You are viewing archived messages.
Go here to search the history.

Kartik Agaram 🕰️ 2023-10-06 21:46:31

The next paradigm beyond capitalism

These are some rough thoughts I wasn't expecting to share publicly for a long time, if at all, but it seems to be inevitable for me to hit a point of, wth, throw it out there. In this case the impetus was @Alex McLean's comments on 💬 #linking-together@2023-10-06T04:45:36.918Z

The way I see it, capitalism currently performs many load-bearing functions in the world, but the world today suffers from capitalism being the predominant engine of meaning/motivation. Why do we get out of bed and do anything? The places we tend to pay attention to are governed by social proof, a sense that others are paying attention. Social proof is in turn governed by status seeking; we all want to be "successful", and in our efforts to be successful we chase the prospects of success around us. We're more likely to attend to something if it promises to be successful. And finally, closing the loop, the metrics for "success" are basically money at root. Everything else seems to get grounded at some level of indirection in money.

All this hit home particularly hard when listening to the first hour of episode 65 (totally awesome, and having nothing to do with the title), where Ivan Reese at one point says, to be taken seriously you have to signal effort. And at a second point: one way to signal effort is to spend a lot of money. All totally right and obvious for the world we live in. And yet.. I'm kinda feeling done with seeing large projects spending lots of money as more intrinsically meaningful? We've seen many many examples of the same depressing way large projects with lots of money fail. Money invariably has strings attached.

So, I'd like to live in a world where money exists, but more people consider it a satisficing rather than optimizing criterion. Something that inhabits the lower levels of Maslow's Hierarchy and gets banished from the upper level that it has somehow infected while we weren't looking.

What might replace money as a source of meaning and motivation for programmers? One answer I've been rolling around in my mouth and feeling increasingly ok with is: durability. Durability has a long track record (i.e. monuments) as something that can motivate people. Software is currently really bad at building durable artifacts, and not I think for any intrinsic reason. We just haven't prioritized it. I think a world where software artifacts can be easily run a decade later -- without any modification -- would be a significantly better world than the one we live in. In such a world, software would be part of the solution rather than the problem.

So, with that lengthy preamble, here's the draft I've been noodling on.

Draft: A programmer's pledge

Given that:

  • We are on this planet for a brief time and will take nothing with us when we leave; and that
  • The effects of our actions compound for good and for ill, long after we are gone, in ways we cannot always anticipate; and that
  • I want to be helpful to others, and for the good in my actions to outweigh the bad; and that
  • I want to persuade you that I truly believe the above, that I want to be helpful more than I care about my own gain and aggrandizement;

Therefore, I pledge to:

  • Tell you, when I build anything, what I hope to gain from it. If it's money I'll tell you how much in inflation-adjusted currency, and I'll commit to giving away anything beyond that while unencumbering any secrets it took to create it. If I create organizations or foundations around what I build, I'll enshrine these limits on value capture into their bylaws.
  • Tell you, up front, when it will be done. I'll provide a clear test for features I will add, and when I will stop adding features.
  • Show my thought process in my efforts to make it durable. Even after it's done, it might need changes to be runnable on people's computers. What have I done to minimize the likelihood of such changes? What have I learned from past projects that makes this one more durable than them?
Nilesh Trivedi 2023-10-10 14:40:59

Just today, I watched this interview where Yanis Varoufakis argues that capitalism has been devoured by "Cloud Capital":

Christopher Shank 2023-10-15 05:31:07

"Supporting Data Journalism through Compilers for Visual Inputs" by Parker Ziegler (2023)