[ExI] Human Gradients

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun May 17 20:54:02 UTC 2009

Mirco writes

 > [Lee wrote]
>> But another salient fact: African countries are losing more and more
>> of their talented people, who manage to escape and make it to the
>> corruption-free west. And this process, of course, merely makes the
>> situation in Africa itself all the more dire and more hopeless. Our
>> friend from the Cameroon, who'll surely never emigrate back,
>> illustrates this perfectly.
> It flashed in my mind now:
> The Affirmative Action laws are really different from the "natural 
> resource curse"?

A fascinating connection. The general case reminds one
of cell biology, in which cells maintain a higher or
lower concentration of ions or chemicals from their
environment (the intercellular areas), in defiance
of the natural urge of statistical ensembles to
distribute uniformly.

It takes free energy, at least, to maintain gradients.
Something is drawing intelligent people out of Africa,
just as the affirmative action policies you speak of
must be raising the concentration in the poorest
urban areas of people who cannot as ably contribute.

(Or, as you wrote in much more concrete terms

    Brain flight is one of these things.
    The higher wages and the better living
    condition in the western countries
    attract an important part of the gifted
    from these countries, depleting their
    human resources in a disproportionate way.)

We will probably continue to see *increased*
human gradients everywhere: it won't just be
academic types attracted to universities and
fun loving types attracted to the shadier
parts of town where pool halls and bars abound.
We should expect to see ever greater differences
by locale and by social group.

This list itself is an example: we here are
all here associating with each other because we
share some very deep intellectual and philosophical
traits. Whereas, especially before the web and
before that, urbanization itself, one had to a
very much greater extent socialize with people
unlike oneself. This probably has very powerful
implications not only for the coming century,
but for algorithms in general that manage to
live uploaded.

But did you understand that by "natural resource
curse" (I was referring explicitly to Paul
Collier's great book "The Bottom Billion"), I
meant things like "the Dutch Disease"?  (I believe
that another poster gave the wikipedia link to that
very recently.) Anyway, it's a complex phenomenon
that actually retards the economies of poorer
nations. E.g., Venezuela, middle-Eastern countries,
and a number of African countries evidently have
*worse* economies because of "lucky" accidents
of geology that bestow oil riches on them.

This also brings to mind the taunts :-)  (okay,
nice challenges :) from people on this list to me
wherein it's asked whether people would really
be worse off if they'd been disinherited by
relatives, or, (in the same way), worse off
by not being subsidized by the state.

But a major reason people migrate to cities is
for the stimulation they provide. Like flies,
we'll all be attracted to the people and places
that fascinate us, and this tendency will become
more and more pronounced over time, with very
"interesting" consequences, no doubt.


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