a story of what happens when a society
gives too little thought to too much success. This
is a social criticism of a classic kind
- and as such - it is charged with finding what is good about
us as it is responsible for discovering what is wrong.
is a fishy tale - for I am a fish in water trying to understand
water. It took me nearly 30 years to develop the perceptions from
which this book views the world. I am an optimist - I believe
that Humankind can make it to graduation day as Bucky
Fuller called it. If I were not an optimist, I would crawl under
some rock and wait dying rather than disturb what peace you and
us begin and let us spend our time well. If the assumptions behind
this book are false, little is lost in pausing now and then to
examine our culture - if they are true, we have a lot of work
this point these notes shift to more general material that
will have to be covered in the book: management, control
human ability to get in the game and play with passion
is both a great asset and liability. Without it, there certainly
would be no creativity, and without it we also would be without
the principle means by which we get lost in trivia
and damaging closed loops. There is positive and negative entrainment.
Distinguishing between them is difficult. Entrainment, or the
act of it, is the state of all human joy.
entire subject of objectivity is raised because of the possible
traps of and the lost-ness of the entrainment phenomena.
Objectivity is the feedback loop that come out of the entrainment
experience and looks at it. Entrainment cannot be escaped
because it is a function of physical reality. It is
a basis - a necessity - a how physical reality holds together.
brings up the issue of scale. On one scale a system will appear
harmonious - on another, it will appear to have conflicts and
discontinuities; from a third, again, harmonious. The communication
of the differences shown by the views of scale is
feedback. Without discontinuities, without difference,
there can be no intelligence - no self-awareness.
A perfect system cannot think, change, grow, improve.
this is going to be one of the missing links to both
a workable model of management and to a framework in which
a real artificial intelligence phenomena will self-generate. The
secrete is that you can not make something
think. Nor, can you manage those that do think. It is our
attempt to eliminate error that is at fault - all we do is scale
it up or down, usually where we cant
see it. It then bites us to our eternal surprise.
very tacit meaning we hold of the concept control
is a cause of much of our confusion... and misdeeds. We yet have
not discovered a true science and art of cybernetics.
have not learned what walking is (controlled falling).
The 19th Century - industrial paradigm - imperialist-definition
of control is setting the limits of our theory and practices
from boardroom to robotics labs -from child raising practices
foreign policy. The issue of control is closely linked with entrainment
- when it happens or does not (at a given scale or view)
and how the drive to entrain become distorted and,
best examples examples of proper control are given to us
in music and athletics. What we see here is that control is never
exercised on the (same) scale as the performance. One lets
go the performance - gives in to it. You control
the scale below: practice and preparation; and the
scale above: interpretation and strategy. That is,
this is what a master does - or anyone at that total timeless
moment of entrainment and joy.
same is true for the audience when the get in. Yet,
always, management wants to control the game. What allows a DesignShop
(process) to work is the discrimination of what to control and
what we dont control.
new management style will not be occupied (controlled) with deciding
and controlling, but with establishing the organism (organization-system)
that can decide and control. It will intervene when the
organization gets lost in trivia and damaging closed loops.
Even here the focus will be on different. Only the minimum attention
will be spent on the what's (only as required to
prevent unacceptable organism damage); the focus will be on discovering
the missing feedback loops, the want of which, allowed the whole
category of problem(s). Then, on installing those feedback mechanisms.
Then, on asking some hard questions about itself.
can be seen, management is another scale of the organization
providing objectivity to the rest.
main theme of this inquiry is the question of what happens when an economy
(or system) starts to turn against itself and create the opposite effect
it was designed to facilitate - my sense is that the U.S. economy, and
the system we presently practice, started to do this in the mid 70s.
While still producing enormous wealth for some - and with disregard
for long term consequences - the system itself seems to be under increasing
is my conviction that the existing system of value measurement and trade
does not sufficiently map, facilitate nor account the economy we have
- let alone - the economy that is emerging. This has many consequences
- the most costly are those where the wrong policy or decision is logically
driven by as set of essentially flawed economic assumptions. We have
some wealth we can see yet we have many negative consequences
we cannot account. We take actions that destroys nearly as much
as is produced. People structure their lives around a set of activities
that makes no intrinsic sense involving actions that most of them do
reason that this economic engine (shown in the diagram)
works as it does is that Humans are rule-based systems.
They are self programmable (Lilly, Jaynes).
To the limits of the system, they follow the commands generated
by their beliefs. If there is fundamental sacristy, if
others will kill and steal to get what is mine, if I must protect
myself and my tribe, what choices do I have in a given set of circumstances?
What actions will I take? How will I treat you, other life and
the planet? The range of these actions are not infinite and fairly predictable
in mass (Psycho History).
Chapter Outline of the Book:
following is a Chapter by Chaper outine that I made in 1988. While not
necessarily the best way to organize the book, in todays context,
it does present some content elements that are important and can focus
a lively dialog.
have placed links for this outline to other parts of my web site that
explore similar issues, as well as, reference my earlier work related
to this project.
general explanation of the outline follows and is linked from the Chapter
A Criticism of a Potential Social Calamity
- UpSideDown Economics
general thesis: The economy is turned against itself - what
was a creative force is becoming a destructive one.
is our out of date models that cause this condition - first
our thinking and then the economy will go through a transformation.
greatest danger is in failing to bring due diligence to
the task allowing short term concerns and narrow interests
to prevent timely action.
purpose of this book is to get people to stop and think,
it is not a technical book. The purpose of criticism is
not to take cheap shots at opponents, it is to build perceptions
that support more effective thinking and better utilization
call to put our house in order.
- Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm?
model of paradigm.
19th Century paradigm.
20th Century paradigm.
consequences of not acting.
- The Relentless Machine
organization: a feudal attempt.
labor and affordability.
food, junk bonds, junk car.
goes on and on.
certain as death and taxes?
the machine: the shift to knowledge work.
soul body dichotomy: Capitalism vrs. Communism.
USA: rape it while you can.
are the stockholders?
giving everybody what they want - and charging for it.
does America fear Capitalism?
- Economy - Ecology: A House Divided
the most unsustainable business in the world.
cant afford it?
necessity of profit.
the ultimate concern.
rebuilding of Planet Earth.
- The Collapse That Nobody Came To
1988: The emperor is naked.
funny thing happened on the way to Utopia.
white mans burden.
the meme time.
- The Last 100 years War
- 1998: The Last 100 Years War.
elimination of negatives: getting back to zero.
trouble is war is fun.
- The Global Dimension
full court press.
cant get there from here - the need for a global
versus them: mutually assured self annihilation.
to destroy a planet in 10 easy steps.
- Whole System or Hole System?
Theory, Systems Theory, Cybernetics and Systems Dynamics:
Numberg Trials of 2019?
- The Monkeys Paw
Monkeys Paw: a parable for our time.
important things dont come with instruction manuals.
technology: learning how to use tools.
- The Automated Paradox
work ethic and poverty.
Fords and Einsteins insights.
greatest fear: universal wealth.
there life after failure?
a whole new game.
- Proposal: A New Set of Game Rules for Accomplishing the 21st
do you navigate in unknown waters?
criteria for a global process of change.
and control: a necessity for stable systems.
- Win or lose - lose.
Scenario to the 21st Century.
is time to put our house together. This HOUSE is our planet,
the armature by which to manufacture and trade goods and services and
the mental framework by which the economic organization of our society
economics drives competition of the wrong kind. Not the competition
of goods in a fair marketplace of buyers, but the competition
for position, privilege and resource control. Abundance economics
recognizes that creativity is the source of economic growth not the
resources or people you control. This is a fundamental shift in awareness.
Sacristy and abundance are two non compatible propositions. They lead
to opposite outcomes. (return
to Chaper Outline)
societies Paradigm is, in effect, its collection of hidden design
assumptions about how the world works. Economics is still trapped
in the cause and effect, linear, thing-focused paradigm of the
late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Yet, we are now starting to apply
late 20th and 21st Century tools, ideas and organizational capacities.
This is like putting a 400 horse power engine in a go-cart. Something
is going to break.
returns is a natural mechanism of an economy - the important question
is increasing returns of what. If we do not think our way into
the consequences of what we are making, we will increasingly get huge
self-reinforcing, unintended consequences that are not to our liking.
It is not that the emerging economy can be understood or controlled
- it is not about these old ways. It has to be, however, co-created
- and it can be. (return
to Chaper Outline)
modern industrial corporation is the last remnant of the feudal society.
People enjoy less freedom inside these organizations then
in the social-political realm. These organizations, as Drucker pointed
out in the 60s (and again in the 80s and 90s), are not capable of dealing
with the rise of the knowledge worker.
of our economy, today, is composed of producing worthless goods
in a push market to employ people to earn a living
so they can buy more (often worthless) goods that give them little utility
or pleasure. On and on. Round and round. Are we robots?
it will not be easy to get off the track of this relentless machine
and even trying can destroy the economy itself. We are on a drunken
positive feedback bash with no clear way out.
inside this, a new economy is emerging. We put it at risk, however,
when we insist on measuring and regulating it based on models
from the old system. We put both it and ourselves at risk when we attempt
to use this social tool as we did the old economy. (return
to Chaper Outline)
struggle between Capitalism and Communism was but a morality play based
on the old soul-body dichotomy doctrine - the cold war is gone but the
dichotomy is not. Until it is gone, it will find another expression
- one more dangerous than the last.
exists individual wealth and common wealth and both are necessary for
the existence of the other.
of which passes for economic information to the average
person is propaganda designed to keep the old gang in power - and their
hand in the till. Do the SEC rules protect, more, little old ladies
in tennis shoes from unscrupulous investors or investment houses from
startups raising their own money on the Internet without letting the
old gang in the game with the resulting distortions typical of the present
where are the stockholders? Absentee landlords only
interested in maximum short term yield. (return
to Chaper Outline)
board rooms and in the political dialog, we assume that there is
intrinsic conflict between Spotted Owls and the ability of people to
earn a living. What are they going to earn when the last tree is
gone? What will they have when the unique viewpoints of
other species are gone?
is necessary to every living system - this is true for Spotted Owls
and General Motors. This, they have in common. A sustainable
system, ecological or economic, has the requirement that profit must
be generated and enjoyed.
Traditional economic systems intrinsically depended on ecological systems
to work. Future, complex (it is simple now) systems will be ecologies
and they will work by ecological principles. There is not conflict
here - only, now, a great deal of ignorance and a fixation of short
Earth, now, is an artifact. Actually, it has been for a long
time. How we think about and engage with this evolving system is important
beyond description. If we get it wrong the results will be deadly. We
have to rebuild Planet Earth as
a work of ART. (return
to Chaper Outline)
1988 was a watershed. The market crashed and the economy went right
on chugging. This was the beginning of the new economy.
It continues to befuddle - and excite. I dont know if it is
safe to exploit it, however.
then, an unbelievable amount of value has been created by the markets
which are oscillating in wider and wilder cycles. New jobs, new markets,
new technologies, new everything. You would expect people to be relaxed
and happy. Look around you. What happened? (return
to Chaper Outline)
a hundred years, the Industrial Nations have been fighting a global
civil war. We know some aspects of this by name: WWI, WWII, Vietnam,
the Cold War. This is a struggle of scarce resources
and who controls them. In the mean time, the real resource turned
be organized Human intellect. The fall of the Soviet Union
signaled the beginning of the end of a very old idea. The Soviet Union
lost economically. This does not mean that we now think of as
Capitalism is the BIG idea. It means that it was maginally better
than a really bad idea.
have spend centuries thinking the good was the elimination of the bad:
Health, the elimination of disease; prosperity, the elimination of poverty;
freedom, the elimination of despots. Well, many of these bads
are being eliminated - does this add up to good? (return
to Chaper Outline)
is not too hard to destroy a planet. We are well on our way to learning
how. Another decade or two and we will have the power. In the meantime,
we are putting the habits in place that will inevitably lead to that
result as soon as we do get the power.
have never met anyone who actually wants to do this, it is strange,
then, to see so many acting like they must.
cannot push today into becoming a successful tomorrow. Us
versus them is not going to lead to a sustainable social system
- not when everybody has the power of gods. The first time a terrorist
group blows away a major city this
will be clear.
is a global village and has to be treated as such.
vision are we in pursuit of? (return
to Chaper Outline)
are several questions we must answer - or at least ask: What
is a complex system and how do you participate in
governance function? What are we doing with this system? What will
be the future consequences if we keep on doing what we are doing
longevity, we may be the first generation to leave the consequences
to ourselves. I am sure we will call this “bad luck.”
do we simulate the World Game? (return
to Chaper Outline)
story of the Monkeys
Paw is our story. We are developing the power, do we understand
the consequences? (return
to Chaper Outline)
can choose to live in harmony will all life forms including our
We can make our technology lifelike. We can live in a Cybernetic
Meadow. Or, our technology can evolve on its own like a child
left in the street to grow up as s/he can. What will it really be
live with semi-smart, powerful, pissed-off, disenfranchised, free-ranging
technology that evolved without a moral base? The closest thing to
it I can think of is living under a modern, vicious dictator with
wealth and modern war-making technology. It wont
happen? Are you willing to bet your life on it? Your are.
do we fear life, success and sustainable wealth? (return
to Chaper Outline)
need a new set of Game Rules. And, many more feedback
loops of the right kind.
this is one game Humanity will win - or lose - together.
next 25 years will be exciting and critical for humanity. In this
period, more change will take place than the entire prior history that
Humanity has experienced. In this time period, the power to redesign
will be in our hands. In this time period, economics as we know it
will completely disappear. Most of what we think of a normal
human experience will disappear. (return
to Chaper Outline)
Philosophy to Action:
thinking about this subject has not been entirely philosophical. Declaring
that we really live in abundance will not get
it done. A new economy with new means of transacting has to be created.
There are many mechanical and process issues related to how the
economy runs today that limits its ability to evolve to something else.
I have addressed a number of these in our Patent.
Some aspects of these are outlined (below) in the Rutgers conference
work involves the creation of intelligent agents who know their condition
that can execute agreements that are built in to the agents themselves
- contract and money become the same thing.
One Exposure of These Ideas:
work stimulated a number of dialogs with Mike Bednarek (our patent
attorney between 1997 and 2000)
including discussion about the entire area of Intellectual Capital
(a process for which is covered in the Patent).
has been writing and speaking on this subject, and in due course, an
opportunity to address some aspects of it materialized, by his efforts,
at a conference held at Rutgers University in January 1999.
Systematic Approach to Structuring and Facilitating Value Exchange
....Including a solution to the problem of valuing intangible assets
is the first publication of these notes, material from the Patent Application
and the dialogs that Mike and I have had over the last several years.
conference was on the valuation of intangible assets and this material
was received in a mix of disbelief and shock. I am sure it was mostly
dismissed but a couple of seeds were planted here and there. I was surprised
that the majority of the attendee's - academic and practicing economists
- were almost totally naive about what is going on in computing today.
Mike and I had a hard time convincing them that everything we were talking
about was, in fact, being developed somewhere by someone. Their tacit
assumption was that governments would maintain control of money and
the economy and that there was no technical system that would wire around
this ability. I question this assumption.
To Develop the Thesis:
the years, I thought that much of the material that I had envisioned
for the book would become moot as others published on the subject. Surprisingly,
it has not. In a way this is disappointing. Much of what has been published
in the last several years, however, does lay a good base for the books
central ideas. Perhaps it needs to be written after all.
is my intention to gather old and to develop new raw materials for the
book on this page. By the beginning of 2001, a page will be set up on
the iterations site that will start the systematic expansion
of these ideas. It is the intention to establish a by-invitation, interactive
web site and publish electronically first, then later in print media.
If sufficient energy builds up, iterations can host a number of Virtual
and face-to-face events related to the subject. This way, the book can
be developed as an open source document and reach some distribution
while being written.
may be feasible to approach the development of the technical systems
and agents in the same way. Russ White and Yolke Incorporated is working
on this aspect. Jeff Johnston took the lead with iterations starting
the second quarter of last year (2000) and Vlasta Pokadnikova is taking
on the research, co-authoring and organizational aspects of the UpSideDown
voice of this document:
VISION STRATEGY EVALUATE
February 2, 1999
February 5, 2001
this document is about 35% finished
1985, 1988, 1999, 2000, 2001 Matt Taylor
to Matts Notebook
aspects of the system described are patent pending by iterations