Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dawn of a New Era

In a previous post (A party by any other name) I recounted the similarities between my proposal for a The Jacksonian Party framework and the rising of the Tea Party Movement.  The similarities between the two are of interest as they are an expression of underlying philosophy via capability that empowers the individual to the fullest, civil expression of their individual liberty and the necessity to have freedom from government to express that liberty.  The liberties in question are the positive liberties of mankind which I discuss in two prior pieces (The self-evident and you and Scale free law).  These are the things that we recognize as the necessity to have government, as man is a creature of Nature and that to join in marriage man and woman creates the need to restrict our individual liberties for the safety of each other and our family.  This, going far back into history, in particular for the English descended political systems from the 14th century (Tree of Law, Tree of Liberty) and actually can be seen in action in ancient times as what we create in marriage is the Law of Nations.  Thus wherever you have the human animal that becomes conscious and then restricts his liberty for the safety of his family and then community, we see the artifacts of government and Nation arise from self-government.  As our physical basis as natural beings has not changed over that period of time, that is we have not transcended Nature to become perfect as is the case of the Deity or any higher power that guides the path of events, those self-same responsibilities, duties, liberties and rights remain with each and every one of us and cannot be abolished by any institution of man.

The driving part of making a one man political party, which is what this site instantiates, is driven by those same factors.  These scale free factors then get scaled factors from non-political arenas added into them that are acknowledged from the modern era.  Many have a nodding acquaintance as to what these factors are, but few consider them as having an implication for our liberties and freedom when they are applied to politics, and yet if we change in our capabilities then our political domain shall also change as we create that from our skills, knowledge and understanding of ourselves and the world around us.  What we have done in the way of technical prowess has a direct feedback into our lives, for that is why we create technical devices, be they the simple horn knife or the iPod, it is to enhance our lives so that we may be free to do other things with our time than merely survive.  As a culture and society we have done that so well that we now need television programs, books, magazines and other forms of communication to tell us how to survive without these creations of ours when circumstances remove them from us.  That is the outgrowth of our capacity and how that capacity has changed us and is implemented in the basic outlook of The Jacksonian Party and in large part in the Tea Party demonstrates both a reliance on fundamentals (individual liberty and freedom) and an exercise of our modern skills.  These skills have technical basis and have been described (by many including the author) and require restatement so that we can be reminded of just what it is that moves our modern lives and politics.


Moore's Law

Moore's Law was a descriptive postulate by Gordon E. Moore who observed that the number of circuits (or transistors) per given circuit board area doubled every two years while retaining the same price point.  It is a description of the silicon-based technology of the modern microchip and its limits are based on the physics of the substrate, which we are currently nearing, being that of atom sized wires and transistors.  Even with some adjustment of time span downwards (generally to 18 months) what this does is indicate that the cost of computing goes down exponentially over time until the physical limits of the substrate are met.  While there has been some tweaking of Moore's Law, here and there, it has generally held from the late 1950's to the present day. 

This single insight is the enabling factor for modern computers, personal entertainment devices, and the proliferation of network technology.  Without this understanding of increasing capacity of production capability over time for microelectronics, there would be no expectation that the next generation of physical devices would do more, encapsulate more capability, provide added functions and, generally, cost less than the previous generation of devices.  Only the production line had such an astounding effect for the few short years it took to replace by-hand piecemeal production techniques when applied by Henry Ford to the automobile (and he swiped the idea not only from meat packing plants which are disassembly lines, but also from Smith & Wesson who utilized this production technique for firearms).  The production line has granularity problems based on the size of the facility and what is to be produced limiting production which is not the case with the microchip.


Metcalfe's Law

Metcalfe's Law is named after the inventor of Ethernet, Robert Metcalfe, that describes the power of connected nodes on a network for increasing communication capability for the entire network.  This is a descriptive law of the value of networked devices and information exchange that is not the easy to measure Moore's Law but is a subjective power law for the increased capacity of an entire network to make greater use of all nodes in that network.  What this means, substantively to individuals, is that the more you as an individual connect to sources, read or partake of them and then post your information about them (and it need not be in politics as the simple 'cat blog' demonstrates) that the utility and power of the network in that domain of information goes up dramatically per each added node in the network. 

This has proven the basis for describing Person to Person (P2P) networks for social groupings and also is the basis for the Many to Many description of networked media presentations.  Attractive ideas that gain individuals taking in information from other nodes in that network, processing them and then making available those processed results then increase the perceived utility and power of that network at a rate that is greater than the sum of the nodes in the network.  While this law has scale limits, the ability of a network to sub-scale networks (sub-networks) that allows all the network nodes to communicate while having discrete sub-networks means that the larger network of all sub-networks increases in utility, power and perceived capacity at a rate that encompasses all the sub-networks: each sub-network increases the power of the overall network to the rate of each added useful node for the entire network just as the sub-network benefits to a lesser degree for each node in that sub-network.  As humans are gregarious and form social bonds of the P2P sort, we are network creating beings and when we take up an interactive node in the network, we create greater utility and power to that network out of proportion to our individual presence.

Taken together Moore's Law and Metcalfe's Law have a follow-on that builds upon them.  Note that I will be generalizing it in accordance with yet another descriptive observation just a bit further on.


Feiler Faster Thesis (FFT)

This is an idea first credited to Bruce Feiler and extended by journalist Mickey Kaus and is descriptive of the increased rate of uptake of individuals to absorb and process news creating a scale based decline in how fast individuals process news, thus driving a much faster news cycle.  If the concept of 'news' is generalized to 'information' then the expansion of the FFT extends to everything mankind does that is described by individuals in a networked environment.  Thus in any human activity that has networked based communications for the promulgation and processing of information by nodes in the network, the overall understanding and turn-around time for understanding drops by nearly a factor of 10. 

This is short-handed to the 'simple substitution system':  anything that took a decade now takes a year, anything that took a year now takes a month, anything that took a month now takes a week and anything that took a week now takes a day to understand and comprehend.  This is based on both Moore's Law (for the storage, forwarding and processing of information) and Metcalfe's Law for the scale power additive node system to increase processing throughput for individual comprehension.  The FFT is not just descriptive of news, then, but of every aspect of human culture that is promulgated via networked environments on microprocessor based devices.  I first touched upon this in an article (We are going for a ride on the FFT) that examined the possible time compression of the American Revolution and what would happen if our modern day politics were following in a similar course to it.  While this is not the case, it serves as a base of understanding that events and outcomes that we once expected to take a very long time now compress down into a much, much shorter time by the 'simple substitution system'.  The change from Communism in Eastern Europe followed this path almost exactly, as each country learned from the one preceding it and the time to undermine and remove the Communist system in each decreased dramatically due to this phenomena.


Stephen J. Gould's Observation on Theory-Scale Applicability

I've had to name this as I haven't found another good name for it.  In Stephen Jay Gould's work on The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, he postulated a scale re-purposing of past evolutionary theories that were not applicable at the original scale for that theory (ex. Lamarckian Theory) but were applicable at either a larger or smaller scale.  Thus no scientific hypothesis is entirely discarded in evolution, nor are they discarded in the rest of science as past ideas and their functions for description may be demonstrated false by observation at its original scale or be limited at the original scale description, but the function that such hypothesis supplies may be adequate at a larger or smaller scale of functioning. 

Thus in the above description of the FFT I found its descriptive character was not limited to just news gathering and promulgation and, via generalization, was a description of the impact of faster processing time upon individuals and societies at that much larger scale that goes far beyond mere news reporting.  Mind you, you don't have to agree or disagree with evolution to see if there are past descriptions of how things work that are either false for that instance or an extremely limited viewpoint but is true via changing its scale adherence up or down.

Combined these effects have an outcome which has been seen in the commercial realm, but using the Theory-Scale Applicability concept can be more generalized outside of commerce.



In the commercial world disintermediation is the process of removing intermediate steps between the supplier, manufacturer and buyer.  This is the process of removing wholesaler and retail systems so as to reduce cost of getting an item to an individual via a form of personally customized ordering and delivery.  The Amazon company started with this in books and has generalized it to a large suite of products now encompassing smaller re-sellers and individuals.  E-bay is a form of P2P sales through a low cost nominal connection and guarantee intermediary (E-bay) that allows for low overhead sales and re-sale both to individuals and businesses.  Today this has expanded to the point that individual distributors (or manufacturers with multiple production units) sell directly to individuals globally. 

China has started this for mass produced electronics items and the companies typically include the cost of shipping in the cost of the item (it is 'free shipping').  The effect of this is to remove retail sales, stores, and wholesalers from the supply chain between you and the manufacturer.  Typically such efforts get a prefix of 'e-' to them, so that the traditional process is retained with the new prefix (ex. banking becomes e-banking).  As individuals we perceive this under the paradigm of the FFT and come to expect that more goods and services will be rendered via this new concept of disintermediation so as to speed our access to such goods and services throughout our lives and take out the hassle of retail customer interaction where it is perceived as unnecessary.



Emergent behavior is that which arises from simple interactions that give rise to the creation of complex systems and artifacts.  In this realm each individual in a system creates a far more complex system via simple interactions that, itself, creates a complex set of behaviors that cannot be explained by the simple interactions nor modeled given the base set of interactions alone.  From this view complex systems arrive from simple actions, and this is the case for such fields as economics which is a description of the mass interactions of transactions when taken at a more than individual scale as well as coral reefs and collections of single cell organisms that have no proper body but act as an individual being.  Emergent systems have behaviors, at the system level, that cannot be adequately described by the individual interactions and activities at the individual level, thus such behavior is wholly dependent upon the lower level interactions even when only indirectly traceable to them.  From that the activities of individual buyers, sellers, manufacturers and the entire supply chain gets changed by the emergent activity of disintermediation as each node in the system (individuals) applies their current needs and requirements and seeks a best value solution.


Knowledge Web

In various formulation the science historian James Burke has been presenting the concept of indirect idea association for the creation of new ideas and understanding of our world since the 1970's.  A knowledge web is a non-temporal creation of idea association with individuals at nodes in the system that allow for the passage of knowledge through the system that is traceable both backwards and forwards in historical context in the way of antecedent and subsequent events.  In many ways this is an expression of Metcalfe's Law utilizing early postal systems or P2P networks but extending that to a non-temporal delineated system that includes all historical nodes as active parts of the network that contribute to the entire network.  From this interactive system between present and past nodes, plus the interaction of past nodes prior to the present, we get new creations that cannot be explained via the nodes, themselves, and is seen as an emergent set of new creations that go beyond the power of the network, yet is instanced by a node or nodes in the network seeking solutions to a given set of problem parameters.


Accelerating Change

James Burke talked about this topic in Connections as a force for societal change and Ray Kurzweil would later examine the change rate of change for human knowledge over time.  By encompassing human history and the examination of the doubling of knowledge (just in the way of printed or published material) we get not only an increase in the rate of change, itself, but an increase in the rate of the rate of change over time.  In part this is a theory-scale dependence application via the generalization of Moore's Law to all of human knowledge and technology.  While there is much discussion of the applicability of this to technology (and may be an over-reach of generalization), its applicability to knowledge is one that creates the basis for the FFT: as we create more knowledge we design tools and methods for thinking about and analyzing such knowledge and process it through to conclusions at a faster rate of speed.  That we do so, today, is apparent by the amount of audio, video and written material we can ingest today versus that of just 30 years ago.  As more and more knowledge is connected up to our online network, Metcalfe's Law creates the domain for increased utility of such knowledge, the FFT reduces the time lag to understanding it, and new, emergent behavior created by individuals then changes society via the depth and types of interactions available.  There is probably a limit to this based on our own physics and physical processing capabilities, but our analysis capability has demonstrated capability to internalize new ways of thinking to remove older that simply take too long to instantiate to conclusions.



That is the basis for the type of political party I described in this piece way back in 2006.  A decentralized, inter-connected party of individuals who have no formal party structure but create informal structure on an 'as-needed' basis which starts the removal of the power of incumbency by forcing individuals running for each race to get financing on their own and not raid non-existent party coffers.  New media is utilized to spread basic, agreed-upon ideas amongst individuals that remain easy to describe but that have profound and emergent outcomes for the promulgation of liberty and freedom for each individual as government is removed and disintermediated, and is thus distilled to its basic functions.

Any attempts to increase the size, scope and power of government are seen as reactionary, regressive, authoritarian and rejected by the distributed party structure and attempts to gain such power are analyzed by a large number of nodes in the party to enhance an understanding of the power play involved and how to counter them via a distributed means through the non-party, ad hoc structure that is created by individuals.  Thus accountability is rendered on an ever faster schedule dictated by the FFT and the last cycle of response time.

That is the modern Tea Party.

Once you understand the concepts driving us, as humans, in our modern world, the description of the Tea Party is simple and easy.  And each of the ideas that drives it is simple and easy to understand. The effects will shake the world.

It all starts with you.