From Anatomy of the State:
Social power is the power over nature…State power is power over man
I probably had read this idea before when I said it, but I don’t recall when. Perhaps it’s just an obvious dichotomy. I like the linking of one to state power and one to “social power”
First, renounce your own desire for state power. The problem with the state is that is it bad, not that the wrong people are in it. If everyone renounced their desire for power over others tomorrow, I’d have no worries about the future.
If you cannot renounce this desire, fuck off. You are the problem.
I think only a few people truly have this desire for themselves. The trick of representative democracy is to get you to vicariously identify with this desire. And this gets a larger group of people, perhaps the most vocal in supporting a candidate, but still nothing near the majority.
What gets the majority is this, they worry about who is in power. And this you can’t really fault people for. You worry about others taking your rights. You feel that if you don’t vote, or don’t use voice, then they will come for you. To force you to take a vaccine. Force you to carry a pregnancy to term. Jail you for saying the wrong thing. Come and take your house.
This is the most evil trick the regime uses. You no longer believe that things will get better, but you are forced to be involved because you fear things will get worse. You are tricked into supporting state power because you fear other state power. Sometimes foreign, sometimes domestic.
There is an alternative to this. Exit. Instead of voice, you just leave.
The great battle for the future will be determined by the possibility of exit. Will technology fundamentally be more powerful offensively or defensively.
In weapons, offense seems to win. It’s easier to build missiles than missile shields. A missile that breaks apart into 99 decoy warheads and 1 real one wastes tons of defensive resources. A gun is simpler than a real shield.
In crypto, defense seems to win. It’s easier to multiply than factor (probably!). AES is easy to run, next to impossible to crack. Hash functions sure look like they are one way. I don’t want to live in a world where P = NP.
If offense fundamentally wins in technology, it was over before it started. Fortunately, I don’t think this is true. Maybe it’s just because I’m a definite optimist, but I think the battle is winnable, though only if we work hard.
Of all the numerous forms that governments have taken over the centuries, of all the concepts and institutions that have been tried, none has succeeded in keeping the State in check. The problem of the State is evidently as far from solution as ever. Perhaps new paths of inquiry must be explored, if the successful, final solution of the State question is ever to be attained.
The answer is individual sovereignty (woah, we linked to this blog on this blog). I don’t believe in a solution that involves human limits on state power. There is not a philosophical solution, there’s only a natural solution.
Tomorrow, if I had a strong superhuman AI, I would have it build me a spaceship and get out of here as close to the speed of light as I can. Of course, I want creature comforts on this spaceship. Everyone has a standard of living below which they’d rather die.
It may not have to be anywhere near this extreme. The state is currently fairly weak. If AI improvement is logarithmic with compute (are modern companies not logarithmic with number of employees?), then as long as AI and the hardware remain well distributed to people, there’s a path where it turns out fine.
The idea is to replace the useful functions of the state with locally controlled and owned machines. If you can provide electricity, water, food, money, transportation, education, healthcare, and protection, you won’t destroy the state, you’ll disrupt it. And that’s good enough. If your stuff is cheaper and better, people just won’t use the state anymore. And I’m not even sure how hard this is, the state is really inefficient. The disrupted state will wither and die.
Watch out for things trying to further centralize the above basic needs, and support things trying to decentralize them. I think there’s a really cool battle to be fought in healthcare over the next decade, imagine all the medical tests being done locally on a machine at home. There’s a $1000 dna sequencer, this is a universal test for bacteria and viral infection, sadly it’s not on amazon and still pretty hard to use (see: requires pipetting). But cheap decentralized healthcare is so much better than “universal healthcare”
And of course, watch out for things like Waymo, where you own nothing and your transportation “right” can be revoked if Google bans your account for wrongthink. I didn’t start comma because I think solving self driving cars is good for the world. I think the technology is inevitable, but whether it’s centrally owned and controlled is not.
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever
– George Orwell
The greatest battle is playing out over the next 20 years. There’s a world in which Orwell is right, but I do think we have a path to avoid it. If you are talented and are working toward centralization of power, quit your job and figure out how to work toward decentralization. There’s no such thing as “centralization of power for good”, even if you are good someone evil will eventually take the reins of whatever you built. The idea is never to build the reins in the first place.
Nothing in this world is worth the eternal boot. Not your apartment, not your car, not your status, and not your travel. Nothing. And don’t be so stupid as to think you’ll be one wearing the boot. You won’t. Please stop.