(and if Medium can handle this level of nesting!)

It’s certainly a pain in the ass to get here from the beginning, but maybe when we’re done we can just consolidate the meaningful points. Or I can take the time to merge them all into one continuous dialog and throw it up on Medium so it’s easier for the muggles to follow.

I agree! And if you can imagine, for me the entire rest of the Game A -> game~b story is equally ‘duh’.

So notice that if the above is tautological, we need to explain why nearly every damn time the “Game A” side of the equation has to be dragged kicking and killing into the future.

Because Game A is game theoretically maximal under its own ruleset.

Sticking with the tech analogy, nobody can build a better Facebook while Facebook still has its current market share, because it is game theoretically maximal for me as a consumer to go to Facebook because everyone else is on Facebook. In order to beat Facebook you have to either beat it within a world where Facebook already exists, which means you have to hijack it with an app that can sneak its way into the Facebook user base, or you have to exacerbate the collapse of Facebook and build something new and better from the social media debris.

There are analogies to Game A as a whole, or elements of it, in the above statement.

The answer of course is that “people are more effective” when they are reacting using well understood approaches than trying to invent new ones. So we get a classic “hill climbing” vs. “valley crossing” balance. If the landscape favors the old game then we will find ourselves migrating towards “excellence” “hill climbing” “game ant”. If the landscape favors the new then we will find ourselves migrating towards “remarkableness” “valley crossing” “game b”.

The meta-landscape seems like it started in the “95% of the time the old ways are better”. So most of the time going with “rigorous authoritarian hierarchy” was the best idea. Hence the Bronze Age.

It seems to me, based on this passage and a lot of other stuff I’ve read you write, that you think the root problem of Game A is “people collaborating via power hierarchies.” Do I understand that correctly? This is something we need to distill until it’s clear.

If so, I think this might highlight a very fundamental disagreement with your and my thinking. I think social hierarchies are natural and unavoidable, and the main problem is that the intersection of many current systems creates Nash Equilibria that could kill our species. (war, killing the whales, etc) Many of these equilibria are at the government level, so governments can’t be used to fix them.

I think the problems of Game A will get fixed by identifying those Nash Equilibria and making participating in them unethical at the “enculturation” layer. So for example, you can’t tell governments not to war, because war is part of their job, but a global encultration against war might lead us to the hippie solution of “what if they threw a war and nobody showed up.” Fix poverty by “enculturating” charity. Etc.

I will absolutely concede the case that a pivot towards cooperative instead of hierarchical problem solving will help us reach a new global enculturation, but I don’t think elimination of hierarchies will necessarily solve anything on its own, nor do I think it’s even possible.

Is this a major point of disagreement between us? If so, do you think your position is a typical characterization of Game B thinking?

But each time there was a little nudge in valley crossing direction, the meta-landscape shifted a bit in the “valley crossing direction”. So in the 1100’s in the West we were still, say, 80/20 hill climbing. By the 1600’s it had shifted to like 70/30. By the 1800’s to maybe 60/40. By the 1950’s to 50/50. Ish. By the late 70’s we were crossing the Rubicon to a point where (for the first time ever) the meta-landscape fundamentally favored “valley crossing” over “hill climbing” — but the “Great Moderation” (aka Globalist Neo-Liberalism) since then has been a tremendous rearguard action trying to keep the fundamental architecture of Game A in place.

I think your characterization of these ratios may be heavily influenced by your information bubble, being deep in the USA tech sector. I’m a child of construction workers and peanut farmers, and the most technologically savvy portions of my family are Army brass. The landscape in agriculture, outside of the invention of the tractor and the pesticide, favors classical solutions. Those inventions weren’t a result of anti-hierarchical thinking. The landscape in construction, outside of the implementation of critical path method project management, favors classical solutions. Critical Path scheduling is a product of a thought experiment on how to make Game A more Aish. The US Army is probably the most “Game A is Best Game” organization I can think of on earth today, outside of maybe the Catholic Church.

All this to say, “nah dude, it’s like 90/10 Game A right now.” At least from my chair over here as I bang out civil engineering plans.

I want to double quote a bit of dialogue because I think it may drill down to the possible fundamental disagreement I highlighted above.

I said:

The answer to scaling past Dunbar boundaries is re-enculturation of a different set of behaviors at a massive scale. This is why Communism “works” in North Korea. They’re uniformly indoctrinated.

You replied:

This is the Game A answer. And, of course, it works in the sense that it does scale. But it does so in a fashion that fails for all the various reasons I’ve outlined elsewhere. If we would like to drill down here we can, of course.

To me, North Korea only “fails” (a loaded term which may need to be defined) because their nested systems of {religion, governance, economics, ethics} don’t compete well with neighboring systems of {religion, governance, economics, ethics}. It’s a sub-optimal Game A.

I think we all need to be very worried that China has figured out an even better Game A than we have. They have their entire country duped into believing they’re Marxist, which is a great rebellion suppression tool. They have media control, so contra-party narratives can’t spread. They have their social credit score system which works for Orwellian reasons. But they fixed the failures of communism in central resource allocation by rolling out an extremely free market layer at the bottom level, much freer than we have in the USA. (try and get a food truck permit here, QED) And their industry model is ripped straight out of Mussolini fascism / National Socialism. I find everything except the free market layer there highly personally objectionable, but from an analysis perspective I greatly fear that their current system may be Game A2, and it’s spreading fast. In my mind, Game B (or whatever) has a limited window to roll out before A2 wins by emulating Orwell.

Ah. Yes, I get this and it makes sense. I think this is because the “transcendent industry” has had to manufacture a lot of confusion in order to maintain its niche. My experience is that this stuff is simpler. For example, you are jumping all the way from “participatory knowing is the thing” to “unspeakable enlightenment”.

Participatory knowing isn’t == “unspeakable enlightenment”. It is juggling. Or shooting a basketball. Or speaking French. You can read about it in a book. I can talk to you about it ad nauseum. But until you actually do it for yourself (and do that thing where your specific individual way of being in the world conforms to the subtle set of things necessary to actually have this capacity), you aren’t going to make much progress. A good coach doesn’t coach free throws by drawing a diagram. He gives you a ball, points you at the basket, maybe repeats some mantras (“bend your knees”) and tells you to come back when you are hitting the shot.

Emphasis mine.

That makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t get us to “global reinculturation to end war and stop killing the whales” unless you’ve (A) got that book, and (B) evangelize the book. And the book has to have a bunch of behavioral indoctrinations/enculturations engineered to produce less whale and people killing.

There is a lot of area under the curve between “disseminating concepts” and “unspeakable enlightenment”. The same goes for the thing you are pointing to as “spirituality”. Spirituality is like how you can learn how to be a better parent or partner by learning how to take responsibility for your own reactions and practice better ways to communicate. Its practical stuff closer to how you make a good house [hint bricks better than straw if you are in a region notably habited by wolves] than what the Burning Man folks traffic in. A truly spiritual person isn’t someone who speaks nonsense and imagines that sage scares away spirits. A truly spiritual person has lived life deeply and has integrated the highest joys and pains into a quality that could be called “wisdom”.

I think you’re selling the Burning Man people short here, and also perhaps the Christians and others. The “spirituality” they’re chasing is like a tingle in your brain, like the endorphins released during long distance running or on psilocybin. And our brains are wired to enjoy that tingle, because the apes who had that tingle in their brains more easily adopted religious teachings, which allowed a Darwinism of Religion to manifest. When one of the religions stumbled into baptism (hygiene) and kosher (clean food) it began to spread. When another dude came out with an update that included (golden rule) it won out, generally speaking. That tingle is a potential tool in our toolbox. Don’t disregard it. It is absolutely the most important tool, historically speaking, for this kind of project.

We return to the Big Tech vs. Silicon Valley analogy. In this analogy, Big Tech has the most effective program (strategy). Silicon Valley is “more spiritual” (culture). In each step up the stairway, we go through a phase of “most effective program” working for a while and then a phase when “most spiritual” zips ahead (the Axial age famously is a big example). Again — when the landscape favors hill climbing, the “most effective program” will tend to win. When it favors valley crossing, the “culture most capable of cultivating wisdom” will tend to win.

I’m not sure I believe this at all. I think it might be true inside the tech bubble, but I don’t think it applies universally. Do you think the native Americans got rubbed out because the landscape of the 1800s favored (your analogy) “hill climbing?” If so, I’m not sure there has ever been a period of human history that didn’t favor hill climbing.

This is the thing. Bret hits on this a lot. The dead center of game~b is the recognition that we are (whether we like it or not) crossing that rubicon in novelty. As the “stumble” of War continues to move us up the ratchet of accelerating change, Darwinian action is resolutely selecting for cultures that (a) are better at creating change; and (b) are better at thriving in that higher rate of change than the legacy cultures. Capitalism *categorically* outcompetes Feudalism because it changes the landscape into something that Feudalism can’t survive in.

I’m not sure I buy this either. I think what you’re describing is not an all encompassing shift in paradigm, it’s probably just a curious historical artifact that’s basically local. I think the idea that it’s an all encompassing paradigm shift is one heavily influenced by your perspective. It’s a bubble of creativity inside Game A, from which Game A can extract valuable ideas when they surface, on which to capitalize.

I’m not belittling it, by the way. I think my perspective on it still affords us a lot of opportunity to end war and save the whales, by leveraging new paths to influence Game A in old ways. But if the goal is to pivot the entire planet away from a hierarchical scheme and into a creative cooperative scheme, I think that’s pissing in the wind. I don’t think the collective brains of the planet can run that software. I think the creative bubble needs to build new software and disseminate it, not try and turn all the users of the world into programmers.

You’re in software. You’re a programmer. Programmers (largely) hate users. PEBCAK. Remember, we’re dealing with 8 billion users here.

For simplicity, I’ll define the approach of “(spooky story behave thusly)” as “morality”. Morality (in this sense) is a strategy that optimizes for achieving particular behaviour [code]. In contexts where very little changes, you can get a long way via Morality. As you say, it is much easier to scale Morality than it is to cultivate Wisdom. And as long as the evolutionary process (Darwinist action) has time to do its work, it will ultimately select for a Morality that is a ‘good’ fit to the context.

But if the context changes, you are in deep trouble — because you have been training your entire society to “run code” rather than to “respond to reality”.

Yep. That’s the problem that the world religions are facing now. They’re legacy software with no updates. I’m glad we’re on the same page. Now which task is harder:

  1. Teach 8 billion people to write their own software (wisdom), or
  2. Figure out a way to push them software updates (morality)

What solution have the tech community settled on, when it comes to actual software? Be honest. The tech model is a small group of (wisdom) folks push updates out to the (morality) folks. This is also the global social religious model. It’s the same model.

Do you see how it’s the same model?

Here is where you lose me. Actually a lot of what you say here seems right to me (particularly the first three bullets), but the essence is off.

I think that I lost you around the core premise that I’ve identified here as our disagreement. I want software updates, you want to turn users into programmers. Does this sound like a correct characterization of our divergence?

If that’s a correct characterization, might I offer an olive branch? What if we turn as many users as possible into programmers, (probably something like 1%? 5%?) but then they crowdsource the new operating system to push to everyone else? Because that’s generally my vision. If that sounds amicable, go back and read the Religion Zero bit again through that filter and see if it makes more sense.

This is also, for what it’s worth, the lesson to learn from the Social Justice beta. That’s what they’re doing. Some number of centrally located SJ gurus inside a social influence web push out updates to the users. It works.

Perhaps simply practically: we are entering an accelerating phase of what I have been calling “The War on Sensemaking”. In this war, the gloves are off in an total war on the front of “propositional knowing”. The technologies of propaganda, manipulation, etc. are going to go through the same kind of acceleration that the technologies of blowing shit up went through between 1939 and 1945. The entire capacity for “spooky stories” to do anything at all is going to be so much toxic mush.

What you see as toxic mush, I see as a tremendous opportunity. People like spooky stories, and the sensemaking crisis is going to create a window where new and different ones can be more easily installed, or old ones can be revised. See: Qanon. I see the coming deepfake apocalypse as wave that some ideologies are going to ride, and if we don’t want bad ones to ride it, then we need to put a really good one out there that’s prime to ride it. I see the war on sensemaking as a tool in the toolbox. And I think the Game B people are in a better position to ride that wave because they’re some of the few people who even see the wave coming.

Your idea that Game A is going to collapse under this doesn’t jive with my understanding of the facts though. Game A has survived this sort of thing before, and will again, and if you don’t want Game A to hijack it you need to get on your surfboard and out-surf Game A.

The SJW religion (and its co-conspirator the alt-right religion) will simultaneously fragment and spiral with each other into a vapor of increasingly hyper-potent ideological fixation.

Sure, because they’re built on bad seed crystals, but the people who bail from those are going to want something else to latch onto. This is again an opportunity. They latched onto those things because they were seeking something to fill that part of their brain that likes religion. Once social justice eats itself, they’ll be seeking something else. They’re not programmers, most of them anyway, they’re users. They need something to use. That’s literally why New Atheism pivoted into Atheism+ and such. Those folks in a prior century would have been religious, but they couldn’t abide by the spooky stories because (science) so they gravitated towards atheism. But they still needed some kind of religion, and they found it in SJ. Once SJ eats itself those people will seek out something else.

This is the ideological part of the endgame of Game A. The Run Code function of the mind that Game A so successfully exapted is tapping out.

No no no, heavily disagree. “Run Code” is Game Zero. “Run code” is a biological function inside human brains, flat out. You can call it the NPC meme if you like, but it’s something that almost everyone on all sides of all tribes does.

If you’re building Game B around the idea that all (most, some) users can become programmers, then you’re dead in the water. We go to church because we don’t all have the capacity (or the time) to be a preacher.

Not everyone can be a guru. Religion is the information pathway where

(wisdom) > (morality)

..and most people operate on the morality layer out of personal necessity. Either because they don’t have the mental capacity to develop wisdom, or just as likely they simply don’t have the time.

Yep. This is where the OG game~b team sat about nine or so years ago. More specifically, Game A scales — but at an exponent that is below 1 (so you get “decreasing returns to scale”) and with a system design that intrinsically vectors towards systemic fragility. We need to find a way to scale at an exponent greater than 1 and with a system design that is ‘anti-fragile’.

This sounds interesting to unpack, but I’m not sure it matters if the thing you’re brewing up can’t run on the hardware you have available to work with. 8 billion legacy boxes of different configurations and different capabilities, and you need to install a new OS on all of them.

That’s your actual project. Or it should be.

If that’s not your actual project, then the ceiling of Game B is some Facebook groups sharing stories about green building initiatives, with some occasional cryptic mentions on Joe Rogan.

I think you need to consider the idea that religion may very well be the scaling system you’re looking for, if the religion itself weren’t centralized. Do you understand what I mean by that?

Conscientious objector to the culture war. I think a lot. mirror: www.freakoutery.com writer at: www.opensourcedefense.org beggar at: www.patreon.com/bjcampbell

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