The Infinite Game
How Do We Avoid Self-Termination?
The World today is overwhelming. We have a pandemic, a collapse of sensemaking, economic fragility, food insecurity, perverse incentives, extractive capitalism, threats of geopolitical annihilation, singularity, etc., etc. It feels like a perfect storm of catastrophic and existential risks.
I consider three primary frameworks to get us through this storm.
Energy is Everything - Everything for human survival and flourishing is dependent on energy. In 2018, the US and Canada became net exporters of energy and this potentially breaks the geopolitical link that ties us to the rest of the world, which also reduces the incentive for the US to engage with the rest of the world, for better or worse.
Peter Zeihan is a geopolitical analyst who has one of the clearest articulations of the state of the world based upon data around energy and demographic shifts. His 2020 WM Sustainability Forum lecture is a good starting point for this rabbit hole, and I’m currently reading his book Disunited Nations: The Scramble for Power in an Ungoverned World.
We can see from from his presentation slides why China has engaged in the largest infrastructure project in human history, the Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI is a matter of national security for the CCP. 1.4 billion people without energy security (and thus without food and survival security) would collapse the state pretty quickly. This is Emperor Xi’s nightmare.
Oil products are moved via the following methods of transportation, ranked from cheapest to most expensive:
The First Island Chain includes Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore and is also bordered by other non-island nations. China, and all of these nations are dependent on oil, and the South China Sea is full territorial disputes over tiny islands because of this. The Northeast Asian countries are all incredibly energy hungry and have centuries of conflict.
You may think, Wind and Solar will save the day right? The Energiewende, Germany’s green energy experiment, has been a disastrous failure. The virtue signaling of environmental alarmists and activists with reductionist strategies has cost Germany (and the rest of the world) hundreds of billions of dollars.
Innovation in energy - next generation nuclear, next generation solar, and other technologies are incredibly important in the next few decades. Critical, first principles, scientific thinking with holistic, complex systems analysis supported by advanced artificial intelligence is the path forward. With humility and uncertainty.
Tenets of an Infinite Game - Finite (win-lose, zero sum, rivalrous) game dynamics and exponential technology sitting atop an extractive capitalistic system is self-terminating.
What is needed is a New Game, an Infinite one.
“A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.” -James P. Carse
Finite and Infinite Games philosophically explores this concept in detail. Today’s global game design is still one of consumption and extraction. Bitcoin and the Federal Reserve are still playing a finite game. Rules for Rulers still dominate global political and corporate strategies.
The Infinite Game appears to need a new incentive system that is assisted by artificial intelligence to generate wisdom for Humanity to develop complex systems management tools for regenerative architectures that work in harmony with Nature and our Planet. We need to design the tenets for this AI that can adjust in real-time. Decentralized autonomous systems can assist in transparency, but not necessarily governance. It will not be easy. There is a need for warriors. Things will get worse before they get better.
A Psychedelic Renaissance - everything begins at Home. The global mental health pandemic overshadows any coronavirus pandemic that is happening now. Mental illness, the opioid crisis, and the collective schizophrenia we are experiencing now seems like a much greater threat than a respiratory virus.
Perhaps the aliens will come save us, but barring that, an extremely high priority is to design a new health care system that focuses on providing the tools that allows our society to raise whole human beings with a resurgence of interest in science, engineering, art, philosophy, and well-being rather than an education system designed to pump out one dimensional wage-slaves and wannabe entrepreneurs whose sole aspiration is to join the BBC.
Organizations like MAPS are doing good work in this area. There is more work to be done. Psychedelics are not for everyone, but the Work is. Whatever modality of consciousness is suitable, it is all becoming more democratized and accessible. Rather than a Green New Deal that is reductionist, simplistic and has echoes of the Germany disaster, the conversation should be around a Psychedelic New Deal, that invites and empowers people to have access to psychedelic experiences which have the clinical data and scientific research to support best practices, safety, and thousands of years of shamanic history and tradition.
Oregon and other states’ marijuana, psilocybin, and decriminalization measures are important first step to watch, and history may someday look back and find those measures as the most important impact of the 2020 US Elections.
If our governments invested the same amount of money into research and development and subsidies for exploring the inner world as they did to exploring outer space and failed energy projects, this seems like a viable strategy. However, psychedelics are not a silver bullet. Many psychonauts are not served by their experiences.
The nascent psychedelic industry needs to be stewarded carefully so as not to get hijacked by perverse incentives, Wall Street, Big Pharma, opportunistic business sharks, and irresponsible facilitators that are unqualified to administer Medicine. There is a clear danger for the Psychedelic Renaissance to get derailed by carelessness and corruption.
Whole people create whole families and whole tribes to create whole communities to fractally create a whole global village. Wholeness empowers agency and coherence, so that individuals and teams can more wisely create projects and build technology, systems and infrastructure for the good of all within our transitioning socioeconomic, geopolitical, and environmental climate.
This is a Game Worth Playing. Para El Bien de Todos. Who’s with me?
I really am out of my depth one it comes to AI and the singularity.
Your article reminds me of the Biblical story of the Arc. A flood is coming so it might be best to save all the best stuff to have a good foundation to rebuild on.
> design a new health care system
Radical distribution of the intelligence for working toward optimum health is the only long-term solution. Centralized systems fail; they're easily corrupted, adapt too slowly, are too insensitive to varied priorities, and are, ultimately, at odds with personal liberty.
There is too much good information today. The challenge is to filter and coalesce the best of our current wisdom, and to teach the generations to come -- give them the tools -- to effectively manage their own health.
That notion reminds me that "Health" class WAS half the curriculum in my high school PE classes. (In the '80s, "Health" classes were laughably inadequate.) We've learned a lot since then. Nutrition, Meditation, Mind-Body dynamics, and all other health-related disciplines can all be taught at a radically more sophisticated level today.
If every child learns the importance of managing their own health, then they can build a distributed system which is optimized for individual needs, adapts to our ever-changing experiences, and empowers generations to come to live their best lives.
Perhaps a few of us "old folks" can learn with them, and we can all discover the optimal patterns of living for our own lives.