Sunday, September 28, 2008

Meta and Politics

Sometimes we as humans are drawn to simple little systems, where the rules are clearly laid out, and the basic axioms are short. Things like Newtonian physics and Fibonacci sequences. When these simple systems have the ability to combine their rules in an open ended manner, the results can become quite complex, even though the ground rules are simple. These systems are happily adapted to computers which can handle insanely detailed application of these rules.

Reality however, is rarely one of these systems. Real systems tend to be much more complex. Intelligence for example, is certainly not readily describable in terms of a few basic axioms. Categorization, pattern matching, and allegory are all heavily dependent on the Meta. Anything dealing with general intelligence, communication, or flexible systems tends to be heavily imbued with Meta rules, that is, rules for describing rules.

When a system at its base is not a set of rules applied to the direct problem domain, but is instead made up of ground rules for the creation of rules depending on the current situation, potential for complexity soars. These meta rules allow the system to be very adaptable, and tends to fool our overly aggressive causal tendencies by producing counter-intuitive results. In fact, many times these Meta rules are completely hidden to the outside observer, masked by the generated rules for a given circumstance.

Many Meta systems are inherently recursive, not only allowing for several levels of rules, but also rules that depend and are defined in terms of themselves. This creates a situation in which all the rules can be explained, but the implications of those same rules is highly unknown (even when they are not hidden). The lines between Meta-rule and rule tend to blur.

Human intelligence appears to be highly meta, insanely complex, and capable of producing very unexpected results. Economics is the study of these systems in action, in parallel with billions of other similar systems all interacting at once. The resultant complexity astounds the mind. When so called "economists" are called upon to make predictions as to the future state of this massive interaction of complex systems (itself now a new monster system called the economy), one can only laugh, and shake one's head, as we watch the circus of those pretending to be the masters of meta fall down again and again.

So create your wrong headed doomed "Rescue" bills and regulations. Sell it to the public as a snake oil salesmen fleeces the poor and down trodden. And as disaster strikes yet again, sleep tight with the defense of "it couldn't be helped!", and "no one can blame us, we listened to the experts!".