Chinese economists say Big Data can replace markets in planned economies

I think the idea that algorithms can help us avoid self-serving bias is a dangerous one. I think in the end algorithms help people implement their self-serving biases by putting a veneer of respectability over them.


But I created this thing, and I see it as unbiased!

That book I mentioned above, it was translated into Chinese 100 years ago. It’s part of their thinking on this (sure looks like it to me, I’m going to dig deeper on this) as it’s economics under the guise of fiction. If the Chinese want to roll a Bellamy economy out across the planet I am a lot more friendly to them their machinations than I ever have been before, as I’d like to see the world saved and that’s about the only realistic model I’ve come across. If they’ve worked on it, I’m interested.

Bellamy’s plan is second only to John Adams’ in my book. The jury is out of the latter.

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Well, my notion of free certainly isn’t having other people involuntarily hustle my resources for me, so I guess yes you’re right. It’s kind of a given that if you want to live, you need resources, and if you don’t want to be a mooch you need to contribute and have something to trade with others. The free part ideally is in how you decide to do that, which I will say is absolutely not an insignificant thing.

But we digress… the point is that efficiency is all well and good, but it’s not (or rather, should not be) a value unto itself. It’s just a tool for pursuit of whatever other goals there are. Since my goal and my values don’t include totalitarianism, even if a scientifically centrally planned economy could be so efficient as to provide more prosperity than an alternative, I still would not support it.

State control and central planning might be the only thing that gets us a zero-carbon-emissions economy. Unfettered individual self-interest doesn’t look like it’ll get us there. We have to make huge changes in a very short period. In the voice of Jack Bauer: “We don’t have a lot of time.”

After that we can go back to pillaging the planet like usual, just without putting more GHG into the air.


This is false, we could just make certain practices illegal, for example, there are many other things we could do, positive incentives, negative incentives (e.g. tax fossil fuels for their true impact). There’s no guarantee a centrally planned economy would be any better at implementing a zero carbon system either, in fact I’m pretty sure they’d be worse at it (they tend to be worse at most everything).

For some reason, while reading the article, the words Ant Farm popped up in my mind.

I’m glad that this subject has exploded back into the mainstream of thoughtful-people conversation. The standard argument for dismissing anything other than laissez-faire capitalism (“the USSR tried it and it didn’t work”) is a moronic waste of a huge body of knowledge about organising modern societies.

But by the same token, we’ve also spent decades failing to learn about the problems of planned economies; the soviet experience certainly doesn’t prove it can’t work, but it does prove that it can fail. Which problems were superficial, and which could have been fixed? A lot of the recent interest focuses on the Soviet system’s failure to detect and respond to consumer needs, and it does seem like the intenet could solve that.

But there were other problems too. Can any planned system move beyond the limitations of its designers? Does having centrally defined rules inevitably mean the best cheater wins? Will anyone ever choose to clean toilets if they’re not forced to?

That last one is an especially good question because capitalism doesn’t have an answer either. Or rather, its answer is that people doing unpleasant jobs to avoid starvation are more “free” than people doing unpleasant jobs to avoid being shot, which is questionable.


late stage socialism would be good thing, because communism follows.

A golden land of opportunity and adventure.

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Cybersyn got Ted Cruz in a lot of trouble lately.


Oh, never mind.


To my mind, the whole point of a centrally planned economy is to factor in ‘externalities’ that are otherwise ignored. The point is to maximise human flourishing, rather than freedom, which is merely a subset of that. But actually, the whole flourishing bit is a subset of sustainability, which is paramount.

And I think you’ll find, if you look out the window, that sustainability is not even a consideration in any extant system.


My thoughts, as well. We have existed for centuries without computation, so there was a significant element of mystery regarding the trajectory of each acting force in the market. But the market was always finite because there are a finite number of people, goods, services, and well defined distribution networks. It’s a bunch of data just waiting to be described in full… And manipulated completely.

…that’s a warning flag right there.

Heinlein wrote fiction, which many people enjoyed. He was not a reliable philosopher, psychologist, sociologist or economist.

That is what’s already happening. Unless you are at the absolute bottom of the heap, other people are doing things that they would rather not do in order to support your lifestyle.

It’s a basic feature of capitalism; it’s a basic feature of society, really. The only question is how to best organise the situation and distribute the resources.

Yes, individual liberty is a valid and important factor in that calculation. But coercion by starvation is no better than coercion by law.


The historic track record of state control and central planning with regard to environmental damage makes me very, very suspicious of any future attempts at such.


These I think demonstrate why the very underpinnings of “economy” itself are often problematic. On both micro and macro level, it is assumed that the interests of humans generally and/or especially some human individuals are the crucial factors that all interactions need to be structured around. But hardly anybody considers the prerequisite questions: 1. Is there are reliable consensus about what humans or human interests supposedly are? and 2. How could that ever be sustainable if humans are a vast subset of the environment that they hope to manipulate with this same system? Putting self-interest first is pathological, despite people’s near inability to resist doing so.

If there is some kind of “natural order”, it is not that “some better people’s interests matter more than others” - it is that the individual is a subset of their family/culture, which is a subset of humans, which is a subset of all living things, which is a subset of the biosphere generally. So each prior stage requires the health of the subsequent ones for its possible survival and well-being. That is ultimately the only sustainable approach, no matter how much anybody wants to abstract matters and juggle the symbols.

The big picture is that ecology replaces economy, if you, me, or anything is to survive. You can’t reverse that because “I need my stuff!” - which is the basis of nearly all human economic systems.

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