About This Blog

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was the greatest economist of my time. His greatest works can be accessed here at no charge.

Mises believed that property, freedom and peace are and should be the hallmarks of a satisfying and prosperous society. I agree. Mises proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prospect for general and individual prosperity is maximized, indeed, is only possible, if the principle of private property reigns supreme. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. When the line between yours and mine is smudged, the door to conflict opens. Without freedom (individual liberty of action) the principle of private property is neutered and the free market, which is the child of property and freedom and the mother of prosperity and satisfaction, cannot exist. Peace is the goal of a prosperous and satisfying society of free individuals, not peace which is purchased by submission to the enemies of property and freedom, but peace which results from the unyielding defense of these principles against all who challenge them.

In this blog I measure American society against the metrics of property, freedom and peace.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Is There A Robotic Nirvana In Our Future?

On another website a person I was corresponding with made the following statement: "A society of robots with identical perfectly liberal programming could logically have zero conflict." We hear a lot these days about the next or final generation of robots that will challenge human beings for control in society because these robots will not be plagued by the intellectual imperfections and emotional foibles that handicap human beings in their quest for a perfectly satisfying future. The idea that a "society of robots" could have "zero conflict" is intriguing and seductive but ultimately absurd.

A society of robots is a contradiction in terms. It assumes robots cannot think for themselves and cannot pursue ends at odds with the ends of their programmer. A thousand robots "with identical perfectly liberal programming" is no different than a yard filled with a thousand identical cars fresh off the assembly line, all designed and built by the same individual. There would be "zero conflict" among the cars in this new car parking lot because conflict results from contradictory human action. Where there is no human action there can be no conflict.

Introduce two human programmers and now you've got the potential for conflict, not emanating from the two distinct groups of identical robots but from the different ends the two programmers have likely pursued.

If the two programmers act on their own as totally separate and independent human beings, without cooperation or coordination one with the other, and the means available to attain their common end are scarce or their chosen ends are not exactly the same, there will likely be conflict.

Now, if the two programmers decide to cooperate, if they agree upon a chosen end and if they agree to act in concert to attain that chosen end, there will likely be no conflict, even if the means available to them are scarce and even if their cooperative action involves more than two programmers.

How would the two programmers coordinate their actions? They would have to agree to modify their behavior in such a way that their actions with regard to the scarce means used to attain their end would not be perceived by either as threatening. They would also have to forswear behavior which might deprive either of the benefits each hopes to individually realize once their cooperative end has been attained.

One way to modify their interpersonal behaviors to suit their needs would be to agree to refrain from any acts of murder and theft, one toward the other.

Could "culture" throw a monkey wrench into the plans of our two programmers? If the two programmers belonged to cultures that were philosophically opposed, if one programmer came from a trader culture, say Capt. Kirk, and the other programmer came from a warrior culture, say a Klingon for instance, would cooperation between the two or among the many be impossible and conflict inevitable?

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