From the author of The Postman, esteemed Kevin Costner filmhttp://davidbrin.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/bitcoin-and-other-dacs-a-new-cyber-lifeform/
== Will online distributed “robot” corporations dominate the economy? ==
Distributed-Autonomous-CorporationsIn fact, Bitcoin is only the best-known and most widely used example of a wider class of system. So let me link you now to a very interesting… and perhaps necessary… reading for those who would like to have a Big Picture look at the new ecosystem of autonomous networked entities online.
These Distributed Autonomous Corporations – as named by Stan Larimer of Invictus Innovations — dwell in the separate computers of thousands of individuals and groups who independently decide to run — or update — host software for the system, allowing it to “live.” Like stockholders in a company, or customers, they thus vote for it to exist, by using it and providing it with an array of distributed homes.
The rapid evolution of these DACs cause Larimer to opine that we appear to be heading toward a realm that automatically and organically invokes Isaac Asimov. That this is the way robots have truly arrived. And they need laws. And “nature” will be pretty much compelled to provide them.
Larimer foresees independent software-residing and internet spanning entities that are “corporate” in that they have a semblance of motivation and life, they thrive when they attract customers based on high reputation, and they defend their existence. Unlike standard corporations, however, a healthy DAC soon becomes independent of human control EXCEPT the market need to keep attracting and satisfying customers. No other human parameter can interfere, he claims.
Bitcoin-RoboticsIn “Bitcoin and the Three Laws of Robotics,” Larimer attempts to show how a set of Generally Stable Attractor States (my terminology here), will make it likely for these DAC’s to stay autonomous and healthy in a market ecosystem that naturally and organically tends toward synergies similar to the renowned Asimovian laws (that I channeled and dissected in my novel, FOUNDATION’S TRIUMPH).
Accelerando_(book_cover)Indeed, Charles Stross’ Accelerando, popularises this concept of autonomous economic legal entities, demonstrating in accessible ways this concept as one logical set of ends.
On the other hand, this market-home model of distributed markets that are out of human supervision has a scary side, since there may be a critical mass of humans willing to provide networked home bases for any kind of activity, including bazaars for evil, like hiring assassins. Indeed, the last vestige of human control… customers and members setting up virtual homes in distributed computers… may seem quaint when we approach the cloud-like cyber world forecast by William Gibson and Vernor Vinge, way back in the 1980s.
Without any doubt, Larimer’s incantation and prediction is fascinating, even persuasive…
… until we recall that it is still an incantation and a polemic. A just-so story, like countless we have been told about markets, like Supply Side “economics,” that just ain’t necessarily so.
Me? I think parallels for these new software forms are found in biology, all right. But not in the leap from single cell to multi-cellular life. The true fundamentals span all of that, going back to life’s very beginning — predation, parasitism and so on.
Life, for most of its eras, never saw a lick of cooperation or genuine, deal-making quid pro quo, but rather ferocity, voracity and ruthless taking-advantage. These basic drives and successful methods have a billion years more precedent than the much more recent — and demonstrably unstable — regime of human-made markets, corporations and libertarian conceptions of fair exchange.
Khan-BitcoinShow me the benign “market” of voluntarily-exchanged goods and services that evolved organically in the Cambrian! Or Devonian, or Permian, or Cretaceous. It might have happened on other worlds! It might have happened here – letting animal species trade in positive sum games – that is, it might have, had the market state of quid-pro-quo been as automatically compelling in the real world as Mr. Larimer implies, in breathless enthusiasm. Just as Karl Marx and Murray Rothbard and other transcendentalist logicians urged us to believe in their if-therefor incantations.
But biology did not spontaneously evolve or create quid-pro-quo markets. Although there certainly have been symbiotic relationships — e.g. between plants and pollinators — these arose amid death and exploitation and almost never involved the kinds of knowing reciprocity that Larimer describes as happening automatically with his beloved DACs.
Elsewhere I describe how close we may be to quasi intelligent information systems that grow spontaneously and unsupervised, bursting onto the scene of artificial intelligence from a wholly unexpected direction… programmed with exactly this age-old voracity, with parasitism lying at its newborn heart. A scenario motivated by short-sighted, human greed and one that we allow to play out, at our great peril.
Pain, exploitation and death were the attractor states for a billion years. Mr. Larimer and other cyber transcendentalists ought to bear it in mind.