Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What is smart

In a comment thread between Matthew and I (on-going) here, he criticized a proposition (I quoted approvingly) from Barack Obama which stated that small vs. large gov't shouldn't be the primary issue but rather smart gov't should be.

I then went on to define what I considered smart (which may or may not line up with Obama's definition of smart)

Here 'tis:
Smart mostly means for me de-centralized networked resiliency.
My point about smart over small/large was connected to a larger point about gov't being a necessary evil (or at least a beast of burden) so better smart than dumb.

I didn't elaborate on what de-centralized networked resiliency means. Wanted to flesh that a bit more.

I finished reading a book entitled It's Alive: The Coming Convergence of Information, Biology, and Business. [For Kurzweil geeks out there....C4, Vince he gives a positive review on back cover].

The title is so too sci-fi with the bad Frankenstein's monster reference. But the book is very good (imo). My only general criticism is that it tends to reduce everything to science, technology, business. [All metaphors are drawn from complexity science]. But that being said, it still gave me a great deal of food for thought.

They have a very handy-dandy categorization and life-cycle for the change from scientific innovation to business (and from then to wider social) application. They label four stages Q1-Q4.

Q3:Business (applications of technology)

And then there are waves of these (paradigm shifts in Kurzweil-eze).

Continue Reading

So for example with regards to the industrial economy (pp.20-21 of the book)
Q1:Electrical engineering, chemistry
Q2:Steel plants, oil refineries
Q3:Automobiles, consumer prod.
Q4:Command and control hierarchy, "scientific management"

Q4 is when the cycle reaches maturity, even senescence (in terms of innovation, it still likely has strong influence in society). Q4 then bleeds over into arenas beyond business: politics, education, law, etc.

As regards the industrial economy, the link between the "scientific management" model (of Taylor and Ford) and the large-scale public education as a factory is well documented.

According to the authors (Meyer and Davis) the information economy is just now reaching Q3 Business and the molecular economy (the next iteration/paradigm) is just reaching Q2. Molecular economy involves nanotech, biotech, possibly robotics.

They theorize on the Q3 Business Stage of the Molecular Economy (similar to Kurzweil's The Singularity): matter compiler, experience machine ("virtual reality"). Q4 of the Molecular Economy has yet to emerge.

And Q4 of the Informational Economy, just starting to get glimpses that will translate into huge change in the coming decade, they call "The Adaptive Enterprise". The rest of the book is a detailing of the Adaptive Enterprise. The Q4 of the Informational Economy.

What this whole vision points out is how much the exterior-business realms can accelerate and outpace the political-educational-legal structures. Because as we see business by nature tends to be the one that first changes cognitively-organizationally (Q4) which grows first and foremost out of the practices (Q3) that are undertaken. Worldview (Q4) arises as superstructure out of base (Q3).

And then does it filter across to the other domains. Meanwhile the new layers of science (Q1) and technology (Q2) are already taken off in terms of the next paradigm. The key is to make sure by the time the political-legal-military-educational nexus catches up isn't already out of date (relative to the new scientific-technological paradigm).

And just to make to clear, the only major political figure (versus academics) who is consistently talking about this--the lag time that is--as far as I know is Newt Gingrich. While I don't agree with his position on immigration and (what he calls) WWIV (Terrorism), I do think he is hitting all the right buttons on the facileness of the political (non)debates in the parties, the pathetic nature of our media-hyped political process (30 second sound bytes) and the fact that government should be measured against the standards of the business world. At least in terms of efficiency and standards. Not perfect I know (the corporate world that is) but a helluva lot better.

What smart government would be then is the Adaptive Enterprise (Q4 of Informational) mindset related to political organization. [The Q2 of Informational is things like chips, WWW. Q3 is new media, information technology services, social networking].

Smart government could then cut across the four major sectors key for the future:
1)domestic ("the government")....entitlements, Welfare State, health care
2)national security apparatus ("the state")
3)environmental resiliency
4)Department of Reconstruction

Right now in US politics we have issue #1 mostly dominated by Democrats. 2 by Republicans. 3 and 4 with no party vehicle--except maybe Governors.

[Remember in my thinking gov't is this necessary evil--I'd rather it work well than not. This is not still the issue of limited government and individual rights/liberties. I realize for now I have to put that in brackets.]

I can't go through all of their recommendations. But some of the more important ones:
--"A key principle of general evolution is that the bottom-up interactions of agents create adaptive systems." (p.101). Seekers in William Easterly's terms. (versus top-down planners).

The problem generally with planners/top-down approach is that it assumes the myth of the given, a single world easily recognizable for everyone involved. Adaptive enterprise/complexity science is chaotic, I wanted to say postmodern in the (good) sense of enaction (a la Maturana and Varela).

If you study how a bird sees its environment it does not see the same environment you and I see when we look in the same general say field or forest. A bird literally does not see that with which it does not interact with--a literal world-space. Which is why the Gaia proponents (especially as cited for public policy, say on environmental-economic issues) have a serious flaw: no other animal, other than some humans, sees this Nature/Gaia. It is not a flat neutral space on which all the other animals, creatures, planets, etc. are acted upon and then must respond.

Rather what is Nature is in part a co-creation of these agents. And onion-like layers of Nature at that.

Similar with the gov't/business model of adaptive enterprise. You do not plan for a single identity/solution that you then try to enforce on a neutral background (commerce or politics) that is the same for all. Rather you create the organization such that its primary code is ability to adapt and ride the chaos, thereby seeding its own worldspace. Works as a feedback mechanism, with the envio and agents responding to each other, helping creating each other.

This is why I prefer say with climate change work on resiliency. Then you cut through the miasma of the politics and debate on human/non-human. agnostics, deniers, true believers, apocalyptic believers, etc. Whatever happens the system, the network itself is ready to respond. Rather than trying to predict what the future will be, then massively shifting the entire human resource base to try to be ready for a change we're not even entirely sure will come in the first place and we are not sure that even if we were to undertake this massive change (i.e. massive economic regulation) it would not change the environment so that a new set of problems would emerge which we would still be unprepared to deal with.

Riding the chaos. This is the key. Requires a great deal of technology to sense and respond in real-time. Seed in multiple directions, see which pans out, and then dive into that stream. Then re-seed multiply from within that stream, see which works, and respond.

It also requires managers (politicians?) to no longer be those who hold special information guardedly at the top (as in a command control economy/politics/military), having to wait from orders from even higher up, or having your intelligent employees nannied into a state of waiting for permission to prosper. The real job of the manager (pol?) will be to recognize talent (sense and respond) and get them in the right places AQAP (as quickly as possible).

Agent-based, bottom-up, open-source networks. Not for example, as with the warantless wiretapping these huge dragnets of planned obsolescence where eventually everybody (and therefore nobody in particular) ends up on some list. As an example, Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower, his daughter ended up a surveillance list (as I think maybe he did) during his research for the book.

I know others will disagree with this, but I think we could start with smart government as a means of working together across political divides, then still have our discussions about the actual size (some always favoring less, others more) from that place.
tags technorati :
tags technorati :
tags technorati :
tags technorati :


At 2:21 AM, Blogger Joe Perez said...


for what it's worth I did slog through your previous thread's comments, and while I didn't follow all the political theory references I did find your work to be very Aikido-like. Pat on back. I would have left this comment on that thread, but a weird bug on the Blogger code makes it impossible for me to comment on it without causing windows to pop up on my WinXP interminably.

Oh, and I've commented on my new policy vis a vis responding to one of our fellow bloggers on my blog. That's all I have to say publicly on the matter.



Post a Comment

<< Home