Inheritance, Incentives, Ideology
There are three ways to align large groups of people: genetics, economics, and politics.
• 2 min read
There are three ways to align large numbers of human beings: inheritance, incentives, and ideology.
Inheritance is shared genetics. The strength of genetic alignment can be quantified by Hamilton's Rule, which gives the genetic payoffs for cooperation vs defection based on biology in common. But there's also a modern version of "biology in common", which is something quite different: namely, shared quantified self data of the form that health trackers like the Fitbit or Apple Watch generate. Both shared genes and shared quantified self data are fairly interesting ways to align groups that are under-theorized in the modern era.
Incentives is shared economics. The strength of economic alignment can be measured through game theory, which determines the economic benefits for cooperation and defection. This is the basis behind the concept of startup equity. In theory, if you have N people, you have 2^N possible outcomes of a simple win/lose game. Each party can win or lose independently. But what startup equity does is turn it into a game where all N people win big together – or lose big together. It aligns people and results in E pluribus unum.
Ideology is shared politics. The strength of alignment through ideology can be measured by the spatial theory of voting, which uses voting records to situate people on the political spectrum. More interestingly, politics is often more about shared enemies than shared ideological goals. It is easier to destroy than to build, so it's easier to emotionally align people against something than to align them for something. That said, ideological motivation can be a powerful positive force that leads people to cooperate even when it's not economically rational to do so.
Combining inheritance, incentives, and ideology. Technology thinks a lot about incentives, a bit about ideology, and almost none about inheritance in terms of aligning groups of people toward shared objectives. But in theory if you could overlay all three of them – by building an economically aligned community with shared ideology that also consciously tended to intermarry and share health data for mutual benefit with each other – you'd have something quite powerful.
Each network state should think about achieving that level of alignment for its population, by bringing them together online on the basis of shared ideas, aligning them on the basis of shared economics, and then creating a physical community where in the fullness of time people settle and have children. We can start with 1729.
Subscribe to the newsletter and unlock access to member-only content.