TED Conversations

Mitch SMith


This conversation is closed.

Should we trust the invisible hand?

James B Glattfelder outlines an emergent entity in his study of transnational company data.

Is this entity trustworthy?

Please state your reasons for trust or otherwise on the assumption that this emergent entity exists.

I'd also be interested in your opinion of whether the entity outlined in the math is essentially separate from the people who created it?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Feb 17 2013: There is an overlooked talk on TED about the complex system of traffic and its lessons applies here as well .
    Jonas Eliasson reveals how subtly nudging just a small percentage of the nodes in the system can create unexpected changes. The "few rules" are the nudges Glattfelder must be alluding to.

    • thumb
      Feb 17 2013: Many thanks Theo!

      What Eliason demonstrates is a very powerful description of the difference between Stalanism and Capitalism.
      In the example, the Stalanist expects a government to micro-manage everything - the example of bread supply in Moscow. The capitalist in London replies that no one manages the bread supply - it organises itself. The hidden inference is that the rules of how supply of bread meets demend for bread is the sdomain of the Capitalist government.
      The analogy is a bit misleading - retailers do the management .. and they micro manage it far beyond the capacity of any government - I know because i was deeply involved in that micro-management.
      The difference being that a retailer was constrained by government in key areas - not poisoning the customers being one example, not allowing a retailer to seize monopoly control being another.
      Without constraint, a retailer would quickly become exactly like a Stalanist central planner. The common Capitalist tends to forget how Stalanist a corporation really is.
      Complex sytems are nearly always based on simple rules applied to elements in the system.
      Stephan Wolfram demonstrates this very nicely in "rule 30":
      The notion of "the invisible hand" in "free" markets suggests that an emergent entity exists in the conduct of those markets.
      Glattfelder suggests that other entities have formed-up in the market environment.
      Tweaking the rules might act to stabilise a system such as traffic congestion.
      I agree with your comments that the moderation of the core TNC "congestion" is beyond the jurisdiction of nation states.
      But I would argue that corporations were originally intended as parasites on the free market - and it is in the corporate definition that the virilence of core TNCs gets it's birth - and there is where the "nudges" need to be done.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.