Wednesday, January 07, 2015

"Three Laws" of Corporatics? A world war of sabotage? And an end to politics.

For the new year, let me start with Larry Hart’s “Three Laws of Corporatics” which are vital to program into ALL forms of artificial life… and indeed, (with different words) into our kids (including any who will partly or wholly made of silicon):

First Law: A corporation may not impose externalities on others or upon the outside world without fairly negotiated and sufficient compensation and/or restitution to those harmed. (Including future generations.)

Second Law: A corporation must fulfill its chartered and openly vetted mission statement to the extent that doing so does not conflict with the First Law.

Third Law: A corporation must maintain its ability to continue functioning to the extent that doing so does not conflict with the First and Second Laws.

Beyond the obvious homage to Isaac Asimov, I am confident that Adam Smith would approve. In this basic form, it might have even got approval from both Marx and Rand!  It is common sense and it should be fundamental.

Moreover, only by setting such an example will we talk robots into accepting their own, Asimovian versions.

== Alternate Futures ==

In one of the most scary and depressing predictive novels of all time — THE COOL WAR, by Frederik Pohl — we see a highly credible and plausible way that the world could spiral down to hell. Not amid a spasm of mushroom clouds and plagues, but through a tit-for-tat cycle of sabotage, with each adversary easily crippling some vulnerable element of the other’s complex and inter-related economy, resulting in a descent that is gradual, blamed on incompetence, spinning the whole world downward to shabbiness, poverty and loss of confidence.

Could it happen? Well, ask yourself this: does cable news lie, in order to demolish belief in ourselves? Um duh? Now ask: in whose interest is it to do that?

 Read about one example of a known incident where this kind of sabotage is verified.  Moreover it was done trivially and cost free, by a few state-sponsored agents and hackers. 


Oh, and now contemplate the series of air disasters that has struck Malaysia, lately. As Goldfinger said: "Once, Mr. Bond, is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action."

== Gerrymandering and Redistricting ==

Running through some items for you... here's a fascinating appraisal of how population density correlates strongly with “red vs blue” leanings in U.S. politics.  

Meet the Fortune 500 Companies Funding the Political Resegregation of America: Mother Jones is unabashedly partisan. So I always damp down what I get from them as a bit polemically exaggerated.  Still, they tend (unlike Fox and pals) not to outright lie.  And this article about the relentlessly aggressive and well-organized campaign by the Republican Party to use gerrymandering to stay politically relevant, is simply stunning.  

Those of you who still cling to loyalty to a movement-gone-criminally-insane… that only stays competitive by rampant cheating... are you truly proud of this?

Hence: are we seeing a miracle?  A state whose legislature is controlled by Republicans, actually cranking back on gerrymandering? Yes, a bill for impartial redistricting has passed in Ohio... by the GOP-run legislature! 

Okay so where's the catch?

It's set up to only make changes after 2021. James Carville put it bluntly, that the Ohio Republicans: “were motivated partly out of fear of a potential voter referendum that could impose an even more sweeping overhaul.”  


Moreover, if they time it right, then Ohio's Congressional delegation won't be reconfigured till 2031! How convenient.  What... you're surprised?

Alas, Carville is far too specific and gentle.  It goes much farther and deeper.  The GOP massively gerried in 2011, after the last census.  And in states where they control the legislatures, the GOP-owned voting machine companies can deliver any results they care to rig, without any paper audit trail. The litany of blatant cheating goes on and on... but no one who would be embarrassed is still reading this, right now.

Does any of this cause a re-evaluation of how best to ensure a healthy, flat-open-fair capitalism?  My next political blog will appraise why dogmatists cling to long-disproved catechisms, expecting different results.  It is something called “insanity.” Look it up.

Why do people vote against their interests? Carville again: I have no earthly idea why a stock market investor would vote Republican — all you have do is look at the numbers. The numbers are staggering, breathtaking and unimaginable.”  That “the average stock-market gain under four post-Depression Democrats through each one’s 2,000th day in office has outpaced the average gain of the four Republicans in the era by a factor of nearly 4 to 1. Democratic gains have averaged 133%, while Republican market advances have had a mean of 33%.”  (It gets FAR bigger if you just compare both Bushes to Clinton and Obama.

Of course this metric does not stand alone.  Every comparison of national health, from unemployment to small business startups to federal budget deficits, does better across the span of democratic administrations, vs republican ones.  Only a quasi religion of the hypnotized would ignore the titanic disparity of actual outcomes.  Ah, but such is the power of propaganda.

For more on this stunning disparity, see: Do Outcomes Matter More Than Rhetoric? 

== Two Historical Perspectives ==

A fascinating article about how Karl Marx viewed the American Civil War. An excerpt: “The workingmen of Europe feel sure that, as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American anti-slavery war will do for the working classes. They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded son of the working class, to lead the country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world.”

Oh, sure, this is a "socialist rag." And you have heard me inveigh upon lunacies of the far left. But this article is informative and erudite and moderate...and I am happy to refer folks to articles that cogently discuss Adam Smith.  How sad that so many folks nowadays consider themselves to be sophisticated, politically, because they can share “cogent” jpegs on Facebook or repeat a Hannity rant… having never actually read Adam Smith or Marx or even Orwell.  Bigger issues are at stake, Horatio.

So what happened in Russia?  One of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history, when one of our most evil presidents -- George H.W. Bush -- sent over scores of "commercial advisors" to help the Yeltsin government "transform" into both democracy and capitalist paradise.  These advisors, from major US banks and investment houses, urged a series of "privatization" events that were supposed to give every Russian citizen equal shares of privatized state enterprises.  The result, a few years later, was the narrowest oligarchy of blatant theft in the planet. Good job.

No one has ever told this story.  Of the worst president of my lifetime, vastly despicable, even more so than his horrid son.  Oh, please.  More Bushes. Please, sir, may we have another?

== a palate cleaner ==

After that expression of righteous and rightful outrage, let me return to a fellow I admire... whom I mention publicly more than anyone else alive, I reckon.

Here's a brief bit of enlightenment (The Morals of Modern Economicsas yet another moderate person expresses surprised delight over how... LIBERAL... Adam Smith truly was, helping to explain why the right (amid its dive into lunacy) has completely abandoned the Father of Modern Capitalism.

Seriously, you moderate liberals (not leftists), the most powerful political JUDO move you can make is to rediscover Smith, the founder of YOUR movement and no friend of oligarchic lords. Reclaim Adam Smith... and watch the Fox-zoids stammer in confusion as you sewer them with Smith's truth... that the great enemies of flat-open-creative markets have always been owner-oligarch-monopolist lords.

== A roller coaster! ==

Which brings us to those who might actually know what's going on...

Screw the One Percent: I hate the title of this piece. The enemy is not the top 1% (which probably includes your periodontist), but HALF (the feudalists) of the 0.001%.  Still, read this  article about a reform that probably never entered your horizon, even though it probably affects you… the law that used to guarantee most US workers overtime pay. The limiting cap has not been raised but once, since 1975. Apparently (verify this) BHO could raise it himself, without Congress.  Um, what’s he waiting for?

While I'm on the subject. Here's one dystopian scenario, written back in 1908: The Iron Heel, by Jack London, also available on Project Gutenberg. It portrays deepening class divisions, resulting in an oligarchic tyranny of terror arising in the United States. An amazing bit of prescient and earnest (and kinda depressing) sci fi from an early and unusual source.

Oh, heck, let me swerve and show you what a statesman was like... and how we need someone like this now! Here I make the case that George Marshall was the Man of the 20th Century.

55 comments:

LarryHart said...

Wow!

Thanks, Dr, Brin, for being the second author to name-check me in a published essay (comics writer/artist Dave Sim was the first).

Now, pardon me while I geek out. :)

David Brin said...

LH... I'd a done more if you gave me citation links! ;-)

ericcutspaper said...

Finally…I thought I was going a bit loony these past years with the FOX Brigade citing Adam Smith as their righteous father of wanton capitalism… Thank you! David Brin, for making the effort to re-align conceptions… I'm on my way to re-reading and loading up 'skewers' for the roasting of a few FOXsters on the BBQ ;-) There is a parallel to the selective parsing of Mr. Smith's intents… Jesus Christ has had a few bending his intents for humankind to their consolidated 'oligarchical' efforts within Church & State(s).

David Brin said...

Eric, thanks. The notion that the speaker of the Sermon on the Mount would be in any way related to the psychopathic monster who wrote the scenario in the Book of Revelation is simply insane.

It's contradictions like that, that are important, and not "believer vs non-believer."

Alex Tolley said...

@LarryHart

Second Law: A corporation must fulfill its chartered and openly vetted mission statement to the extent that doing so does not conflict with the First Law.

Can you expand on this law? What is a chartered and vetted "mission statement"? Mission statements tend to change at the drop of a hat in the US, depending on the latest CEO and management consulting gig.

The first law could be handled by national laws, even global ones. However without uniform laws across nations, this will be problematic to ensure a level playing field, rather than special exemptions to attract businesses. Is this law about preventing avoidance of local laws and how might it be enforced in a firm?

LarryHart said...

Alex Tolley:

Can you expand on this law? What is a chartered and vetted "mission statement"? Mission statements tend to change at the drop of a hat in the US, depending on the latest CEO and management consulting gig.


In the real world, I don't expect any nations or states to make these things literally become law. More like my conception of what corporate law should be, or maybe should have been all along.

Asimov conceived his Three Laws of Robotics as a way of insuring that robots were useful tools rather than Frankenstein's Monsters. I'm trying to suggest the same approach to corporations.

The Second Law is analogous to Asimov's Second Law which says a robot must follow orders. Likewise, a corporation must do what it was chartered to do in the first place. General Motors makes cars. Exxon/Mobil sells gasoline. As simple as that: "We The People chartered you for a reason--so do that thing."

I've said here before that the wording of the individual laws is a work in progress (and Dr Brin has interpreted my words a bit, which is just fine). I think the most important thing to note is the order of the three laws. The point is to remind everyone involved that a corporation is not a natural creature. It was created in law for a reason. So in a quick nutshell:

1) Don't make us sorry we chartered you
2) Do what we chartered you for
3) Keep yourself viable



Is this law about preventing avoidance of local laws and how might it be enforced in a firm?


Again, we're in my fantasy-land now, but the way I see the "Laws of Corporatics" working is that they are broadly presumed to be at work in the chartering of a corporation. Thus, anyone harmed by a corporation could sue based on "You didn't follow the First Law", and any court would recognize such a claim.

More thought-experiment than actual attempt at legislation.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

I'd a done more if you gave me citation links! ;-)


I'm the opposite of what you'd call an "early adopter". Still reluctant to have a visible web presence out there, even though I know I'll pretty much have to have one eventually.

Alex Tolley said...

@LarryHart - I understand what you are saying about this being more of a thought experiment. Asimov's Laws were good for stories, but as we know, the first law would be very hard to implement, and of course completely ignored for battlefield robots.

What I like about your corporatic laws is that it does provide a loose framework that actual legal issues could be based around, rather than the primary function in Anglo countries of corporations as financially goal driven operating as close to the legal wind as possible to get away with. It would be nice if we could hold corporations to laws that if violated, could be used to punish, or even in extreme cases, execute.

Alfred Differ said...

From the last thread:
Paul Shen-Brown... spoke of keeping a brain active as a way to hold back senescence.

You fairly point out that not many people think of that particular issue, but I still lump it in with the easy stuff because I know a number of folks who are aware of it and treat it in a non-scientific manner. It's not clear exactly how we should be staying active, but many of us are experimenting with our own persons.

I learned of this issue when I was 17 (but looked 14 at best) from a woman who was 27. I got out of high school a year early and started college. I wound up tutoring math students to help pay the bills and the woman in question felt just a tad old learning calculus from me. She asked how old I was and I said I'd be 18 in a couple months. She sighed and commented that I'll go from 18 to 21 in 6 months and then time will pass even faster. I thought I understood her at the time, but I didn't get it until I was about her age and working at my research in grad school. I had the strange feeling at the time that the days were passing fast, but the years weren't. I kept notes to myself in my research journal telling me where and when I wrote each page because that helped me get started again the next day or recover a topic a few weeks later. I figured out that the days passed fast if I was concentrating hard (essentially OCD blindness) and the years passed slowly if I was often outside my comfort zone.

I suspect your belief about holding off senescence is related to work that pushes us outside our comfort zones. Mind-numbing jobs we keep for years don't do that leaving us with calendar years that flash by us and brains that really didn't have to establish new skills along the way. Adding skills is what I try to do to slow down time AND keep my brain working. It all gets harder as I get older (I'm 52 now), but I know when I'm out of my comfort zone and measure that instead of my slowly decreasing learning rate. 8)

LarryHart said...

Alex Tolley:

What I like about your corporatic laws is that it does provide a loose framework that actual legal issues could be based around, rather than the primary function in Anglo countries of corporations as financially goal driven operating as close to the legal wind as possible to get away with.


The corporations you speak of really have become Frankenstein's Monsters, much the way fictional robots were always written prior to Asimov. Now corporations are presumed to be "persons" with constitutional rights against government control? As if the corporation is not a creature of government in the first place?

So yes, my thought experiment goes toward "How can the Frankensteinish aspect of corporations be reined in?", or more cynically "How might it have been reined in?" How to get back to the idea that governments charter corporations in the first place, and that they do so for a reason, not just to open Pandora's Box and see what happens.

Alfred Differ said...

If you look at law the way Hayek did, they are the social rules that emerge from custom. Regulations are what we write when we have to get formal for the sake of a Court that rarely considers 'common law'.

These Laws of Corporatics would probably be implemented as social rules first. If they are what we informally expect of corporations, then the people running corporations will usually stick to them. They work best if they are kept simple and translate quickly to ethical rules.

We would write regulation later to deal with the misfits who won't follow the customs.

LarryHart said...

And since we are speaking of robots...

I still wonder what a sentient robot, posting on this blog, would think of the Catchpa admonition to "prove you're not a robot."

An Asimovian robot, bound by the second law to follow orders, would be stuck in an infinite loop, since--being a robot and all--he could not possibly follow the order to prove he is not a robot.

That aside, I would expect at the very least that a sentient robot's feelings would be hurt by the implication that "getting the answer correct" in some way proves he is not a robot.

Alfred Differ said...

I've never liked the notion that government charters corporations. Look at what people do when left to their own devices and you'll see that corporate partnerships are natural extensions of social working groups. We don't need government involvement in them until we get to legal issues involving liability. Since general partnerships in the US tend to make everyone liable for what all partners do, we don't even need it then. 8)

It's the concept of the limited liability corporation that messes up the independence of founders from government. How can a group of founding partners legally declare their intent to limit the liability of some of their investors and not others? Find a way to do that safely (transparently?) and we probably don't need charters at all. We'd just register our corporations for the sake of transparency with respect to liability.

David Brin said...

Heh. Captcha as a honeypot to trap literalist robots... a la James T Kirk...

Alex, the Second Law allows your nation or state to fine tune the way corporations operate, under the standards of the time. Jefferson said each generation should have the right to redefine a wide range of things to suit themselves and their perceived needs… secondary or contingent rights, like privacy and property, for example. While the primary rights of speech and knowledge and minimal interference in life cannot be diluted.

Hence I added vetted and chartered because a corporation must submit to such codes… unless it violates the first law. The first law must be fundamental. It is a basic tort principle, allowing anyone to be a plaintiff in the interests of future generations.

Tony Fisk said...

@Larry, here's a tongue in cheek take on robots and capcha

(A..nd, I have the 'I'm not a robot' tick of approval)

Re: corporate laws, it's quite interesting to see how a well structured standards document/manifesto unpacks itself from a couple of pages when it is put into use. This isn't (or shouldn't be) bloat, but people interpreting how intentions apply to circumstances.

Tangential to the topic of procedural standards, I recommend the BBC4 radio stream describing the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. (Best of all, you can listen while simultaneously reading the Snarky and Contrary Polemics of Charles David, Brin.)

Paul Shen-Brown said...

Alfred, you're pretty much hitting this stuff on the nose, but don't give me the credit, here. I'm just a teacher who used to read a lot when he had time. Now I listen to books on CD while trapped on thje highway, but that market isn't as broad and is much more expensive. The thing about the obituaries was someone else's idea (and yes, Tacitus, I had my skeptiscanner on, too. Obits are usually eulogies. I just told that story to set up some vivid background - and because I am a slave to my genetic propensity for loquaciousness). There have been some centenarian studies recently that confirm the idea that actively seeking both novelty and difficulty are important factors in having a quality life in your elderly decades.

Of course, if you want to be skeptical, you could point to the False Cause Fallacy. That is, there may be an underlying factor we are unaware of that causes both the reduction in debilitation and the active minds. Until they can show this, though, I'll keep reading )okay, listening), keep trying to learn new things, and keep sending books to my mother about things she normally doesn't read about. She's an avid reader, speaks five languages and will turn 72 next month, and has very few health complaints. But she only reads a narrow range of types of books.

As to what, specifically, works, it seems that all those games and puzzles that are advertised have only small effect sizes, much less than the oxygenation that comes of physical exercise. The rest is still a work in progress, but that's just the nature of knowledge. At this juncture, variety seems to be the thing, but who knows what new research will reveal.

locumranch said...

An 'end of politics' is a tad dramatic, isn't it?

I LOVE democracy, being optimist about it even (although I am often straw-manned as a 'holnist' on this site), which is why I criticize it's current pseudo-democratic form and put-to-challenge many of our foundational democratic assumptions BECAUSE our democracy (any democracy) assumes certain prerequisites for proper function:

(1)It requires a certain amount of cultural homogeneity;
(2) it demands shared history, common interests and mutual goals;
(3) it insists upon a reasonable & manageable scale; and
(4) it ceases to function properly when any of the three preceding prerequisites are neglected (which, btw, brings us right back to the current Rural Red and the Urban Blue divide).

Simply put, Red & Blue states have gone separate ways and now lack in (1) cultural homogeneity, (2) common social, political & economic goals and (3) a reasonable democratic 'scale' because Blue States tend to be 'urban', highly educated, white-collar, service-oriented, culturally diverse, younger & left-leaning while Red States tend to be more rural, resource (and/or trade) oriented, blue-collar, culturally homologous, older & right-leaning, so much so that they no longer share the same common interests or goals.

The Red Rural and Blue Urban agendas are 'at odds' with each other because they reflect disparate cultural interests (listed above), meaning that what is 'good' for the Blue is 'bad' for the Red and visa versa, and no amount of 'what's good for the goose is good for the knacker' platitudinizing can change the basic reality of this situation.

Finally, there is the most important issue of appropriate 'scale' because democratic 'majority-rule' assumes group cohesion, working best on a small scale, being justified when it means pleasing 7 people at the expense of 3 others but unjustifiable when it means marginalizing (and/or enslaving) a population of 150 Million people to please another 175 Million.

Inexorably, this growing Red & Blue divide either will lead to tyrannical oppression (and civil war) or balkanization with the concurrent reappraisal of the democratic process, and no amount of abject moralizing, 'Ought To's & wishful 'laws of corporatism' can fix this real & observable break-down of democratic principle.

Laws either reflect reality or they don't.


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David Brin said...

locum has clearly followed doctor's orders, cause he is in totally-cogent phase. (Welcome back, son.) And I agree with much of his diagnosis of America's Civil War. (And the parts I disagree with were at least clear-headed.

The best moment I saw that distilled the blue-gray divide was in the movie GETTYSBURG, when the british observer remarks that both sides sang the same songs, spoke the same language... but "dreamed different dreams."

Yes, Gray (red) America is different in all those ways, but above all in romanticism. Mark Twain blamed the Civil War on the Southerners' love of the feudal romances of Sir Walter Scott. Less flippantly, romanticism enables human males to rationalize and excuse any crimes in the name of honor. And to demonize the neighbors they should listen-to, instead.

The Nazis were also romantics. So was Tolkien. So is George Lucas. Hence, it's not so much correlated with evil as with a deepseated readiness to consider your foe to be unhuman.

Look at the orcs and storm troopers, clones and robot warriors -- or the Jews in Nazi propaganda. None of them have human faces or mothers. It is a very natural frame of consciousness for Homo Sapiens... indeed probably more "natural" than the scientific-contingent way of thinking.

Indeed, one can feel for the rural(ish) trauma that happens every June, when the local High School -- center of all life in most towns -- holds graduation... and the teens who are the pride of the community hug and cry... and ALL of the best and brightest then streak out of town as fast as their legs can carry them, heading toward the city strongholds of The Enemy.

That implicit rebuke happens every single year and it must wear on the souls of those who stay behind, who thereupon decide to create a mythology of the city-as-Mordor. A cesspit of iniquity, lacking all the wholesomeness of small town America...

...despite the real truth. Red America tells us they are SO much more moral... yet has higher teen sex, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, divorce, STDs, unwed mothers, dropouts... and if you leave out a few truly dismal cities, higher crime rates.

The remainder of Blue America pays vastly more taxes, gets less back (yet whines far less) while Red America net-vampires and suckles and sucks net benefits, and then dares to bitch about taxes.
Oops! Facts are inconvenient to the narrative . And hence...

...fact-based thinking ITSELF becomes the enemy.

==> continues

David Brin said...

==>


Oh... I can put myself in their shoes and picture how it must feel. Including the current of bitterness the flows under the hilariously self-deprecating humor of the good old boys on Foxworthy's Red Neck Comedy Tour... utterly charming, till you detect the underlying layer of volcanic rage.

So yes, I can agree with locum, up to a point... till he says the following: "Inexorably, this growing Red & Blue divide either will lead to tyrannical oppression (and civil war) or balkanization with the concurrent reappraisal of the democratic process..."

At which point, I have to say "bull!"

In this continuously re-igniting Civil War we have had eight or more phases.

See: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/09/phases-of-american-civil-war.html

But the really important ones -- Lincoln's War and Civil Rights and killing Hitler and subsidizing a mighty University and science system... were flat-out and decisively won by the Union. By the unromantic, sensible and forward-looking Blue America. Which allowed the experiment to go on.

A possibility that locum never considers, even though it has happened before.

Locum seems to think that the current total destruction of American politics is "normal." And yes, if it continues, it will be lethal, which is why the Saudis and their partners contrived it to happen! But it need NOT be lethal.

(1) The Saudis may awaken to what they've done, and how catastrophic it will be for them, when -- not if -- Americans put the pieces together. Because, after lengthy delay, they will.

or

(2) We'll simply have to gather our slow, northern tempers and get riled up enough to win. To simply win this phase. And save the Revolution.

locumranch said...



Moral 'rightness' (and/or 'God's preference) had little or nothing to do with the Grey & Blue American Civil War and its outcome. It was settled by blood (numerical advantage) and steel (industrial might). The same is true for WW1 & WW2.

Likewise, moral correctness will have little or no influence over the outcome of the Red & Blue Civil War #2. It will be settled by numerical advantage (blood) and industrial might (steel), the point being that a Blue 'victory' will come at the cost of moral (and/or democratic) pretense, might being the only verity, as the strong extinguishes the weak.

In this sense, a Blue victory is Pyrrhic, destructive to their own best interests, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, as the flow of Red rural resources (the very life-blood of Blue-bloods) will cease with Red defeat, unless the Blues grant the Reds self-rule, the ability to self-govern & negotiate, and thereby allow trade to purple into good faith.

Balkanization (as previously mentioned) is positive sum and win-win; victory is zero sum assuming that either party can be said to 'win'; and actual conflict is lose-lose, negative sum & eminently undesirable.

The choice is ours and yours, Red and Blue.


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sociotard said...

One thing I've wondered: We have seen that the Left-Right divide is largely Urban/Rural. Other factors too (young old, rich poor, man woman, white minority, educated not) but that seems like the big one. At the same time, we've seen brain scans that indicate where a person is on the left-right axis. So, what does that imply?

A) Naturally left-leaning people self-select to live in cities because they find other left leaning people there to share their mindset.
B) Naturally left-leaning people just do better with city lift, regardless of their neighbors mindset
C) Living in the city changes the way we think
D) Other?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi sociotard

Maybe its just what David said
The best and brightest have it on their toes and leave the rest

Or maybe those who want a challenge and something different move
And those who don't want to change stay

locumranch said...


The structural design or arrangement of space imposes restrictions on human behavior.

Ayers (2007) refers to three interrelated variables as important considerations in the design of space. These variables are the perception of density, privacy, and control.

Density is the relationship between the area of the space inhabited and the number of individuals inhabiting the space (Stokols, 1972). Density affects people, as it contributes to the psychological effects of crowding whereby people feel confined and limited within the allotted space (Stokols, 1972).

As density increases, it is more difficult for individuals to maintain privacy and personal space (Altman, 1981). Furthermore, densely populated environments threaten the sense of control individuals have over privacy and how they choose to regulate social interactions.

It is therefore reasonable to assume that one's immediate environment exerts direct influence over one's social, political and (even) spiritual belief systems in a deterministic fashion in the sense that preference, believed by many to be a cause, may actually represent an effect.


Best

Joe D said...

“I have no earthly idea why a stock market investor would vote Republican." The answer is simple: because the traders (who make more money when there are more trades) want falling markets, panic, and churn. The traders then provide election campaign funding.

Paul451 said...

LarryHart,
Re: Proving you're not a robot.
Didn't we cover this last time? There are several stories where robots were ordered to lie. (Sometimes accidentally, due to a poorly worded order.)

There's nothing innate in the 3 laws that prevents a robot from lying. Unless specifically ordered not to lie.

And even then, if given contradictory orders "Do not lie, prove you are a robot", ie, "do not lie, but prove a falsehood", whether it causes a simple rejection "cannot comply", a failure of the positronic pathways, or a clever malfunction/interpretation would depend on the complexity of the design. Simpler positronic nets were more literal, advanced ones were more devious. (Either way, Dr Calvin would give you such a look.)

Alex Tolley said...

It isn't as though the "left-right" spectrum only exists in the US. The "urban-rural" divide may be purely a coincidental correlation in the US, and even here it is very loosely correlated.

To really understand it you need to take a wider look at the phenomenon across the globe.

I tend to think that the underlying cause is neural wiring, rather than a space effect as suggested by locum to support his rural-urban belief. For example there is Haidt's "disgust" hypothesis. [Quick test - place your friends political views against their food preferences; do they balk at unusual foods, even crustacea? ] That is not to say that such wiring is purely genetic. More likely it is a mix of nature and nurture.

Alex Tolley said...

Getting back to corporatics. Robotic Laws were embedded in the programming of the positronic brains. Robots could not alter these, although was some suggestion that the programming could be removed. Corporations, however, get to change their first law by getting favorable legislation passed to remove the constraints. For example, if AGW needs to be covered with a carbon tax, just have lawmakers say that AGW doesn't exist. If taxes pay for legal action to contain corporate behavior, gut this by having taxes reduced.

How could we create an inviolate first law that cannot be so tampered with, so that corporations remain our servants, rather than go rogue? Or are we stretching things by even maintaining the legal fiction of corporations as entities (even persons in the US), when we should be constraining the executives instead, and make them much more culpable for any corporate misdeeds?

Alex Tolley said...

@JoeD - traders want volatility, not declining prices. Brokers and fund managers want rising prices as this draws in capital for investment. Bull markets are good for these people, whilst bear markets are bad. AFAIK, that financial people are more republican has nothing to do with the state of the market.

Lorraine said...

I'm surprised your three laws don't include a transparency requirement, or at least some specific disclosure requirements. I'm also a little surprised that one of the requirements is to "maintain its ability to continue functioning." One of the criticisms of the corporate-personhood-critical folks is that corporations, aside from being sociopathic persons, are potentially immortal persons, and one of their proposed remedies is getting back to the traditional corporation charter that created a temporary corporation to meet a temporary need, such as a construction project of a public works nature.

The first law is designed to limit and/or compensate for externalities. I'm partial to the "Participatory Economics (Parecon) take on this: "The operating criteria for who makes decisions in a parecon is that those affected have a say or influence proportionate to the degree they are affected."

Alex Tolley said...

Why is corporate mortality relevant? Robots are potentially immortal too, e.g. R. Daneel Olivaw.

The idea of a limited lifetime company would be inherent in its mission statement. But like any lifeform, why would it self destruct if it was thriving? Better just to rework the mission statement.

I also don't see why they should end, should the environment change. An oil company shouldn't terminate if the law changes and we have to strand all its reserves. It should be allowed to transition to something else, even it that takes a merger. It may not succeed, but I don't see why it cannot try to define a new mission and carry on.

Paul451 said...

"I don't see why it cannot try to define a new mission"

Why it cannot define a new mission...

I think that sums up the problem people have with corporations.

Alfred Differ said...

It (the corporation) exists much the same way families and tribes do. People thing the social atom is the individual, but some molecules are so tightly bound we should treat them as atoms for pragmatic reasons.

Tony Fisk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Fisk said...

Hmm! There was meant to be a couple of highlighted tooltips in the rules quote I just posted. They *are* there, but aren't immediately visible. Italics? A moment while I test:

1. Testing [tooltip] with link and italics
2. Testing [tooltip] with italics, no link
2. Testing [tooltip] without italics or link
3. Testing [tooltip] with link, and no italics

David Brin said...

Ah. Regular locum is back with: “Moral 'rightness' (and/or 'God's preference) had little or nothing to do with the Grey & Blue American Civil War and its outcome.”

Um, strawmanning again, shall we? Show me where I spoke of “moral rightness.” Blue America is stronger because its memes are not only better… but vastly more effective at engendering power and technological effectiveness and societal agility. That is precisely why the confederacy generally loses, awash in obstinate romanticism and retro nostalgia.

And that is why the confederacy’s masters, this time, made their central focus to discredit both science and politics as problem solving tools.

Oh, but locum predicts “pyrrhic” victories… utterly ignoring that Lincoln’s victories were transformative, not pyrrhic. Same with both rooseveltean revolutions… and the Civil Rights phase of the Civil War. In fact… locum never listens at all. He just reiterates points that were decisively countered.

Alfred Differ said...

How would these laws be written if we were describing natural persons? Law 2 is problematic if blindly translated while Law 1 isn't.

I suspect we are seeing the difference between natural and juridical persons in this. Asimov's versions treat the robots as owned while we wouldn't tolerate that for natural persons. Corporations as juridical persons would solve a few political issues while still preserving enough of their identity to reflect what natural people are trying to do when they band together to act and when they try to limit the liability of passive investors.

Tony Fisk said...

OK. So anchors highlight only if they have a link.
OK. I'll repost...

@Lorraine, I think you'll find that transparency is an emergent property of putting the second law into effect:

First Law: A corporation may not impose externalities on others or upon the outside world without fairly negotiated and sufficient compensation and/or restitution to those harmed. (Including future generations.)
Second Law: A corporation must fulfill its chartered and openly vetted mission statement to the extent that doing so does not conflict with the First Law.

Jumper said...

Bankruptcy and corporate death seem to be more troubling in reality. That's when people get screwed. I also don't get how (or why) a company can go through bankruptcy repeatedly and live to screw again another day.

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

Re: Proving you're not a robot.
Didn't we cover this last time?


We did, but I don't think you ever got the point I was trying to make.

There are several stories where robots were ordered to lie. (Sometimes accidentally, due to a poorly worded order.)

There's nothing innate in the 3 laws that prevents a robot from lying. Unless specifically ordered not to lie.


Please, listen to what I'm saying, not to what you think I'm saying.

I am not saying that a robot couldn't pretend to not be a robot.

I am saying that a robot could not prove he is not a robot. For the same reason I can't prove that pi is a rational number, or that 2 + 2 = 5. If the assertion itself is false, then no one can prove it.

From there, I went in two separate directions--how an Asimovian robot might react if he took the impossibility "Prove you are not a robot" to be an order. And separately, how would a robot with a degree of sentience feel about the implication that being a robot is something to be ashamed of.

Admittedly, several different directions at once. But in no way was I asserting that a robot would be unable to lie.

LarryHart said...

locumranch on rural/urban divide:

As density increases, it is more difficult for individuals to maintain privacy and personal space (Altman, 1981). Furthermore, densely populated environments threaten the sense of control individuals have over privacy and how they choose to regulate social interactions.


A different (though not contradictory) way of looking at it is that urban living requires reliance on specialized systems for the necessities of life. You're not completely separate from your neighbors' concerns when you're counting on those neighbors (and they're counting on you) to provide food, water, heat, and sewage removal.

Thus, urbanites might be more inclined to think in "we're all in this together", "a rising tide lifts all boats" positive-sum terms. Thom Hartmann's German guest who defended Germany's high taxes with "I don't want to be a rich man in a poor country" was thinking like an urban dweller. As I might put it, "I don't want to be surrounded by cold, hungry, desperate people."

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

I LOVE democracy, being optimist about it even (although I am often straw-manned as a 'holnist' on this site),


Seriously, that's good to know. If you get strawmanned as a Holnist, I'd say it's because you sometimes seem to be philosophically advocating that "might makes right". It's one thing to acknowledge that good only wins over evil if good can bring force to bear. It's another thing to assert that the force and the good are the same thing. Sometimes, that's what it sounds like you are saying.

Finally, there is the most important issue of appropriate 'scale' because democratic 'majority-rule' assumes group cohesion, working best on a small scale, being justified when it means pleasing 7 people at the expense of 3 others but unjustifiable when it means marginalizing (and/or enslaving) a population of 150 Million people to please another 175 Million.


Wow, you're singing my song.

The way democracy is supposed to work is through consensus-building, the majority convincing the stragglers that they really might be right after all, or at least that there's enough of a chance that the majority's way should be given an opportunity to show what it can do. Only a dysfunctional democracy "works" by the barest 50.1% majority getting to "win" and therefore run roughshod over the remainder, who have no further say because they're just "losers!".

As you also said, it helps when there is a common goal in mind, and the vote is taken over how best to accomplish it. It does not help when the very goals being voted on are as different as they are between today's Democrats and Republicans.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

How would these laws be written if we were describing natural persons? Law 2 is problematic if blindly translated while Law 1 isn't.


Going back a few years, but IIRC, the original discussion of Laws of Corporatics grew out of someone else's attempt to define similar "Laws of Humanics".

And at the time, I said the Asimovian laws didn't fit that structure, because human beings are not intended to be tools the way robots are. Then I thought "actually, it would make more sense to apply Asimov's laws to corporations rather than humans, because they are meant to be useful tools with the potential to be Frankensteinian, but also with the potential to produce much value for society.

LarryHart said...

Remembering further..,

It must have been on Dr Brin's Ayn Rand post, because someone was arguing that "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" translated into the Three Laws of Robotics (for humans). But it seemed to be he was doing quite a bit of pretzel-like twisting to make that fit.

LarryHart said...

I said:

It's one thing to acknowledge that good only wins over evil if good can bring force to bear


As a kid who grew up on Batman and such, I can still remember the exact moment when the notion hit me that, in real life, good doesn't win over bad just because that's the natural way of things, but because the forces of "good" have policemen and judges and stuff like that backing them up.

Simplistic, yes, but I'm talking about when I was twelve. Watching a bunch of cops running up the stairs to stop a hostage situation on the tv show "Adam 12". I told you I still remember the moment.

Alfred Differ said...

OK. That helps. Now I'm left thinking the 'laws' work best for designed structures. Robots and corporations are both designed to achieve particular purposes by their human owners and only in that case can a mission statement and chartering event make sense. The moment they become evolutionary we lose the meaning behind their purpose and might lose the purpose too.

Hmm... Corporations are only partially designed, though. They can't help but be evolutionary in some sense because the people who compose them seldom operate completely to a design. It's not possible. You might run into trouble with Law #2 as David interpreted it then.

Tony Fisk said...

No really, if Law #2 allows for vetting of any changes to the corporate mission statement (as it should... goals can change for quite sensible reasons)

Andy said...

Those Laws of Corporatics gave me an idea... we should give a tax break, say... 5% or so, enough to make it worthwhile, to companies that include other values in their charter other than "maximizing shareholder value." Stuff like operating in a sustainable manner, not polluting, vetting their suppliers, maximum executive to low-level worker pay ratios, etc. Have a list of things they must include to quality, and set up a way to verify they are complying. Maybe even a requirement for the corporation to be worker owned, something along the lines of Mondragon in Spain. With the proper incentives in place, just sit back and let the free market do its magic thang :-)

Interesting to hear Ohio is (maybe) improving gerrymandering. Here next door in Indiana some legislators have been making noise about non-partisan redistricting as well. They are trying to get rolling on the problem well in advance of the 2021 timeframe.

Duncan Cairncross said...

I would like to question the basic premise that

"Urban people have less privacy and are more uniform than Rural people"

As far as I can see there are very very few people who live in one person dwellings away from the rest
Most rural people actually live in small towns or villages where everybody knows everybody and there is very little "room" for individualism

Stephen Peterson said...

Re: GOP electoral cheating. I used to be a bit charitable and assume that the GOP were playing politics, in bad faith maybe, but with their own sincere ideas about governance.

No more.

Now my operating assumption is that the GOP (and their associates in the broader conservative movement) have abandoned governance altogether, and are only interested in using policy as a tool to get rich, most likely by soaking the rubes that make up their voting bloc.

It's not insanity from that perspective, but it is vulgar and probably more evil, since at least insanity takes some element of choice away. But that's too nice for these plutocrats.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

I would like to question the basic premise that

"Urban people have less privacy and are more uniform than Rural people"

As far as I can see there are very very few people who live in one person dwellings away from the rest
Most rural people actually live in small towns or villages where everybody knows everybody and there is very little "room" for individualism.


True, it's the urban dweller who is surrounded by people but is nonetheless masked anonymity as very few of those multitudes know or care who you are or what you are doing at any given moment.

locumranch said...

I suspect that 'corporatism' has much more to do with the Red & Blue divide than most of you suspect. For, in actuality, this is what the 'Blue Urban Agenda' is:

It is thinly described Corporatism.

To quote William H. Whyte, sociologist & author of 'The Organization Man':

"The corporation man is the most conspicuous example, but he is only one, for the collectivization so visible in the corporation has affected almost every field of work. Blood brother to the business trainee off to join Du Pont is the seminary student who win end up in the church hierarchy, the doctor headed for the corporate clinic, the physics Ph.D. in a government laboratory, the intellectual on the foundation-sponsored team project, the engineering graduate in the huge drafting room at Lockheed, the young apprentice in a Wall Street law factory.

Essentially, it is a utopian faith. Superficially, it seems dedicated to the practical problems of organization life, and its proponents often use the word hard (versus soft) to describe their approach. But it is the long-range promise that animates its followers, for it relates techniques to the vision of a finite, achievable harmony. It is quite reminiscent of the beliefs of utopian communities of the 1840s. As in the Owen communities, there is the same idea that man's character is decided, almost irretrievably, by his environment. As in the Fourier communities, there is the same faith that there need be no conflict between the individual's aspirations and the community's wishes, because it is the natural order of things that the two be synonymous."

Unfortunately, most of you (as graduates of these same corporate diploma mills & professionalism factories) have become so conditioned to the Corporate Mentality that you can no longer separate Democracy (the social wheat) from its current corporate framework (the chaff), so much so that (in Whyte's words) "the student now feels technique (is) more vital than content", "managing (is) an end in itself", and "expertise (is divorced and) independent of the content".

This is the Next Gen Star Trek future that you are all so eager to embrace: A federation of politically-correct Ferengi, otherwise known as 'The Corporation'.


Best

Alfred Differ said...

Vetting changes in law #2 is a good idea, but any social group that gets large enough eventually runs into issues around having definable goals.

1. The goal set isn't unique because the people aren't persuaded. The corporation can still perform well, but it functions as a collection of symbiotes. One could argue that makes it a collection of corporations that have definable goals, but this can happen without the parent company and many of its people realizing it. That is one of the limitations around the communication of knowledge.

2. The goal set isn't known to all because the knowledge can't be centralized. Anyone who works for a large corporation or government has seen this, but might not realize there is a theoretical limit to the effectiveness of centralized information. Hayek described it well.

David Brin said...

Stephen Peterson yes, the right's aim now appears to be almost 100% the destruction of American politics, as a problem-solving methodology. Your assumption is that the purpose is to enable massive raids on the economy, such as we saw during the Bush years. But these are mostly thwarted by a functioning executive branch. (Your scenario will come into play if/when the GOP takes the White House.)

No, there are layers and layers. And the highest layer of the oligarchy controlling the US right is not even American. It is a cabal of plutocrats in places like Riyadh who want US politics to fail and the Civil War to re-ignite... in order to ensure American decline and failure.

They already have plenty of money! What they do not have, but want, is an end to democracy and civil society and equality of law.

==
Locum is back to nuts-stuff. Yes, there are corporate aspects to Blue America. But Blue America (BA) pushes for science, education and dozens of other endeavors that undermine obligate, inherited feudalism. BA wants increased progressive taxation. BA criticizes wealth and income inequality...

... please fit that in the narrative, guy.

Jumper said...

Here ya go, locum
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuBe93FMiJc

David Brin said...

onward