[ExI] Restructuring executive compensation
max at maxmore.com
Sun May 31 04:26:11 UTC 2009
Brian Atkins wrote:
>Max, Bill is right that it's proven beyond any doubts at this point
>that rules just will not stand in the way of the economic cycle. I mean we're
>living through the aftermath of exactly the kind of rule perverting
>is talking about.
Is it really so proven? I must have missed that proof. However, I
suspect you are using "rules" to refer solely to centralized
government intervention. I am not limiting the term that way, as
should be obvious from the blog post of mine I previously mentioned.
Even if what you say were true, taken literally it would prove very
little. We will only be at "this point in history" for a moment. Then
we move on to the next moment. As we move from one moment to the
next, we learn. At least, we have the opportunity to learn, though
obviously we often fail to do so. We're still only beginning to
understand complex systems. Why be so pessimistic that we will never
be able to tweak them on any level for the better?
Let me get this straight. Are you say that no changes to rules
(private or public) will make any difference at all? Are you really
agreeing with BillK that "Better rules are meaningless." (BTW, that
comment baffles me given what seems to be his favorable view of
government intervention.) I didn't say that the economic cycle could
be entirely prevented, only that it might be somewhat alleviated and
some of its causes and effects moderated.
The view you seem to be taking is that *nothing* can be done, even on
a microeconomic level, to possibly ameliorate the business boom-bust
cycle. You are saying that no institutional changes in incentives can
make any difference. No technology-mediated improvements in
transparency and communication can make a difference. No
Internet-enabled stakeholder pressures can ever make a difference.
That a remarkably ambitious claim. It implies omniscience.
On your defeatist view, we should quit wasting our time trying to
change aging and death and other traditional, long-lived, and deeply
embedded aspects of the human condition. Surely, on the same
principle you implicitly propose, we cannot do anything "at this
point in history" to alter the biological cycle. Yet I don't believe
you accept that, given what I know of your views.
Your same view seems also to imply that property rights cannot make a
difference to human behavior and to economic outcomes. We might as
well abandon them. Yet I don't think you would accept this
implication. Your view seems to have similar implications regarding
the U.S. Constitution. Did this have no good long-lasting effect?
(Yes, of course, Supreme Court judges together with politicians,
primarily, have worked around the Constitution, most obviously with
moves such as the Interstate Commerce Clause. But it took decades for
them to do this damage, and it *still* isn't complete. The
Constitution was *not* a total waste of time.)
Your whole perspective leaves no room for the recognition that human
behavior is influenced by conditions and opportunities.
Ultimately, I take it that you are assuming that nothing can be done
to improve the basic functioning of the economy until we can make
basic changes to human nature. This seems to be a classic example of
an error to which Singularitarians are prone. "Let's not try to
improve things. Leave it for the superintelligence AI."
>In the aftermath now, sure we will make a bunch of new rules to shore things
>back up, and for a while it will be improved, but the cycle will continue
>turning. As long as it is driven by human minds then eventually it
>And by the way, attempting to smooth it out typically just ends up
>worse down the road.
>If the government/Fed had let things deflate properly during the
>instead of smoothing that out then we never would have had this huge
>debt bubble. Or at least it wouldn't have been so big and damaging.
Yes, I agree with what you say here. That's not the kind of
"smoothing out" that I'm talking about. From the context, it should
be obvious that I don't mean heavy-handed government intervention
that acts in a way that prevents the circuit breaker from blowing. On
the contrary, many of the most important ways of moderating the
swings consist of removing and preventing government interventions of
the kinds I just listed here: http://strategicphilosophy.blogspot.com/
More relevant are means of helping us learn more quickly, thereby
reducing the magnitude of the problems resulting from failure.
Designing institutions and learning processes to learn from "fast
failure" through many modest experiments (as well as developing
better means of anticipation) seems to be a promising approach. This
is really just a practical implementation of pancritical rationalism,
and was nicely described in some detail by Stefan H. Thomke in his
book "Experimentation Matters".
Max More, Ph.D.
Extropy Institute Founder
max at maxmore.com
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