Jared Diamond: Societal Collapse

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If you listen carefully to what Jared Diamond is saying in the TED video above, he is describing not a five part, but a six part power curve into a systemic singularity. This has been one of the core themes of discussion of this blog.  We all seem to be too close to our problems to see the commonality.  The interrogatives come into play here:

  1. Goals
  2. People
  3. Functions
  4. Forms
  5. Times
  6. Distances

Times and Distances being the basis on which the higher orders are built.

When we look at the recent economic “crisis” we see 300 trillion in currency circulating and roughly 1 trillion to 2 trillion shifting suddenly and unexpectedly.  We witnessed a systemic collapse, a singularity, a tipping point, a power curve, an exponential change, a phase transition or whatever label you want to call it.  These have been happening everywhere since Time and Distance began in different contexts and orders both in human and non-human systems.

What Jared Diamond and other alarmists are implying is that human society is now a system approaching its final singularity in this century on this planet.  We are implying that today we are experiencing a less than one percent crisis on a power curve into a singularity.  How many more iterations will the global system withstand?  Will humanity make the step into space successfully before we experience a global dark age?  How will the six or more factors in the power curve play out?

The truth to me appears to be that power curves whether they play out or not result in either a systemic climax or anti-climax followed by a systemic collapse.  Would it not be better if we experienced a systemic climax that led to us expanding into the solar system?

Systemic collapse seems to be the fashion of this generation.  Every generation looks with fascination at its own youth, maturition, reproduction and acceleration into mortality.  Some die early, some die late, but all die.  It is an irrevocable law of nature.  It is not about self-interest.  It is about what self-interest is defined as.

Related Posts:

Beyond the Singularity

Servitas and Libertas

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Social Psychology: Escaping the Prisoner’s Dilemma

For the past several decades the Prisoners’ Dilemma has been a dominant frame in Game Theory. It’s quadrant model has crossed the boundaries of many disciplines especially political science, economics, business, biology, computer science and philosophy. There are also the games Stag Hunt, Chicken and Hawk-Dove which are 2×2 games. My argument in this post will be that the Prisoners’ Dilemma is not adequately representative of reality.

merrillflood.jpg melvindresher.jpg

The Prisoner’s Dilemma was originally framed by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher while working on game theory at RAND in 1950 which Rand pursued because of possible applications to global nuclear strategy.
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Albert W. Tucker formalized the game with prison sentence payoffs and gave it the “Prisoners’ Dilemma” name (Poundstone, 1992).

The game has two prisoners who cannot communicate and each has only two moves:

  1. to conceal their guilt or
  2. reveal their guilt

They are aware of the potential outcomes of their actions as follows:

pdmatrix01.jpg

The canonical payoff matrix for the game is represented as follows:

pdmatrix025.jpg
In “win-lose” terminology represents the game in the following manner:

pdmatrix03.jpg

The flaw I see in the Prisoners’ Dilemma is that it only provides the following payoffs:

  1. Win-Win (Collaboration)
  2. Win Much-Lose Much (Exploitation)
  3. Lose Much-Win Much (Exploitation)
  4. Lose-Lose (Altercation)

It does not provide for Win-Lose or Lose-Win (Distribution). The absence of distribution may be suitable for Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) games, but not for most other human transactions. Consequently the Prisoners’ Dilemma can be presented as follows:

pdmatrix10.jpg

Now, I am going to take a different tack with the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

ericberne1

I am going to view it from the perspective of Stephen B. Karpman’s Drama Triangle, a concept derived from Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis. However, I am going to adhere to game theory’s premise that the players are rational.

Stephen categorized interpersonal transactions into three roles:

  1. Persecutor
  2. Rescuer
  3. Victim

In the Prisoners’ Dilemma there are only the Rescuer and the Persecutor:

pdmatrix09.jpg

In what I will call the Transaction Triangle game there are three roles and thus three moves:

pdmatrix11.jpg

In “win-lose” terminology the Transaction Triangle is as follows:

pdmatrix07.jpg

And the canonical payoff matrix is as follows:

pdmatrix12.jpg

As you can see, distribution is incorporated into the model to provide for most human transactions while still preserving the key components of the Prisoners’ Dilemma. I also concluded that the lose-lose payoff of the Ultimatum Game was suitable to provide for no transaction taking place. It is time to abandon the 2×2 mindset of mutual assured destruction and adopt a more human and realistic 3×3 game frame.

Further Reading: