In my previous post I posed the following question: Can any group composed of beings as autonomous and perverse as humans be expected to exhibit true swarm intelligence, or does it break down into chaos as the feedback loop between its external and internal modes of perception and judgment come into conflict?
Over the past several weeks, (and during an enjoyable vacation) I have put some thought into the ways emergent behavior might be “sabotaged” when elements of a swarm or flock seek to profit from disrupting the behavior of the group as a whole.
Most specifically, I have been considering what to make of the possibility of individual elements acting to deliberately produce chaotic results.
Oddly enough, what I have begun to consider is that the role of this contrarian-generated chaos may in fact be startlingly egalitarian.
Consider the market: In order for everyone to prosper in the long term, the market must go up. In other words, the economy must grow (as long as the population continues to grow) in order for per capita wealth not to decline. Further, the economy must grow more rapidly than does the population if we are all to get richer. However, if anyone is to make money in the market at a rate higher than that of the economy’s growth, someone else must (in the short term) lose that money or new wealth must be created locally. The former possibility usually means winning (or losing) a bet. The latter is the capitalistic ideal. Betting, however, is the more interesting possibility here because in a discussion of the egalitarian possibilities of chaos, distribution, not creation, of wealth is of the most central interest.
It should be fairly obvious that if everyone wins and loses bets of equal sizes with equal frequency, a measurable central tendency should emerge, representing some level of wealth one is more likely to have than not. This is the vision of the perfectly random system, in which one can never expect to beat the market, there being no system of doing so. At any given time there will be some rich and some poor, but most people will be middle class. If at any point, however, some percentage of the population gains the ability to predict the market fluctuations emerging from the population's collective betting habits, that group will begin to win more often than it loses, and the equalizing pressures of chaos will lose influence.
It would seem to be in the egalitarian interest, therefore, to preserve, as far as possible, the short term unpredictability of the betting market. In a system of intelligent actors, this might very well mean deliberately sabotaging the predictability of the market in the short term, neutralizing the advantage of any population attempting to beat real growth rates via arbitrage. It would be hard for anyone to make money betting that I will not bet to lose if I go rogue and bet to lose at random intervals. Such an investment strategy would be counter-intuitive, but it would make for a fascinating sort of charity endeavor.
I have decided to do some rudimentary tests of this hypothesis.
I have begun to write a computer program in which just such a “chaos charity” will be pitted against savvy self-interested investors, and will observe the effects such an organization would have on the distribution of wealth in the population.
The basic parameters of the program are as follows.
1) Generate a random wealth distribution
2) Allow some slightly variable percent of the population to bet against one another and/or to bet on growth (venture capital).
3) Allocate wins and losses
4) With some probability greater than 80% (ish) grow the economy and the population
5) Iterate and observe wealth distribution
1) “Inform” some small percentage of the population of the market's movements, such that that percentage wins bets more often than it loses them, and repeat the process
1) Introduce a “Citizens for Chaotic Egalitarianism” charity which randomizes some percentage of previously “predictably winnable” bets among the “informed” class, and repeat the process.
If all goes as planned, the simulation should demonstrate both the egalitarian value of deliberately fostering unpredictability and the Gini-coefficient smashing consequences of policies that support short term predictability.
Stay tuned for the results in two weeks.