December Snippets, quotes and annotated blurbs

You create the future by thanking the past. – ?

If you are planning for one year, grow rice. If you’re planning for 20 years, grow trees. If you’re planning for centuries, grow people. – Chinese proverb

The task is not so much to see what no one has seen, but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees – Schrödinger

Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine. – Joan Clarke in The Imitation Game

Summum ius summa inuria. (The more laws, the less justice.) – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed. – Peter F Drucker

The key insight of the most successful CEO’s: A laser like focus on, and an ability to make bold decisions about resource allocation. — The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success, William N. Thorndike

Programmers cannot write code to accomplish something they do not understand. – Martin Armstrong

Ben Bernanke “In order to do anything, I think I would not only have to know everything in advance, everyone would have to know I knew everything in advance.” Unbelievably ignorant. As any first grade science student knows, the economy is a complex adaptive system. You can’t know everything about it and even if you did, by definition, you can’t predict the emergent properties. “The only thing one can forecast intelligently is that the fragile will break.” ~ Taleb

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” – Einstein
[So in order to solve global “problems” like famine and injustice, we must have a method that produces emergence.]

End-user computing Many teenagers spend a huge amount of time on Facebook. How about a way for teens to build their own Facebook apps, where the program lets you traverse your social graph with just a few lines of code? Just as spreadsheets offer SUM(), a social programming tool could give you functions like my_friends() and my_photos().

Consider abstracting things even more. We all want, and offer, stuff. A “request” is the basic building block for interaction. We should be able to manipulate requests so that they make a personalized, collaborative-able story that is interesting to us. “my_friends()” is a node. If we connect to my_photos() the same way nature manages connections, and there are many nodes and connections, we have a global brain.

Let Uber Operate With Less Regulation And Riders Can Make Their Own Choice
Reputation is replacing regulation. Regulation is faulty (essentially a tax that creates monopolies) because regulators don’t have skin in the game, AND minuscule consequences for poor decisions. But to fully bloom, reputation needs individual insurance and a local peer 2 peer conflict resolution system that can make decisions in a weeks, not years. Soon reputation won’t just be “5 stars”. It will include the premium for a class of insurance paid by a specific service provider. Also, a higher insurance coverage can denote responsibility — when claims are peer 2 peer. That levels the playing field between a company with deep pockets and average people.

The Next Phase in Financial Services: What Low-income Americans Tell Us What we all want is a safe and easy way to add value and be paid for it. “…They jerry rig their own social safety nets.” So actually, its hard to start a business due to bureaucracy. And the transaction mediums are all fiat currencies so have the hidden tax of monetary inflation, and tax of political mismanagement. The ideal currency is shares in entities that consistently add value and can offer dividends — which can reduce income volatility. The float is managed by supply and demand.

We want the whole system though. Current conflict resolution is cruel joke. It should be peer 2 peer with “judges” that are actually accountable. Judges should be expert in the topic, and close cases in weeks, not years. In fact everything should be peer 2 peer. A cashier does not need a terminal, just log into their job on their mobile device and ring people up.

This system is not disruptive — its how nature works. What’s disruptive is letting go of the top down centralized control model that scales poorly and keeps billions living on $2.50/day.

“But what about all the laws?”

Hi, “Law” does not scale well. Contracts do. Of course insurance is not yet peer 2 peer — its a very lucrative business, especially when gov’s pass a billion “laws” that sort of make the whole industry a hard to get into monopoly. That unnecessarily increases the cost for everyone else. Competitive pressures are focusing on this area because its become a huge arbitrage opportunity. Instead of hiding behind “laws” these companies could meet the challenge of competition and innovate their way to profit.

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Explaining Castpoints by replying to others

2015 DEC 13
“So you want to reform democracy?”

I don’t want to reform it, centralized gov does not scale. I want to offer something that does scale.

One reason I participate is to save others’ their time. I give away all the “secrets”.

“If there was an idea that could ‘fix’ democracy, it would have been thought-up already.” “Democracy” is not broken. Like any other complex adaptive system, society starts with a few initial conditions that iterate to produce all the “complexity”. It’s standard science: nothing is controversial about this.

For example, “poverty” in society is not a problem, it’s the result of a 3 to 4 initial conditions. People who try to manage the manifestation of poverty can do so within a pretty small scope, but it takes a lot of resources to stem the tide, and as soon as those resources stop flowing, things generally revert. Like in weeks. Sandy Springs, Georgia got pretty close on the spectrum.

Communication modes:
Mature and effective within a proper context:
· 1 to 1 (email, face to face talking)
· 1 to many (books, radio, tv)

Not mature, not enough context yet to be effective:
· Any individual to any individual (~peer 2 peer)

Mature and terrible:
· Many to one (voting, no structure)
· Middle layers (mid management, rigid structure)

Even with transparency, accountability, etc., “Many to one” simply does not scale. Voting can work well enough on a small scale.

The solution has been known and obvious for many years to anyone who has looked at how ecologies work. “[Some] assume we can improve on designs we don’t truly understand, even when nature has taken centuries, or even millennia, to perfect what clearly works.” — Nassim Taleb

Ok, fine, mimic nature, but how? That’s what I spent 15 years doing 😉 What is a reference point that nature was copied correctly into a practical organization system? Ideally, all the stuff at the “complex” manifestation level are self regulating and self adapting, without exceptions. The system runs itself. For example, plant roots all talk with each other and share and trade resources. The are no “moderators” banning trolls.

One of those initial conditions: grouping (fractals). Grouping, which includes relationships, is what creates context, which engenders meaning, which creates value. Once everything has a value, and everything CAN be valued, as long as the value has common units, decisions become obvious. There is nothing to debate (other than personal preference).

Another initial condition is “add value first”. Can’t have a transaction if people don’t reveal what they want, and what they have to offer.

The other initial condition is “private property” (aka “local control”). This is a fractal. In biology it’s the semi permeable membrane of a cell, then tissue, then organ, then body, then group, than clan, then society. In psychology it’s called personal “boundaries”, then groups, etc. In relationships, sex is invite only, otherwise it’s called rape. If a cell has its guts stolen, it gets sick and can die. Theft is an initial condition of poverty, and of miss valuing people.

It took me a long time to understand some of the following miss perceptions.

“Narrow your focus”. It should be “narrow your focus within a context”. “Fixing poverty” requires changing a very focused few initial conditions, but within a very large scope. In this case the scope would include the manifestations of taxation, and laws. That’s a pretty big scope! If private property replaces theft (more or less), agreements will replace laws, and taxes will shrink. It’s not a surprise that keeping residents’ money local was one of Sandy Springs first steps, and helped reduced their costs 50%!

An app to identify potholes is great, but it has a very narrow scope. The magic doesn’t happen until things get very integrated, which requires a large scope.

Nature is great at arbitrating miss-valued things. That’s why life is found everywhere, why heat flows to cold, water flows down, etc. No committees, no focus groups, it’s autonomous and automatic, no exceptions. Those are the real “laws”. As Cyd Harrell said, “A typical city website today is ABOUT the city, but the site should BE the city, doing the people’s business online.” What would the world be like if it was automatically profitable to arbitrate (correctly value) WHO, what, where, when and why, the currently miss valued, simply as we go about our daily lives?

2014 OCT 24
Funding risk in mission-driven startups

…what to do when that approach looks to many funders like you’re seeking risk?

Have the ability for many people to incrementally add funding, and or, good ideas and support. If the ideas are good, funders should get short AND long term ROI. If the ideas are not so good, funders should still get long term ROI. “Many people” reduces risk, which takes unnecessary pressure off everyone. Lowering participation hurdles increase exposure to better info.

Milestones would turn into many stepping stones so overall progress could be more adaptable.

Within the whole start up classification, the common tasks with the best ROI would be immediately accessible to all.

Being able to dump a bit of money on a specific challenge would attract the best proven minds to solve it so they can get that money, and possibly long term ROI. There would be no risk, and no immediate cost to the startup.

2014 OCT 15
Impact Investing: The Invisible Heart of Markets 8 high level recommendations:
Still a flawed top down approach. Really one only needs to consider 2 dimensions: Risk and return. “Impact” should be big enough that its an emergent (semi unknowable ahead of time) property of correct initial conditions. By definition, you can’t set fine grained objectives at all.

“Govs should” is basically mentioned 5 times. The core reason we have not solved typical problems is the ability to do so requires a paradigm shift away from organizing via central control toward distributed self configuring organization. What you really want is a way to effectively organizing any mix of people, content, work, and goods, for any activity so that the ONLY limitation is desire to add wonderful value. Do it by mimicking evolution.

2014 OCT 14

Civic wants, civic needs, civic tech: What are the main problems we’re solving?

Really, tech + civic is trying to solve just one problem with many symptoms: How best to organize aggregations of people. The discussion of wants verses needs is just a symptom of INDIRECT communication. The core reason tech has not solved CFA’s mission is the ability to do so requires a paradigm shift from fiat divine right of kings to autonomy.

Who is this public we’re benefiting?

Public should mean everyone. The idea that “public” gives up power when it delegates power is really saying public = victim (have no power).

If we seek to benefit the public, we need to think about whether our work reinforces existing power relationships or redistributes power.

What you are really asking (nicely) is, “How do we fairly wield power that is not rightfully ours?” You can’t. And that’s why nice, well meaning people feel a bit uncomfortable about all this.

To move more deeply into a systemic change approach, civic technologists need to consciously value non-technical skills. Skills in cross-cultural communication, in facilitation, mediation, legal defense (and offense!), and public writing and argumentation are all necessary for achieving deep and systemic change.

That’s too complicated and masks symptoms 🙂 The problem is unequal power distirbution. Simply make one tool that has all people on a level playing field. Then, the only limit is the desire to add value.

Semi-Annotated economic quotes

How We Got Our (7) Kids in College by Age 12
… we never say “buy this or that curriculum” or “follow these steps and — presto! — your kids will get into college by 12.” What we do share is the advice that if we as parents LET OUR KIDS WORK AT THEIR OWN PACE, PROVIDE MATERIAL THAT THE KIDS ARE INTERESTED IN, AND NEVER HOLD THEM BACK, then they’ll begin to see amazing results. 

Alejandro Aravena
The more complex the problem, the more the need for simplicity… With the right design, sustainability is nothing but the rigorous use of common sense… Design’s power of synthesis is trying to make a more efficient use of the scarcest resource in cities, which is not money but coordination.

Rick Rule
The biggest threat to your wealth is not the government, the banks or market manipulators. It is almost always your own lack of conviction, courage, or knowledge. …So don’t fear manipulation. Fear your own mistakes due to emotional decision-making and prejudices set by your experience in the immediate past.

Adam Smith (1723 – 1790)
The theory that can absorb the greatest number of facts, and persist in doing so, generation after generation, through all changes of opinion and detail, is the one that must rule all observation. [Only pay attention to things that are timeless.]

Humans are the only animal that bargain: no other animal does this — no dog exchanges bones with another.

By pursuing you own interest you frequently promote that of society more effectually than when you really intend to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. [You don’t know what is best for others, so let go of pretending you do. Doing what you do best is panacea.]

What can be added to the happiness of a person who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience? [Those who live in debt and dependency have no idea only know what freedom and prosperity are not.]

It is not by augmenting the capital of the country, but by rendering a greater part of that capital active and productive than would otherwise be so, that the most judicious operations of banking can increase the industry of the country. [Printing money, just like promising better future behavior, never works.]

I just saw people coming and going, and I asked if I could help. [Offer first, ask later.]

Wherever there is great poverty there is great inequality.

Labor was the first price, the original purchase — money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.

Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.

No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. [Sooner or later, people finally get that the biggest reward is adding value, not amassing it.]

The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the person who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations. [The simplest way to kill someone is debase their dreams: They have nothing inspiring to live for. The simplest, safest, and most fulfilling way help someone is to steward their dreams.]

Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.

All money is a matter of belief.

Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things. [That is what to do. How to do it? Castpoints.]

The machines that are first invented to perform any particular movement are always the most complex, and succeeding artists generally discover that, with fewer wheels, with fewer principles of motion, than had originally been employed, the same effects may be more easily produced. The first systems, in the same manner, are always the most complex.

Martin Armstrong
The Age of Empire is gone. Technology has rendered those ideas antiquated at best. But before these older generations die out, the memory of enemies and empires still haunt the hallow halls in their minds. As the economy turns down, government needs war to divert the people and their anger from themselves.

Government NEVER creates the wealth of a nation – they consume it.

[I did not know this!]
When the exchange reopened in 1915, how stocks traded was altered, which is why you will find real data on the NYSE back only to 1915. Previously, stocks traded in dollars, but the quotes were expressed as a percentage of the stock’s par value. Therefore, prior to 1915, stocks traded like bonds say 95 was 5% below par. Beginning in 1915, the NYSE reopened and traded at “market value”. [Isn’t that interesting?! Just like Adam Smith indicated a few quotes above, trading got simpler.]

Taxes are destroying the economy. There is no longer any need for taxes when money is no longer tangible anyway – but simply the total productivity of the nation. Adam Smith’s invisible hand is spot on even today. I do not care how much someone has, it is HUMAN to try to retain what you have earned. National Taxes are a barbaric relic from the past. The only taxes that are even reasonable are local when that government does not create the money. [Finally, someone else gets it!]

Market trends are ALWAYS real because nobody can manipulate the trend – not even government. Manipulations are short blasts within the trend – but you cannot shorten a bear market or extend a bull market – Japan tried and that was the goal of Marxist-Keynesianism. [As one of the Stansberry people says, “Shopping trumps politics.” In the end, it seems all physical life comes from the Sun. It is a lot bigger than us! We surf the Sun’s rays, not create the surf.]

As the pension crisis hit Rome, then more and more people no longer joined the army with high expectations. The defenses of the Roman Empire declined as we are seeing today and as that declined, the barbarian invasions became successful. The government started raising taxes dramatically and that led to more corruption. The higher the taxes, the higher the bribes and corruption to escape them. In the end, people began just walking away from their property and the population of Rome itself collapsed.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
…It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.

…they make us dependent on a social system that exploits our energies for its own purposes. …If a person learns to enjoy and find meaning in the ongoing stream of experience, in the process of living itself, the burden of social controls automatically falls from one’s shoulders.

Painters must want to paint above all else. If the artist in front of the canvas begins to wonder how much he will sell it for, or what the critics will think of it, he won’t be able to pursue original avenues. Creative achievements depend on single-minded immersion.

…anyone who has experienced flow knows that the deep enjoyment it provieds requires an equal degree of disciplined concentration.

…the concentration is usually possible because the task undertaken has clear goals and provides immediate feedback.

Bureaucracy is a construction designed to maximize the distance between a decision-maker and the risks of the decision. — Thierry L’hôte

If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law. — Winston Churchill

Goal seeking emerges directly from a long-term drive to increase future freedom of action… Intelligence should be viewed as a physical process that tries to maximize future freedom of action and avoid constraints in its own future. — Alex Wissner-Gross

John Adams
All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise not from defects in the Constitution or Confederation, not from a want of honor or virtue so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.” At the Constitutional Convention (1787)

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free. — A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787

Thomas Jefferson
If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.

The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. — Benjamin Franklin

It has been pointed out by Boltzmann that the fundamental object of contention in the life-struggle, in the evolution of the organic world, is available energy. In accord with this observation is the principle that, in the struggle for existence, the advantage must go to those organisms whose energy-capturing devices are most efficient in directing available energy into channels favorable to the preservation [then thriving] of the species. — A.J.Lotka 1922

Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content (2003) The interesting questions regarding free content, in other words, have nothing to do with bland “End of Free” predictions, or unimaginative attempts at restoring user-pays regimes. The interesting questions are how far the power of the creator to publish their own work is going to go, how much those changes will be mirrored in group work, and how much better collaborative filters will become in locating freely offered material. While we don’t know what the end state of these changes will be, we do know that the shift in publishing power is epochal and accelerating.

“… if you get something you value, one way or another, some time or another, you should pay for it… But many people won’t, and we simply do not have a mechanism for incenting the voluntary compliance … It’s a real problem.” — Paul Rosenberg

Welcome to the new reputation economy “There has been no scientific proof.” In order to prove his hypothesis, Sadato devised an experiment… “The implication of our study is that different types of reward are coded by the same currency system.” In other words, our brains neurologically compute personal reputation to be as valuable as money… “What has surprised me the most about reputation is that the need for it actually goes down as the marketplace matures.”… “By the time a host has their 20th guest on Airbnb, they start blindly accepting people. They don’t need to talk on the phone or need lots of information,” he explains. “You start trusting people. So really what we are doing is not just renting out spaces but helping to change the way people trust humanity.”… The whole package will come together in your personal [and personally owned] reputation dashboard, painting a comprehensive, definitive picture of your intentions, capabilities and values.

“It’s all about evaluating skills and putting a price on them.” -–Billy Beane

DARPA-Backed Ayasdi Launches With $10M From Khosla, Floodgate To Uncover The Hidden Value In Big Data … the Big Data market is … projected to reach $24 billion by 2016… Yet… the emergence of Big Data doesn’t necessarily directly translate into a net positive for business, humankind… Big Data is comprised of enormous amounts of unstructured data, a wide array of data types and media, but the amount of insight that can be extracted from that data is proportionately tiny. [This is why Castpoints keeps a minimum of information (mainly transactions) for a minimum amount of time (3 years), uses transparency while protecting privacy, is media type agnostic, and has structure built in.] …they are still failing to yield the kind of breakthrough insights that lead to true innovation… queries are inherently based on human assumptions and biases, and, in turn, query results tend to only reveal slices of data, rather than providing visibility into the relationships between similar groups of data… [In other words, the old models are indirect and don’t value what people value.] …To address this problem … the machine learning platform combines computer science with a branch of mathematics called “Topological Data Analysis,” which allows Ayasdi to visualize entire datasets at once… The … platform uses hundreds of machine learning algorithms to explore these complex datasets… which is designed for domain experts, data scientists and researchers…” [Castpoints uses 2 dirt simple algorithms which allow anyone to value and manage any resource in near real time.]

“I see reputation managers as core to the success of the Web… Quality assessments must become an explicit component of most Web user interfaces.” – Jakob Nielson

Information wants to be free, but the world isn’t ready… “… it’s easy to share stuff for free with everybody, but people still want and need money. The larger tragedy is that lots of people (not just middle class creative professions) will eventually be rendered economically superfluous… The hope is that this will result in a critical mass of folks demanding a solution. The solution, which seemed obvious to people when they discussed the coming “cybernetic revolution” in the 1970s, is to find a way to (or an excuse to) distribute wealth to those rendered economically obsolete…” [“Distribute wealth” is a terrible “solution”. Who defines and decides who gets what, when, and how much? Why should people be incented to prove they are “economically obsolete” (worthless)? Castpoints incents people to do what they uniquely do best — something that never goes out of style.]

“The path to maximum prosperity will depend on finding ways to build economic systems in which new niches will generate spontaneously and abundantly.” – Stuart A. Kauffman

“The [Intrade.com] markets offer a great way to track the market-based consensus on political and current events. People put real money on the line in making predictions, which is better than snap judgments in opinion polls or no-stakes views of pundits.” – Tom Gallagher, ISI Group

“Reputation is a currency that will become more powerful than our credit history… It will make the resume seem archaic.” — Rachel Botsman

“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” — Joseph Campbell