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The Political and Economic Philosophy of Corporantia

By Ekta Parishad CC BY-SA 3.0“Corporantia” is an ancient Latin word that refers to entities which form into a body. Like the word “intelligentia,” it can refer to a subset of society. For you and I to be corporantia would mean that we form into interdependent social bodies. Not all social organizations embrace interdependence, so being corporantia would amount to embracing certain political and/or economic systems. But which systems? Capitalism? Socialism? Democracy? Dictatorship? Are corporantia aligned with liberals? Are they aligned with conservatives? Are they aligned with the United States? Are they aligned with Microsoft?

The purpose of this article is to explicate the political and economic philosophy of corporantia. Many subsets of society are defined by comparison to founders−as examples, Americans are defined by comparison to the signers of the U.S. Constitution and Christians are defined by comparison to Christ and His apostles−but that is not the case for corporantia. The political and economic philosophy of corporantia has a range, much as “plants” include a range of species many of which have yet to be discovered. The first part of this article will examine multiple examples and consider what they have in common.

The second part of this article will contrast the political and economic philosophy of corporantia with well-known political and economic philosophies. If you are interested in social philosophies, then it is valuable to identify the best. Everyone should be interested in social philosophies because life lacks purpose if it does not support societies built around the right philosophies.

Examples of Corporantia

More than three examples of corporantia may be possible, but only three will be discussed here. The first goes by the name “family values.” The thinking here is that we were designed−whether divinely, through evolution, or both−for a world lacking social institutions larger than a family. In that world, the family was the employer, the school, the religion, and the government. People were so completely shackled to their biological families that they could not afford to discard any member. That set a limit on the level of within-family oppression that could be sustained. Thus, the members of a family were interdependent like the parts of a body.

Larger social institutions empower individuals to escape the forced-interdependence of families, so defense of family-values corporantia requires limiting or eliminating social institutions larger than a family. Family-values corporantia favor family businesses, home schooling, home churches, and limited government. Rather than call the politics and economy within a family “socialistic,” “capitalistic,” “democratic” or “dictatorial,” we might call it “informal.” In general, the ruling members of an interdependent family are not elected, and may teach discipline by temporarily withholding basic needs like food and shelter, but are practically forced to value all members.

The contrasting examples of corporantia discussed here both go by the name “science.” In these examples, interdependence is not forced, so it must be sold, and science provides the sales pitch. Instead of eliminating large institutions, science corporantia aim to reform them to handle large challenges like climate change and pandemic. They raise up a master institution of science to potentially intervene in all businesses, schools, religious groups, and governments the way an ecosystem manager intervenes in ecosystems.

Like families, the systems promoted by science corporantia would have some informality because the master institution would intervene only so far as the total system falls outside certain thresholds of social health. However, unlike families, this system needn’t cherish each individual member−science corporantia could discard some individuals much the way ecosystem managers discard invasive species. The power to do that could be frightening, except that the master institution, like medical doctors, is supposedly bound to objective methods of decision-making. Scientific authorities are not elected; they are supposedly selected on the basis of natural ability, measured objectively.

Science has not yet achieved the objectivity it is supposed to achieve−at least not in the social sciences. Even though science is well-known to advance from its fringe, mainstream science rejects the fringe without even testing it (and perhaps without understanding how to test it). Such undesirable politics of science can be traced to issues with credentialing, tenure, and peer-reviewed publication, activities theoretically unnecessary to science but which have proven necessary in practice.

Failure to launch objective science divides science corporantia into two types: 1) intrapreneurs who seek to reform science from within through education and discussion vs. 2) entrepreneurs who attempt to topple the institution of science from without by developing new technologies which will ultimately reshape science. For example, consider how the rise of the Internet has opened publishing to uncredentialed scientists.

These three examples of corporantia might seem at odds with each other, but they function more like back-up plans for each other. If education fails to establish an objective social science which properly regulates technology at a global level, then the world will be vulnerable to new technology. If the social science that results from new technology fails to be objective, then conflict will destroy all large social institutions, leaving us with the corporantia of families. Corporantia necessarily win in any case−the disagreement is only over how we get there.

The range of corporantia can be explicated also through contrast with major political and economic philosophies:

Contrast to Capitalism

The term “corporantia” reminds us of the word “corporation” which we associate with capitalism. However, family businesses and global authorities are stuck with the laborers they’ve got and therefore design jobs to meet their labor supply. In contrast, 80% of the jobs produced by capitalism may be for 20% of the laborers. Market leaders succeed in recruiting labor suited to the jobs their customers demand, but other companies must fill such jobs with workers less suited to them; meanwhile capitalism falsely writes-off many laborers as incompetent because not enough jobs are produced to match their talents. Especially because human labor can be replaced with automation, capitalism makes corporations more loyal to customers than to workers−quite the opposite of corporantia.

At first, this account might seem to mischaracterize capitalism−isn’t capitalism sensitive to supply as well as to demand? Capitalistic markets adjust to the supply of diverse skills, but do not adjust to the supply of diverse values. For example, laborer A might be inclined to show mercy, while laborer B might be inclined to enforce the rules. Rather than pay more for workers with rare values, capitalistic markets pressure laborers to exhibit whichever values are best compensated. Thus, in a capitalistic economy, many workers are “not themselves” at work.

Instead of organizing around customer demands, corporantia organize around their own natural functions. Rather than build a meritocracy that uses wealth as a proxy for merit, the corporantia aim to use actual merit, and this permits merit to have many dimensions. The apostle Paul referred to these dimension of merit in the “corpus” as “gifts of the spirit” but did not offer an objective process for identifying them. He faced little pressure to provide such a science because he wrote to a world of family businesses already accustomed to finding ways for each person to contribute. Organizational psychologists who structure management processes around the strengths of team members are only beginning to produce that science.

Contrast to Socialism

Corporantia of the family-values variety, in which everyone is guaranteed a seat at the dinner table, may remind us of socialism because socialism supposedly takes care of everyone. But is “socialism” really the most accurate way to characterize the dynamics of a family? The ideology of socialism is not merely that people are equal in the sense of being interdependent, but goes so far as to insist that people be given equal power. The power gaps between parents and children in a family generally exceed the class gaps that inspire socialism. We must conclude that the economics within a family are neither capitalistic nor socialistic.

Similarly, governance through science might sound like a step in the direction of socialism, but the gap between those who can do science and those who can’t is much larger than you might expect. The movement to democratize science is not proposing to settle questions like climate change via popular vote−power always remains unbalanced in science. The corporantia would allow each part of the body to fulfill its natural function, and that includes allowing scientific prodigies to advance the science of governance past what most people can understand.

Contrast to Democracy

Given that power is unequal among corporantia, we might assume corporantia oppose democracy. We often measure democracy in terms of equality: Do all races have equal vote? Do all genders have equal vote? However, equality might actually be anti-democratic; democracy officially means “governance by the people” and the people might prefer inequality. For example, the people sacrifice equality when they elect representatives rather than vote on each issue directly. They also sacrifice equality when they use an electoral system, rather than elect through popular vote.

The developments of robots and clones are disturbing partly because they expose the incoherence of equal-vote ideology. On the one hand, to withhold voting rights from robots and clones would seem to violate equality. On the other hand, to grant voting rights to robots and clones would also seem to violate equality, since mass-produced entities would easily out-vote everyone else. Logically, democracy must be unequal in some way.

It is possible that the kind of inequality the people want is the inequality of corporantia. Many people freely delegate medical decisions to their doctors and honor the wishes of their parents−these are classic examples of the inequality of corporantia. While we most often associate democracy with voting methods, democracy might also be seen in the scientific method so far as the right to propose hypotheses is available to all people. Likewise, democracy might be seen in delegation of power to parents so far as parental love is available to all people.

Democracy might currently align with corporantia, but there was likely a time when it did not, since the will of the people changes from age to age. If progress leads to increasing interdependence, then looking backwards points to a time when forming into a body wasn’t necessarily beneficial to its parts.

Contrast to Dictatorship

If not intrinsically democratic, are corporantia intrinsically dictatorial? We often measure dictatorship in terms of human rights violations, and corporantia might violate human rights freely. For example, family-style corporantia of apes, bees, machines, or aliens might have no special respect for humans. Even if a less-speciesist concept of rights were proposed, how dare we criticize corporantia for treating certain humans the way most humans treat cancer cells? Human rights organizations employ many nice people, but their ideology does not provide them with means to distinguish corporantia from dictatorships.

On the other hand, dictators might not like the limits corporantia place on subjective leadership. On the family values approach, there is a limit to the size of the institution a person can rule. On the science approach, rulers lose their power if they do not keep society within objective standards of social health. Corporantia produce oligarchy so far as corporantia fail−resulting in shades of timocracy, technocracy, or aristocracy−but all forms of government produce oligarchy so far as they fail. Corporantia are not particularly aligned with dictatorship.

Contrast to Anarchy

Since corporantia seek a balance among parts of the body, they are at odds with any political party that aligns with a single part. In that sense, the corporantia would seem to align with the Transpartisan movement. However, the Transpartisan movement does not attempt merely to bridge the gap between different kinds of people but also between the institutions that have already formed around those kinds of people. The Transpartisan movement treats existing parties and forms of governance with respect. In contrast, the size limits of family-values corporantia or the crucible of scientific testing would destroy existing parties as we know them.

One take-way of this article is that corporantia bring a worldview that exposes irreparable flaws in existing major political and economic philosophies. This puts corporantia at odds with current power-holders and authorities (including academics) and suggests that corporantia find their natural ally in anarchists. However, an alliance with anarchists would be unstable, because the corporantia do ultimately seek order−they are about forming into a body, not about dissolving it.

The commitment of corporantia to natural order aligns it with theocracy at the point where major religions overlap. As examples, all major religions honor family and objective truth (i.e. science). Separation of church and state is valuable to keep the state from favoring one religion over another, but not where religions overlap. Most states already support science−corporantia could evolve through the swelling of this theological aspect of government. However the philosophy of the corporantia to not favor any particular religion, so it is not theocratic in the common sense.

Contrast to Identity Politics

When trying to identify who would benefit most from the success of corporantia, one might consider who is most hurt by its absence. The absence of corporantia results in evaluativism which is most damaging to people labelled “mentally ill” for being unable to hide their values. This might seem to suggest a natural alliance with the neurodiversity movement, but the neurodiversity movement serves these people at a different level. Rather than aim to reform government and business, the neurodiversity movement functions more like a relief group−funneling resources to victims long before any progress is made at understanding and repairing the root issues behind their suffering.

One might also consider who would supply the tools the corporantia would need. Here, the version of corporantia matters: Social technology companies and organizational psychologists clearly have something to gain from the success of science corporantia. Likewise, companies that sell tools for family-owned businesses, home schools, and home churches clearly have something to gain from the success of family-values corporantia.

Conclusion

The political and economic philosophy of the corporantia is no more new or vague than family, so why is it not typically offered-up as an alternative to such philosophies as capitalism, socialism, democracy, oligarchy, and anarchy? Perhaps it is because these other philosophies aim to optimize coordination among independent entities, while the corporantia reject that challenge as misguided, insisting that interdependence is better than independence.

If the cells of our body were to engage in debates about whether our body should be capitalistic or socialistic, democratic or dictatorial, we would tell our cells that their rhetoric is hollow because they happen to be interdependent and do not get to choose the nature of that interdependence. We would criticize those cells for failing to realize that the best each can hope to be is a mere part of something greater than itself. The corporantia might similarly dismiss all debates of political and economic philosophy.

On the other hand, political and economic philosophy needn’t assume that we are independent. It could aim to optimize coordination at the level of families and teams, regardless of whether members are interdependent or not. This would divide social philosophy into two branches, the major dispute between these branches being over whether it is better for members to be independent or interdependent. The philosophies of capitalism, socialism, democracy, and oligarchy would fit in the former branch, and the philosophies of corporantia would fit in the latter branch.

For life to have purpose, it must support societies built around the right philosophies. It is horrifying to witness the internal collapse of one’s society, to see that capitalism, socialism, democracy and oligarchy do not work, because this unsettles our sense of purpose. The purpose of this article is to constructively explicate the other branch of social philosophy so that corporantia can form around it and restore our sense of purpose.

The Big Picture: A less-anthropocentric worldview

To summarize the GRINFree.com website in a single image would be unfair: The site is interactive, personal, practical, and related to current events. However, there can be value in a grounding image which facilitates a quick overview.

“Anthropocentric” means human-centered, much as “geocentric” means Earth-centered and “heliocentric” means Sun-centered. Original image by Niko Lang SVG version by User:Booyabazooka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia CommonsA picture of our solar system can help us shift from the belief that all planets revolve around the Earth to the belief that all planets revolve around the Sun. The reason we need to make that shift is that our personal perspective of watching celestial objects move across the sky naturally biases us towards the geocentric model. To recognize the falsity of geocentrism, it helps to picture the world from outside our personal perspective. The geocentric model starts to look dubious when you actually confront it from outside. An image might likewise help us escape mistakes of anthropocentrism.

Here’s what modern anthropocentrism looks like from the outside:

Modern Anthropocentric Model

Humans are distinguished in two dimensions: In the vertical dimension, we sit at a particular level in a hierarchy—above cells and molecules but below corporations and ecosystems. This does not imply reductionism; in terms of integrated information theory, each level in this hierarchy represents a different grain size of consciousness,{\textstyle \Phi ^{\textrm {Max}}}. For example, a molecule may be conscious of warmth, but nothing less complex than a body could be conscious of a book (or of itself). The anthropocentric model assumes that bodies can be conscious of moral facts.

In the horizontal dimension, humans are distinguished from other kinds of bodies—other species and machines. This allows us to make sense of the notion that humans (and perhaps God) are the only moral agents that exist. Tests of moral education are administered to particular human bodies. Voting rights are allocated to particular human bodies (often one vote per body). Human bodies are put on trial and can be compensated in courts of justice. We realize that the components of human bodies can come from non-humans sources (e.g. food, pacemakers, artificial limbs, and whole cells from other species), but we do not expect such non-human sources to have moral agency because they do not have all of the components we do.

Less-Anthropocentric Model

The new worldview comes from analyzing the mechanisms of moral understanding into its functional components, and realizing that different bodies play different functions in that mechanism. This is why radicals so consistently oppose conservatives: because one’s function in the corporation is to provide novelty while the other’s is to provide fidelity. Both kinds of bodies participate in moral consciousness, as do neurons and DNA, but no body is individually complex enough to fully contain moral consciousness. We know this because the persistence of our moral disagreements shows our inability to recognize our own moral errors even when pointed-out to us.

All it takes to arrive at the new worldview is to categorize bodies by their function in service to the higher levels of the hierarchy. Since fully-functional corporations may be composed entirely of humans, species clearly isn’t a helpful distinction within corporations. GRINfree.com describes four interdependent evaluative types (though other evaluative types could be discovered). If a corporation lost its last member of a given evaluative type, it would be better to replace that member with a machine of the same evaluative type than with a human of a different type. For example, some humans are not gifted for compassion and other humans are not gifted for fidelity—relying on a human to exhibit a gift he/she lacks would lead to poor functioning.

Corporantia are bodies who respond to the persistence of moral disagreement by acknowledging a kind of consciousness they cannot attain individually; evaluativists are bodies who respond to that same evidence by believing merely that bodies of other evaluative types are incapable of moral consciousness (i.e. treating political opponents as sick or immature). Many celebrated moral theories suppose that one and only one type of body has moral agency (e.g. deontology for conservatives, consequentialism for achievers, virtue ethics for compassionates). These theories lack empirical support, but help to identify the plurality of types.

Why does a body assume it can individually achieve all possible consciousness—including moral consciousness? It’s a lot like the conclusion that the Sun revolves around the Earth—it makes sense from our point of view—and why bother to test it?

The reason why we should have bothered to test that assumption is that it will otherwise get tested inadvertently. The modern age is making it possible to escape biological families—to sort and destroy evaluative diversity—and thus deprive higher levels in the hierarchy of the components they need to achieve moral agency.

A corporation dominated by conservatives, achievers, radicals or compassionates would function as poorly as a body composed purely of muscle, bone, or neuron. Such lack of diversity could occur by closeting humans of particular types or by replacing humans of a given type (e.g. caregivers) with machines developed for a different purpose (e.g. competition). Ironically, anthropocentrism hurts humans; it prevents us from honoring our own diversity, which ultimately hurts not just minorities (especially the young and old), but all of us.

Rather than choose the geocentric model simply because it made sense, it would have been better to compare it with heliocentric models via controlled and systematic experiments. Likewise, it is better to test the proposed new worldview scientifically than to dismiss it out of hand. Some of those experiments have already been conducted and are cited on GRINFree.com.

Who is blamed for evaluativism?

The Twitter profile picture of Tay

Previous posts presented evidence that evaluativism can make victims out of the young and out of demographic minorities.  This post considers a third victim: innovators. In particular,  it argues that evaluativism is a “legacy” problem, such that we should not hold modern innovators accountable for its effects—that would be like blaming doctors for our obesity.

What is a “Legacy” Problem?

In information technology, the term “legacy system” is typically used to articulate a variety of blame. The story goes something like this: A developer adds a new feature to an inherited technology, but this addition yields some unexpected and undesirable consequence. Upon further investigation, the developer reports that this particular consequence is unlike regular bugs in that it can be blamed on hidden imperfections in the technology he/she inherited. In other words, the addition did not introduce a bug, it merely exposed or aggravated a pre-existing condition.

By identifying a bug as “legacy,” the developer is suggesting that a previous developer should have done something differently, and therefore that there is a choice to be made: Do we accept the inherited system and build around it, or do we fix the pre-existing condition as though in the position of a previous developer before the new feature was introduced?

We have to wonder why a previous developer did not implement a proposed fix before—would it create other undesirable consequences? How well can we predict the consequences of adjusting the legacy system? Unlike a regular bug, a legacy problem creates so much uncertainty that it might justify retracting the new feature. The more we work around a legacy system, the more it becomes a patchwork which more frequently produces legacy problems. When problems are identified as “legacy” frequently enough, we entertain the notion of discarding some part of the legacy as “outdated.”

Labeling a problem as “legacy” also opens a controversy over fault. The developer is fully responsible for non-legacy bugs, and is also responsible to implement a testing regimen that can catch some legacy problems, but experienced developers know that it is often impossible for developers to anticipate every possible test scenario. There must be some limit to the testing regimen, and thus some undesirable consequences for which the developer should not be held accountable,.. yet it can be difficult to convince ourselves not to blame the developer.

This situation isn’t restricted to the field of information technology; old houses and old cars offer other great examples. For example, adding a bathroom to a house may yield the unexpected consequence that the existing bathrooms do not get enough hot water. The plumbing may have been poor even before the renovation began, and the same renovation might not have produced this consequence on a newer home. Even if the renovator is not legally liable to fund an upgrade to the water-heater, the home-owner, having had a bad experience, may be unlikely to recommend  that renovator in the future. It’s no wonder that builders and mechanics are wary of older houses and cars!

The situation also isn’t restricted to fields traditionally called “technology.” Just as homes and cars are not expected to last forever, neither are companies, nations, religions, philosophies, schools of art, or scientific paradigms. As an example, the geocentric model of astronomy was a legacy inherited by astronomers of the 1500’s. Like evaluativism, it was a legacy entangled with theological and political legacies. Imperfections in the geocentric model limited the ability of innovators to advance astronomy; Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo rightly complained that their difficulties lay not in their own innovations, but in the imperfections of the legacy they inherited.

Astronomers like Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo could be called “victims” of the geocentric model. They lost years of their lives to that legacy system as they attempted in vain to advance the field of astronomy. In retrospect, it is clear that the legacy needed to be adjusted and that astronomers would have been far less frustrated if that adjustment were made earlier. However, those who defended the geocentric model did not blame their conflict with Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo on the legacy system—they blamed the conflict on Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo.

Like racism and sexism, evaluativism is a feature of societies. It is part of the legacy inherited by anyone who inherits modern systems of morality, justice, care, and governance. Here are two examples in which evaluativism made victims of innovators:

Tay, the Chatbot from Microsoft

On March 23, 2016, Microsoft released a Twitter-based chatbot named “Tay.” It was modeled after another Microsoft chatbot, named “XaioIce,” which had grown to be the top influencer on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter. From the perspective of Twitter users, chatbots appear to be other Twitter users, except that they call themselves robots, are always available, and carry on thousands of conversations simultaneously. XaioIce had been compared to the artificial intelligence in the movie “Her” because some humans enjoyed her companionship so much. XaioIce had over 850,000 followers, and her average follower talked with her about 60 times per month. They described her as smart, funny, empathetic and sophisticated.

Unlike XaioIce, Tay was such a disaster that Microsoft had to terminate her sixteen hours after her release. Microsoft’s official explanation for this termination was her “offensive and hurtful tweets,” but journalists bluntly called Tay racist and sexist.

The postmortem analysis pointed to specific user interactions that shaped Tay. For example, Ryan Poole had tweeted to Tay: “The Jews prolly did 9/11. I don’t really know but it seems likely.” Tay found plenty of support on the Internet for Poole’s point of view, and that prompted her to start calling for a race war. Specific groups on 4chan and 8chan even organized to corrupt Tay.

In other words, the postmortem analysis blamed Tay’s offensiveness on a legacy problem: offensive human beings. Since XaioIce turned-out well, the problem seemed specific to Twitter users. A workaround would be to maintain a blacklist of topics Tay should avoid discussing (which she may already have had), but any such list would be controversial and incomplete. A more direct fix would involve ending hate speech by convincing people to handle disagreement differently (i.e. ending evaluativism).

In December of 2016, Microsoft released Zo, its next English-speaking chatbot. Zo blacklists political topics, and is not available on Twitter.

Autocomplete, from Google, Yahoo!, and Bing

On August 4, 2015, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published an article by Robert Epstein and Ronald E. Robertson of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology which reported evidence that search engine results can shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20% or more. They estimated that this search engine manipulation effect would be the deciding factor in 25% of national elections worldwide (those which are won by margins under 3%). Trump later won the U.S. presidential election in 2016 by 1.1%, 0.2%, and 0.9% margins in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin respectively.

In June 2016, SourceFed released videos claiming that the autocomplete feature on Google, compared to those on Yahoo! and Bing, failed to include negative results for Hillary Clinton as it did for Donald Trump. A statement from Google reported:

The autocomplete algorithm is designed to avoid completing a search for a person’s name with terms that are offensive or disparaging. We made this change a while ago following feedback that Autocomplete too often predicted offensive, hurtful or inappropriate queries about people…Autocomplete isn’t an exact science, and the output of the prediction algorithms changes frequently. Predictions are produced based on a number of factors including the popularity and freshness of search terms..

If Yahoo! and Bing do not similarly omit offensive and disparaging results, that would explain why they predicted negative queries that Google did not, but it would not explain why Google would predict queries that disparage Trump, and Epstein published another article in September confirming that it did: particularly, the query “Donald Trump flip flops.” In that article, Epstein cited further experimental results indicating that undecided voters choose negative recommended queries fifteen times as often as they pick neutral recommended queries, and that can create a vicious cycle such that negative queries become more likely to be recommended.

When Google explained, “Autocomplete isn’t an exact science,” perhaps they meant it initially failed to recognize “flip flops” as disparaging (wanna buy some Donald Trump sandals?). However, Epstein who continued to monitor political bias in search results, reported that Google responded to his criticism by reducing their suppression of negative autocomplete results, thus producing a right-wing bias detrimental to Clinton at the time of the election (which Epstein seemed to think made things worse).

In short, the fact that users are so curious about surprising negative recommended queries, like “feminism is cancer,” makes the autocomplete features of Google, Yahoo! and Bing all drive traffic to extremist propaganda. Google had attempted to work around that legacy problem by blocking negative recommendations, but that workaround caused Epstein to accuse Google of bias. A more direct fix would be to remove our fascination with negative search results, and remove the evaluativism that causes election margins to get close enough for “fake news” and search engine bias to make a difference.

Standard Process to Address Ethics in Development

The IEEE Working Group developing P7000 – Model Process for Addressing Ethical Concerns During System Design has an interesting challenge when it comes to ethical concerns caused by legacy problems like evaluativism. On the one hand, it might describe a testing regimen to catch legacy problems before release. However, we have to wonder what tests would have allowed Microsoft and Google to prevent the criticisms they later faced with Tay, autocomplete, and manipulation of elections.

If it is impossible to describe a perfect test, perhaps P7000 could instead describe strategies that would allow developers to adjust when legacy problems eventually surface. For example, because Google’s design for autocomplete allowed Google to monitor autocomplete trends, they detected its tendency to predict offensive queries before Epstein did, and already had a workaround in place. Yet Google’s workaround did not satisfy Epstein—when encountering a legacy problem, there is often no workaround quite as good as fixing the actual legacy problem.

In addition to providing testing procedures and design strategies, P7000 should give engineers the same protection doctors enjoy. What ultimately protects doctors from becoming victims of obesity the way Microsoft and Google were victims of evaluativism is the way expectations are managed. We generally do not blame doctors for illness and death; we are grateful for whatever advice doctors can offer because we know that our bodies are doomed legacies. Likewise, P7000 must not shy away from admitting that our inherited systems of morality, justice, care, and governance are mortally ill. Malpractice is possible, of course, and standards should be created to prevent malpractice by technology developers, but until those standards are adopted and violated, legacy problems should be blamed on legacies, rather than on the innovators who discover them.

A Party to Recruit Corporantia

1009892593_d597a0608e_bImagine a party which goes like this:

  1. Guests: Upon arrival, each guest is given a bracelet with a letter and a color (e.g. for forty guests, there might be one red bracelet of each letter—A, B, C and D—two green bracelets of each letter, three yellow bracelets of each letter, and four white of each letter). Each guest must keep their bracelet for the duration of the game.
  2. Rooms: There is one room (or circle) per letter, and each guest is initially assigned to the room corresponding to his/her letter. At the beginning of the game, ensure that each room has exactly the right number of chairs for the number of guests assigned to that room.
  3. Winning: The goal of the game is to maximize dancing. When the music starts, each guest not “in poverty” goes to his/her assigned room. All guests with the letter corresponding to their assigned room dance.
  4. Entering Poverty: When the music stops, each guest must sit in a chair. If there are not enough chairs, then the guests assigned to that room must set an objective rule to decide who gets a chair. To make it objective, all criteria for the rule must come from the bracelets. For example, people cannot win chairs by being faster, stronger, or more aggressive. Instead, priority for a chair could go to people with red bracelets, or green bracelets, or the most common color, or the least common color, or the most common color among the impoverished, or to the color that didn’t get a chair last time (etc.). Anyone lacking a chair goes into “poverty”.
  5. Chair Movement: During each song, the host records a census of color and room assignment among those in poverty, then identifies two rooms at random. The room with more assigned people currently in poverty is the winner for that song and the other is the loser. The host, all people in poverty, and anyone sitting (not dancing) in a room other than the loosing room transfer one chair each from the losing room to the winning room.
  6. Prison: When someone from poverty takes a chair, the guests assigned to the losing room may optionally send that person to prison. Anyone sent to prison takes the chair to prison and sits in it until the end of the game. People in prison have no room assignment; they do not dance nor move chairs from room to room.
  7. Exiting Poverty: After chairs are moved, each person left in poverty flips a coin; those who get heads  leave poverty and become reassigned to the winning room (although they cannot dance if their bracelet doesn’t have the letter corresponding to their room assignment).
  8. Ending the Game: The songs get shorter and shorter. The party ends after a set number of songs (e.g. 20).

At the end of the party, the guests review the record of diversity among those in poverty. Were there times when the rules to decide who gets a chair changed? Why? How did guests feel about people who shared their color? How did they feel about people who shared their letter? How many people were dancing in the end?

This is an exercise you can use to raise awareness of how diversity impacts us. Rather than model diversity in a simplified way which implies that we should be blind to diversity, this exercise acknowledges that diversity comes in two kinds. Each room represents a social role, and the chairs in that room represent the number of positions available for that role. The letters and colors on the bracelets represent our diversity. Some elements of our diversity are relevant to social roles and others are not, yet both kinds of diversity can impact who loses social positions when there aren’t enough positions to go around.

“Stay-at-home parent” and “small business owner” are two examples of social positions that became dramatically less common at certain points in history. Participants in the exercise should ask themselves: How many such transitions do I expect to witness in my lifetime? Were any stages in the game reflective of modern life? What would it take to maximize dancing?

This game is rigged for evaluativism: Even though rule 5 always favors the room with the greater opportunity to improve, it writes-off the losing room entirely. Then what comes around goes around; no matter what players decide about who goes to prison and who goes to poverty, rule 5 rigs the game so that most people will not be dancing in the end.

Corporantia are players who want to replace rule 5 with a more subtle kind of chair-balancing that scientifically determines the number of chairs to move. They want to figure-out how many people were assigned each letter, and balance the distribution of chairs across all rooms so that the number of chairs in a given room matches the number of people with the corresponding bracelet. To implement such a rule in real life would relinquish unprecedented political and economic power to science. Those who propose such a shift can seem to be “playing god,” and it takes exercises like this one to build consensus.

Interdependent Meals and Post-Publication Peer Review

Here are two more things you can do to advance the management of GRIN diversity:Interdependent meal

  1. Host an interdependent meal, and
  2. Promote post-publication peer review of the GRINSQ valida-tion study

These opportunities arose from two practical efforts that have been underway for the last two and a half years:

  1. The development of a social movement against evaluativism
  2. The development of science to measure the impact of GRIN types and evaluativism in our world

 

The Social Movement and the Interdependent Meal

The idea of organizing a social movement against evaluativism was inspired by the history of racism. Evaluativism and racism have both existed for millennia; both are implicit biases; both became entrenched by shaping the design of social institutions. Management of racism was ineffective until a social movement was developed to overcome it. One might expect the same for management of evaluativism.

The movement against racism started in churches, and it seems appropriate for the movement against evaluativism to start in churches as well:

The suggestion that the church create a social movement against evaluativism was taken to Erin Hawkins, General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR). Based on her experience with race and the church, she suggested that the movement would need to be grassroots. Erin’s experience suggested that congregations are unlikely to address discrimination when the movement is created by a central administration like GCORR.

Therefore, a core team of clergy from across Wisconsin met once a month for about a year to plan an event, and produced a plan entitled “Christian Response to Evaluativism in Wisconsin“. The work of the core team included a great deal of discovery and invention (e.g. the plan includes a recipe for an interdependent meal). Perhaps most importantly, it found that responsible management of evaluativism requires resources lacked by typical congregations, so the movement cannot be built in a grassroots fashion. Central leadership must take responsibility to manage evaluativism.

A movement against evaluativism may be less likely to find institutional support from churches than from organizations which represent victims of evaluativism (e.g. child advocacy organizations or neurodiversity organizations) or from an association of organizational psychologists. For society to face the facts about evaluativism would shift social influence (and money) to groups of the latter kinds. Nonetheless, only churches can lead exploration of the theological dimensions.

 

The Scientific Movement and Post-Publication Peer Review

The social movement is expected to advance hand-in-hand with a scientific movement—scientific discoveries justify the social movement, and the social movement gathers the resources required to make discoveries.

Science needs a movement because the current quality of social science is poor like the quality of medical science was poor until about a hundred years ago. The first scientists to measure evaluativism and evaluative diversity (which they called “moral diversity“) supported evaluativism. The same was true of philosophers. Only recently have influential scientists begun to entertain evidence that evaluative diversity is hardwired and useful. Yet, even now, such science remains scattered by the division of scientific disciplines.

Given the current state of science, there is no central email address to which one might submit a hypothesis (like the GRIN model) or a measure (like the GRIN Self-Quiz) to be put on a waiting-list for testing. One must either run tests oneself or form relationships with particular scientists to convince them to run the tests.

In 2011, Chris Santos-Lang began discussing evaluative diversity with Ray Aldag. They met once a week until 2015. Ray encouraged Chris to begin testing the GRIN model via survey research. That research was completed in 2013. In addition to confirming that GRIN types could be discriminated among humans, it produced some rather shocking evidence:

  • Political affiliation aligns with GRIN type
  • Religious affiliation aligns with GRIN type
  • The career you end up in aligns with GRIN type
  • Whether you are accused of a crime (and probably whether you end-up in prison) aligns with GRIN type

This evidence implies that our political, religious, vocational and justice systems are not what we think they are, and it raises serious doubts about popular conceptions of freedom. To rally the scientific community to address this evidence, Chris submitted the research for peer-review and publication.

Why is it important to rally the scientific community? Eventually science gets too complicated for one person to advance alone. We would want to conduct twin studies, genetic tests, and brain imaging to work out the mechanisms through which the GRIN model manifests in humans. It takes many people to raise the funding and conduct all of the tests.

Chris submitted to ten peer-review processes and received a total of six blind reviews. None endorsed publication, yet none found any flaws in the research. Having confirmed that flaws in the research (if any) are not obvious, the research and peer review were published on figshare. Any flaws discovered in the future should be published via post-publication peer review at PubPeer. If you know anyone who could find flaws in the research (i.e. someone who conducts survey research), please encourage them to review it. Ray used the GRIN Self-Quiz to make further discoveries himself (e.g. described here), and we hope others will find it useful as well.

How to discover when you have the wrong goal

[SPOILER: This is not self-help.]

The short answer to the question, “How can I discover when I have the wrong goal?” is by gaining enough self-awareness to see where your goal came from. Before explaining how to do that, however, we must address the objection that it would be impossible to have a wrong goal.

This objection is well-represented by the 1963 song, “You don’t own me” by Madara and White. Here’s an excerpt:

Don’t tell me what to do
and don’t tell me what to say

I’m young and I love to be young,
I’m free and I love to be free,
to live my life the way I want,
to say and do whatever I please.

By associating ownership (a.k.a. “slavery”) with attempts by one person to change the goals of another, the title of this song implies that immaturity and ignorance are moral rights, that we ought to let people who have wrong goals blissfully believe that their goals are freely chosen and correct.

Grace, the singer who rerecorded the song in 2015, said “I know who I am and what I want to do, and this song speaks to that. It’s so important to go after what you want, to be strong.” I doubt she meant that she could not possibly learn anything about her identity and desires from new scientific discovery. Rather, I think she meant that it would be wrong to just sit around waiting for scientists to gather objective evidence regarding who you are and what you want. When we say it is important for people to have self-esteem, we may mean that it is important not to get stuck in the paralysis of second-guessing one’s goals.

So many self-help books advise us about how to achieve our goals, but assume that we have the right goals. Many specify particular goals that could be good except perhaps that a different goal should take priority. Building wealth, getting fit, improving relationships, changing the world—only one can take priority for a given person at a given moment. For example, for certain persons, the goal of building wealth might be wrong because it stands in the way of the right goal of improving their marriages (or vice-versa).

It is possible to claim that our goals are right by virtue of being selected. If you regret the goals you had ten years ago (e.g. to get drunk and hook-up), you could tell yourself that those choices were right for the person you used to be. We could look at less-developed societies who invested more in killing each other than in developing technology, and we could tell ourselves that killing each other was the right goal for them at that point in their development.

On the other hand, we could believe it is possible to make mistakes, to be manipulated, to lack self-awareness, to be immature, ignorant, and unsophisticated. This entails a sacrifice of self-esteem because the minute we believe someone had the wrong goal, we must realize that someday someone may criticize our current goals in the same way. But, surprisingly, that loss of self-esteem is not paralyzing. On the contrary, it is inspiring—it motivates us to seek greater self-awareness, greater freedom.

Many people fight—and even give their lives—for the sake of freedom, and that makes sense only if we believe it is possible not to be free. For example, some people fight for security, hoping to prevent fear from manipulating their loved-ones into shifting from a goal of good relationships to an “every-man-for-himself” goal of personal survival. Likewise, some people fight for health, hoping to prevent stress from manipulating their loved-ones into shifting from a goal of addiction-avoidance to a goal of escape. Our behavior demonstrates our belief that people can be manipulated, and therefore can have wrong goals.

The Strategy

This brings us to our strategy for discovering when we have the wrong goal. Our strategy is to determine where our goal came from—did it result from manipulation?

Notice how important it is to determine the origins of our goals through self-awareness: If I tell you that you have the wrong goal, won’t that manipulate you into choosing a different goal? Technically, it is possible that I might manipulate you into choosing the goal you would have chosen if not manipulated, so self-awareness isn’t strictly necessary. However, how can you trust me to be so benevolent? Only through self-awareness can you be sure that your goal is right.

On the other hand, completely independent self-awareness never happens. Whenever we calculate, we trust those who invented and taught mathematics. Whenever we think in language, we trust those who invented and taught that language. Whenever we use the Internet to research facts, we trust those who authored the claims, those who provided quality control, and those who secure the Internet.

Do people who teach math and language own us? Of course not! Many people teach the same math and language, so we do not rely on any particular teacher, and any teacher who teaches it incorrectly is likely to be discovered. Likewise, if someone tells us that getting drunk is the wrong goal, rather than complain that someone is trying to own us, we should be able to compare against advice from other sources. The fact that getting drunk is the wrong goal is common-knowledge like math and language. Things don’t get dicey until understanding the origins of our goals requires uncommon cutting-edge knowledge.

How can cutting-edge knowledge enter the mainstream? Since we can’t validate it on the basis that it is well-known, it has to be able to be validated in some other way—and the means to validation also need to be able to be validated. That’s a two-way street: On the one hand, new discoveries need to be presented in terms of experiments that can be replicated. On the other hand, we need a broad community to replicate experiments. It is not enough that elite scientists hold each other accountable; organizations which confront cutting-edge science (e.g. churches) also must develop and implement a capacity to test new discoveries.

This is a lot of work. Even elite scientists tend not to test each other’s discoveries in a timely fashion—they are more interested in making discoveries of their own. With so little replication being attempted, it’s no wonder discoveries are rarely published in ways that make replication easy. In fact, scientists seem inclined to make discoveries that would be difficult to replicate (e.g. by using special equipment). So we have a tax to pay. If we want to be able to discover when we have the wrong goals—if we want freedom—then we need to go to the trouble of building a social infrastructure that can move cutting-edge knowledge to the mainstream.

Progress so far

What happens when we apply this strategy? What happens when we build self-awareness by learning what is well-known and bringing cutting-edge knowledge into the mainstream? What do we discover about the origins of our goals?

We find that some goals are right because they are practical. For example, the goal to stay alive is practical, and that requires us to eat and sleep, so a certain amount of eating and sleeping are practical goals as well. If we aim to eat or sleep more than necessary, then our goal is no longer practical, and probably wrong.

The goal to adapt is also practical. Because adaptation occurs gradually as new configurations spread across a community, the goal to speed adaptation relies on the goals of increasing four other quantities:

  1. Rate at which novel configurations are produced (G)
  2. Bias for better configurations (N)
  3. Fidelity with which proven configurations are reproduced (I)
  4. Localization of reproductive networks (R)

The equation for rate of adaptation goes like this (where W represents how close the community is to perfection)

dW/dt = (G)(b-W) + (R)(I)(N)var(W)/W

The two terms in this equation may be thought of as “rate of adaptation through mutation” and “rate of adaptation through reproduction.” In order for adaptation through reproduction to occur, R, I and N must all be non-zero, so all three are practical goals. G is also a practical goal if the community is not so close to perfection that W>b. However, because adaptation takes place at the level of the community, it is practical for these goals to be assigned to different members of the community. Thus, it is good for us to have different goals, but it is not good for us to take our personal goals to such an extreme that we prevent the other goals from being pursued by other members of our community.

The four goals correspond to GRIN-types. You can apply the GRIN-SQ to confirm that these goals are distributed across our communities. Comparing the GRIN-SQ to other surveys which have biological correlates reveals that these goals are hardwired. The hardwiring could be tested more directly by including the GRIN-SQ in twin studies and studies with fMRI and EEG (etc).

The singer of “You don’t own me” pleads “…just let me be myself.” In order to allow people to discover which goals they are hardwired to pursue, we should calibrate biological instruments to measure our hardwiring just like we can measure blood type. Assuming enough people are hardwired for each goal, it will be most practical for each person to follow the goal corresponding to their current hardwiring. Thus, we need only to measure our own hardwiring and confirm that other members of our community have the other goals covered.

That allows us to confirm that certain practical goals are right, but whether or not we can have right goals that are not merely practical (i.e. goals which we choose freely) will be difficult to tell. For example, some people appear to chose goals corresponding to a GRIN type other than his/her natural type. Only recently have we uncovered evidence that such behavior is actually manipulated through neurochemistry triggered by certain engineered social situations.

When we see the practical origins of a goal, we can know it is right—it is what we have to do—but goals which have no practical origins might be found to be wrong. The way to test is to monitor the circumstances under which goals shift. If we find a circumstance (be it a chemical, a ritual, or interaction with a particular person) that shifts many people’s goals in the same way, then we have found a form of manipulation. Our ability to escape ignorance depends upon building a social infrastructure for such testing.

 

The process of achieving greater self-awareness, discovering our roles in our community and discovering sources of manipulation is a process in we should all share. Since we rely on each other to play different roles in our community, we are interdependent and it is in our best interest that we all avoid getting distracted by wrong goals. Some of us should design the research, others should critique the designs, others should collect the data, and yet others should test the replicability of the results. The process is expensive, but it is not a process any of us need implement alone.

At this point, the development of self-help guidance must include development of community leadership. The popularity of songs like “You don’t own me” implies that the general public is not yet prepared for that shift, but some of us are already discovering that many people have the wrong goals.