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The F*%#ing Complex Future!


Jim Rutt

Jim Rutt solves complex future problems by taking action. When we say complex, we mean very complex!. A pioneer of networked society since 1980, Jim launched the world’s first online community, and later led Network Solutions and the Santa Fe Institute. In this episode of the Futurists, the discussion moves fluidly from theory to practice as Jim explains his Game B initiative with colorful language and fresh insight. Topics include: complexity science, applied artificial intelligence, the importance of the number zero, the failures of governance mechanisms, the doom loop of money-on-money return, and why we need a system that is focused on optimizing human wellbeing within planetary limits.

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this week on the futurists Jim rut for Humanity to give up on understanding
would be a gigantic mistake uh it is probably mean that we can't get much farther than we
are welcome back to the futurists I'm Rob Turk with Brett King back after a
couple of weeks of missing each other it's thrilled to see you yeah I know I know you guys uh if you well we had a we
had a couple of recordings that that we did with you know Brian and Katie and and you you were you opted out and then
I oped it out of the last couple so you know it's uh we're sharing the load that that's how how it works you know I get a
lot of comments when I'm on the road people really like the fact that we do um have uh different hosts that we mix
in because it um gives a bit of variety so I've been getting some nice feedback on that and um you know kudos to Katie
and Brian started bit slow but those guys have really been become a a nice feature um as guest host so I agree now
this show is a special one because uh for a very long time I've wanted to introduce you to Our Guest um for the
folks who are listening when we began doing the the futurist podcast um Brett had just published a book called The
Rise of technosocial ism in which he posited scenarios for the future uh very much the the core premise of our show
talking about different ways of scenario forecasting and um and in in the process of writing about that book Brett was
thinking about how to deal with complex systems and the decision-making process around resource allocation well for a
long time I've wanted to connect you with our guest Jim rut and Jim welcome to the show I'm thrilled to have you
here uh I've wanted to make this connection for a long time because you're someone who actually is dealing with this you've spent a considerable
amount of time and your your intellect has been devoted to thinking through complex topics uh the subject matter of
complexity and in particular with game B you're focusing on on uh the the immense
complex challenges that face Society I thought by way of introduction we should talk a little bit about briefly about
your background um because you're kind of like core internet uh you know or Pioneer I suppose the way I describe it
in the sense that you uh you were the head of Network Solutions um and in some respects you framed out the way the
internet works can you tell us briefly about what you did in Network Solutions yeah actually that workk Solutions was the end of my career I actually started
building the online World in 1980 I worked at the source the world's first consumer online service and built online
services from 1980 uh all the way through uh 2001 when I stepped down from
Network Solutions and retired after we sold the company but at Network Solutions uh we ran the domain name
system uh for the world we have at that time we had we actually operated all the
the top level servers know you know dot UK Etc that pointed to each country
server plus we ran ourselves Comet org uh and two or three other ones. edu and
a couple other secret ones and stuff a lot of people think this was a government thing but it was actually a private Enterprise that was managing
basically managing the switchboard of the internet if you will yeah it was out of weird history we we could go into but
I'm not not worth doing but it was it was a contract from the government to operate you know it was a lot like open
AI so of started to it looks like a nonprofit at the start it was a lot of volunteer labor and then when domain
name started to be become very um you know attractive properties and and um
you know had PR Hefty price tags attached to them that's when things got a little bit complicated if I remember
my my early it was all pretty nuts and I will say also worth noting I came in at the very end I came in in 99 as sensory
the turnaround guy company was uh already uh public and growing rapidly
but I will say execution left something to be desired and strategy as well so I
came in cleaned it up polished it and sold it a year later uh so so so I was
right in the midst of the do in fact yeah we sold it March 10th 2000
uh within an hour of the top and some people say that our transaction was so absurd that it was the top right and uh
and so anyway yeah it was fun so I learned sh and uh but I had been doing internet stuff and pre- internet stuff
for 20 years at this point so this was essentially just a cap Stone uh gig for me and one of the things you mentioned
to me about your time at Network Solutions is that you you um you found
it frustrating I guess to to the the level of discussion uh around trying to get to consensus and at one point you
just went for it and created a solution on your own you said all right we're gonna launch this I forget exactly what it was but you were it was about
resolving DNS I think it was a Chinese domain names the uh Chinese character
domain names there been count Double B characters yeah but not just the specifics well Unicode domain names but
specifically for China uh and so uh there have been ongoing International
committee blah Blas for you know years on how to do this and uh it was never
going anywhere it was obviously a huge demand right China was starting to come on the internet right it was just disrespectful for them to have to use uh
our domain names Etc and so I said you know let's just cut this horse we have the ability to offer any domain name
that's in uh you know Roman language right today and so we did a scan of the
database of all domains issued so far uh discovered I think it was a six or seven
character uh string uh that was never used at all in any domain name six
characters or larger so it was a reserved space so we just took that out of circulation and said we're going to
use that as the prefix for an encoding into unicode uh and then uh that makes
sense I was so tired of all these ridiculous hyper Tech answers right and I said this ain't that hard and so with
I just convened a few people in a company I just drove the process didn't take as long and we came up with a a
doable solution and within a couple of months we had to make a just a few minor changes in our infrastructure and then
most the hardest part was actually the marketing Story how to explain it to the other registar and such and we just
launched it God damn it uh and I think we sold 40 million of dollars worth of them in the first three months it was
crazy and uh eventually I tell you truth I don't even know I haven't followed that industry after I left but I believe
there there the the uh International process eventually ground to some uh solution uh but whether our little hack
quick and dirty uh that allowed the Chinese to actually have domains in their own language in their own
character set uh which one actually ended up winning I don't even know but we got it out there and got it done in just a couple months rather than because
we could we J Jim you know um being a part of history in respect to sort of
Technology infrastructure and things like that you know I I I have the chance to reflect now on some of the things
that that we you know like the stories were writing of what the future would be
like in 20 years hence um you know back in like the mid 90s for example when we
were and you'd see a lot of the sort of um you know future of of technology
future of the world videos that Microsoft and others would do 2020 Vision you know and the 2030 vision and
you look back on some of that stuff now some of it was um wildly optimistic and some of it you know we underestimated
like for example you know not much of the 19 you know 1990s sort of predictions predicted social media and
the changes it would have on the W cell yep um now you could you could see a
path to from the Palm pilots and trios potentially to what we've got today but
um you know the other thing is you know we didn't predict drones very well you know um so there are some aspects of
technology that um you know we didn't we didn't get right but what you know back
TW 20 or 30 years ago when you were um pioneering um the internet even even
before that um and you were sort of having a vision of of what this world
could be like how far how close were we to that today you know that that that
you you know that you were sort of the world you imagining back 30 years ago ah
it's interesting some parts you know just like all these prediction some parts fairly bang on some parts holy we
didn't see that one coming at all uh for instance keep in mind when I was at the source 1980 to 1982 we were talking
about 300 B to 1200 B character mode only right and yet we had email chat
bulletin board shopping stock prices uh you know uh the world's first confession
by a Catholic priest approved by the Archbishop was done by a Chad on our service so we had an awful lot of services but the the the the
infrastructure was like a wet string and two tin cans right yeah uh and so I
would say we were all pretty close to understanding how ubiquitous email would
eventually be and we actually by 1982 an early precursor to social media called
participate and it quickly jumped uh up to the top of the the pop one of the products I personally invented by brute
force uh was the original precursor of the blog uh where we allowed people to
have their own site and get paid uh from the very this 1982 let me try to I'm sorry we're we're
kind of we're kind of going into like uh the the ancient history of the web here sorry about that that's definitely not
the direction we wanted to go on the show The reason I was asking you about Network Solutions though and your um and and your ability to kind of cut through
the process and get to a result is that uh to me that's characteristic of your approach you are a person who can
approach a very complex subject matter uh and comprehend it uh but then also
can take decisive action uh to cut through you most people are paralyzed right when they're confronted by a super
complex system they're not quite sure how to proceed and a lot of discussion or dialogue ensues uh that can slow things down but in your career you've
been able to cut through uh you've also done that let's let's talk a little bit about the Santa Fe Institute because I think that's to my mind the best kept
secret in the in the mathematics space uh where you know you've got researchers uh thinking about some of the most
complex subject matter in the world uh and you became the chairman of that organization talk talk to us a little
bit about SFI and about uh and about your ability to cut through the noise and get to some decisive action yeah s
uh Santa Fe Institute is generally uh ConEd to be the home of complexity science and complexity science is
essentially uh the study of the general properties of complex systems which are
systems composed of underlying often much more simple uh objects in fact one
of the co-founders Murray galman the guy who invented quarks Nobel Prize when in physics uh he was uh at our facility all
the way through his life uh and he'd always remind us once a year that the real name of what we did was the science
of complexity from Simplicity and so that you know that's a very important uh you know sort of lens on and some of the
aspects of complexity science that we explored so far and it's also important to note that this Fields uh really uh
only almost exactly 40 years old so it's a baby science as Sciences go so there's much more to be done one is a mergence
it's a key key idea uh that say for instance you a person at the bottom
you're a bunch of jiggling atoms somehow the atoms organized into molecules into longchain molecules into cellular
metabolisms into tissues into organs into systems and then into you and oh by the way you're part of an ecosystem both
a biological and a social ecosystem and then another key uh lens of complexity
science is adaptation uh the complex adaptive systems evolve once there's
enough information handling in the system uh and we see that from the very beginning of Life you know a very simple
bacteria will file follow a glucose gradient and uh you know 19-year-old boys will be riveted by Budweiser ads
with uh uh GS and bikinis playing volleyball right so uh systems are
complex and adaptive uh they're also nonlinear and this is hugely important for futurists right uh one of the things
that I uh often warn for people trying to predict the future goddamn hard right
bar said but in particular it's extraordinarily difficult to call one trajectory and that's why when you're
thinking about the future you needs to think of a bundle of trajectories and maybe at most you can say something
statistically about The Ensemble probabilistic outcomes yeah exactly say broadly okay in this range here you know
there's a good chance it'll be in this range but where it'll be in that range goddamn hard to tell it could still be
Beyond this range but the probability are relatively low we often use agent based modeling to do this kind of exploration because you can't do it in
close form mathematics uh later in the Santa Fe Institute world right about time I showed up 2002 networks became a
really big aspect of the study of complexity because networks themselves have some very interesting computational
attributes and of course our AIS today deep learning neural Nets are a
manifestation of the computational power of a network uh self-organization is another hugely interesting and important
part of the work we do uh think of Twitter uh Twitter is is really remarkably modest in the functionality
the affordances that it gives but there's all kinds of self-organizing uh subcommunities within Twitter there's
science Twitter Twitter there's uh black Twitter there's housewife Twitter there's art Twitter uh futurist Twitter
there's futurist Twitter and you know you know goes on and on and then I would say the community has actually developed
a lot of the UI you know things like hashtags are are an invention of the community they weren't top down directed
exactly and and the last one last very important uh concept of complexity is that complex things like life like the
economy like uh Twitter typically happen at the edge between Order and Chaos if
you're in a chaotic realm nothing can come together and happen if you're in an ordered space uh like a crystal uh
nothing too interesting happens but uh it turns out for that again and again and the the exact math of this is still
not totally nailed down but we can certainly see lots of examples that this is where the interesting stuff happens
so if you want to live an interesting life uh to use an analogy uh don't be too stayed and don't be too crazy be on
the edge of chaos right where Order and Chaos meet that's that's the interesting stuff good characterization of our time
the time that we're living in right now because it feels like chaos it feels like we're on the brink of degrading
into chaos at any given moment and everybody's trying to like patch together a solution but I suppose that's
the emergent uh the emergent adaptation that you described yeah sorry Jim I am interested in um the
fact that you know if if you look at the problems that we face today um you know the problems of climate change um the
problems of equality and so forth a lot of this are are large system modeling
problems you know the um use of resources at a city level city state level and so forth and I really do think
that um you know AI will be able to see patterns in these complex systems that
we necessarily can't and so when you look at things like urbanization um you know an economic uh
organization and so forth It's fascinating to think about how AI could take our understanding of complex
systems in a a very interesting Direction um particularly where we you
know we'll have this blackb function of AI making all these systems more resource efficient you know as an
example um you know and and better aligned with uh you know goals and outcomes things like that um but we
might won't necessarily understand those systems any better than we do today that's that's the interesting piece of
it I had a very deep conversation with David crackower this week who's the president of the Santa Fe Institute one
of the most brilliant people I know in fact it on a podcast probably out by this point at the jimr show.com check it
out or on your podcast app and uh he made some a brilliant as always crack how and insights into exactly this
question uh and uh he made the distinction that deep learning models
are very very good for producing uh actual predictions about irreducible
complex phenomena that we don't have any real understanding of but as you point out they don't really provide any
understanding they provide a prediction or a result orog the next word in the llm on the
other hand complexity also works in the realm of the irreducibly uh complex uh
typically uh complexity science Feld only very rarely will come up with a mathematical formula that explains
anything rather they'll talk about the Dynamics of a system and they'll course grade the problem down into smaller
components and then simulate it often it's a reg very regular uh tool we use is agent-based modeling and things
related to that and so uh and CRA hour and has clearly has a vision for the saap Fe instin in how the complexity
science lens and the Deep learning lens are complementary and then he even has some ideas on how they may come together
where you take a a a deep Learning Net and basically take pieces off of it until it just barely works and that may
give us some insights into what's really going on but uh uh I think we all agree that for Humanity to give up on
understanding would be a gigantic mistake uh it would is probably mean that we can't get much farther than we
are uh we did not figure out uh you know electricity uh from understanding fire
as it turned out there was a big scientific breakthrough that had to occur to understand electricity same was
true for Quantum phenomena uh a lot of things we have today are based on Quantum phenomena including our computer
chips and GPS so uh you know I think it's I say I agree with you that what deep
learning and related Technologies RL in general can do is produce useful results
from irreducible complexity but fact very little in the way of insight we need the complexity lens to come out
from the other side so that we can do both I've and I've pointed it out I'm not sure anybody else has is that one of
the cool things about uh the networks is uh that they produce a lot of examples
right so if you think about science it's often induction from examples and so if we can think about how to use the
networks to produce examples and one of my favorites is Alpha fold uh the Google
product that finally solved the problem using something like deep learning on how to fold uh proteins into their
three-dimensional shapes which is what actually makes them uh catalytic uh we had surprisingly little knowledge of how
that worked but now we could uh predict like at the 90 or 95% uh probability how
a given F protein will fold so what happens if you generate a billion of those right you now have something that you can use for induction to work on the
theory so uh so there's there's a way that the uh Brute Force non uh pattern
oriented or non Theory oriented uh deep networks can actually produce the raw material for the theory side so I want
to come back to a point you made a minute ago because I think it's an important one it was uh about electricity you know the the phenomenon
of electrical energy was was observed centuries before we had a theory of how it actually worked uh and even between
you know the ability to to kind of like you connect with electricity through lightning uh there was even a 100e span
before we had some ability to uh say we understood it and were able to generate
electricity um now you mentioned the complexity signs is only about 40 years old as a field um so it's relatively
young and some of the things you just described about deep learning uh where where you know fairly early stage in
that field as well although there's been a lot of work done for 50 years in artificial intelligence deep learning in specific is only about 15 years old and
so um we're at early stages there and it seems like we're still at this stage of observation we haven't quite gotten to
understanding and certainly when we talk about the Deep learning models that we're using today we don't really
understand how they work uh you we understand in theory how they're created we don't necessarily understand how they arrive at the conclusions that they
provide um and and so your point is that um observation is one piece the
observation of definition of the problem but then the actual understanding that we attain that may come many years later
we may be working on these very problems we just described for decades before we arrive at true insight and understanding
certainly possible though I do think that there's probably more going on uh than it's popularly aware in trying to
understand what's going on deep networks yeah I think you're right uh you know the idea of semantic basins of
Attraction for instance uh that they they just seem smarter than they should
be considering what they actually are so there must be some emergence going on the but that's well I shouldn't say must
it's a hypothesis and there is some very early sketchy data of people who write probes to go in and watch what's going
on in the networks but I would expect there be some learning on that over the next two years two to three years
something like that I don't think it's 50 years off to start the process of understanding what these things are uh
you know but given and given the intensity of the resources and and uh and research uh skill that's been
directed that field you're probably right you know if we throw enough resource at it we'll get there faster
time we're going to take a break in a moment but before we do that uh our audience likes to get to know who we're interviewing a little bit on a personal
level and we like to ask some questions about uh what inspired you and how you how you got interested in the subject of
the future and and typically this is something that Brett does so Brett do you want to take it away and the the
lightning round okay Jim you ready for the lightning round I'm
ready what was the first science fiction story you remember being exposed to hi
this I can remember quite distinctly I used to have a strong aversion to fiction uh teachers would try to get me
to read fiction I go that stuff's false that they just made that sh up why would I read that I'd been a fanatical reader
of science books since I was five right I found because I was tall I could sneak into the library and Librarians didn't
realize I was I was a first grader and they let me check out the science books but I had a teacher in fifth grade Mrs
Hepner let's give her credit she started all this goddamn it she was a she she was tough but she was also had a big
heart and she said well yeah but you know what I think you would like is science fiction and so she took me
personally one-on-one out to the library and picked out two books by Andre nort No One by Andre Norton one by Robert
Highland and these were both sort of juvenalia is science fictions and man I
was addicted instantly I was hooked instantly you the first guest to mention
Andre Norton which would be my one of my earliest sci-fi fan Andre Norton I can't remember the exact book might uh pck
Hayden of Mars I believe was was the uh was the Highland one but theno of space
or something like that yeah yeah really really good writer but not very well she's not very well known these days but
for kids I still recommend people want to start kids off on something they're they're very heartful and they're very
understanding of what a young reader would think about but then I just became a nut and just read every single science
fiction book that was published in hard covers uh which basically meant it was showed up in our community library uh
certainly I couldn't afford to buy books at that stage and so I literally read everything that was published in hard
covers and then came the Fateful event when I was in sixth grade when I went to the library and picked up the foundation
Trilogy and uh I I warned people probably not wise to read the foundation Trilogy when you're 10 and uh for way
too long I thought something like psycho history was possible second season of
foundation time are you liking itle TV yeah yeah I love watched the first episode and went but okay next question
BR these are supposed to be short answers these are not like dissertation answers um what technology do you think
has most changed Humanity
language's let's say written like alphabet uh number one which is not that old it's only 800 BC or thereabouts uh
well that's take the alphabet as opposed to uniform and others but that caused
explosion the zero was another huge one right you could not do you cannot do
advanced math which means you can't do Advanced science without the zero uh and then I'd say or well yeah
you have to at least have the concept of infinity if not the number infinity uh and then after that uh it's
clearly uh the next one is the capture of heat and turning it into mechanics so
the steam engine uh that's a good selection that's selection what's the
what's the best prediction an entrepreneur futurist or science fiction
practitioner has ever made do you think the best
prediction um most of them you know the details are all wrong uh the
uh well you know Arthur C Clark anticipating communication satellites is the classic example people throw up but
he did a pretty good job of that one uh I would I would say uh John Bruner's standon Zanzibar which is used to be a
great classic uh you know uh which where he essentially predicted uh the rise of
mass Insanity as a society I think it's turned out to be damn pression PR if not
in interesting not in the details but in the substance I mean the world that that ston xanbar set in well totally
different every detail the fact that but you could you could say idiocracy too right yeah yeah my wife and I love that
movie right that's like Al together too too too true last one before the break
um what science fiction story is most representative of the future you hope
for near term uh I like the work of uh
Daniel Suarez uh uh Delta V in particular and then what's the new one
he just published I ought to know since I did a podcast on it uh Daniel swarz he
also some excellent other books like Damon uh who talk he talks I think he
understands VR and where it's going better than anybody uh let me say to get the most recent one it's the two-part
series the third one will be coming Delta V and which's the third one God second one godamn It Anyway start with
Delta V and then read the second one wherever the hell it is so those are uh I I think I like his critical mass yeah
critical mass that's the one that's the one that followed Delta uh so those two and then there's a third one coming they
are really perceptive on how space exploration couples with economics which couples with alternative currencies
which couples with environmental crises uh on the world the other one yeah I I
no when now you say it I think that's that's an interesting element of his um sci-fi you know whereas you got guys you
know you got a lot of the Big Space Opera guys that write but he he writes shorter term sci-fi looking at some of
these interesting issues which a lot of a lot of Science Fiction Au authors including William Gibson have have said
it's getting harder to do that sort of Science Fiction these days because you know things move so quickly but anyway
Jim let's take a quick break you're listening to the futurists uh and uh I'm your host Brett
King with Rob TK we'll be right back with Jim Rut after these words from our
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show welcome back to the futurists before the break we were chatting with
Jim rut and uh Jim has uh done a lot of work in um the early technology Arenas
of the internet and um you know socialization of Technology critical systems thinking but Jim one of the
areas that um you seem to have spent increasing time in your career looking
at is the complex system of social order and humanity and how um you know the the
organizing principles of uh you call it the social operating system for Humanity
how that may be evolving or morphing um first of all let me ask you this
question why do you think that social operating system has to change well we believe in the game be movement that the
world the current system game a is literally self-terminating it will end
right the question will be will the end be graceful or will it be catastrophic uh you know at a very simple level since
1700 uh standards of living have been increasing but so has population by more than 12x uh the impact on the
environment of each person's up in about 10 or 12x so the cumulative impact of Humanity on our on our Earth is about
150x what it was back then uh we are already over the car capacity of the
Earth in numerous categories and we'll be uh running over more and more of them uh very soon but that that will get us
by the end of the century if we don't do something so game a has to end but there's other things going on too and
this is what we were talking about before the break uh game a in its very psychologically astute exploitation of
people for short-term money on money and uh return seems to be driving Humanity
crazy uh and I think there's a fair chance uh that our whole system will collapse from uh Mass Insanity uh long
before uh we actually cook ourselves to death uh through climate change uh and
then third uh the there are plenty of other uh potentially terminal uh
existential risks out there that game a seems to have no idea how to manage for instance the bio risks the idea that we
were funding the Wuhan Institute of virology for doing gain of function uh
research on bat viruses which I have you know the evidence isn't conclusive yet
but the uh shall we say the The Coincidence is fairly staggering that uh
that Co started in Wuhan about half a mile from the uh from the institutes
pretty pretty large we're not thinking about these things we do not have a governance structure that's sufficient to manage the situation we're in we are
in a complexity regime of a basin of Attraction which is call it game a it's
like a a salad bowl the marbles rolling around the salad bowl is shaking more and more more and more and more and more
from all these exponential advances in everything and sooner or later the Marble's going to fly out of the bowl
and unfortunately go ahead Ian bremma who who's a great political scientist um has
some great commentary on this the fact that if you look at Apple Apple just surpassed $3 trillion in you know market
cap valuation um last week or whatever it was but you look at the the amount of
cash they have on hand and um you know Apple has more cash than most developing
nations right in terms of cash on hand um and so their ability to influence
policy because of their economic resources on a global basis is is pretty
spectacular we let we we don't have to let them but we are the current system
game a empowers them to manipulate the politics but if you think about it like you know with fossil fuel companies
they've been playing that game for 50 years absolutely
so this is just getting to the point where they've now got the financial resources and other resources to be
truly meaningful in terms of policy setting and so forth and um you know there there is actually this show on
Apple TV Rob Rob and I've talked about it before I don't know if you've seen it yet Rob which is extrapolations disaster oh my God yeah
plays this out you know but it's it's it's all virtue signaling for liberals I mean it's like such a
lecture that show it's such a disaster I am so disappointed I I can't even tell you how it doesa point I was so excited
to see it and it looks great and if you see the trailer on we should have a show on the on that show but I don't need a
show to teach me and to lecture me about uh climate change and basically look it's about a bunch of Rich liberals who
fly around in their personal helicopters complaining about climate change the whole thing is filled with contradictions no let me get to the
point you wereing because I do want to respond to some of the things you just said um the governance structures that we currently have don't seem to be
working right this seems to be the recurring problem uh and and weirdly to Jim's Point what's emerging is a kind of
collective insanity and in US politics is one illustration of it it's not the only one uh if you look at the
motivations for the war the invasion of Ukraine that are cited by Putin those
have changed several times uh you know at one point he said he was there to stop fascism uh there doesn't seem to be
any rationale for taking over except for a land grab or maybe a resource grab but
all the all the reasons that have been cited for that war haven't really stood up like there there was no self-defense
need there was no and there was no motivation for that war that's not the only one if you look at Capitol Hill right now while there are some really
serious issues facing the United States um Congressional Republicans are trapped in the cycle of running investigations
about pseudo events stuff that never really happened and they're turning that into like kind of a a crisis well there
are the actual real crisises that could benefit from some government intervention so the way our system works
is we got private businesses that are there to maximize return to investor and they are resource extractors they they
will go after as many resources as possible there's no seems to be no limit on their ability this this is a ke
problem Jim right because this is game a right it's game A's Essence is the inner
loop of game a is shortterm money on- money return by shortterm I mean about three years everything is bent to that
think about our culture how rotten it is right why is uh adolescent girls committ suicide at a much higher rate than they
ever were before why is uh the number of friends that people have fallen by more
than half over the last 30 years why is everything suck because of the
inevitable demands of the loop the inner Doom Loop of money on money return this
is right this is I mean you know I have this debate with people all the time and you know I talk about capitalism and if
you H have any conversation where you challenge the longevity of cap
capitalism particularly in economies like the us or the UK you have this almost um religious
response that's way it is they're G we're gonna have to or we're gonna die so guys pick your pick your choice right
all the smart people say that all the smart people say if we continue to go down this path of capitalism where the
market makes these decisions instead of moral and ethical decisions and decisions that are optimal for it's a
classic Collective action problem though who wants to get off the carousel first right exactly we all have to earn an
income we're all trapped in the system we all to drive to the grocery store so we all have a car we have an idea in
game B how to do this CU you are absolutely right when you start talking about this people they think you're crazy right and I will also note that we
have to be very careful in our distinctions here uh capitalism is an overarching system but the market is
actually a very useful phenomena one of the very most useful tools I should have put that in my list of extremely useful
inventions of humanity is the market amazing for uh uh Co bling data in real
time very heterogeneous and yet producing acable information about it doesn't solve all problem bad incentives
right yeah there some things it's good for it and some things it's not right uh to sort out who's the better barber in a
town it might be great uh to decide uh you know how much oil should be extracted from the earth and burned it's
a disaster right uh at least if you have a single fungible token called money called you know US dollars equ or even
how to allocate Healthcare in the United States we're trying to use the market for that doesn't make sense yeah yeah so
it's it's part of the toolkit but it we have allowed it to Trump everything it's money money money Uber alas right I I
have a paper called in search of the fifth attractor where I just describe game B as the fifth attractor and I have
a nice little graphic there of a fire in a furnace that's heating a house and a house on fire and uh you know things
like an economy are supposed to be a fire in a furnace for heating the house uh what we've allowed them to do is
become the house on fire and it just dominates everything right uh and for the folks who are listening though let
me let me do a little Public Service Announcement here because I want folks to understand what we're talking about so um what Jim is describing is a
concept called game be and it's presented as an alternative to what we are all currently living in this chaos
we've all been referring to in the last five minutes of conversation which is known as game A game A is the way things
are currently uh the thing that we're all complaining about uh is the dysfunction of our current social order
and our economic system game B is meant to be an alternative now I want to I'm G to quote a couple things
from Jordan Hall who's one of the thought leaders along with Jim in in this game B movement game B is not an
ideology it's not a political stance it's not a political program uh it's not a cult-like movement it's not a pseudo
religion like the singularity it's also not a vision of a Utopia it's a realistic or practical understanding of
the way things work and the motivations people have it's also not intended to be a counter reaction necessarily to game a
it's an alternative uh to game a Now by defining something as what it's not
you're not really saying a great deal about what it actually is and and Jim this is one the recurring conversations
we've been having over the last couple years is so what is game B and where does it stand today yeah yeah game B is
the alternative to game a so we start with that but it also has some firm principles uh and I would say that that
two of the firmest principles is it is a a vector towards living for all Humanity
all 8 billion of us in balance with the natural world and bringing natural world back to where uh we've already overrun a
lot of natural world you know the fact that uh 96% of all mammal weight on
earth now is humans and our domestic animals uh 80% of the mass of all birds
on Earth are turkeys chickens ducks and such for poultry production that's nuts
it's not right uh so we have to dial it back some and and but and this is where Davos man is entirely wrong even the
Davos man who understands we have to dial it back all they say is less less less right and you end up with the
yellow jackets right you end up with rioting and you're gonna end up with fascism in the United States if we continue on this role look at the all
the right-wing parties in Europe you have to the you mean when an elite comes in and says we're going to cut something
back let me finish this this is hugely important this is the most important thing I have to say today which is game
B has to be a trade where we have we lower the amount of inputs in the rich countries of the world raise them in the
poor countries while increasing the human well-being of everybody so we need
an operating system that's focused on human well-being as its maximization function not money on money return using
money using markets using other kinds of signaling and we have many ideas about other kinds of signaling besides US
dollars but all focused to optimize well-being within planetary boundaries if we can do those two things we can
survive and it provides the minimal scaffolding on what game B is now it turns out those things have huge
implications if you if you question everything you do with those two principles is this encouraging human
flourishing and increasing human wellbe is this moving us away from our impositions on the planetary boundary if
you every decision you make you apply those two standards it's amazing the results that you get uh and we optimal
Humanity yeah we've uh we have uh been to apply this to a number of things and and turn and to the Practical problem
because you just said earlier I'm a practical guy you know yeah I'm I'm only forced to be a philosopher by absolute
necessity I'm by Nature a man of action right uh you know give me 10 guys and some rifles we'll go take a hell that's
who I am right and uh uh so I have always been the person in the game B
commun there's some a whole bunch of good thingers at least 20 excellent thinkers uh in the game B community and
uh uh but I'm the one who's probably most oriented towards action and well so given given we see this
Collective Insanity emerging how can we get the sanity back
how can we have you know these these conversations which um you know are
going to be seen as woke you know in the current environment and things like that um but know we need thinking people to
to Really tackle this I mean we've got you know Thomas picky says we've got the worst inequality you know since the
Middle Ages in the un States right now why do we have billionaires why do why do we tolerate
billionaires distribtion kind of you know we got 30 million Americans facing possible
eviction because they're know one paycheck away from not being able to pay the rent right it's like the this is not
um this is not a metric for a successful Market or in a successful economy if you
can't provide your citizens with basic health care basic uh housing access um
you know know affordable food good quality food um you know access to education if you can't do those basic
things your economy is a failure there's a reason why on Twitter actually I'm social media sabatical for
six months that I am every year from June F January July 1st to January 2nd so I'm not actually on uh social media
at the moment uh but when I'm on Twitter I would say at least once a week I uh post my response as a picture uh an 18th
century picture of two Guillotines and some people holding heads up right uh this is where this ends up right I just
did a I just did a podcast it's not published today yeton will have their laser robot entries but still tell you
what 10li cousin will have their pitchforks baseball baseball bats and pillows it's all we need right uh and I
just did a podcast with Peter turchin who is uh uh a deep thinker in the end
times of our culture and uh you know he believes there's a 30% chance at least
that there will be a violent break in the US OFA in the next 10 years and game
B is the alter an alternative to move away from having to have a violent break and if game a doesn't uh start to reform
itself there's a good chance we'll have Guillotines in the streets and you ask where why do we have billionaires the
answer is we won't but it will be a rather brutal a brutal method to exate them I sometimes
think about how will how will future his look at the moment that we're in you know when it's just a few paragraphs in
a history book of the future um and I think they're going to look at this is kind of like the guilded two you know
where a handful of billionaires are having caviar and champagne on their Yachts while millions billions live in
grinding poverty right and that seems to be the trajectory right because the Richer I think you're right Rob I think
in in a hundred years I think that's the case but in a thousand years the only thing that our generation will be
remembered for is the creation of AI and climate change well actually I have one
I have another one but I campaign for but uh in the um we're GNA go with this
the um I want to react to all those things very interesting let me give you let me give
you the big one what I Believe In A Thousand Years the most important thing in my lifetime uh because it's a total
change in the trajectory of human history for the last 10,000 years and that is the beginnings of the full liberation of women starting around
1975 uh human society's been a very intense patriarchy since the
establishment of settled agriculture uh and it got more and more and more intense and just crazy and around 1975
the world started to wake up it hasn't fully woken up yet you know uh just talk to any women about what it's like to be
a woman even today and the job is not done but we've made tremendous progress since then so I believe it'll be the
liberation of women that will be considered the single biggest thing that happened in the 20th century I like that
for the folks who are listening if you're still a little bit if you find this conversation a little bit elusive because game B is a little hard to
describe using terminology of game a um I'm gonna quote Jordan Hall again here
because he makes a really good point earlier Jim you said uh the game that we're playing right now will end right
there is a terminal point at this current game and we can kind of project out that if we can continue to burn more
resource than the planet can provide the planet's not going to come to an end but Humanity has a very strong likel
Humanity but at least Advanced technological Society we're not going to probably kill everybody off but we're not going to have computer chips and
airplanes and stuff like that so so what Jordan says is uh Jordan Jordan Hall who's a thought leader in this space of
game B he says um game a is an infinite is a finite game where there's a the the
goal of the game is to win and so we talked about billionaires they by current metrics money they're winning
the game a but it is a finite game and the difference with game B is game B is an infinite game and the idea is not to
win the IDE the idea is to keep playing to keep playing the game so that's uh
you know impact inside of that metaphor is a concept of sustainability and some measure of uh equality in the in terms
of uh agency you know that you are a player you're you have agency in this you can do something you're not on the
receiving end you're actually on the contributing end or the participating end um so Jim why don't you comment a little bit about that with respect to
the Future because this is a part of the show where we like to sort of look out 10 20 30 years into the future yeah
again how we think we get there is we have we believe we have to start by building membranes that are sep
intentionally separated from game A game A is just too powerful uh to be able to
have individ about 2% probably all three of us are cranks that can tell the world to go itself right but most people
aren't that way they conform to social norms so if you want people to be able to live in a better way they have to be
surrounded by other people that share those Norms you know example I give my daughter is very worried that her
three-year-old what happens when uh her best friend at age nine comes home with a smartphone comes over with a
smartphone uh and the you know the social pressure for my granddaughter to have a a smartphone would be very high
but if we live in a community where there has been a covenant against giving smartphones to children that they're worse than cigarettes that won't be an
issue and it'll be much easier for normal people to be able to uh live those good lives so we think that uh you
start out with small bubbles and that these bubbles uh vary they're not the same they're not ideological they're not
utopian that's very very important in game be and then they start to network with each other in a decentralized
fashion doing trades with each other having their own currency uh Etc and then they start to be uh people start to
notice they come and visit there's airbnbs at these Proto bees as we call them the little bubbles right people say
wait a minute these people this is a great place to have children to be a young parent uh there's community-based
uh babysitting essentially community- based education uh half the food is grown in the on the property people eat
together very much like in an early stage is is really Kuts and so I was gonna say it sounds like a Kuts or some
sort of commun yeah yeah oh yeah I'm a good Old Hippy right uh the uh but I've actually
studied the Israeli kabut Moon very closely and have talked to Scholars of the field and there's a lot to be
learned there right it was non- ideological non-religious they were all atheists they were all socialists from
Eastern Europe uh created something very powerful we can talk about kutas and we
can talk about socialism and all these terms that that um people use but the
reality is you know I think Aristotle put it the best he said you know the purpose of humanity is to thrive but
Humanity can only do that when we work together right much and I think I think
that you know like if you look at the problems that we have right now the problems that the market driven is it's
competition against each other instead of competition for the planet for
Humanity as a whole so whenever you're competing with resources you have to decide you know which humans are the
better humans that get these resources versus these other humans that don't right and you know as long as you don't
value human lives in that way you know from a market resource allocation
perspective you you have you you know the humanity will essentially tear itself apart and become extinct at some
point point right so you've got to have a different value system that says community of humans working together is
the best way we move forward as a species um so what you're saying is if you're really committed to game a you're
sort of a sociopath because you just don't care about other hum you're anti-human if you're going to be a good
on a long enough long enough basis you're anti-human yeah I and I fully confess on my podcast regularly that I
in my day I was a game a mother I was really good at playing game a right and that is not the right way to be and game
B is going to have very different values and one of the things we think is very important uh is that uh game B the first
step in game B is to rebuild the mesos scale the famous dunar number communities around 150 people in fact if
you look at the what finally broke the back of our sanity it's the death of the
mesoscale up till about 1875 most people got their sense of security and provisioning from the community around
them around 150 people read Robin dunbar's books on it it's amazing all across the world 19 1875 that started to
be rapidly replaced by two cold transactional engines one called the market and the other called the
government and essentially those have depleted the mesoscale at accelerating
rate ever since you know putnam's famous book bowling alone back in the 90s was a manifestation of that the count of
friendships the number of voluntary organizations that continues to decline uh and so the first Thing game B is
going to focus on is not by far the last we have a comprehensive system plan is to rebuild the mesos scale where we are
actually living in community at around 150 people and and these 150 people have
built a covenant an agreement on their values and virtues and norms and how
they're going to live and by the way they may be quite different than the Proto uh down the road three miles it's a concept we call coherent pluralism
this is hugely important also uh because most of these social change things so you do it our way or we're going to burn
you at the stake think of the wokies for instance right uh the uh uh you know the
um game B does not say that game B says we have two things live within planetary limits increase human well-being and
another one about voice and exit which is kind of a high level uh policy on how things should be governed but beyond
that hey you want to run like a Victorian uh town uh do it that way you want to be a free love commune do it
that way we don't care uh and as long as you and long as you deal with each other honestly and coherently uh so uh that's
one of the things we think is going to be a real secret weapon for the growth of game B because we we are in favor of
pluralism there's lots of ways to be game B not just one and so people will quickly uh we think once there's a we
reach a critical mass Tipping Point uh a very rapid phase transition this comes from complexity science by the way so
Jim when I mean this is the thing 2050 you know look 30 years for about 2060 to
2070 to fully make the conversion and do you think so do you think we will have to have a partial collapse of society
before that happens well so our earlier talk about trajectories and uncertainties uh I just don't know right
I think there's certainly a chance we could have a collapse at any time tomorrow afternoon it could start and that's one of the interesting things
about complex systems the pebble that starts the Avalanche you never know what it's going to be uh say Peter terson
gives a 30% chance of a collapse in the US in the next 10 years probably good number as any uh so we
have to be prepared to go both ways what I describe as the 60-year march three generations essentially I call the long
road to game B and that is there may be some uh inflections and keep in mind that these inflections are they vary in
magnitude and most of the inflections are not civilization ending but they're scary right coid was not civilization
ending but it was scary financial crisis of 2008 wasn't civilization ending but it was scary every one of times there's
a fluctuation like that that's a pump to move people from game a to game B right and once we reach I talk about the
climbing economic uncertainty right isar system system becomes less and less
stable and um you know and that's why you get uh revolutions and you know
protests let give let me give you last thought why why what we're doing is possible right so wait a minute how can
you change the whole system well you don't have to uh one of the things we have learned from simulations of complex
systems is there are tipping points in complex systems and in Social systems they seem to be in the 3 to 15% range if
we can get 3 to 15% PE of people to be passionate about game B who show that this is a better way to live are
actually living that way uh the poor suckers still stuck in game a are gonna at some point do a massp like dicks and
they're gonna say this this is why are we doing this it's just ass well you know I think you're starting to see that with things like sustainability and
climate change already it's you know people are now sort of saying I I just saw on Twitter today people saying no
these are crimes when you defend you know the existing system that is going to that's a crime you know so anyway
they still Buy the T-shirt with the microfiber plastic I know but that's we got we do have to change that system um
you know and and we have to Value sustainability and we have to make it so that corporations that aren't adding to
the net benefit of humanity overall um you know that basically they're vilified
you know at some point you know we need that but anyway how do we bring the show to an end I know well talk about complex
topics so so maybe we'll we'll leave it with with this um is Jim how how can
people get started on game B you know where do we go what do we do at the moment you can find the others as we say
at www.game b-game db. org
uh there's also a whole bunch of not very well organized material at game b. Wiki and there's a cute little 16 minute
short film that's a lot of fun that at least gives you the vibe if you're into Vibe the video game uh oh I game B
film.org uh which is a film that starts out with a video game Motif but then
goes a long way from there so any of those three things uh give you a starting point also check out the
hashtag hashtag game be over on Twitter you'll find 10,000 people probably something like that are you moving to
threads or are you going to just avoid threads anything has to do with the meta
ain't no way uh I think you know unlike a lot of people actually think that Twitter's gotten better under uh elon's
Administration I'm I'm doubtful but I I don't see that's another show we'll do
another show on that happy to do that one but uh uh anyway this has been fun and Jim where can people find you I know
there's the Jim rut show which I've been on I've enjoyed it's a great conversation if you like this kind of
conversation it's a lot more of this with great speakers great guests how do people find you Jim yeah Jim row.com
that's the best way to find me uh six months of the year you can find me at Jim rut on Twitter or Jim rut on
Facebook but for the next six months I am on my fifth annual social media
sabatical uh so you know send a contact hit a contact at Jim row.com if you feel
like you really want to talk to me cool it's been a real pleasure talking to you I'm so super happy to connect the two of
you because I know that you both think about these subjects in depth and I've written about them a lot so that's good fun and folks I hope you will take the
time to check out the game B M material at least watch that short video because like Jim said it's kind of fun to watch
uh thanks very much to the folks who've been listening Jim thank you for joining us Brett it's great to see you back again big shout out to our friends at
provoke media who make the show possible Kevin thanks for being a superb engineer and Elizabeth for producing the show and
to all the folks who've been supporting our show sending suggestions and uh encouraging other people to check it out
we appreciate that too very very much we have been enjoying producing this uh this program it's been a kind of a labor
of love for for me and Brett and our our expanding cast of co-hosts and we'll
continue doing it you'll see us here next week with yet another future thinker uh and until then well Brett you
take it away from here until then we'll see you we'll see you in the future not
[Music] well that's it for the futurists this week if you like the show we sure hope
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