math of social unity

31 08 2012

An article was written back in 2004 or 5 entitled “the algebra of world peace”. It was a thought experiment which posited the psychology we must have should we achieve a global sustainable, environmentally sound, political and economically stable world situation — short-hand — world peace.

If one’s mind rebels against this term, world peace, consider the necessity for us all to be involved in a sustainable solution, like all members of a family need to be part of the running of a household (however useful or not any individual’s contribution is). That is, the following thought-experiment is predicated on the acknowledgement of social unity.

belief and probability of social unity

For social unity to occur in the future at some point in time, steps would have to have been taken. And for a step to occur, someone has to actually believe it enough to act. Does the state of belief in a future situation improve the chance of it happening?  Clearly the intention to write or read this article improves the chance of it happening, but for more complicated social events, it can get very easily become impossible to tell.

Applying numbers to this is tricky. Let’s say the chance goes from 0 to 1; 1 in the sense that the situation actually occurs by a certain date whether it is the year 3000, 2100 or even as early as 2030, and 0 before we had any idea and it was inconceivable. In a personal sense, 1 means that an individual now believes it enough to action it, and 0 in the sense the individual just didn’t think it was possible at all.

The experiment further examined who would recognise the truth of this mathematically, and those who believe because there are already thousands if not millions who believe by 2020.

The thought experiment took the direction of examining whether one’s belief influences the chance of it happening, and recognising that it does, the reason and logic (whatever any other aspect of the mind comes up with that is purely based on scathing scepticism or sheer disbelief!) to recognise the efficacy of belief. If we accept that sustainability occurs at some point in the future, then we must recognise the necessity to believe that it will happen. The probability might be incredibly slight to start with, with less than a fraction of a percent in 2000, but this must increase until it happens at the set point when it actually is attained. In this way, we overcome ego with reasoning. This is no longer a matter to argue, this is a simple matter of logic and probabilities.

thought experiment 2.0

The new bit to this thought experiment now is a calculation that gives us the estimate of 1 million believers by 2020. There are various ways this million might propogate, for example a simple doubling. Let’s say each person can invite one other person per year, say I invited you this year of 2012. The following year,  we could invite one each, thus there would be four people who believed for the next year, and so on. How long would it take before this simple doubling process could result in about 8 billion people being true believers, the required amount — the entire population of the planet — for the sustainable solution to actually work. With this doubling pattern, world peace would occur around 2045, hitting a million believers by 2022. So, with this pattern, we fall short.

So, where did I get my estimate for a million for 2020? Well, instead of inviting just one person, what happens if we invite two in the following year, three in the succeeding, and reaching a maximum of eight people each, before descending until we all only invite one other again in our last year. In this last case, a year before we are all united in our belief (which is logically derived), this would be half the population of the world, let’s say 4 billion. If you run the calculation based purely on this basic pattern(and we forgo any potential detail of birth and death rates, and the number of people who are aware but who do not follow through and so on), we pass from about half a million to a million and a half during 2020. This means we’d reach the total population of the world by 2027. Which gives us all — everyone on the planet acting in concert — three years to sort out a sustainable global situation by implementing an agreed solution.

Forget about what the solution is, for now. That’s a whole other kettle of fish. What we can say is that the solutions will become more apparent as we progress, as more of us believe and work together, trying out various social and political and economic solutions. Or, we might be able to apply the same pattern above — we could say that it only requires one of us on the planet in 2012 to have the solution, and if only one other gets it this year, and then another two get it in 2013, and so on, until everyone has got it by 2027.

So this extension of the thought experiment is an improvement from the original. With this simple numerical pattern — based on people inviting only one then incrementing this until in 2019 we are inviting eight people each then back down to one — this one simple behavioural rule is more precise than when I first came up with the thought experiment in 2004 or 5. Things have got more accurate than at the turn of the millennium when I started thinking about 2020 in this way. That is, my mind is manifesting the truth that the solutions will become more apparent and accurate as we progress.

um… why is 2020 important?

Back then, I just intuited that the year 2020 will attract some attention as we get closer to it purely because it is associated with opticians 20/20 vision. We can hook all our visions of what we may achieve by 2020, and as we approach it, those visions that seem more accurate demand more of our attention. It is like an evolutionary improvement as our ideas fit the conditions — given the fact that our thinking and belief about it actually influences the outcome.

I originally thought we could have achieved the sustainable situation by 2024 once we got the conditions for 2020 right, the first of which was that everyone was aware that 2020 was the year for us to realistically change our behaviour as a whole species and sort out the environmental mess. For us to have got to consensus by 2020, we must have worked out quite a lot of the problems. Totally unrealistic, of course, given our current conditions in 2012 — but back then at the start of the millennium, it was just the start of the mainstream internet and we have seen massive changes in the world since then, just not enough.

Now, given the numbers we have come up with and revising our projections, we only need 1,000,000 people by 2020, and that is based on only one person reading this and getting it this year. Getting it logically. Getting it in a way which makes them equal with me, that we both see the logic and reasoning — though more like purpose. Normal logic is timeless, it is applied to statements and facts, whereas our application of logic has direction in the future, and we have reasoned that belief is a necessary function for sustainability to occur. This logic with future orientation is a vector. We can understand this vector as purpose, a very human quality, motivation and understanding.

why it gets better with time

The next improvement to this thought experiment will perhaps give us more accurate maths as we logically explore the space.

And while the maths gets more accurate, and the numbers grow, and more minds are aligning to solutions, and aligning to hit a million by 2020 on purely logical grounds, after that, there will be plenty of people who get it because the scale of the movement is so impressive. That is, they do not respond to logic, but more the enthusiasm of others.

As a consequence, there will be plenty of people who hear about it have not seen the logic of it. Thus, we must get even better at ensuring we present the best logic and the best case studies as the remainder of the population join in, until by 2027 the most sceptical of us, perhaps half the planet, are presented with incontrovertible truth (based on logic that is, and perhaps the social fact that half the population of the planet believe it which alone might be enough to turn the most sceptical of us). And so it will have been wise for us to have reduced the number we invite as the years go on so that we can concentrate more on the few left, so that we only have one and only one invitation open to each and everyone one of us in the year 2027. We have a year to convince them using all our logic, all our experience, and all the evidence that half the planet are behind it.

We will have got pretty good at it by then. We will be feeling more confident with ourselves. Our sense of trust will be something we feel daily, with the people we meet, the people we live with, our neighbours, our colleagues, our partners. A great sense of family will occur, much stronger than anything anyone has ever felt at such a scale — more than the communist revolutions, more than the muslim or christian movements. It is not based on religious belief (other than we recognise one another as equivalent human beings), or political belief (beyond recognising the necessary polity of “all of us on this planet” for our solution to be valid), or economic for that matter (though we have recognised on the path of ecological economics that it is the equal distribution of money that is essential not goods) — these qualities of belief may help, but essentially it is rooted  firmly in logic. And this logic is not based on words, but the minimal language that is number, arithmetic, mathematics.

seeking a reasonable economic projection

Turning our attention to economics, since this is a blog about ecological economics after all, then we might expect the next significant revision in accuracy will be the economics for this to make sense, financially. First psychologically (or religiously if one wishes to locate it there), second the mathematical limit (or politically recognising humanity as a unity), and now economically.

We do not wish to steal the thunder from some future genius, perhaps the genius who reads this article one day. Suffice to evoke from my mind at least, that we will have transitioned from money (an abstracted number, the entire current economy being based on this unidimensional, impersonal measure, and mistakenly coupled to things) to subjective enumeration. The future economy of 2027 has had its operating system radically rewritten; it is a mathematical experiment where “money” has become “well behaved” as it has been coupled to time.; the future economy of 2027 is based on subjective enumeration, with only relative values in play. And for this to occur, money has shifted from operating as it does in the current economy of 2012 (which we have evolved over the millennia), to be operating as it does in the future economy of 2027.

What about 2026? What percentage of the economy will be using money as we are used to now, and what percentage using it in this alternative way? Half? Could we apply the same math pattern as we have above? If we did (and I think this indicates how clumsy we are now, but hopefully in a few years someone smart enough will come up with a better set of numbers), and we use $18 trillion for global trade in 2011, how much would we need to be playing with in 2012?

Whatever our answer, it needs to be reasonable. What equation to determine the ratio of  “old cash” for “new credits” might be continuously reasonable from now till 2027? One early observation I had while exploring ecological economics is the turning point of 50% where half the trade on the planet is done through mttp and dmp and the other financial protocols, ie manifesting the new economic entity. And if this is not critical, it may at least be remarkable. Apple may be the world’s most volumous business in a few decades with $84 billion reserve, but it does not compare with the US or other major countries with $1.4 trillion exports and $2.2 trillion imports for 2011. For the economic entity to operate with 50% of global trade, perhaps $30 trillion by then would be… awesome!

Perhaps scary for some, but only if thought of in terms of competition and aggression — if we are thinking sustainable and peaceful, it means we are all involved, which means monopoly in a collaborative world is a good thing. Which makes world peace, and this thought experiment, and these number games, awesome!

All that we need to wait for is for people to recognise the logic involved, the math, and some time soon, the economics, in order to believe it.

how much belief is needed?

Looking back at our simple table, we start off in 2012 with a number 0.547. This is the number of people who need to believe it in 2012 to start it all off. What could this number mean?

Playfully, we could suggest that what this means is that a person needs to be 54.7% certain this makes sense. It’s not 0%, and its not even 50/50. A person needs to be more than 50% certain to act on it. So, if it makes more sense than not, and only by a little, that’s all that’s needed.

So, what do you think?

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