If Money = Memory, if Society = a Super Computer, if Computation is in Physical Systems, what is a Decentralized Operating System? By Dana Edwards. Posted on Steemit. October 24, 2018.
These concepts are not often discussed so let's have the discussion from the beginning. The first concept to think about is pancomputationalism or put another way the ubiquitous computers which exist everywhere in our environment. We for example can look at physical systems living and non living and see computations taking place all around us. If you look at rocks and trees you can see memory storage. If you look at DNA you can see code and if you look at viruses you can see microscopic programmers adding new codes to DNA. Even when we look at the weather such as a hurricane it is computing.
If you look at nature you see algorithms. You will see learners (yes the same as in AI), also in nature. The process is basically the same for all learning. Consider that everything which is physical is also digital. Consider that the universe is merely information patterns.
If we look at society we can also think of society as a computer. What does society compute though? One way people talk about a society is as a complex adaptive system, but this is also how people might talk about the human body. The human body computes with the purpose of maintaining homeostasis, to persist through time and reproduce copies of itself over time. The human brain computes to promote the survival of the human body. Just as viruses pass on codes to our DNA, the human brain is infected with mind viruses which are called memes. Memes are pieces of information which can alter physically how the brain is working.
The mind isn't limited to the brain. The mind is all the resources the brain can leverage to compute. In other words a person has a brain to compute with but when language was invented this allowed a person to compute not just using their own brain but using the environment itself. To draw on a cave is to use the cave to enhance the memory of the brain. To use mathematics is to use language to enhance the ability of the brain to compute by relying on external storage and symbol manipulation. To use a computer with a programming language is essentially to use mathematics only instead of writing on the cave wall we are writing in 1s and 0s. The mind exists to augment the brain in a constant feedback loop where the brain relies on the mind to improve itself and adapt. If there were no external reality the brain would have no way to evolve itself and improve.
A society in the strictly human sense of the word is the aggregation of minds. This can be at minimum all the human minds in that society. As technology improves the mind capacity increases because each human can remember more, can access more computation resources, can in essence use technology to continuously improve their mind and then leverage the improved mind to improve their brain. The Internet is the pinnacle of this kind of progress but it's obviously not good enough. While the Internet allows for the creation of a global mind by connecting people, things, and minds, it does nothing to actually improve the feedback loop between the mind and the brain, nor does it really offer what could be offered.
Bitcoin came into the picture and perhaps we can think of it as a better memory. A decentralized memory where essentially you can have money. The problem is that money is a very narrow application. It is the start, just as to learn to write on the cave wall was a start, but it's not ambitious enough in my opinion.
Humans in the current blockchain or crypto community do not have many ways where human computation can be exchanged. Human computation is just as valuable as non biological machine computation because there are some kinds of computations which humans can do quite easily which non biological machines still cannot do as well. Translation for example is something non biological machines have a difficult time with but human beings can do well. This means a market will be able to form where humans can sell their computation to translate stuff. If we look at Amazon Mechanical Turk we can see many tasks which humans can do which computer AI cannot yet do, such as labeling and classifying stuff. In order for things to go to the next level we will need markets which allow humans to contribute human computer and or human knowledge in exchange for crypto tokens.
The concept of a decentralized operating system is interesting. First if there are a such thing as social computations (such as collaborative filtering, subjective ranking, waze, etc) then what about the new paradigm of social dispersed computing?
The question becomes what do we want to do with this computing power? Will we use it to extend life? Will we use it to spread life into the cosmos? Will we use it to become wise? To become moral? To become rational? If we want to focus on these kinds of concerns then we definitely need something more than Bitcoin, Ethereum, or even EOS. While EOS does seem to be pursuing the strategy of a decentralized operating system which seems to be the correct course, it does not get everything right.
One problem is as I mentioned before the importance of the feedback loops between minds and brains. The reason I always communicate on the concept of external mind or extended mind is based on that fact that it is the mind which creates the immune system to protect the brain from harmful memes. The brain keeps the body alive. The brain is not really capable of rationality, or morality, or logic, and relies on the mind to achieve this. The mind is essentially all the computation resources that the brain can leverage.
EOS has the problem in the sense that it doesn't seem to improve the user. The user can connect, can join, can earn or sell, can participate, but unless the user can become wiser, more rational, more moral, then EOS has limits. EOS does have Everpedia which is quite interesting but again there are still problems. What can EOS do to improve people in society and thus improve society, if society is a computer and is in need of being upgraded?
Well if society is a computer first what does society compute? What should it compute? I don't even know how to answer those questions. I could suggest that if computation is a commodity along with data then whichever decentralized operating systems that do compete and exist will compete for these commodities. The total brain power of a society is just as important as the amount of connectivity. And the mind of the society is the most important part of a society because it is what can allow the society to become better over time, allow the people in the society to thrive, allow the life forms to continue to evolve avoid extinction.
A decentralized operating system on a technical level would have a kernel or something similar to it. This is the resource management part. For example Aragon promises to offer a decentralized OS and it too mentions having a kernel. A true decentralized operating system has to go further and requires autonomous agents. Autonomous agents which can act on behalf of their owners are philosophically speaking the extended mind. But the resources of a society is still finite, has to be managed, and so a kernel would provide for an ability to allow for resource management.
The total computation ability of a society is likely a massive amount of resources. A lot more than just to connect a bunch of CPUs together. Every member of the society which can compute could participate in a computation market. Of course as we are beginning to see now, the regulators seem concerned about certain kinds of social computations such as prediction markets. So it is unknown how truly decentralized operating systems would be handled but my guess is that if designed right then they could be pro-social, be capable of producing augmented morality by leveraging mass computation, and also by leveraging human computation be able to be compliant. To be compliant is simply to understand the local laws but these can be programmed into the autonomous agents if people think it is necessary.
What is more important is that if a law is clearly bad, and people have enhanced minds, then it will be very clear why the law is bad. This clarity will help people to dispute and seek to change bad laws through the appropriate channels. If there is more wisdom, due to insights from big data, from data scientists, etc, then there can be proposals for law changes which are much wiser and more intelligent. This is something specifically that people in the Tauchain community have realized (that technology can be used to improve policy making).
A lot is still unknown so these writings do not provide clear answers. Consider this just a stream of consciousness about concepts I am deeply contemplating. This is also a way to interpret different technologies.
The Era of Signals and Changing Power Dynamics. By Dana Edwards. Posted on Steemit. October 8, 2018.
The world we live in is rapidly changing. For instance the #MeToo era has arrived. This new era shows us that any individual in any position in society can be brought down. It proves a point that many in the blockchain community may have known instinctively which is that any individual source of authority and or power can and may be removed from that position. Some people actively choose to seek to be in these positions of power for their own reasons and then some of these people abuse their positions of power. People who seek power for the wrong reasons and then abuse it are in my opinion a risk which positions of authority bring (which blockchain technology may help reduce).
What are signals and what is signalling theory?
Social desirability bias is a popular topic in academic circles. To explain:
In social science research, social desirability bias is a type of response bias that is the tendency of survey respondents to answer questions in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others. It can take the form of over-reporting "good behavior" or under-reporting "bad," or undesirable behavior. The tendency poses a serious problem with conducting research with self-reports, especially questionnaires. This bias interferes with the interpretation of average tendencies as well as individual differences.
People tend to want to be liked/loved. People when asked questions on a survey may feel pressured to answer the survey in a way which they think they will be viewed more favorably by others. In other words rather than answering in a manner which they truly think or feel they will assess how others might judge their response and then answer in a way which they think they will be judged more favorably.
A full video on this topic is below:
Social desirability bias is exactly why voting on platforms such as Steem will not work. When voting is public then most of the research seems to show that people will feel pressured to answer the question not in the way which they really believe or prefer but in the way which they think the whales want them to vote or prefer. In other words because on Steem the whales can reward (or punish) anyone who votes in ways which go against "political sensibilities" it is likely that social desirability bias applies particularly on DPOS style consensus platforms. If there are votes and the votes are not encrypted (secret) then we have no way to determine which votes are legitimate and which votes are the result of signalling (such as virtue signals).
For example when it was Trump vs Hillary the polls suggested Hillary would win. This is because there likely was social desirability bias which made it socially undesirable for anyone to admit they voted for Trump. As a result people who voted for Trump or who planned to vote for Trump may have said in public that they intended to vote for Hillary. Because the votes in the election are secret the people who may have seemed like loud Hillary supporters could have been secret Trump supporters in disguise.
In some of my previous posts I discuss signalling theory a bit more:
In these posts I have identified that behavior of individuals is shaped by how individuals think other individuals will think of their behaviors. This would apply to social desirability optimization which I'll label as adopting behaviors which provide the expected payoff of being rewarded with improved social desirability.
To provide clarity the definition of social desirability:
Social desirability is the tendency for research participants to attempt to act in ways that make them seem desirable to other people.
In other words people want to be liked. Likeability is a word I can use to simplify the concept of social desirability for readers. In the example with the 2016 election it is clear that supporters of Trump would risk a social stigma with severe social consequences if they came out in public support. This high cost of public support is why some believed that there were secret Trump supporters who were simply afraid of "losing face". In the most simple terms a person can talk red or talk blue depending on where the social stigma is.
One of the stunning conclusions I reached in my own research on this topic is that the increasing transparency leads to "preference falsification". That is a person who is talking blue while thinking red. If all speech is public (like it is on Steem) then there is the possibility that preference falsification is taking place.
Here is a video on the topic of preference falsification:
Why is this a major problem in the blockchain community? The evolutionary trajectory of a platform relies entirely on market preferences. If censorship exists and conformist pressures hinder true preference aggregation then the developers (and the community itself) will have no way of knowing which improvements to make or which changes would best satisfy the community.
What is leadership and what is the era of signals?
Before I attempt to discuss leadership I will first explain what I think leadership means and what it is. In my opinion the community must always come first. A person who is put into a leadership position is in my opinion in what I'll term "the seat of responsibility". This is in my opinion not an enviable position to be in but someone has to be in this position. For example a person who receives a security clearance is now in a position of heavy responsibility. The information which they protect is not their secrets but the nations secrets.
Leadership in my understanding is not about "being in power" but is about serving a community. To be in a "big seat" is to be in a position of responsibility to make decisions on behalf of a community which the chosen person must represent. In other words being in positions of responsibility is entirely about service and not about power. A representative in congress is not in a position of power but in a position to serve their constituents who put them in that position to represent their interests.
In my opinion to be a good leader is to be a great listener. The leader must listen to the community to find out what the community wants and or needs. The leader must listen to the community to determine what the community thinks is right or wrong. The leader then must offer solutions or proposals or policies which satisfies the requirements of the community. What matters more than who is in the seat is the seat itself. This means the Presidency itself matters more than who is in office. The positions themselves matter more than who is in them. Long after whomever is in these positions are gone there will be these positions to be filled. Any leader in any position is replaceable by someone else if they show failure to lead (whether it be a CEO, or a President of a country, or a lead developer, or any other kind of community leader).
In my understanding it is like chess where all pieces on the board can be in various positions. We know in chess that the pawn can become any piece on the board. The point with this analogy is that individuals in my opinion are not likely to remain the source of power in society. The source of power in society is increasingly becoming the community for better or for worse. According to me, to lead is to serve and to lead effectively is to serve effectively.
To accept a responsibility to serve (to lead) it is required to seek feedback from all whom the community servant represents. This does not require voting specifically but it does require under any circumstance a mechanism by which the community can give brutally honest feedback to the system itself. When I say the system itself I do not mean the feedback must go direction to those who serve the system but that the system must have a means of collecting data, analyzing data, and then informing those who can improve the system on which changes best would satisfy the needs of the community.
In my opinion this is a very data driven process. I do not think leaders can for example process big data using their brain power. This will require that they harness the power of machines (machine intelligence). There is also risk if all the processing is done by one company (such as Google) just as there is risk if all people rely on Facebook for the news and opinions. We can see that Facebook has the ability right or wrong to shape elections by deforming the news feed or by allowing certain fake profiles to interact on the site. We see that Facebook can ban crypto ads at will for example to enforce certain policies without taking any kind of poll from the community or the users for instance. We simply do not see any poll data from the users which indicated that the users were tired of seeing crypto ads.
Summary of thoughts on leadership:
Augmenting the wisdom of the community as a means of better governance
In a world where the community must decide what to do we have a situation where responsibility is increasingly diffuse. This means while it is true that the signature may come from the face of the community (if it is a human face) it is still the community which has to be capable of wisdom. The problem is most communities in the world do not become wiser as more join the community. A bigger community doesn't produce better policies by merely voting together. The problem is while most people have opinions it does not mean opinions are well informed or scientific or wise. The lack of wisdom in a community results in horrible (harmful) policies, over reactions, systemic bias, and more.
The conclusion I have reached so far is that in order to have better governance in an era where the community is the government it is a requirement that the community be wise. It's not enough to simply give the community unlimited power to shape the future without providing any capacity for the community to be wise or to do research or to solve problems. Voting in the sense we see in elections does not involve informed voters. Information supplied to voters is almost always sub par and voters are expected to trust "opinion leaders" and "opinion shapers" who tell them how to vote and why. Often disinformation shapes elections more than scientific evidence, facts, math, or reason.
As we build blockchain technology I think it is critical that we put great emphasis on data analytics. Data analytics will allow our leaders to make better decisions on our behalf. Blockchain technology will have to rely on data analytics to figure out potential wants and needs of it's participants, users, e-citizens, etc. At the same time private communication will be a necessity even if just to conduct surveys. The reason is people will not necessarily provide their real opinion in a survey which is completely transparent. The only solution I could find to the problem of preference falsification is privacy.
Most important of all is those who are put into positions of leadership are in trusted positions. This includes people who are moderators at forums, people who are lead developers, people who run exchanges. People who are in these positions have the responsibility to serve the blockchain community to the best of their ability. The abuse of these positions for personal power or personal gain is a violation of this trust and in these instances the community can and should select someone else for that position.
Bulbulia, J., & Sosis, R. (2011). Signalling theory and the evolution of religious cooperation. Religion, 41(3), 363-388.
Davis, W. L. (2004). Preference falsification in the economics profession. Econ Journal Watch, 1(2), 359.
Frank, R. H. (1996). The Political Economy of Preference Falsification: Timur Kuran's Private Truths, Public Lies. Journal of Economic Literature, 34(1), 115-123.
Grimm, P. (2010). Social desirability bias. Wiley international encyclopedia of marketing.
Sîrbu, A., Loreto, V., Servedio, V. D., & Tria, F. (2017). Opinion dynamics: models, extensions and external effects. In Participatory Sensing, Opinions and Collective Awareness (pp. 363-401). Springer, Cham.
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Suggested readings to better understand the Tau ecosystem, Tau Meta Language, Tau-Chain and Agoras, and collaborate in the development of the project.
Lecturas sugeridas para entender mejor el ecosistema Tau, Tau Meta Lenguaje, Tau-Chain y Agoras, y colaborar en el desarrollo del proyecto.