Hypercorps, are they just "evil"?

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ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Ahh, philosophy.

Prepare to have all life drained from this thread.

MDFification wrote:
If I might chime in, all questions of the morality of social/economic systems are moot unless we have a shared definition of what 'good' and 'evil' is. So far, most of the thread seems to imply most of us here are defining 'good' as a) inherent resistance to x-risks and b) economic/social capital is distributed in a way that nobody has too little or too much.

Close. The two considerations are Stability and Wellbeing.
A stable society can adapt to changing conditions, or rather does not require specific social/technological/environmental conditions to exist.
Capitalism is a good example of a Stable societal system, as it is largely self-correcting and once established is difficult to alter, whereas Anarchism is very unstable without specific support systems.

Wellbeing is harder to quantify, but in general it can be thought of as the Quality of Life or Satisfaction of the populous, or that which is at a Maximum in a Utopia and a Minimum in a Dystopia. One way to consider this is by asking If and to What Extent one would change the society given absolute knowledge of that society's function.

The quality of a given society can then be established through it's maximisation of these elements.
Note that specific Moral, Religious and/or Political views are not meaningful in these arguments – they provide axioms upon which a society is based and/or methods to improve those elements.
Excessively uneven resource distribution for example is frowned upon because it causes provable loss in welllbeing amongst the populous, including those who possess the excess strangely enough.
Also important is that these elements are not implicitly contradictory, unlike the stereotypical Security/Liberty argument.

Applying this method to the PC and Jovians as written shows where they are lacking – their prioritisation of Stability above Wellbeing is not implicitly Bad, but they do not maximise Wellbeing within their own grounding Axioms.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

LuisCarlos17f LuisCarlos17f's picture
The limit about the cultural

The limit about the cultural relativism is the respect of the human dignity. Whithou this you can't defend freedom and coexistence.

* Once I thought about to create a "1984 meets Brave New World and then they are attacked by the walking dead".

* In the real world the victory has to be for the true leaders, not the toxic bosses, if you are a tyrant, suffer a "human capital flight". To win you need to get trust and loyalty of allies and subordinates. If you are like John Snow or Tyrion Lannister somebody may save your life, if you are like Joffery Baratheon you will be poisoned.

* You can forget the canon and change the background about the Jovians. If I want, the biosphere of the Earth survived the Fall.

The Master Confucius said: “The noble man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony.” (Anaclet 13:23).

MDFification MDFification's picture
LuisCarlos17f wrote:The limit

LuisCarlos17f wrote:
The limit about the cultural relativism is the respect of the human dignity.

The thing is though, what 'human dignity' is defined as varies from culture to culture. It's a highly mutable family of concepts that only exists in the human mind.

The anarchists (sans AnCaps) feel that private property is an insufferable affront to human dignity. However, the vast majority of humans who've lived in the past 12,000 years disagree quite strongly. Just as some cultures (take for example the American midwest) are are extremely suspicious of hierarchy and strongly emphasize individual rights, in others lack of affiliation with a hierarchical social group or individual wants/needs being placed above collective wants/needs are seen as the low point of the human experience.

In the future, would my job be called anthropology, transanthropology or memetic research?


CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
Free market capitalism is

Free market capitalism is only metastable.
To demonstrate this let's ask ourselves:
"What is the objective of free market entity?"
The answer:
"To maximize its profits" (Correct me, if that's not the case)
What is the situation in which an entity may maximize its profits with best possible freedom.
"Monopoly"

As you can see the objective of every free market entity is to destroy the invisible hand that is the reason to have capitalism at all. As such free market capitalism is inherently flawed, and will result in creation of other system: hypercorp capitalism. Which is more stable than free market capitalism, but results in less wellbeing. Arguably it is the system in TODAY'S world

Tangential to the topic.
Campaign in which I am a player has "Is hypercapitalism an X-risk?" as one of its motifs. And the answer so far is "hell yeah". Why? Because Hypercorps have to investigate TITAN tech, exurgent viruses and take unnecessary risks. Otherwise the others might do it and overtake us.
It is a prisoner's dillema, but everyone knows that the other side will **** us so we have no choice.
So what that we may unleash the apocalypse? If we don't, they will, but if everything goes well, we gain an advantage.

As such the top hypercorps are evil from the point of view of Firewall.

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MAD Crab MAD Crab's picture
To answer your tangent,

To answer your tangent, Cordial: So what makes them different from any of the other polities? Every nation-state in the system faces the 'play with TITAN tech or lose to those who do' choice. The anarchists have no central authority to avoid catastrophe, even - every actor is supposed to be independent, so you don't just have people tinkering with TITAN tech, you might have the village idiot tinkering with it. Hell, FIREWALL suffers the same problem.

The fact of the mater is, pretty much all political systems are metastable. Anarchy is actually pretty stupid in most contexts, not least because armies are by their nature a hierarchy, and those with the military tend to make the rules. Extropian as portrayed in this game are silly because it requires enforcement of all these contracts, as if the guys with the most money wouldn't just buy better enforcers. Capitalism is kinda shit, we all know that. Communism has historically failed. Sometimes I think the best of a bad bunch of options is to just say 'screw it,' and fly screaming into the night between the stars.

eaton eaton's picture
Quote: Sometimes I think the

Quote:
Sometimes I think the best of a bad bunch of options is to just say 'screw it,' and fly screaming into the night between the stars.

Wouldn't that be Anarchism, though? ;-)
CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
MAD Crab wrote:So what makes

MAD Crab wrote:
So what makes them different from any of the other polities?

I guess you are right. I was writing this comment coming off contrasting PC with Jovian Republic in my mind. They are the ones that won't exploit TITAN tech.
Titan has the transparency thing going on.
Anarchist are anarchist. Don't know how to support my thesis with them.
That probably leaves Ultimates as the ones who would not hesitate to use it.

EDIT:
And we are currently discussing social philosophy of imaginary polities. I will go and enlist myself on some philosophy or sociology courses and return in few years to enlighten you all :-]

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eaton eaton's picture
Historically speaking,

Historically speaking, imaginary politics is definitely the best kind. ;-)

MAD Crab MAD Crab's picture
haha, touche! But I think it

haha, touche! But I think it supports my point, too. The political systems are metastable - any one of them can work, especially in a small group. As the group gets bigger, so do the instabilities until BAM! We drop to a lower energy state. With higher energy weapons.

eaton eaton's picture
Yep, that metastable-in-small

Yep, that metastable-in-small-groups thing is an important factor. It's also worth remembering that lots of Anarchists in the EP universe are scattered throughout small clusters, habitats, and swarms. That would tend to bias things towards the scenarios most likely to succeed for *any* political structure.

Perhaps, in-world, that's one of the reasons anarchism has succeeded where it has.

MAD Crab MAD Crab's picture
Yeah, and I'm okay with the

Yeah, and I'm okay with the small colonies scattered about. It begins to damage my suspension of disbelief when some of the larger habs are apparently over a million people strong. That's past the point where order begins to break down even in real life, where there isn't 3/4 of the population with anti-tank weaponry and the ability to crank out WMDs at a moment's notice.

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
Especially when comparing

Especially when comparing modern human social orders to transhuman ones in Eclipse Phase it's important to remember that they aren't populated by humans. A modern human is generically worse than an AF10 transhuman, in pretty much every way. What's important is that the possible social order of a group where the baseline for social competency, emotional intelligence, (and IQ for that matter), empathy (probably anyway, this can vary a lot) is about 33% better than in the modern world.

That's a huge difference for the kinds of societies which are possible, as everyone is pretty close to the modern cream of the crop in every respect. Combine that with technologies which can radically change the way transhumans can communicate and relate with one another and things get even weirder.

EP is a setting where someone's subjective experience, including all of their personal twists and qualia from their personal history can be recorded and shared, or even streamed live. I imagine that live full-fidelity XP sharing is more intimate than pretty much anything possible in the modern world, because it actually allows you to get in someone else head. EP is a setting where walking a mile in someone else's shoes is about as hard as watching a movie online. That alone would radically alter social cohesion in ways I doubt any of us can fully appreciate.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg, because EP societies are immersed in a massive noosphere of information, to the point where any person who isn't a zero can look up pieces of information during the flow of conversation. There's also all the AI looking out for people to factor in, for every transhuman there is at least one helping AI acting as a support to their already superior memory, and looking out for all sorts of things, including greatly boosting their social awareness. This is assuming they don't have any device AIs either, so the ALI:transhuman ratio in society is probably at least 10:1. That's a huge support network for all kinds of things. This is also what helps produce those deep social networks that the Reputation system runs on.

If Dunbar's Number for modern humans is about 150 other people, Dunbar's Number for transhumans could easily be in the thousands, and thanks to technological assistance could possibly climb into the millions. That's just not the same kind of society as the modern world. Even a small change of about 100 would make a significant difference in society.

There are plenty more technologies which radically reshape society to look at (skillsofts, social software, resleeving, forking, etc), but I'll leave them out right now.

That's why I find arguments against EP societies from the modern world kind of ridiculous. It's sort of like cro-magnon band stating that New York is impossible because there would be no way to gather enough food for all the people living there.

MAD Crab MAD Crab's picture
None of what you've described

None of what you've described makes me think that humans will stop acting pretty much human. We have massive amounts of information at our fingertips, but don't use it. We have the resources to put ourselves in the shoes of thousands of people with different life experiences, but prefer to experience the ones most like ours. Smart search engines feed us information to make us happy instead of what's most balanced.

EP still has all those basic tribal conflicts, simply expressed as the differences between the autonomists and jovians and capatalists. Technology might give us the capability to be more than human, but that doesn't mean an end to our bickering and conflict - if anything, it may make them worse.

Kojak Kojak's picture
IIRC, Dunbar's number is a

IIRC, Dunbar's number is a direct expression of a primate's neurophysiology. Doesn't it follow, then, that transhumanity can tweak the brain such that that number can be raised or lowered?

"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
Yeah, it's supposed to be

Yeah, it's supposed to be correlated by neocortical volume, but I don't know much about the details or the strength of the correlation. All the changed neurophysiology in most biomorphs (let alone the stuff they can do with cyberbrains) can probably drastically alter that number.

The way human society works has changed drastically as a result of technology already, it's pretty silly to say that those alterations will stop in the early 21st century.

Kojak Kojak's picture
I had always been somewhat

I had always been somewhat skeptical of the larger autonomist habs myself for the reasons that had already been stated, but then this...

Trappedinwikipedia wrote:
EP is a setting where someone's subjective experience, including all of their personal twists and qualia from their personal history can be recorded and shared, or even streamed live. I imagine that live full-fidelity XP sharing is more intimate than pretty much anything possible in the modern world, because it actually allows you to get in someone else head. EP is a setting where walking a mile in someone else's shoes is about as hard as watching a movie online. That alone would radically alter social cohesion in ways I doubt any of us can fully appreciate. [...] That's why I find arguments against EP societies from the modern world kind of ridiculous. It's sort of like a Cro-Magnon band stating that New York is impossible because there would be no way to gather enough food for all the people living there.

...honestly completely reframed my thinking. Thank you for this, dude.

"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
You're welcome dude, stuff

You're welcome dude, stuff like this is why this is may favorite setting to think about!

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Is Dunbar's number of the

Is Dunbar's number or the ability to maintain relationship networks actually the issue with anarchist systems, though? Kowloon Walled City, one of the largest modern examples of an anarchist state, had a population estimated as high as 50,000 people - over two orders of magnitude greater than Dunbar's number.

The Free Rider problem is one issue with anarchist societies, but that's only really the first step in the issue: The reason there's a Free Rider problem at all is because there's a lack of dispute resolution.

Modern states and societies in the developed world rely on the monopolization of force by the state to grant the state the ability to make and enforce laws that are - in theory - ultimately desired by the population at large, and it has built-in dispute resolution systems in the form of the legal system (for when laws are violated) and the voting system (for when it is desirable to change the laws).

Anarchist states, by definition, do not have either of these things. If disputes arise, it behooves both parties to ostensibly even agree that there is a dispute worth tackling here. One might not even care to go to arbitration. That means that the other party is required to seek alternative means of dispute resolution. If they're connected, they can use leverage directly - maybe they know the person who distributes food fabber feedstock - but, if they aren't, they're reliant either on charity or retaliation.

Something humans are bad at, no matter how smart they are, is knowing when to back down. Once disputes get heated, things get worse and worse and tribes ultimately form and get involved. And this is just for really simple shit. What if one of your neighbours believes that it's okay to keep indentured servants? What if one doesn't believe AGIs are people? How can you tell them such things are wrong? Are you licensed to use force to stop them? Are they licensed to use it back?

At some point, it just becomes violent mob reprisal. Alternatively, you create democratic institutions that have a monopoly on force and- Oops, you're not anarchists anymore!

Being smarter or more capable doesn't change your basic human instincts; being able to track relationships doesn't make these things easier to deal with. If anything, the rise of the modern internet and the resultant rise of echo chambers and community isolation have shown that it becomes harder, not easier, to get conversations going and encourage dispute resolution because people can choose to only talk to those who agree with them. The same thing happened in the French Revolution, too, with all the revolutionaries living together and increasingly radicalizing each other.

Kowloon survived because it had community organizations. It graduated from pure anarchy to something resembling Athenian democracy, and that worked.

Is there any reason to assume EP would differ?




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MAD Crab MAD Crab's picture
Thank you for articulating

Thank you for articulating that far better than I was able to, Axel.

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Thank you. As Trapped said,

Thank you. As Trapped said, this is fun to think and talk about.




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Kojak Kojak's picture
Correct me if I'm wrong, but

Correct me if I'm wrong, but EP's autonomists tend to be of the anarcho-communist variety, yes? So it's not that they're opposed to community organizations and institutions per se, they just prefer it to be more organic and bottom-up. I can see how it would be really successful in some cases and disastrous in others, which is more or less how I portray it in my own campaign.

"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
I don't know if Kowloon works

I don't know if Kowloon works that well as an example of a functioning anarchist state, as it was run by triads until an external government stepped in basically threatened to do so again if they didn't get things under control. I don't know a ton about it though.

EP anarchists are specifically into non-hierarchical organizations, which according to some wikipedia research can lead to weird things like trying cases by consensus-1 or police militias, because police are fine if they aren't a separate organization from the community. A sort of neighborhood watch empowered by the consensus of the governed I guess.

There's apparently a lot of debate about law and anarchy, but anarchists would definitely have laws, they'd just require that laws be passed by near consensus, and that they are communally enforced.

That's (the unstated reason) why I brought up Dunbar's Number, because I think for that kind of community governance to work you'd need a community which can be both very large and very interconnected.

I don't think that's enough to really make something like Locus's 11 million people work in a friction free way. I suspect they do have to compromise some, I could imagine something like this for an anarchist government. I think an actual government is allowed in anarcho-collectivism, it just acts more as an advisory organization for the community as a whole (basically a direct hypermajority or consensus democracy), which then aids in organizing long efforts.

Now, actually doing consensus government (or near enough, the logistics of getting 11 million people to all agree sound like a nightmare, especially if they're Exoglots) appears nonfunctional, but I think it's a much more plausible with an EP tech base.

First, similarly to the digital direct democracy the Titanians practice (which has it's own problems), it's possible to tally votes much more easily using a mesh which everyone can connect to. It also can facilitate a discussion, but as several posters have astutely pointed out a well connected populace doesn't appear to agree more; and that communication allows for instant factionalization and such.

My guess for how it works it something like this: First, we know from some blurbs in Rimward that anarchists organize into specialized collectives, and these collectives likely work as a major part of the facilitatory government. I'm thinking of people like BENEDETTA KATZENELLENBOGEN (not fixing the caps), and her role as a primary "architect" for Locus. While she doesn't have any coercive authority, she does have enough experience and respect that a lot of decisions for expanding locus go through her. I suspect that this can be extended to most governmental functions, where unofficial officials (likely an actual name for them haha) naturally emerge thanks to their rep and skill set.

More complex and contentious debates are legally resolved by (near) consensus, and this is most likely achieved by XP streaming debates. One option is to have both disagreeing parties mediate with one another, while hooked up to a full-fidelity XP feed. I think a lot of problems can be resolved pretty well if the parties can discuss their problem with the benefit of a live feed on how they feel. Live streaming this XP loop to the larger community can help everyone else come to a consensus as well.

I personally like this thematically because I think the Anarchists are a little low on flavor because of how much space was devoted to explaining their basic ethos and (lack of) governmental system, which little given over to the nitty gritty aspects of it. I think that according to the books "it just kind of works" without explaining why is the source of a lot of the complaints about the anarchists as the designated good guys.

Anyway, this injects a little bit of the "hive mind" flavor from the Synergists without making them the same. Anarchists share memories and emotional states so frequently that they can kind of have a "groupthink" which can be memetically poisoned intentionally or unintentionally by a plague of bad vibes. I also think a culture which doesn't like self-promotion, but requires a lot of quick selection for meritocratic positions (unofficial of course, but still there) would need something like memory sharing to function at all.

I think this helps to address the Free Rider Problem, where thanks to their cultural norms (and technology) they are much more communally bound than anyone alive today should help provide free riding. Someone who is using a lot of community resources (beyond what the simple AI systems allot on a simple rota) would need to explain themselves with live XP mediation, (make it live to avoid faked feeds and make it clear if they are using something like Endocrine Control or Emotional Dampers [those should also have huge societal effects]) which could easily resolve why they feel the need to use this much, with the community able to judge them based on their own internal qualia. I think that fits in quite well with their motto of "from each according to their imagination, to each according to their need".

It also works for the inability to back down, or similar problems, because XP sharing should mean that even if the two people can't resolve their differences, the insight into them granted by the community should allow a decision they can both abide by to be done with at least some ease.

I'm particularly interested in trying to figure out how the anarchist system works in practice, in a believable way, because I've always had trouble making a good game set in their habs. It's just not clear to me from the books how it all actually works, and this is my attempt to answer the player question "what would happen to me if I shot someone here". What I really need to do now is sleep, so I hope this is decently coherent.

LuisCarlos17f LuisCarlos17f's picture
* Without human dignity, when

* Without human dignity, when you say ethic is relative... when are you going to fall in the dark side of the Force and start to terminate all padawans? Without human dignity... why homo superior can't terminate all "flatscan", mages can rule mugless, or decepticons can enslave earthlings. Sorry, now I remember I have to feed Ramsay Bolton's bitchs because Sansa Stark haven't gaven them food and now they are hungry and furious.

* If you try use fiction to create political propaganda, people will notice Detroit from real world is all the opposite the one from anti-capitalist Robocop movies. We are in the years of the "counter-revolution", and people are starting to be sick about Frankfurt school.

* Anticapitalism doesn't mean the end of the oligarchy but all economy being controlled by only a corporated, rule by the goverment/revolutionary party.

* Anarchy doesn't mean Guy Hawkness kicking-ass Adam Susan, but children suffering school-bulling or narcos ringing at your home and telling you: "We like your wife, your daughter has to have a shower because after she will the next". (This has happened in the real world). The players who like anarchy should play the rpg version of "the lord of the flies", "the mosquito coast" and Alex Garland's "the beach" (movie with Leonardo di Caprio), or something like Mad Max, or the human antagonists from "walking dead". Do you know how is to live in a "failed state"?

* I would like to see the anarchist groups in a setting like the videogame "Homefront: revolution".

The Master Confucius said: “The noble man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony.” (Anaclet 13:23).

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
I personally support the Common Sense Network.

Regarding Anarchist Viability, I don't have too much of a problem with large habitats existing because Tech.

The key is that Habitats are largely self-sustaining devices – the inhabitants have few essential requirements to maintain their habitat. Likewise, there are extensive hardware and software tools (Panopticon, the Rep system ect) which exist purely to support Anarchist societal requirements.

In some ways, this makes them less like RL Anarchist communes and more like all-inclusive Hotels or High-schools with unlimited meal plans and free housing.
Disagreements exist, but they're less likely to cause serious problems to the society as a whole.

In short, Anarchist Habitats can exist because most of the destabilizing pressures that exist IRL have been artificially removed.

CordialUltimate2 wrote:
Free market capitalism is only metastable.
To demonstrate this let's ask ourselves:
"What is the objective of free market entity?"
The answer:
"To maximize its profits" (Correct me, if that's not the case)
What is the situation in which an entity may maximize its profits with best possible freedom.
"Monopoly"

Not quite, you've stopped one step too early.
Monopolies are how to maximize 'market share', but because most if not all Monopolies are economically disruptive they reduce the effective worth of that market share going forward.
If a Monopoly actually develops to the point where it destroys it's supporting societal structure, then profits cease, like an animal grown so big it crushes itself to death under it's own weight.

Practically, this means that FMCapitalism has an underlying self-stabilizing negative feedback loop preventing specific Entities from growing too fast for the society to support.. As such, maximizing profits implicitly means acting to support Societal growth in addition to the entity's own.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

Dilf_Pickle Dilf_Pickle's picture
Warning: Incoming Wall of Chopped-Up Replies

Short answer to the title question: No, the hypercorps aren't just evil, but they do incidentally commit some evil. They are amoral, and as such they do contain and are certainly propagated by some interests that could be qualified as evil.

(I'm going to concatenate some quotes here for concision's sake -- if I accidentally misquote, please call me out on it.)

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
The vast majority of them have lives that would be considered luxurious compared to ours [...]. That is how the hypercorps should be thought of, because that is how the majority of people who compose them think about them, not in terms of social revolution.

Idle minds are the devil's playthings. Past a certain threshold of personal wealth--and most importantly, free time--a sizeable fraction of the population either starts feeling guilty that their prosperity comes at the expense of others, no matter how remote (viz. the modern Western distaste for Asian sweatshops); or, fed up that the overlords are treating others unfairly regardless of how well they themselves are being treated now, because they might be next (viz. the United Airlines passenger fiasco). These things clearly haven't caused social revolution, but people are most definitely starting to think about it.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
Something worth noting is that indenture contracts probably aren't decades long, except maybe for uplifts. [...] An employee whose hopes are far away is largely unmotivated, whereas one who can, through diligence, see tomorrow arrive today is going to work twice as hard. Plus, every released indenture is now looking for work, meaning they're stimulating the economy.

Motivation-fueled compliance would be a downward pressure on indenture times, sure. But subversive psychosurgery, the changing significance of "time" in an era of practical immortality, and the immense coercive power held over infugees would all be upwards in nature.

And a given corporation doesn't care if a former indenture is stimulating the economy. In fact (shakes fist) they would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for those pesky employers outbidding them (to the tune of >0$) to gain access to said employee's labour.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:

nezumi.hebereke wrote:
As those on the top acquire more and more property, those on the bottom are forced to do with less. Sure, the Consortium needs transhumanity to live--but it doesn't need all of them to live well. And wealth circulation is good for everyone, but holding wealth is good for me personally.

Right now, the Planetary Consortium is in a state of expansion. [...] For over a century, the United States was built on this system; westward expansion and the persistent displacement and genocide of Native peoples was the fuel for the US economy, and it worked. Not for the Natives, but for the people of European descent, it was a way to ensure a constant source of opportunity for young people seeking stability.

I'm a little lost in the discussion, but if this was an attempt at an example of hypercorps not being evil...

ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:
Weirdly, the Oligarchs themselves are arguably less of a problem here as one might think, because they've essentially bought themselves out of the market; they control the PC as a transitional economy, but they aren't subject to it thanks to the aformentioned EP tech and things like Private Habitats. The wealth they take from the populous is almost solely informational in form.

Again, this doesn't make them nice or friendly, it just means that any harm they cause is due to them Exerting Power/meddelling in social structures rather than through resource drain.

I agree with everything above except the word "just": social meddling on that scale can have tremendous ramifications for groups of people who would otherwise want to seek out their own way of life, if that way interferes in even the faintest, most oblique way with an oligarch's most evanescent whims.

CordialUltimate2 wrote:
Maybe I am reading it wrong but nothing in the write up of Jovians strikes me as evil. They are portrayed as the bad guys only if you accept the Anarchist societies as pinnacle of human way of life. Then they are bad guys for seeing it and rejecting it. But that is, as most people here agree, author bias.

In the words of Stephen Colbert: Reality has a well-known liberal bias ;)

The whole point of anarchy is that nobody can prevent you from doing what you want so long as it doesn't interfere in others' well-being (which is admittedly a blurry line). It's really the pinnacle of "don't prevent others from reaching their pinnacle of human way of life, because there's plenty of [insert resource here] to go around for everybody". In what way does that fall short?

ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:

CordialUltimate2 wrote:
Free market capitalism is only metastable.
To demonstrate this let's ask ourselves:
"What is the objective of free market entity?"
The answer:
"To maximize its profits" (Correct me, if that's not the case)
What is the situation in which an entity may maximize its profits with best possible freedom.
"Monopoly"

[...]

If a Monopoly actually develops to the point where it destroys it's supporting societal structure, then profits cease, like an animal grown so big it crushes itself to death under it's own weight.

Practically, this means that FMCapitalism has an underlying self-stabilizing negative feedback loop preventing specific Entities from growing too fast for the society to support.. As such, maximizing profits implicitly means acting to support Societal growth in addition to the entity's own.

But this inevitably leads to regulatory capture, which veers far FAR right of the free market.

CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
Dilf_Pickle wrote:

Dilf_Pickle wrote:

But this inevitably leads to regulatory capture, which veers far FAR right of the free market.

Spoiler: Highlight to view

That's why I love intelligent RPGs. They let me learn things like this. I always wondered what scratched me wrong about modern western (and now eastern too) democracies. And you gave it perfect definition.

I guess the regulatory capture is the only thing wrong with modern western democracies as self-rule systems. It is as inevitable as it can be giving the nature of man.
And yet "platonic idea" of democracy is devoid of it. (I mean the "platonic idea" as the platonic idealisation not what Plato actualy wrote in "The State").

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atamajakki atamajakki's picture
Words

One of my recurring beefs with the setting as presented in the books is that the hypercorps are presented as largely just being evil, akin to Umbrella Corp or Pentex, and I think that leaves everyone with a poorer universe to play in. I don't think the inherent evils of capitalism or the many horrid things that the hypercorps do need to be done away with, but I think showing some more of the sympathetic things they do could go a long way, so that at the very least finding the latest horrifying lab experiment gone wrong is something more than "yup, more hypercorp villainy here."

Look at the PC from the perspective of your average infugee living on Mars: the world has ended, the nation you belonged to is utterly destroyed, and you fucking died... but this corporation gave you a body to live in and a Red Eden to live on. Your job might be miserable, and you're locked into your indenture contract for a few years, but without them you'd probably be an inert file on a server somewhere. Even if you kept your morph during the Fall, where do you really want to live; the new home of transhumanity, already habitable and getting better by the day, or on some ramshackle Scum hab in the miserable Outer System?

Let the PC be the easy bad guys. Let them have rampant flaws, as the face of capitalism that cannot truly exist in a post-scarcity world. But let them also have normal people living under them that are thankful for what they have provided and are comforted by the familiar structure they represent.

CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
Two words:

Hypercorp orphanages.

In the inner system, the hypercorps are the only organisations AFAIK that bring back egos not belonging to skilled adults. They allow their charges varying degrees of freedom, but they nevertheless exist.

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R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
A Matter of Perception

I suppose a lot of the "hypercorps are evil" vibe may not even really be intentional, but just a perceptual side-effect of Eclipse Phase being a game, and as a game needing antagonists for the heroes to fight.

So the "Evil Inc." or "Dark Side" of the hypercorps are highly visible to the player, because well... you're fighting with them. They're right in your face, probably shooting at you.

But it's technically not actually the whole story presented by the game. Hypercorps are everywhere and do everything, both good and bad. The farcasting service you use to go from hab to hab? Run by a hypercorp. Your combat drugs? Hypercorp. Your resleeving clinic? Hypercorp. It's almost like asking "are people evil?" Well, nothing gets done unless a person does it, so... all the evil in the world is done by people, but so is all the good.

At the end of the day, you probably have more hypercorps backing and supporting your character, directly or indirectly, than you have fighting them. It's just that the ones opposed to you are much more visible because they're shooting at you, and that tends to draw your undivided attention.

Though that is only part of it. It doesn't entirely address how the game's writing tends to put an angelic halo around the outer system "new economy".

End of line.

GreyBrother GreyBrother's picture
R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:But it's

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
But it's technically not actually the whole story presented by the game. Hypercorps are everywhere and do everything, both good and bad. The farcasting service you use to go from hab to hab? Run by a hypercorp. Your combat drugs? Hypercorp. Your resleeving clinic? Hypercorp. It's almost like asking "are people evil?" Well, nothing gets done unless a person does it, so... all the evil in the world is done by people, but so is all the good.

Except when it's not done by Hypercorps, though. Yeah, PHS has a bias, but it's not as big as people make it out to be. The thing is, that most of us here grow up in a capitalist society, so we accept the flaws of capitalism while playing up the flaws of other systems (and they also get played up by those that profit from capitalistic systems since well... it's their base of power).

Are Hypercorps evil? No. They're interested in profits, ideally for those at the top end of the hierarchy. At the end of the day, that is the thing any company is interested in, not the people, not the environment.

The difference is, that EP has a system thats different established. Your Outer System community is capable of providing the same goods and services, including farcasting, combat drugs, resleeving.

So no, Hypercorps ain't evil. But they aren't striving to be good either and that means that in a pinch, they go for whatever saves the profits, to hell with anyone else.

I put on my slopes and wizard tracks.

Dilf_Pickle Dilf_Pickle's picture
Selection bias

atamajakki wrote:
One of my recurring beefs with the setting as presented in the books is that the hypercorps are presented as largely just being evil, akin to Umbrella Corp or Pentex, and I think that leaves everyone with a poorer universe to play in.

As R.O.S.S.-128 alludes to above, it's a game where you fight bad guys... and you're complaining that the focus is on the bad guys?

If you're looking for something beyond the precautionary tales of the evils that can arise from greed, there are secretive/mystery corps (Stellar Intelligence, Zrbny), socially-conscious corps (Ecologene, Terragenesis, Gatekeeper), neutral corps just doing their thing (ComEx), corps with criminal ties (Fa Jing) and progressive corps (Skinthetic) available in a 5-minute skim of the core book.

That's pretty decent variety in an environment where PCs (as opposed to the average ego in Eclipse Phase) are asked by default to be very specifically on the lookout for exploitative and dangerous situations, with the corps being but once slice of the pie. Keep in mind that, depending on a GM's given headcanon, the (edit: trans-)human population as a whole is grossly misinformed on the nature of the TITANs, and possibly completely unaware of Firewall and the existence of asyncs. Yet there are entire chapters/books dedicated to these themes.

CordialUltimate2 wrote:
Hypercorp orphanages.

Cognite tried that--it didn't turn out so well.

I could see corps offering family benefits for employees (a simulspace long week-end once a month or something), but I don't see the large-scale implementation of orphanages for no reason. Not when there are still millions of capable adult egos waiting to be put to work. That seems like more of a populist thing, perhaps the domain of the Barsoomians, Tharsis League, or the Titanian resleeving effort. Maaaaybe Morningstar if they want to shore up their numbers in the medium/long term.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
Though that is only part of it. It doesn't entirely address how the game's writing tends to put an angelic halo around the outer system "new economy".

I wonder if I'll ever see this complaint paired with a cogent argument for the superiority of scarcity economies...

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Dilf_Pickle wrote:

Dilf_Pickle wrote:

Idle minds are the devil's playthings. Past a certain threshold of personal wealth--and most importantly, free time--a sizeable fraction of the population either starts feeling guilty that their prosperity comes at the expense of others, no matter how remote (viz. the modern Western distaste for Asian sweatshops); or, fed up that the overlords are treating others unfairly regardless of how well they themselves are being treated now, because they might be next (viz. the United Airlines passenger fiasco). These things clearly haven't caused social revolution, but people are most definitely starting to think about it.

To be honest, I'm not sure how many revolutions you get in service of others. Every revolution of the modern age (that is, from the 1700s onwards), with the notable exception of the Haitian Revolution, seems to have been caused either by someone raising taxes or by foreign rule (no matter how skilled; it'd be hard to deny that Napoleon was a much better king than Ferdinand).

When an anti-capitalist revolution happens entirely out of solidarity, and not because local conditions have simply gotten bad enough that people are starving in the street, I might be inclined to believe that idle minds do more than vaguely mumble, but the West has known that its clothes (hell, the clothes I'm wearing right now, probably) come from sweatshops somewhere in the world for decades now, and can barely muster the democratic will to make even the most tepid of responses.

As it stands, I'm inclined to believe that, if people have a reasonably tolerable life, they're unlikely to person the barricades.

Dilf_Pickle wrote:

Motivation-fueled compliance would be a downward pressure on indenture times, sure. But subversive psychosurgery, the changing significance of "time" in an era of practical immortality, and the immense coercive power held over infugees would all be upwards in nature.

And a given corporation doesn't care if a former indenture is stimulating the economy. In fact (shakes fist) they would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for those pesky employers outbidding them (to the tune of >0$) to gain access to said employee's labour.

Unlike a lot of people, I don't expect subversive psychosurgery to be a common "thing", because the mind is so sacrosanct. Your body can change and be changed, but your mind is... You. It's literally the only thing you have at the end of the day. The bad PR over a company mentally altering their indentures, instead of just giving them virtual drugs, feels like it'd be sufficient to hold them off.

Likewise, practical immortality of the body doesn't change the mind within. You might rationally know you can live for centuries, but a century working as a store counter clerk doesn't feel any less like hell. The disincentives are huge.

And while corporations alone don't care if their former indentures are stimulating the economy, corporations in aggregate do. That's why the Planetary Consortium is so important in this; it is the collusion that allows for the hypercorps to engage in some rational self-interest for once, instead of short-sighted self-interest. If you're being lenient and giving all your indentures X amount of time to ensure they go stimulate the economy, but your competitors all add Y years on top of that and benefit from extra labour, you're screwing yourself. So naturally you raise yours, slowing the economy, and screwing everyone in the process.

It's to everyone's benefit to agree on guidelines regarding indentures, since it's ultimately in everyone's benefit to make a small sacrifice for the larger, more long-term gains.

This sort of mutually beneficial collusion is difficult, normally, but the Planetary Consortium is a by-corporations, for-corporations trade organization that exists solely for this purpose. It makes it much easier.

Dilf_Pickle wrote:

I'm a little lost in the discussion, but if this was an attempt at an example of hypercorps not being evil...

More an attempt to explain how the PC can, at present, undergo unsustainable continuous growth. It allows for, if not equitable distribution of wealth, at least enough wealth to be generated that the small percentage acquired by the bottom of society still represents a large enough amount to be satisfied.

Dilf_Pickle wrote:

I agree with everything above except the word "just": social meddling on that scale can have tremendous ramifications for groups of people who would otherwise want to seek out their own way of life, if that way interferes in even the faintest, most oblique way with an oligarch's most evanescent whims.

And the worst part is, it's impossible to stop. You can't really ignore that kind of intrusion.

Dilf_Pickle wrote:

The whole point of anarchy is that nobody can prevent you from doing what you want so long as it doesn't interfere in others' well-being (which is admittedly a blurry line). It's really the pinnacle of "don't prevent others from reaching their pinnacle of human way of life, because there's plenty of [insert resource here] to go around for everybody". In what way does that fall short?

The blurriness of that line has been used to justify every atrocity you can think of. I mean, I take umbrage with the depiction of anarchist life in the books, but it is telling that even the authors have a story where a guy threatens to throw someone out of an airlock and notes nobody would even blink or raise a hand to stop him.

Anarchist habitats, like every group following a certain political ideal, can and will fall short of said ideals. If the head of the militia is a massive fuck-off bully, who is followed by a small legion of well-armed thugs, the only real way you have to stop them is to fight them, and you better hope you win, or you cannot imagine the kinds of reprisals that could follow. Just as an example.

Likewise, all anarcho-communist habitats face a common problem of resource distribution. Capitalism is amoral with regards to resource distribution; if you can claim it, it's yours. If it's yours, you can do whatever you like with it within the boundaries of the law. But anarcho-communist habitats hold all resources to be shared in common. So, for example, say you really like bananas. You set aside a section of your habitat for growing banana trees. This uses up both space and water. Your neighbours, who aren't so thrilled with bananas, see this as a waste of precious water and minerals. So unless you're really, really well-liked, your banana trees are going to get dug up and fed to a recycler, because others don't think they're worth maintaining. Your @-Rep also gets dinged, because you "wasted hab resources".

Meanwhile, down the road, there's a guy growing roses and nobody complains because people like roses.

Anarchist habitats have some things better than habitats with a traditional economy, to be sure, but they're not the perfect flourishing grounds everyone says they are. You're probably better in most than you are in a traditional economy one, but only if you keep your head down, stay out of politics, and don't loudly disagree with the majority. Otherwise, your life might get pretty miserable pretty fast.

Dilf_Pickle wrote:

But this inevitably leads to regulatory capture, which veers far FAR right of the free market.

You'd have to step back a few years to have "leads to" apply. In the PC, this has looong since happened at every facet of government, at least in major Martian cities.




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R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
A Curious Contradiction

If the outer system is truly "post-scarcity", what is all this talk about "unsustainable growth" and "wasting resources"?

If resources are no longer scarce, why should anyone worry that I might be wasting them? Why do I have to get permission slips to use a centrally-controlled fabber under a rationing system? Why can't I just have my own fabber and waste all the resources I please?

If resources are no longer scarce, then how can any amount of growth be unsustainable? Should I be really worried about running out of resources that, by the definition of "not scarce", I can't run out of?

But if resources are scarce... well then pretending that you're "post-scarcity" would be denying reality, wouldn't it? And we all know how healthy that is.

Fortunately, we have a rather simple way to get people to manage scarce resources responsibly. You just enforce a rule that in order to get anything from someone else, you have to convince them to give it voluntarily, without violence. Because this usually involves offering them something that they value more than you do, this leads to a quite efficient self-organizing process for allocating resources to where they are most appreciated.

And of course since anything not already claimed by someone else is fair game, you also have a strong incentive to pump ever more resources into the system to reduce scarcity.

It's quite simple and elegant, the hard part really is constructing a government just strong enough to hold a monopoly on the ability to steal, without just becoming the biggest thief on the block. Unfortunately, so far we have only been able to create such a situation temporarily, usually through delicate, gridlock-prone systems of mutually assured destruction known as "separation of powers".

It is a work in progress of course, but initial results are promising.

End of line.

MrWigggles MrWigggles's picture
Eclipse Phase isn't post

Eclipse Phase isn't post scarcity. Its unclear where the bottle neck is. Its either in production or resources, but Eclipse Phase isnt in post scarcity. Or more accurately isnt in post scarcity yet.

The anarchy habs, rimward must have various shortages for voiltiol chemicals, radioactives, feeder mass. They have defacto infinite fuel for power, and there infinite air and water. Assuming a efficient enough life support system.

Eclipse Phase tells us that in various thing. The most telling is the waiting line for bodies, not even nice bodies in the Titian Commonwealth. If Eclipse Phase was post scarcity, there wouldnt be Ego in storage, there wouldnt be a waiting line for bodies in the Titian Commonwealth. And the PC couldnt enforce or sustain a scarcity based economy.

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
The primary driver of

The primary driver of scarcity in EP is the massive loss of an industrial base due to the Fall. Pre fall there were about 5 million people living off of earth. A decade later there are ~500 million. For reference that's like France suddenly needing to support the entire population of earth in terms of economic insanity. Thanks to transhuman tech (which is only a few decades old) it's possible at all.

The EP tech base appears to allow for a pretty close to post-scarcity economy, but right now most solar economies are transitioning to being hundreds of times their previous size, using rapidly emerging technologies which haven't been around for very long. I think it's extremely important to note how dynamic and far from a stable state the EP economies are, and this also frames the social struggles of the system.

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
I'm the sort of downer over

I'm the sort of downer over here who doesn't believe post-scarcity is a possible "thing". Not so long as humans are human, at least. All that happens is that as soon as whatever resource is scarce is made super-abundant, a new resource becomes the bottleneck. Sometimes, that resource isn't even a specific material; it can be something like space. Even if there's a theoretically infinite amount of a given resource over time, access to it at a given point in time will not be.

In EP's case, anarchist habs are no more post-scarcity than anywhere else. There will be a finite amount of food, energy, and water available within the hab in, say, any given 24 hour period and those resources need to be distributed between however many people are available. Now, perhaps those resources are sufficient to be equitably distributed, but what about access to a cornucopia machine to produce whatever else you're interested in? What about living space? What about mods for your morph? What about the services of people, like doctors, mechanics, biosculptors, tattoo artists, etc.? What about server space to produce your latest XP movie or VR game in? Or to do your particular brand of science on? The power to run any of that?

Anarchist habitats have shortages, same as everyone. The idea that these shortages are temporary, instead of a norm of simply existing, is fantasy.




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R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
And there's the catch

Well there we go then. Scarcity still exists in Eclipse Phase, therefore any economic system in Eclipse-phase must necessarily be based around both managing and reducing scarcity. In other words, the efficient allocation and acquisition of resources.

So long as scarcity exists, scarcity itself is the ultimate defense of a scarcity-based economy. It's not about creating scarcity, it's about managing and minimizing scarcity that already exists. The most efficient way we've ever discovered of doing this is a price system with a finite money supply. This gives people a tangible representation of the fact that everything has a cost, and incentivizes them to seek minimum cost by being as efficient as possible.

Of course, the PC's over-regulation of fabber technology is counterproductive. The PC is written as seeming to believe that they need to create scarcity, which I pointed out of course is wrong. Scarcity exists on its own, with no need to create it artificially.

End of line.

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
Post scarcity is really more

Post scarcity is really more of a measurement of the abilities of production and automation. It is where the effort and resources needed to produce goods is quite low. The net effect is that goods can be made available for low prices or even offered for free. Not only is basic needs covered, but there can also be an abundance of luxury goods.

The problem with Eclipse Phase is that there is an unprecedented levels of poverty and crowding. A large number of people were forced to flee Earth, many without even their bodies. There also isn't enough space to ensure that everyone can exist as infomorphs, let alone have a body of their choice. This is a temporary problem. It'll disappear as more resources are collected and infrastructure is built. In time, the extreme poverty and crowding should fade into a bad memory.

It should be noted that post scarcity isn't going to survive a determined person's attempts to break it. It doesn't matter if its one person's argument or if its EP extreme circumstances. I don't think this needs defending.

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
I don't believe anyone

I don't believe anyone seriously considers a post scarcity economy to be complete 0 scarcity, so that's just silly semantic games. (Ohh it's not *really* post scarcity because everyone can't have their personal sun type stuff)

The definition of a post scarcity economy is generally taken to be one where most goods can be produced in great abundance with minimal human effort, which drives the prices for them down to near zero or zero. More specifically it means that all survival needs, and most desires can be very cheaply met.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
In EP's case, anarchist habs are no more post-scarcity than anywhere else.

That definitely not true. Infugees or indentures struggling in the Martian souks definitely have much less access to goods than practically any anarchist.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
There will be a finite amount of food, energy, and water available within the hab in, say, any given 24 hour period and those resources need to be distributed between however many people are available.

Yes, and it's large enough that everyone there has easy access. That's what makes it post scarcity.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
but what about access to a cornucopia machine to produce whatever else you're interested in?

A self replicating machine is very unlikely to be a resource bottleneck, especially as you probably only need a number of CMs about 1/10th to 1/3rd of the population to have enough for easy use. (Such that waiting for a product to be made is a much larger time than waiting to make something). There are tons of nanofabs in EP, it's part of the disposable society which doesn't really care about transient material things anymore, because there are always more to be made, and perfect recycling.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
What about living space?

Limited of course, but everyone has room, there aren't homeless people on anarchist habs. This is one of the things which is especially driven by the 100x recent population increase. Somewhere like the LLA this is definitely not post-scarcity, but is moving closer.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
What about mods for your morph?

Marginally less accessible because you need to use a healing vat and potentially also a nanofab to get them. In really extreme cases (huge flexbot piles?) other scarcities could appear.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
What about the services of people, like doctors, mechanics, biosculptors, tattoo artists, etc.?

All of that can be automated, and often is, meaning that even a small number of humans can provide services to massive numbers of people without a lot of effort.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
What about server space to produce your latest XP movie or VR game in?

Most people have more free storage on their personal computers than the size of the modern internet. Cycles are of course a little bit more expensive, but that's still pretty free. For XP and VR projects computers are pretty close to zero-scarcity.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
Or to do your particular brand of science on?

Well that really depends on which brand of science now doesn't it? Really high energy physics experiments are not likely to be freely available, but that doesn't stop an economy from being post scarcity.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
The power to run any of that?

Good question, EP has pretty mature fusion, and living out near the gas and ice giants fusion fuel is pretty easy to access. It's a good question because every EP society eats through power like mad. Apparently there's enough, but not a ton of detail is given.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
Anarchist habitats have shortages, same as everyone. The idea that these shortages are temporary, instead of a norm of simply existing, is fantasy.

Shortages are still present in a post scarcity economy, they are just lessened enough that every has all of their needs and most of their wants fulfilled.

Naturally your ridiculously high bar of "no scarcities, ever, for anything" isn't present, but that's literally impossible with known physics, and not necessary for post scarcity, or even a part of the definition.

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Problem is, there's a lower

Problem is, there's a lower limit on the resources required to produce a given good. Maybe, some day, if we all existed in a Dyson Shell as digital thoughtforms enjoying more processor space and memory than could ever be used, then there'd be an absolutely post-scarcity society, but such a day is far away.

Scarcity is a natural feature of the universe. I don't believe capitalism is the best answer to it, but I don't think anarcho-communism solves it either, even with things like nanofabbers and all the resources of space. Both are answers to the question of how to deal with scarcity, but neither is a solution.

Edit: Serves me right to reply by phone. Full response later.




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Dilf_Pickle Dilf_Pickle's picture
All about that bias; no treble

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
To be honest, I'm not sure how many revolutions you get in service of others. Every revolution of the modern age (that is, from the 1700s onwards), with the notable exception of the Haitian Revolution, seems to have been caused either by someone raising taxes or by foreign rule (no matter how skilled; it'd be hard to deny that Napoleon was a much better king than Ferdinand).

I was speaking specifically of social revolutions: since the Industrial Revolution (no relation)--when every stratum of society finally got access to books, and thus the tools of literacy--governments have occasionally ceded ground to "selfless" intellectual movements. The Indian independence movement (which had tremendous support among working-class Brits), the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War spring immediately to mind.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
As it stands, I'm inclined to believe that, if people have a reasonably tolerable life, they're unlikely to person the barricades.

See above. I'm not arguing that selfless sararimen were going to overthrow their hypercorporate overlords: I'm rejecting the assertion that they're mostly perfectly happy with the state of affairs. Enough of them probably aren't, that the supposed "anti-hypercorp bias" of the core book is wholly justifiable.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
It's to everyone's benefit to agree on guidelines regarding indentures, since it's ultimately in everyone's benefit to make a small sacrifice for the larger, more long-term gains.

Even if the hypercorps can be relied upon to act in their own best interests (which is NOT a given), whether said guidelines are sufficiently lenient that they aren't considered exploitative (hence render the "anti-corp bias" unreasonable) is a different argument.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
Dilf_Pickle wrote:

The whole point of anarchy is that nobody can prevent you from doing what you want so long as it doesn't interfere in others' well-being (which is admittedly a blurry line). It's really the pinnacle of "don't prevent others from reaching their pinnacle of human way of life, because there's plenty of [insert resource here] to go around for everybody". In what way does that fall short?

The blurriness of that line has been used to justify every atrocity you can think of.

I don't see what that has to do with Anarchy specifically. When I say "fall short", I mean in comparison to its contemporary alternatives--i.e. to the point that it justifies being railed against in EP canon. Not in comparison to a literal omnibenevolent utopia.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
Anarchist habitats, like every group following a certain political ideal, can and will fall short of said ideals. If the head of the militia is a massive fuck-off bully, who is followed by a small legion of well-armed thugs, the only real way you have to stop them is to fight them, and you better hope you win, or you cannot imagine the kinds of reprisals that could follow. Just as an example.

Sure, but again: how is that the sole province of Anarchists?

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
But anarcho-communist habitats hold all resources to be shared in common. So, for example, say you really like bananas. You set aside a section of your habitat for growing banana trees. This uses up both space and water. Your neighbours, who aren't so thrilled with bananas, see this as a waste of precious water and minerals. So unless you're really, really well-liked, your banana trees are going to get dug up and fed to a recycler, because others don't think they're worth maintaining. Your @-Rep also gets dinged, because you "wasted hab resources".

Meanwhile, down the road, there's a guy growing roses and nobody complains because people like roses.

Perhaps your example was poorly selected, but I'm hard-pressed to imagine space hippies not having communal gardens. Barring that, he can share some of his crop to curry favour (and extra resources) with those who like bananas and don't want to have to grow them themselves. Barring that, he can do something else for the good of the hab, with 100% of his earned rep (since his food and lodging are taken care of) going towards an "extra" alottment of feedstock. Barring THAT, a quick mesh search for "crop rotation" should net him some extra banana space AND a healthy dose of r-rep.

All this to say nothing of the plight of the unlikeable do-nothing who wants his own banana grove in an Old Economy.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
Anarchist habitats have some things better than habitats with a traditional economy, to be sure, but they're not the perfect flourishing grounds everyone says they are. You're probably better in most than you are in a traditional economy one, but only if you keep your head down, stay out of politics, and don't loudly disagree with the majority. Otherwise, your life might get pretty miserable pretty fast.

viz. province, sole

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
Dilf_Pickle wrote:

But this inevitably leads to regulatory capture, which veers far FAR right of the free market.

You'd have to step back a few years to have "leads to" apply. In the PC, this has looong since happened at every facet of government, at least in major Martian cities.

I'm not sure the PC ever was a free market, which was the topic I was addressing. More specifically, the "self-stabilizing negative feedback loop" that results in a de facto oligarchy, which I'm not entirely convinced really counts as "stability".

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
If the outer system is truly "post-scarcity", what is all this talk about "unsustainable growth" and "wasting resources"?

As addressed by Trappedinwikipedia above, post-scarcity has a specific meaning in economics; there's no point in discussing a market of infinitudes implied by a literal reading of the term.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
Fortunately, we have a rather simple way to get people to manage scarce resources responsibly. You just enforce a rule that in order to get anything from someone else, you have to convince them to give it voluntarily, without violence. Because this usually involves offering them something that they value more than you do, this leads to a quite efficient self-organizing process for allocating resources to where they are most appreciated.

The only difference between this and the New Economy is that "someone else" is your peer group rather than just some guy, and nanofabbers do away with artificial scarcities.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
And of course since anything not already claimed by someone else is fair game, you also have a strong incentive to pump ever more resources into the system to reduce scarcity.

It's quite simple and elegant, the hard part really is constructing a government just strong enough to hold a monopoly on the ability to steal, without just becoming the biggest thief on the block. Unfortunately, so far we have only been able to create such a situation temporarily, usually through delicate, gridlock-prone systems of mutually assured destruction known as "separation of powers".

It is a work in progress of course, but initial results are promising.

Oh, it's certainly a clever tweak of society, leaning as it does on enlightened self-interest. But it only keeps working long-term in unlimited markets with perfect knowledge, i.e. in theory. The advantage of post-scarcity economies (or at least the ones structured as such in EP) is that greed trends toward pointlessness. Greed in real-world capitalistic systems is far worse than pointless.

MrWiggles wrote:
Eclipse Phase isn't post scarcity. Its unclear where the bottle neck is. Its either in production or resources, but Eclipse Phase isnt in post scarcity. Or more accurately isnt in post scarcity yet. [...] If Eclipse Phase was post scarcity, there wouldnt be Ego in storage, there wouldnt be a waiting line for bodies in the Titian Commonwealth. And the PC couldnt enforce or sustain a scarcity based economy.

Indeed, nobody really seems to be in post-scarcity yet in EP, but it's near enough that certain polities are structuring their societies around it, which is the part that interests me for discussion's sake.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
I'm the sort of downer over here who doesn't believe post-scarcity is a possible "thing". Not so long as humans are human, at least. All that happens is that as soon as whatever resource is scarce is made super-abundant, a new resource becomes the bottleneck.

That's a perfectly valid observation, but it's incomplete: every time the old scarcest resource becomes abundant, everyone's well-being and happiness increases.

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
Anarchist habitats have shortages, same as everyone.

Not same as everyone. In the Inner System and the Junta (yeah I said it), the shortages are worse. By design. That's the whole point.

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
Axel the Chimeric wrote

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
Problem is, there's a lower limit on the resources required to produce a given good. Maybe, some day, if we all existed in a Dyson Shell as digital thoughtforms enjoying more processor space and memory than could ever be used, then there'd be an absolutely post-scarcity society, but such a day is far away.

Scarcity is a natural feature of the universe. I don't believe capitalism is the best answer to it, but I don't think anarcho-communism solves it either, even with things like nanofabbers and all the resources of space. Both are answers to the question of how to deal with scarcity, but neither is a solution.

Edit: Serves me right to reply by phone. Full response later.

Complete 0 scarcity won't exist without infinite resources, but that's not really at stake, except for the Dark Forest the ETI made being plausibly caused by universal scarcity problems, which would essentially make the problem of resource distribution the central theme of EP as a whole.

That's what I was saying myself though, but a post-scarcity economy (which is probably not a perfectly descriptive name, something like a Maximal Efficiency Economy or Minimum-Scarcity Economy would probably be more accurate) does exist in many parts of the setting.

I'm definitely not trying to say that the New Economy is a solution, I stop at trying to make it work well enough to be a viable alternative to inner system capitalism. Hive-Mind Exhumanism (potentially with a side of Asceticism) is probably the closest thing to an actual solution; but that raises a lot of it's own problems, starting with how much it erodes individuality and liberty.

R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
But what is greed, really?

Of course, nobody here is greedy. It's everyone else who's greedy. ;)

Is greed truly absent or pointless in the outer system, or would the writers just like to pretend it is? Would people with reach and social influence not have an incentive to collude and manipulate the passions of the mob in order to tilt the rep system in their favor?

As to the discussion of the definition of post-scarcity, splitting those semantic hairs did serve a purpose. My precise point, which we seem to have agreed on of course, is that nobody in Eclipse Phase is truly post-scarcity. Some only pretend to be, where we disagree is that you seem to believe doing so is to their benefit, while I believe they do so at their peril.

In an economy with a rational price system, a shortage of habitation space or morphs will of course price some people out of being able to afford them. But does pretending that the shortage doesn't exist make it go away? No: whether you charge whatever the market will bear, give them away first-come-first-serve, or dole them out at the whim of the mob, the underlying reality of the shortage will not change.

Is acknowledging the shortage exists the same as inflicting it intentionally? Not at all. But which do you think will correct the shortage sooner: broadcasting it to everyone with a price hike, which will also divert resources to increase production, or trying to pretend that you have enough to give away for free when you don't?

Of course, it is true that the PC does not fully understand their own system, and that they do hamstring their own productive capacity as a result. I made the point earlier about their over-regulation of fabbers. But that only means the PC is making the same error that their critics are making: assuming that there isn't enough natural scarcity for a market system to function, when in fact there is and will be for the forseeable future.

But that only means that the PC's best course of action would be to apply a lighter hand, and trust their system to run without so much meddling.

And of course, if you define "post-scarcity" to refer not to scarcity being eliminated, but instead to it being incredibly well-managed, that throws quite a wrench into any plan to have a system not centered around continuing to manage it. After all, well-managed scarcity won't stay well-managed for long if you abandon the system that got it there in the first place, will it?

Therefore, any successful economy will be some form of what you usually call a "scarcity economy". It just may manage to get so exceedingly efficient that the scarcities still present are usually not felt by the general public.

End of line.

MrWigggles MrWigggles's picture
Yea, how I saw any post

Yea, how I saw any post scarcity, is that things can get delayed but things cant get denied. After a certain fuzzy point, the issue isnt about acquiring or processing or building but logistics. Making sure that you match predictive demand to supply so they always stay about equilibrium.

Dilf_Pickle Dilf_Pickle's picture
Rage Against the Topic Creep

Trappedinwikipedia wrote:
post-scarcity economy (which is probably not a perfectly descriptive name, something like a Maximal Efficiency Economy or Minimum-Scarcity Economy would probably be more accurate)

I enjoy a hot cup of prescriptivism as much as anyone, but there's no conflict with the term as it stands: the opposite of scarcity isn't infinity, it's plenty. (meanwhile, the opposite of infinity is zero)

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
Of course, nobody here is greedy. It's everyone else who's greedy. ;)

I'll clarify what I meant, since the term 'greed' is emotionally-charged: greed is nothing more than the desire to maximise relative social standing. In Old economies, greed is virtually guaranteed to be sated at the expense of others. In New economies, the only way your social standing can grow at all is by benefitting to your peers.

TLDR: "Gimme your lunch, or I kick your ass" vs "Make our world a better place, or just take it easy for a while".

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
Is greed truly absent or pointless in the outer system, or would the writers just like to pretend it is?

It's not that nobody in the Outer System ever feels greedy, it's that only those who have accrued rep by being a boon to their hab are in a position to exercise greed. Only the selfless can afford to be selfish.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
Would people with reach and social influence not have an incentive to collude and manipulate the passions of the mob in order to tilt the rep system in their favor?

To what end?

Riches? There's no money to bilk from the system.

Stuff? Lots of people--a debatable number perhaps, but certainly nonzero--will be content to emulate tangible experiences in simulspace. Hell, a lot of people are already doing it right here in ~150BF. Those who won't can simply work for the difference just as they would in an Old Economy.

Quality of life? Societies are nicer when it's impossible for them to starve to death or be swindled out of a home.

Power over others? Not so easy when everyone is decreed to have their basic life necessities met.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
As to the discussion of the definition of post-scarcity, splitting those semantic hairs did serve a purpose. My precise point, which we seem to have agreed on of course, is that nobody in Eclipse Phase is truly post-scarcity. Some only pretend to be, where we disagree is that you seem to believe doing so is to their benefit, while I believe they do so at their peril.

It's not a discussion; I'm correcting you. As for post-scarcity in EP: I would say that the Autonomist Alliance as a whole is just starting to edge into post-scarcity, but some smaller groups like the Argonauts are probably there already. Pretending doesn't enter into it.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
And of course, if you define "post-scarcity" to refer not to scarcity being eliminated, but instead to it being incredibly well-managed, that throws quite a wrench into any plan to have a system not centered around continuing to manage it. After all, well-managed scarcity won't stay well-managed for long if you abandon the system that got it there in the first place, will it?

Therefore, any successful economy will be some form of what you usually call a "scarcity economy". It just may manage to get so exceedingly efficient that the scarcities still present are usually not felt by the general public.

In the context of EP, post-scarcity comes from basic necessities (in addition to most physical production) being managed by automated technology. This has a multiplicative effect on workforce productivity, because we're not wasting entire transhuman careers shuffling zeroes between Swiss bank accounts. It's "division of labour" on Kick (because MRDR takes too long to kick in (something every YouTube EP game I've ever watched seems to get wrong)).

R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
An Interesting Assumption

Greed is "virtually guaranteed" at the expense of others in a market system, you say? You seem to be under the mistaken impression that the foundation of a market is theft.

The foundation of a market is voluntary exchange between rational actors. The goal of oversight in a market system is to minimize theft, maximize voluntary exchange, and maximize the sharing of information (because well-informed actors make better decisions). The primary failure mode of course is the overseers becoming thieves themselves, hence the need to constrain their power to the bare minimum essential to perform their function and to distribute that power as widely as possible in order to provide a way to "watch the watchmen", as it were.

The reason any thread about old vs new economy tends to go wildly off the rails is because the rose-tinted glasses the new economy is viewed through are based on a wide-ranging collection of fallacies. Thus, they cannot be adequately addressed without also addressing the flawed foundation.

If you take the rep system at its word and accept all its assumptions, then sure, it's a perfect system of harmony and goodness. The problem is, most of its assumptions are wrong. Let's take a look at a few of the errors that have shown up here:

1: That riches cannot be gained without money. Or, put another way, that money and wealth are the same thing.

2: That rep can only be gained by "good deeds", however defined.

3: That rep can only be lost by wrongdoing, however defined.

4: That the removal of human labor from the production chain also eliminates the need for prices.

5: That a group can be defined as "post-scarcity" simply by being sufficiently small.

6: That nobody can have power over others in a system where your livelihood is doled out by decree.

There are others of course, but since each one could become an entire discussion on its own, well... like I said, this is exactly why these topics spiral out of control. The rabbit hole goes deep.

But let's try to take a look at some of these very, very briefly.

1: You certainly can get rich in a moneyless system. Money!=Wealth. Money can be a store of wealth, but wealth can be basically anything.

2 and 3 can be addressed together: There are entire organizations dedicated to manipulating rep, both up and down, criminally or otherwise. Rep is subject to all the same manipulations that money is, it can be stolen, destroyed, extorted, or counterfeited. The only functional differences between rep and money is that your rep is usually not expected to decrease when you use it to acquire something (until it suddenly does, at the whim of the public).

The ability to give rep without losing rep doesn't even particularly set it apart, because fiat money can do that too if you give everyone a mint. This situation is why it was rather important for me to make the point about "post-scarcity actually still has some scarcity": never underestimate the ability for an infinite number to overtake a finite number.

Of course, if you were to eliminate the "everyone has a mint" aspect and make rep transactional, then it would literally be money by every definition of the word and the whole "new economy" would be a farce. It would simply be the old economy with a new PR campaign.

4: Even with production fully automated, the machines will still need to allocate resources among themselves to keep production going and they will need a feedback mechanism in order to scale production to demand. In other words, as far as an economy is concerned, machines are people too. They're just very efficient people. Therefore the machines will have the same need to sell their products at a profit as people do, they'll just be doing so on much thinner margins.

5: This either fails to account for growth, or defines "post-scarcity" in such a way that allows for rather undesirable outcomes. If a community can be considered "post-scarcity" just because, at the moment, it happens to be too small to fully utilize its resources, I could simply kill all humans and declare post-scarcity to be achieved. After all, I will have completely eliminated the demand side of the equation.

Note to AI programmers: don't ask your AI to eliminate scarcity/poverty. You might not like their solution.

6: What can be given by decree can be taken by decree. Pets and slaves theoretically have all their needs provided for too, after all. Even with basic needs assumed away, power is still something to watch out for.

End of line.

MagisterCrow MagisterCrow's picture
Evil? No, but...

I don't see hypercorps as evil. At least not in the sense I think most folk would say. Then again, I'm a bit of a relativist.

Hypercorps are, from what I can see, mostly about stability and centralization. There's setting info saying that hypercorps are safe places to live where, generally, you get what you need, but getting what you want will sometimes be difficult. It's noted that most aren't 'traditional' but rather 'transitional' economies. Yeah, biomorphs are hard to get, but that's true even in the Rim.

I think the portrayal of them mostly is a result of a lot of the information being presented "in setting." Most of the info gets filtered through Firewall, and...well, Firewall has huge leanings toward anarchist and communalism rather than centralization and capitalism. The general sense is that they tend to butt heads a lot, as OZMA seems to indicate (though who the hell knows with them).

Debating philosophically, the hypercorps are mostly about making sure things are stable. Stable economies are healthy economies, after all. The risk with them, and where I think they get portrayed as evil, is that they want to expand because expanding economies are also good economies. The whole "are they an X-risk" thing is...yes, but honestly, listing things that aren't X-risks by the definition in this setting is a lot easier. They want to bring everything under their control, but...you can kinda understand why. Autonomists are a legitimate rival power now, both in terms of military and society.

Now, are they assholes? Again, yes. Indentured workers get screwed, the oligarchs are power hungry, and they display a certain ruthlessness one comes to expect from an amoral structure. They are also aggressive, but then they have a drive to expand that is lacking in the autonomist alliance.

One last thing is that it's important to note that 'hypercorps' are not a uniform entity. A lot of them have different goals, motives, and likely treatment of various members. As an entity, for example, Cognite is probably more interested in toying with TITAN tech than, say, the guys in charge of the Mars space elevators. This isn't to say they wouldn't want it, but they're more likely to be convinced of blowing it to kingdom come.

Like most entities in this setting, hypercorps are very grey when it comes to morality. They might be a slightly darker shade, but it bears mentioning that a huge theme of the game is doing what is necessary for survival. Firewall does some pretty horrific things, and they justify it by safeguarding transhumanity. I imagine the corps likely do the same, even if it is more self-centered.

Dilf_Pickle Dilf_Pickle's picture
Do hypercorps impose an abusive system?

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
Greed is "virtually guaranteed" at the expense of others in a market system, you say? You seem to be under the mistaken impression that the foundation of a market is theft.

As a matter of fact, I don't say.

What I did say is that in Old economies, greed is virtually guaranteed to be sated at the expense of others. The subtlety is that I'm simply talking about how greed operates in an Old economy; not that everyone in any market whatsoever is a crook.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
The reason any thread about old vs new economy tends to go wildly off the rails is because the rose-tinted glasses the new economy is viewed through are based on a wide-ranging collection of fallacies. Thus, they cannot be adequately addressed without also addressing the flawed foundation.

I'm not talking about old vs new economy. I'm talking about Old vs New Economy, i.e. specifically within Eclipse Phase.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
If you take the rep system at its word and accept all its assumptions, then sure, it's a perfect system of harmony and goodness. The problem is, most of its assumptions are wrong.

At the risk of repeating myself: I still don't see how this is any worse than a free market system, which is what interests me in these discussions.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
Let's take a look at a few of the errors that have shown up here:

1: That riches cannot be gained without money. Or, put another way, that money and wealth are the same thing.

Alright, this is a detail worthy of elaboration.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
2: That rep can only be gained by "good deeds", however defined.

3: That rep can only be lost by wrongdoing, however defined.

As defined by the very individual bumping rep. And "only" isn't required: "mostly" will do.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
4: That the removal of human labor from the production chain also eliminates the need for prices.

Not directly; it's the trivial cost of goods--as a result of four centuries of industrial technological advances--which eliminates the usefulness of prices. You reach a point where it's more expensive to pay someone to count the pennies, than the cost of the product itself. McDonald's ketchup already operates on this principle.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
5: That a group can be defined as "post-scarcity" simply by being sufficiently small.

I said that there exists a small group which is post-scarcity, within a larger group that is almost so. I never said anything about causality.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
6: That nobody can have power over others in a system where your livelihood is doled out by decree.

I said that it's harder, not impossible.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
There are others of course, but since each one could become an entire discussion on its own, well... like I said, this is exactly why these topics spiral out of control. The rabbit hole goes deep.

It can, but I think we're still in "are hypercorps evil" territory if we talk about how they, at the very least, impose an economic system because they can control it.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
1: You certainly can get rich in a moneyless system. Money!=Wealth. Money can be a store of wealth, but wealth can be basically anything.

There's nothing wrong with getting rich. But the fact that money is an abstract concentration of wealth, designed to be transferred, makes it a prime target for exploitation. Squeeze all this wealth into a few ones and zeroes, and steal the ones and zeroes. This is made harder to do, easier to detect, and quicker to correct by the distributed and thoroughly-documented nature of the New Economy.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
2 and 3 can be addressed together: There are entire organizations dedicated to manipulating rep, both up and down, criminally or otherwise. Rep is subject to all the same manipulations that money is, it can be stolen, destroyed, extorted, or counterfeited. The only functional differences between rep and money is that your rep is usually not expected to decrease when you use it to acquire something (until it suddenly does, at the whim of the public).

If I grant this point, the questions still remain: would these manipulations be any worse than with money? And would they outweigh the other benefits of the New Economy?

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
The ability to give rep without losing rep doesn't even particularly set it apart, because fiat money can do that too if you give everyone a mint.

Robert Mugabe tried that.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
5: This either fails to account for growth, or defines "post-scarcity" in such a way that allows for rather undesirable outcomes. If a community can be considered "post-scarcity" just because, at the moment, it happens to be too small to fully utilize its resources, I could simply kill all humans and declare post-scarcity to be achieved. After all, I will have completely eliminated the demand side of the equation.

You really, really really should read the Wikipedia article I keep linking to you.

R.O.S.S.-128 wrote:
6: What can be given by decree can be taken by decree. Pets and slaves theoretically have all their needs provided for too, after all. Even with basic needs assumed away, power is still something to watch out for.

"Having all their needs met" isn't the troublesome part of enslavement. Never mind that the whole point of the New Economy is for nobody to be beholden to anyone else, even in the abstract. Power is something to watch out for, sure, but (all together now:) how is that any worse than a free market system?

Dilf_Pickle Dilf_Pickle's picture
Quarterly growth, and damn the torpedoes

Well said, but I have to address the following:

MagisterCrow wrote:
Debating philosophically, the hypercorps are mostly about making sure things are stable. Stable economies are healthy economies, after all. The risk with them, and where I think they get portrayed as evil, is that they want to expand because expanding economies are also good economies. The whole "are they an X-risk" thing is...yes, but honestly, listing things that aren't X-risks by the definition in this setting is a lot easier. They want to bring everything under their control, but...you can kinda understand why. Autonomists are a legitimate rival power now, both in terms of military and society.

Hypercorps, if they in any way resemble their non-hyper brethren from ~150BF, are absolutely not in the least about making things stable. Stability=stagnation=death. And in the battle of profits vs market health, profits win every time.

You address this with your statement about expanding economies, but it's not some delicate balance; It's rivals hacking away (sometimes literally) at each other with any weapon they can get their hands on. It's crabs in a bucket.

R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
You already answered your own question

I pointed out that the only functional difference between rep and money is that everyone has a rep printing press. You pointed out how terribly that could go wrong, then ask how such a situation can possibly be worse than everyone *not* having a rep printing press.

Well, that's exactly how. Rep can easily become worthless when anyone can print it.

It is important to strip away the glamorous sci-fi sales pitch that rep economies have, look at them with a critical eye to see what really sets them apart from a market system, and ask if those changes are likely to bring any tangible benefit in practice.

It turns out that they change very little, much of what they do change has been tried before, and of those the track record has generally been negative. The New Economy(tm) is a ramshackle pile of handwavium that only works because the game's script says it does.

Of course, that's not to say that my characters are above blatantly exploiting its plot-powered presence in-game. The only things keeping a determined player from breaking the game over their knee with that fountain of infinite stuff are GM fiat and session time limits.

As to that article: the reason that article isn't eliminating my point about the persistence of scarcity the way you think it should, is because it concedes the persistence of scarcity. You have conceded the persistence of scarcity as well of course, but simultaneously continue to argue about it because it seems you don't like the conclusion that I draw from that situation: that by necessity the so-called "post scarcity" economy must, in fact, still be structured around scarcity.

Because even in the most highly automated economy, nothing can really be free. Those machines still need to allocate a finite supply of resources efficiently in order to maximize value for people. They're dealing with scarcity. A lot of things might be bundled together in creative ways, being rich might be the new normal, but so long as there is something somewhere that somebody wants and does not have, the essential function that money serves isn't going to go away.

And no, greed is not "virtually guaranteed to be sated at someone else's expense" in a market system. Do you know how the vast majority of people sate their greed? They work a steady job and collect a paycheck every month (or every two weeks, depending on where they work). At whose expense is that? Their employer's? Their employer is getting hundreds of hours of work out of them every month, they certainly seem to be getting their money's worth. The customers'? The customers are getting goods and services that they desired more than the money they traded for it. All three of them are taking more out than they put in, at least from their own perspective.

Of course, people who don't understand mutual benefit often run for public office, where they actually can live at others' expense.

End of line.

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