Saturday, 9 January 2010

Arguments Against the Zeitgeist Philosophy

The following is a letter addressed to the Zeitgeist Movement, pointing out some of its conceptual flaws and practical shortcomings

this is not a challenge nor a debate, but a discussion. i am, in essence, in support of your ideals and your vision. but i find several practical difficulties in implementing your proposed system
As a primer, i would like to state the two basic needs of man (animal): survival and procreation

an advantage of the monetary system is, it empowers a person, in the sense it, largely, makes an individual responsible for his own survival. the need to earn money partly stems from the need to stay alive and "earn" his next meal or shelter, food, health, education. Also, it provides a competitive environment which helps people push their limits of competence and hence (largely) ensures personal growth. The monetary system is responsible for a reward/punishment form of positive/negative reinforcement to participants of the system, which eventually helps direct an individual toward a desired end result.

Without the concept of money; fame, success and power might lose their significance. A person might not be driven toward personal and social improvement as well as he would in a monetary system.
In the absence of a monetary system, due to free and plentiful resources being available, a person might lose his sharply tuned survival instincts, and hence the motivation to live. some visible symptoms could be laziness, un-healthiness, and atrophy. Besides, if a man is not driven to survive and maintain, as a prediction, his drive for sex could be encouraged, which might eventually reflect in increasing population and scarcity of land or resources.

Some more issues: to consider
1. on what basis/by what means will cybernated (hi-tec automatic) machines be distributed - as the currency system is to be discarded? who would construct those machines and distribute them, initially?

2. the world is not full of engineers. when an automated system does break down, who would service/repair it, and what would be his motivation to do it, if he's not getting any monetary/other compensation?

3. if there are more people and less jobs, and no motive for a person to do a "job", then who would do it?

"The interdisciplinary teams will not be paid, for their world views have been expanded, to realize that their reward is in fact the fruits of the society as a whole."
My guess is that a very very small fraction of people in the world who would volunteer to do such work, because: there are "others" that can/should do it too, right? It is also morally unjust for some people to be working and others not. Even in the absence of currency, there has never been an era in human civilization where a minority people have worked selflessly and happily for the benefit of the masses.

With a (monetary) reward system comes answerability, responsibility and hence credibility. On the other hand, a lot of the proposed resource based system relies on faith and trust as a means of delivering justice.
Suppose that sufficient people do volunteer to work in these interdisciplinary teams. If the volunteers (due to accident or intention) make an error affecting thousands of people, there wouldn't (by definition of social work) be a mechanism to punish them appropriately.

If computers are extensively delegated decision making and programmed for self preservation & regulation, along with a certain creative (extrapolation) ability, a computer's command to serve humans might come in conflict with its principle of self preservation. I am, of course, talking about Human-Robot wars.

a government is a body that rules and regulates society, by deciding policies dynamically, in response to time-variant trends owing to a constantly evolving human mind, and a rapidly changing world around him.
It thus, by definition is too complex for a computer to analyze and appropriately adjunicate. This is because, at every stage, the computer is only as updated with trends in human drives and tendencies (and with the objective/subjective notion of right and wrong) as was last fed to it, by a human.

"The adjustment of modern society to modern methods" - Dr Ralph Linton
a. When will the world be sufficiently modern for this statement to hold?
b. On what basis is it concluded that man will be at peace with man, and there shall be order and stability in the world, eventually? This is as much a question of history, science and politics, as it is of psychology.

"everything in regard to social organization is a technical process"
"The transfer of decision making to computers is the next phase of social evolution"

By this statement, I believe, what is trying to be conveyed is that social organization runs on a precise algorithm, that can be modeled. Could you provide me justification for the same?
This consideration is of particular interest to me, as I eventually aspire to model a human mind. The above tenet suggests that such a model for social organization already exists, and hence, being able to model and make inferences from society, and (hence?) an individual is (already) feasible, which suggests that we are only one step away from reading a person's mind. Is that so?

This approach assumes that all the problems faced by man today have an objective solution (which incidentally is also an essential criterion for automation.) I strongly disagree with this notion, I believe a lot of decisions made by humans today involve multiple considerations, including those on an ethical, emotional and conscious level, something that we have not yet achieved with computers.
The way everything in this orientation lecture is called a "technical process" would come as a severe blow (or insult) to the chaos theorists that maintain that these processes are in fact NOT a straightforward, foolproof, stable processes, in the sense that something (unforeseen) and go wrong sometime, that is not governed by simple laws. Now how can this randomness be accounted for and rectified by computer robots? All I am saying is, I believe it isn't possible to switch to an automatic and self-regulating system to run the world, at least in the next century or so.

The bottom line is this - if we must move away from a monetary system, we must move away from a work-everyday culture too. Which means handing over pretty much all our technical, management, planning, decision making jobs to automated robots - which brings us to the question: How could some people work, when a vast majority doesn't work? And if we are to further minimize the number of working people, we must have highly accurate models of our social, political and legal systems, and highly competent robots capable of taking (logical, legal, ethical and maybe emotional) decisions. This would involve massive leaps in psychological modeling and artificial intelligence, which is bound to take a significant amount of time.

I'm not completely against your philosophy though. Actually, I am quite impressed and enthusiastic with your vision and I do appreciate and support your initiative in enlightening the masses in order to liberate them from the present flawed system. I support your opposition to the credit system of banks (leading to debt, bankruptcy etc). I believe there must be a mechanism that would ensure fair compensation for everyone, and the abolition of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. However, I believe that the monetary system is not all that bad, and at least (by definition) has some great advantages to offer. It is up to active citizens like us to make people see the larger picture and win them over, instead of hoping for a Utopian revolution involving the complete discard of the monetary system.

I believe education is the way forward. Millions of people over the world are weak and vulnerable, incapable of choosing whats right for them, because they do not possess the knowledge, understanding and clarity in thought that education envisages. I believe the educating youth of the world would empower them, making them independent and self-sufficient to take responsible decisions for themselves and society, and it is through education that we can plant in them ideas of justice and freedom (from corporate and government oppression). I believe once people are educated enough, we can fight problems of poverty, unemployment and health, along with corruption, pollution and global warming in a better-equipped, robust fashion. The leaders of tomorrow need must be trained today, and they are the ones that will make the revolution possible.

Ojas Mehta

Author & Editor

Has laoreet percipitur ad. Vide interesset in mei, no his legimus verterem. Et nostrum imperdiet appellantur usu, mnesarchum referrentur id vim.


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