TED Conversations

Johnny Mac

Role? Who defines that?, I need to get organized.

This conversation is closed.

Does "Liberty" mean the pursuit of one's self interest?

Explanation: Liberty in economic terms. By seeking one's own gain, they make gains for everybody. The economy is a mechanism for transforming private gain into public benefit. Each person is a cog in this machine.
Or are all social systems built on the proper understanding of the human person...This person I the source and end of all social and economic value. Which is it? or do you think it is something else?

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    Dec 21 2013: Liberty and equality go hand in hand—they’re two sides of the same coin. To the extent that a system diminishes equality at the expense of class or caste, liberty is also abridged.

    There are those who assert that Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is still relevant, and who find it fashionable to apply Darwinian “natural law” in addressing economic outcomes. It’s as if the “fittest” in the rat race of a capitalist system actually earn what they deserve, as do the “least fit” among us. But how are we bound by these opinions? And what has “natural law” to do with the economic systems created by human beings?

    Property ownership and the amassing of great wealth were only made possible by the organization of civilizations resulting from agriculture and animal husbandry. These economies produced divisions of labor and class systems. This we all know, and yet, how is this step in human history more “natural” than the hunter gatherer stage that preceded it for many more thousands of years? In other words, why is it more “natural” to possess land, accumulate wealth, stockpile surplus and hoard resources than it is NOT to do these things? And if it was “natural law” that drove humankind to domesticate animals, cultivate the land, build cities, create royalty and religion—each with their divine rights—it is just as “natural” that, using our “naturally developed” reason, we improve, modify, rebuild or completely eliminate systems that do not correspond with our evolving values.

    Although you may not have meant it, stating that “the economy is a mechanism for transforming private gain into public benefit” can point to redistribution in a “much is given, much is demanded” frame of reference—an ethos embraced in many cultures. What system benefits the public to the greatest possible extent? The one in which the overwhelmingly vast amount of gain is held by a fortunate few, or the one in which all gain is a public good?
    • Dec 21 2013: Positivist Nullifidian

      'Equality' obfuscates the fact of singular individual differences... under an ideological concoction meant to disempower the righteous while empowering the unrighteous... Does a liar have the same right to voice their opinion as the righteous? The whole notion of ownership stems from a long history of de-conflicting practices intended to maintain civility resulting from evolving settlements. Controlling resources and their allocation has been part of human existence for quite some time... The hunter gatherer shifted their prey from wild animals to domesticated ones... and would regularly go on a hunt to nearby territories... of course 'the prey' organized to prevent such matters... and we could even say that some hunter gatherers choose to settle down and protect their livestock from being hunted by others (only they could hunt their lands). If we look at the natural evolution of systems we would see that ecosystems develop to fill every niche with synergistic collaborative participants... that keep within certain parameters the whole interactions... Unfortunately many humans have lost touch with their natural integration into the system...

      Why is it that the talk shifted to "What system benefits the public to the greatest possible extent"? Do notice the implicit allure to a conflict between the individual and the system rather than a shared mutually enriching mutually enabling synergetic collaboration between the individual and the system ... kind of like the plants breathing in what we breath out and we breathing in what the plants breath out... just think of groups and individuals rather than plants and people...

      I used to consider the hunter gatherer vs the cultivators until I added a third notion involving the traders and merchants...
      • Dec 22 2013: Right? What do you mean by right? Law, social consent?

        Both of these are human artifice. In general, everyone can do anything, however some of the actions are practical and some are not. (Explicitly dodging the question of good vs wrong with praxeology.)

        The actions not beneficial are usually easy to be shown to be so, some have deleterious effects much later, but those are more rare.

        Equality does not obfuscate anything. What is meant by this word is actually equal (or preferably best) opportunity for everyone, which is currently not present, as there are extraneous factors such as inherited wealth and social status throwing a wrench into it.

        Similarly liberty is not about "you can do anything" since that does not need a specific word. It's about having a possibility to do as many things as possible, preferably beneficial to everyone or as many as possible. Or at least beneficial to those who further act beneficially giving a positive feedback loop.

        Then there are the hard questions when an action is beneficial for some and detrimental for others...
        • Dec 22 2013: Radosław,

          Will explicitly dodge the question of good vs bad, right vs wrong beneficial vs detrimental with praxeology that focuses on 'what be sustainable-congruent-desirable with the ways of life'. So to answer your question directly: by 'right' I mean 'what be sustainable-congruent-desirable with the ways of life'. Please note that life in principle can be replicated in 'what be sustainable-congruent-desirable with the ways of life' (SCD).. Also note that life gives to each what they desire with life; so to those who seek life --- life give them abundant life AND to those who seek death --- life gives them abundant life (which becomes the actual death of death). So you see life gives each abundant life and gives each what they desire. I could get into presenting other examples like truth, peace, understanding, tolerance, love, 'the visionary' all 'passing the SCD' hurtle and even how some notions like lies and charlatans fail the SCD test. The point here is that there are actions that are beneficial for everyone even tough someone may object and somebody may agree.

          For a while I have sought 'to dodge the invitations to fight it out' by seeking a graceful dance that guides and transforms 'blows' into 'caresses' while 'compelling' each into the dance - be it by choice or by compulsion. I would rather we focus on actions that are beneficial especially given the fact that some stuff can be easily to be shown to be so and some stuff can be a bit more complicated if not practically impossible to demonstrate.

          If equality means actually equality between what be preferably best and the alternatives then 'Houston, we have a problem'. Personally I consider that only certain alternatives ought to have and be allowed to develop. In other words IF somebody wants to be nice THEN by all means tip the field in their favor ELSE (when someone doesn't want to be nice) tip the field against them accomplishing what they want. That is: be it by choice or by compulsion be nice!
      • Dec 22 2013: There's rarely a known best, but there are usually a few options that can be considered generally +SCD with various degrees. You can of course ask someone why they're not picking the better option if there is one, try to compel, but not coerce. However this can degenerate to populism, some of which we see now, where the most compelling are rewarded - but there is the threshold when this becomes -SCD and this means there is a check built in. (Unless the systm is changed)

        The tricky part is deciding on which alternative is better - often there's no clear answer and there we should fall back on equality (of opportunity).
        • Dec 22 2013: Radosław,

          In recent weeks I have pointed out how often when we respond to someone who states "my way or the highway" with 'let it be the highway' someone rarely consents to followthrough and take the highway ! We are coming to a point where we need to figure out better ways to collaborate and coexists that move past older archaic forms of confrontation between the individuals and the collectives. 'Democracy' isn't supported on top of what the majority chooses because a single right individual may dictate the right course of action that will guide everyones actions. In the past this tended to be associated with the role the individual played though in the present this is shifting to be associated with the validity associated to the claim rather than who makes it.

          Indeed the tricky part is deciding on which alternative is better especially when often there's no clear answer and there we should always fall back on what actually be better (rather than give equality (of opportunity) to all possibilities). IN other words lets not confuse what isn't better with what is better just because we can't distinguish one from the other. Lets figure out a way to always pursue the better alternative...
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        Dec 23 2013: Equality is not synonymous with homogeneity. Are there two of anything that are alike? Not even two snowflakes or leaves or grains of sand—infinite diversity is the law. Equality must be measured primarily in terms of access, not outcomes.

        Hunter gatherers are not a panacea for an ideal society, but are useful in illustrating the point that it was just as “natural” for human beings to NOT possess private property and amass wealth as it was to engage in these practices. The mutually beneficial practices of trade and mercantilism arose as a result of agrarianism and animal domestication—surpluses carried on the back of beasts of burden were exchanged between communities, sometimes separated by great distances.

        As to “shifting the talk,” I am merely addressing Johnny Mac’s question: “[A]re all social systems built on the proper understanding of the human person[?]” The simple answer here is “no.”
        • Dec 23 2013: Positivist Nullifidian,

          Under the premise you put forth for equality being measured primarily in terms of access, not outcomes... I would then posit that there ought to be infinite disproportionate equality; the righteous ought have full access while the unrighteous ought to have no actual possibility of access (till they change and become righteous).

          As you sort of said Hunter gatherers, or even set agrarian cultivators, and merchants... forms of being hardly serve as a panacea for an ideal society. Within each there can be graceful humans and not so graceful humans. Each could be useful in illustrating this or that point ... as just the “natural” form of human beings to be.

          I agree with you that its unnatural to possess stuff through as I write this I have to say that as the entrusted tenant one may inherit certain rights, privileges and responsibilities; (which one may lose or keep) for 'being the entrusted caretaker of stuff' living within a certain domain. Note that 'The mutually beneficial practices of trade and mercantilism arose as a result of... ' interactions between different individuals! I used to hold the dual worldview of hunter gather evolving into cultivators which then evolved into more specialized service providers, industrialization, knowledge; until I realized that 'Merchants' coexisted with the hunter gather and cultivators forming an interesting triad. As you sort of said "The mutually beneficial practices of trade and mercantilism arose as a result of... (snipped)... surpluses carried on the back of beasts of burden were exchanged between communities, sometimes separated by great distances".

          Personally I do see that to hold private property and amass wealth as legitimate practices... unfortunately nowadays the notion of private individuals having private property is quite an urban myth. Tenants have to pay the king for all sort of dubious concoctions, including a fee for protection, protection from the king itself and other raiders!
    • Dec 22 2013: I would say that liberty and equality are two orthogonal but desirable traits. Complete equality requires the destruction of liberty, since some all-powerful authoritarian entity would have to shoot, imprison, punish, or otherwise threaten those who might dare stand out from the utterly equal mass. Complete liberty, on the other hand, results in stratification, since different choices lead to different outcomes. We will never have perfect liberty AND perfect equality, nor, perhaps, should we want this, since either looks likely to end up in severe injustice. However, the idea of a dynamic homoeostasis is too terrifying for mediocre minds, so they make up and believe lies that we can have everything at once, with no need for tradeoff.
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        Dec 23 2013: We will never have perfect anything, and the solutions to life's challenges seem most often to consist of tradeoffs. But at least entertain the concept, if only for a moment, that the goal should be for each to begin this race from the same start line--no head starts, and no special advantages for anyone. A meritocracy would seem appropriate for any society, but where equal rights and opportunity are not provided, the achievements and successes of the meritorious are cheapened. I denounce any system that produces advantages, or worse, obstacles to any aspirant, based solely on the gap in access to resources to improve one's chance for success, resulting entirely from an accident of birth.
        • Dec 24 2013: How do we implement such a paradise? Obviously, the state would have to exterminate a fundamental liberty by taking full control of reproduction. Second, it would have to kill off all infants who are too far away from the "norm"--no genetic handicaps or advantages allowed, or it would have to implement "Harrison Bergeron"-style handicaps for anyone whose abilities were above the lowest of the low.

          In short, you denounce any system that does not start off by exterminating humanity and replacing it with mass-produced machines. After all, genetic heritage is an unevenly-distributed resource. If you make a special exception for genetic heritage, then you must keep piling on additional special exceptions or be nothing better than a hypocrite who must be ignored.

          Inequality is built into life. No two independent organisms are identical, not even "identical" twins--indeed, they develop differences while still in utero.
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        Dec 24 2013: Replying to your most recent post here.

        I concur that infinite diversity is the law—there are no two anything alike. Equality of opportunity does not imply equality of outcomes, or, for that matter, raw talent. And whether it be sports, music or intellectual pursuits, our talents—which I view as largely genetic, but requiring effort as well—must be allowed to develop and rise to the top. And yes, I strongly support competition and decry efforts to diminish the value of peak performers, such as in the classroom, for the mere purpose of making everyone else feel good.

        The concept of an equal starting line does not come from a position of “bringing down” the truly talented, but rather “bringing up” the untapped potential in the most marginalized and underserved communities. There's no need for exterminations or hypocrisy when engineering systems that are truly merit based, not privilege based. Having served in the armed forces, I have witnessed the benefits of a meritocracy, first hand—hardly a paradise, I’ll grant you that!
        • Dec 24 2013: Want to highlight the notion of "systems that are truly merit based, not privilege based" coupled with a bit of opportune grants intended to bring about the cultivation of the best in each.
        • Dec 25 2013: "Raw talent" is part of "opportunity". There is not and cannot be "equality of opportunity". Likewise, upbringing is part of "opportunity". The only way to impose equality of upbringing is to exterminate all family diversity--bring children up in perfectly uniform environments, with no variation permitted at all. One must rip children away from the "advantaged" parents and make sure their upbringings are appropriately mediocre.
          What government should do is refuse to impose institutional barriers to accomplishment. Likewise, a willingness to invest in individuals who show promise is a good idea.
        • Dec 25 2013: Bryan,

          Take that a step further and have government and institutions promote individual accomplishments through fostering such actions... as it is presently them two tend to create drags that take away rather than help to create.
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    Dec 20 2013: Absolutely. And if a person has no interest in economic gains, they are free to do that too. Our constitution is based upon our rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"... I like to word it as " life and the liberty to pursue happiness"... with the implication that your pursuit does not interfere with someone else's pursuit.
    So you want to pursue wealth... no problem... you just can't rob banks.
    Now come social systems... A group of people who by all accounts are out for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.... but somehow it goes wrong... the group starts making rules that are seemingly supposed to help individuals, and then making rules to clarify rules and then there are the rules to anticipate interference of one's pursuit of happiness with another's pursuits and finally rules that only the society can determine who can be happy and who can have life or liberty.
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      Dec 21 2013: Monsanto has the liberty to genetically modify vegetables and fruits that grow with no seeds, for example. They argue that they hold the patent to that vegetable or fruit. So one day Monsanto can hold the patent of an exclusive technology of producing babies and parents, the generations produced by Monsanto that cannot produce 'seeds' will line up for a copy of a Monsanto child.

      Liberty means pursuing strictly 'self-interests', the moment it crosses over to other selves it can lead to one and only one destination - hegemony.

      But then you cannot profit and be philanthropic co-concurrently.
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        Dec 21 2013: Usually, you have to profit before you can be philanthropic, at least that has been my understanding :-)
        Seriously, In the past, hegemony probably could exist and has been describe by some in BCE Greece... Athens. The Roman Empire..... Even the rule of British Empire over your country... Some have even said that the USA holds that position over the world today.... I think that is a stretch.... but...
        This is about liberty... I see liberty is the ability of an individual to freely explore his goals
        without limits. I know it's a little stilted.
        I am a strict individualist. The individual is superior to his society and the society should be subservient to the goals of the individual. However, the individual should be cognizant of other individuals in his society that are seeking their goals.
        • Dec 22 2013: You do not have to profit to be philantropic. You only need your basic needs met. Ask any voluntary worker.

          Extras are nice but not required - the problem arises from envy, when others profit and you do not.
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        Dec 22 2013: This is an excellent point. But there's also a lot of authoritarian control that helps further Monsanto's business. The core of Monsanto's business strategies is the body of law that they work to influence. There's a Venn Diagram here that shows Monsanto employees, their position at Monstanto and their position in the US government. - http://occupy-monsanto.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/individual_monsanto_federal_position-large.jpg

        That's not excersizing liberty, that's excersizing authority. Patenting anything, an organism or a mechanical process, is excersizing authority against the liberty of others. Exerting influence over law is exerting authority over authority. That's double authority, certainly not liberty.
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          Dec 25 2013: Fred, the patent system goes back to old english law as I understand.
          An as much as I bite down when I pay a large price of a item I buy that is still under patent, I look at the rational and I have to agree.
          If I was to invent the better mouse trap tomorrow, most likely I have spent time and money working out my invention... patents allow me to recoup some/all my expenses bring my product to market, so I have two issues, I get a number of years to get my investment back, but I have to temper this with market pricing. It's difficult or everyone would be doing it.
          I have heard that Monsanto has great influence in our government. I don't know how true that is, or why it has happened if it does... I do believe that lobbying is a form or bribery that I would like to see made illegal just in case....
        • Dec 25 2013: I think we could find better ways to help recoup the investments individuals make...
      • Dec 24 2013: If liberty MEANS "pursuing strictly self-interests", then altruism and selflessness are enemies of liberty.
    • Dec 24 2013: If liberty IS self-interest, then anyone who wishes to pursue something other than self-interest is an enemy of liberty. It's that simple. If liberty PERMITS self-interest, then there is nothing inimical between liberty and selflessness.
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        Dec 25 2013: No, it doesn't. What you have stated doesn't make any sense.
        Liberty means freedom in the classic sense. If your self interest means you want to emulate Mother Teresa or Mandela or Ghandi, I would describe that as most altruistic. And then you can be as selfish as you like, you just can not prevent anyone else from pursuing their interest.
        • Dec 26 2013: You have a hard time with if-then statements, I see. If liberty is self-interest and nothing else, then altruism is the opposite of liberty. It's really that simple. Redefining "altruism" and "self-interest" in such perverted and evil ways as you choose does not change their actual meanings.
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        Dec 26 2013: Bryan... give me a break, I am not redefining anything.... Check your dictionary.
        I never said liberty was... self interest, you said that.
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      Dec 25 2013: The patent system often brings to mind famous inventors and scientists like Bell and Edison. And looking at the marketplace and technology of the 19th century, pro-patent arguments make some sense. In the age of discovery, patents were the promise of high reward to scientists and the investors funding them. Certainly patents are what got investors interested to begin with. The patent system fostered innovation and established a marketplace for ideas and discoveries.

      But we don't have to fast forward too many decades to see what became of the Bell company. Patent advocates like to cling to that vision of bright young lads with a sparkle in their eye being given the opportunity to make a living off of discovery and innovation. While the opposition points to modern patent trolls and the business culture of acquisitions.

      Today patents are usually acquired through merges and lawsuits. Software patents tremendously stifle progress and innovation, allowing owners to covet techniques for decades in a fast new world that innovates daily. Copyright law lives an uneasy coexistence with freedom of speech. Patents simply enable large corporations to control the flow and use of ideas, and gives them incentive to continuously merge and sue each other.

      Whether beneficial or not, being able to own an idea, the replication and implementation of it, stands counter to liberty. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes reverse engineering (discovery) illegal and enables censorship. If DRM was ever successful, then the cultural creations of the world would only be viewable on licensed devices, and licensed programs that only run on licensed operating systems. If this was the only alternative to no innovation at all, I'd bite the bullet and make do with it, but the advent of open source has offered us an innovation system that's much more in line with liberty.

      Edit: I replied to the wrong reply initially. Re-replied here to make the conversation easier to follow.
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        Dec 26 2013: Fred, I kind of see what you are saying, but, I am not sure how to do it better. If we don't guarantee the ability to get back your investment in your inventions, acknowledging that times are a changing and things move faster.... How do you invent something more then once...

        Of course, copy-write law is different then patent law....
        Open source code writing is another whole other issue and I have no problem with that
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          Dec 26 2013: Very true, patents, copyrights and trademarks are all different conceptually and legally. And certainly there's some undoubted necessity to trademarks and copyright. Trademarks are how organizations identify themselves, and doing business under someone else's trademark amounts to impersonation in today's world. I sure wouldn't want to write an article and have someone else claim it as their own either.

          Even though I concede there and acknowledge those as legitimate, imagine for a moment that they weren't the case. That there were no trademarks or copyright... would it be chaos, or would we simply have grown up in a world that developed differently, and with different expectations? What if organizations couldn't identify themselves with trademarks, and it didn't matter who wrote what? Would there still be organizations and writing? If so, how might they be different?

          Open source is quite remarkable to me, but one thing's for sure: no one makes a living writing open source code. Balancing open source projects with billable work isn't easy. Your statement "I'm not sure how to do it better" sure hits the nail on the head, because I believe that's one grand predicament of our time. If anyone's to argue that patents do more bad than good, what's the alternative?

          The idea of placing innovations in the public domain erodes some of the most fundamental pillars of the way we do business. But are we in the position of making this great change, or is the world changing, and we're in the position of holding it back? If a book can be copied for every person in the world at no cost, what business model is there, other than preventing the book from being copied? If books no longer need to be printed, and records no longer need to be made, then is that production still a viable business model?

          I have some examples of innovations that I see solving some of these issues, but I'm running out of characters. I believe business could adapt and evolve quite remarkably...
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          Dec 26 2013: Mike, see my reply to Esteban below for one such innovation.
        • Dec 26 2013: Fred,

          You address and make some interesting questions that fall within the domain of what I term "abundance economics" rather than "restrictive economics". Scarce resources economics differs greatly from abundance resource economics. The predicament we seem to face involves moving from one to the other in light of the underlying fundamentals vanishing and our ignorances of what to do next.

          Presently a book(and software and wetware) can be copied for every person in the world at almost no cost. Notice that rather than adapt and create a new innovative ways of doing abundant enriching businesses most have basically resorted to create artificial restrictions and operate on the antiquated ways. Whats even more perturbing is that sneakiness continues to be favored over coverless openness... I can conceive of many business model there, other than preventing the book from being copied... Ideally we ought find better ways to do business that benefit and enrich everyone. As you sort of mention : Presently we are in the position of making this great change, as the world, us and everything changes. We're in the position of holding it back or pushing it forward. Hopefully we will choose to move on to betters ways of interacting and enriching each others in multiple of ways. Just imagine the abundant possibilities...

          The way we do business presently differ in some respects to the ways we did business in the past and still retains some ways we did business in the past. Evidently there are still some past ties that need to be changed and adapted to present circumstances. Question is will we choose to venture into this new territory with an open explorative cultivator mindset or venture into it with the exploitative mindset. Clearly hunting everything down will lead to a dead-end while cultivating stuff will lead to a sustainable enduring synergistic existence. To me the way to go is clear and it's just a matter of doing what ought to be done... each doing their part!
      • Dec 26 2013: Fred,

        As you sort of stated: Patents enable to control the flow and use of ideas... it sort of stems from the misappropriation that individuals resort to. If I provide a valuable idea that benefit others from it without them restituting back to me part of the value there exists a less than desirable interaction. Ideally we should have interactions where we mutually enrich each other in multiple ways and end up with more for each and everyone... Though it seems we are still a ways off from figuring out a way to do this... thought there have been some recent croud-funding movements that sort of move in the proper direction... there are other movements to give to the inventor/author/artist directly for what they produce... and technology is enabling simpler forms to 'restitute' value.... Still there is much work to still be done...
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          Dec 26 2013: There's one new business-community relationship that I really like - diydrones.com and store.3drobotics.com.

          Both were started by Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired. There's an article and video interview that go in detail about it here - http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/02/longtime-wired-editor-in-chief-chris-anderson-departing-to-be-full-time-ceo-at-robotics-startup/

          diydrones.com is an online community for open-source UAV designs. Members (anyone with the time, interest and/or skills) design all aspects of each drone - blueprints, CAD files, autopilot software, etc. - and it's all in the public domain. 3D-Robotics is then a manufacturing company that builds the parts, and sells them for 2.6x the cost of the supplies.

          So here, Anderson has succeeded in creating a business model around open-source. His company (3D-Robotics) doesn't own or patent any of the designs - it's all made by the community. His business model is simple and time-tested - manufacturing. He calls his "2.6x the cost" promise an "open business model".

          This is really a mutually-beneficial relationship. 3D-Robotics doesn't need to do R&D in-house, and they don't need to worry about patents, infringements, etc. It's simply not their business. The community is free to design and innovate, and purchase their creations for 2.6x the cost of the supplies. This brings the cost down to incredibly cheap. UAVs would otherwise be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and now virtually every product on the site is under $1000. Autopilot hardware is under $200.

          3D-Robotics has a really healthy relationship with the US's DARPA, which is a regular customer. It's just a fact that crowd-sourced R&D is far more efficient than designing something in-house, in an institution. Patents don't really serve the greater good, but instead attempt to serve creators, by making discovery and creation a viable business. But in this example, all sides have found compensation otherwise.
      • Dec 26 2013: Fred,

        From considering what you posted and to restitute back to the member contributions the business model ought incorporate something similar to 'pay royalties' (maybe we should call it 'valueties' to decouple it from the notion of a royal right granted by a sovereign to an individual or corporation involving a payment for each instance. Here we turn it the other way around, the individual or corporation chooses to share from the benefits they got from the artifact/schemata). Imagine that the 3.0X manufacturing notion involves 1x for manufacturing 1x for the designers 1x for the producer (of course the particular numbers used could be different and somewhat based on the resultant values generated. In a way, presently that is what sort of happens though each part seeks to maximize their part by reducing the others to zero rather than recognizing that each part ought to get a share of the value.

        I read of an artists/singer who makes their living thanks to appreciative fans voluntary contributions. The artists sought a record company help to publish their music and basically got a contract which tanked/failed; then the artists sought to self-publish their music and basically succeeded. I would much rather operate under individual chivalry code of conduct which seeks to protect others who can not protect themselves. That is operate under civil noble ways that enrich everyone without the need to resort to 'arbitrators'. In other words we can play a game and be both player and arbitrators. Or say the just judge, judging themselves according to the facts. I know that this may presently seem like a nice fantasy, though its presently quite doable IF individuals so choose it!

        Edited to point to look for my response above...
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          Dec 26 2013: Giving pay royalties to community participants would be great too, and innovative. If 3D-Robotics gave a portion of the profit to the open-source designers who contributed, it might enable them to devote more time to designing. It would make contributing profitable, and in return for 3D-Robotics, development would happen at a faster pace.

          As for musicians, independent artists are a growing trend. I've seen quite a few bands that are quite remarkable, book their own gigs, make decent money with them and offer their music for free on their website. The music files are just a great way of marketing, getting their name out and booking more gigs (services that were formerly provided by record companies).

          Of course the record companies aren't willing to die, but one would think they would explore other business models. The ability of digital content to be copied and spread for free really changes the game. But today we see them struggling to keep the game the same. I'd rather see them leave content licenses behind, and innovate new business models. What if they put their resources into engineering services around music - more innovative performances, festivals, etc.? Rather than struggle to keep us mired in 20th century culture, why not bring us into the next century?

          I see IMAX and dome theaters as being a good example, along with TV series like Lost, Prison Break, Dexter, etc. 2 hour movies evolved before VHS, when movie theaters were a new and innovative form of culture. Today theaters are empty though, and we still see companies struggling to keep 20th century style movies alive. Why not invest more resources into experiences that aren't easily reproduced, i.e. IMAX and dome theaters, or some new submersive experience? Instead of crunching a story into a 2 hour movie (a time limit for archaic reasons), why not move towards TV series, which are more in-line with the depth offered by novels?

          Copyright-based business models seem focused on restricting progress.
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    Dec 20 2013: The economy is just another mechanism to stratify (not satisfy!!!) society. At the top of the socio-economic hierarchy there is more freedom: access to better things and circumstances. In that respect the economy is certainly not converting private gain into public benefit. In modern economies it is usually the other way round. Those at the top of the hierarchy use or abuse their access to make personal gains. The old adage: the benefits are private whereas losses are socialised.
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    Jan 8 2014: Salem summed up my perspective on liberty and self-interest.

    From an economic standpoint, certainly one is self-interested when it comes down to socioeconomic mobility, and in theory, one's private gains do transform into a public benefit. However, I think that some private gains are better than others at benefiting the public as a whole. What I mean by this is that private gains from services and products provided to the public, or private gains that are reinvested to expand business and increase employment are much more beneficial in the long run.

    As for if all social systems are built upon the proper understanding of the individual, I honestly don't think that social systems are structured to accommodate for every individual. However, the beauty of social systems is that we can either collectively adopt a new social system (i.e. collectively demand change), or individually find a social system that suits our needs (i.e. relocate to another state or country).
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    Dec 23 2013: I'd say, liberty is the ability to choose whose benefit to seek and how to do it. Why limit the choice to self-interest?
    • Dec 24 2013: If you do not limit the choice to self-interest, the cult of Ayn Rand is not able to dictate what is and is not "liberty". If you permit selflessness to count as a valid exercise of liberty, the cult of Ayn Rand loses all its credibility.
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        Dec 24 2013: Dictating what is "liberty" sounds funny, doesn't it? It's like killing all unhappy people to make society happier.

        I'm OK with ethical egoism. But I suggest that ethical egoists mind their own business and refrain from imposing their philosophy on the rest of society. If proponents of ethical egoism try to improve society by spreading their philosophy, they lose credibility anyway because they stop being egiosts.

        Altruism has its problems too. Altruists argue that altruism benefits everyone including themselves. Which means that altruism is a form of egoism. There is no way out of this vicious circle.
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          Dec 24 2013: answering to this below: "She seems to be a libertarian. How come you disagree with fellow libertarians?"

          1. libertarians come in many flavors
          2. not everyone is a libertarian that calls him/herself one

          my flavor is vanilla: i follow the main route from the founders, through rothbard to the latest followers, block, murphy, hoppe and a whole lot of people at the mises institute. randian romanticism is not for me.
        • Dec 24 2013: There is a way out of the vicious circle which involves transforming it into a virtuous one.
        • Dec 25 2013: But the totalitarian mindset of the Rand cultists requires they dictate what "liberty" is. I've yet to meet a Randie who can actually follow a philosophical discussion without retreating into "just so" dogmatism. Back when I was 15, Randism was appealing. I am no longer a 15-year-old.
        • Dec 25 2013: Not all altruists are totalitarian altruists. Were you not aware of this?
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        Dec 24 2013: Altruism and egoism are two sides of a Moebius strip.
        • Dec 25 2013: No, your straw man parody of altruism is part of that strip. Complete altruism is charitable not only with physical resources but also with emotion and personal history. Thus, part of complete altruism is to give others the benefit of the doubt and not presume there is never a good reason to appear to be less than 100% charitable. After all, to judge others for not being charitable is, in and of itself, uncharitable.
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        Dec 24 2013: the cult of ayn rand does not have a credibility to lose
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          Dec 24 2013: She seems to be a libertarian. How come you disagree with fellow libertarians? :-)
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          Dec 26 2013: Actually Randians would take exception to that point. I don't have a problem with Rand but imo it does not have the depth of the Austrians. Rand wrote a few books, Austrians of Equal intellect have written/are writing 100s of books all using the scientific method.
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        Dec 24 2013: @ Esteban re: " There is a way out of the vicious circle which involves transforming it into a virtuous one."

        Virtuous cycle can be a form of vicious cycle. :-)
        • Dec 24 2013: Sure we may be stuck in a cycle and depending on what we choose to do may determine if it becomes a virtuous one or something else... my point was that we may be able to transform for the better the cycle we be stuck into if we do what ought to be done :-)...
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          Dec 24 2013: What is vicious and what is virtuous, is often a matter of perception.
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    Dec 20 2013: It does mean the ability to pursue your own self interest.

    However, the theory that people will indirectly serve the greater good while pursuing their own self interest is a logical fallacy. There is no direct link to the greater good without some sort of regulation to guide decision making in a general direction, going against the very essence of liberty.

    Social systems are generally built upon misconceptions and archaic tradition. Economics is a complete crap shoot. The theories involved sound good when taken out of context. When applied against the backdrop of other sociological factors, they fail to achieve the proposed results.
  • Jan 15 2014: What are we liberated from? If responsibility, then I think you have posed an eye opening question.

    Rich get richer and poor get poorer isn't working well looking forward, I would say. With the information age and global economy I think we will face real crisis unless we figure out how to make self interest correlate with universal interest.

    I think that the greatest people are the ones least concerned with themselves.
    • Jan 15 2014: Mark,

      Did you notice, how each cultivates and gets a bit more of what they have? This get more of this and that get more of that... the real crisis will come from those who are poor and want to be rich , without changing the poor ways of being; especially if they try to change what be 'right' into what be 'wrong', and maintain, what be 'wrong' as if it be right.

      I think that the greatest people are the ones most concerned with everyones wellbeing who do what they ought to do for everyones wellbeing.
      • Jan 15 2014: Interestingly enough...I've pondered your last statement for years. As a freshman at Brigham Young University, a required class is American Heritage. They go over principles of capitalism and the one thing I remember from that class is that 'self-interest is the driving force behind capitalism.' Basically, if everyone maximized their self-interests, prosperity would flourish. (I'm definitely paraphrasing for fellow BYU alumni who may be reading.) This idea of how self interest works makes sense to an extent however... I don't think it's the only or best option. Random example... If I sold cars at a cheaper price than my competitors, I imagine I would sell more cars, profits would lessen but overall potentially boost economic prosperity; the man who once couldn't get to work (make money) because he didn't have a car, is now able to go to work, make money and spend it on food, toys for his kids, homes, vacations etc... i.e. economic growth? While it could be defined as self-interest to sell cars cheaper than my competitors, my overall personal profit would be less or comparable (since I expect to be selling more cars than my competitors) which in the end... the only difference I see is that I helped more people get into vehicles which then allowed them to get to work or even that second job. (The only way for this example to be viable is if it's understood that my point was not to maximize profits but just to sell cars cheaper to those who might need a vehicle and couldn't afford it...yeah, I know...no one sells cars for that reason.)

        One thing is for sure... Freebies (I honestly think this only applies to the United States) i.e. social programs... Do not advance economic growth/prosperity because those who do nothing and get something directly take from those who work their butts off and have to support those who did/do nothing. European countries have lived that way for years and the cultural understanding is drastically different than that of the United States.
        • Jan 15 2014: Kendall,

          I claim to understand the notion " Basically, if everyone maximized their self-interests, prosperity would flourish". It's a bit like if everyone behaved as they ought to behave, everything would be better (and we wouldn't need laws and rules, nor police, nor judges nor ...). Presently we seem to need such things to help guide individuals to behave as they ought to behave.

          Without getting bugged-down into the example... by selling at a cheaper price than competitors, one may open the door to have more competitors without boosting economic prosperity! Someone may step in buy from you, sell at competitors prices and keep the difference. Besides putting more product on the market may create all sort of issue (some good some bad and some that just changes what happens without necessarily changing it). For example a while ago I read or heard something about how humans have basically remained within a fix 'distance' of their livelihood; even though 'distances' have extended they have remained fixed within a travel time frame!

          Your last paragraph seems to use nice terminology that deals with how 'raiders', 'looters' and 'beggars' do not advance economic growth/prosperity because redistributing the wealth isn't creating wealth - it's just redistributing it! It may even disincentive the wealth production!

          The key to create wealth involves actually helping the less-fortunate become more-fortunate by each doing what ought to be done. The thing is that someone can work their butts off and have no support (may even induce active opposition) because of what individuals think and value. Sometimes it can be 'complicated' to establish who gets what. What is worth more the idea or the implementation? Without one the other can't exist! Those who 'do nothing other than get' something directly take from those who work their butts off could be seen in many ways. Enablers, agents arbitrators who act as catalyzers to appreciate the work, or who act as gatekeepers.
      • Jan 15 2014: I think this conversation is wavering on some foundational points that have not been established. My statement that I think that the greatest people are the ones least concerned with themselves does not include those who are not concerned with anything. That can be considered to be as positive as scuicide and for anyone to support this socioeconomic suicide is a testament to the fact that they have no idea what else to do. I think we all agree on that...

        I would also like to establish that economics is not a system of money or wealth, but one of value. Supply and demand is a principle that proves this fact. Things have value because we assign it value that we, and others, decide the value should be. Fluxuating values of currency, gold, oil, etc... This is why I believe that stockpiling gold is rediculous unless there is a use for gold that nothing else can do. Stockpiling anything, for that matter.

        Tools have value, like the cars used to get to work, etc... Because these tools multiply our ability to do a task. Housing has value, but why do we place all the projects in one place? Are there that many jobs in that area available? No! People are trying to get the poor out of sight! That is not a good recipe. That is where my point of not being concerned for ones self would take effect. We would consider that America should spread the OPPORTUNITY. That is where my point of having the Information Age and a global economy take effect. The rich have every opportunity to dominate their domesticated area, and even also the entire world, because they now have the tools to do that. This was not the case 50 years ago! The poor, however, are struggling to make rent with 2 minimum wage jobs that keep them from even having time with the families they are trying to support. It is the lack of opportunity that hurts someone who is willing but has no means. It is a trap many people are unaware of, but nobody is educating them about life in the school system either. We should.
        • Jan 15 2014: Mark,

          Indeed, we are making the conversation waver over some foundational points without having clearly establish the foundational points. I realize and am aware that at times I will 'push' a statement a bit out of the intended context seeking to share a consideration and hopefully enrich the conversation. I hope you perceive my good intentions and welcome my comments.

          In relation to the statement of the greatest people and the alternate statement, I basically took what you stated and reframed it in such a way as to include concern for others and self (everyone)... THEN I thought that I should also include something more than just being concerned which is why I added the last part of doing something. If we are literalist, formalist, the statement you made actually included everyone except the individual self. In principle I realize we all agree on what be right being right and what be wrong being wrong exempt the individuals who are wrong and choose to disagree because they see wrong as right and right as wrong and choose to disagree. (which is their way of agreeing because in their ways disagreement is agreement and agreement is disagreement). Point being that agreement is agreeable to those who seek agreement and agreement is disagreeable to those who seek disagreement. Agreement gives everyone what they seek!

          I will have to ponder regarding the notion that ' Things have value because we assign it value that we, and others, decide the value should be". I see it to related to the notion that reality be real because we say so and I hold that the veracity of a statement (the value) stems from the relationship of what is claimed and what happens to be. I will wonder a bit more on that and comment latter.

          I think that many of the poor are struggling because those with assets maintain an exploitative situation based on scarcity rather than shift and develop an economic model based on the abundance of resources. Of course there are other factors too...
      • Jan 15 2014: Poor ways of being are not all self imposed.

        I should say too though that the Information Age is helping level the playing field.

        Welcome to TED :)
        • Jan 15 2014: I agree, would like to have your (and others) input into what each one can do to 'impose' rich ways of being into those imposing poor ways of being. Let me give you a particular example that may help to focus this:

          In an interaction I am having with someone I want to show them a particular rich sight that conflicts with their present poor world view. To do that both require to walk over to a particular viewpoint take a look from a ledge in a particular way to realize something... alternative each requires to do an experiment following a particular set of instructions to observe a particular result. The thing is that they hold the view that it's impossible to do the experiment and/or take a look from the ledge in a particular way. Note that this is part of their present poor world view that conflicts with the particular rich sight I would like the to see and given the rules of individual liberties there isn't a thing I can do to force them to see or do the experiment. To complicate matters a bit more they don't see how they hold the poor view and insist that the rich view isn't possible. They do claim they want to change without actually doing it!

          So what say ye? what each one can do to 'impose' rich ways of being into those imposing poor ways of being without forcing them nor allowing them to force their way out?
      • Jan 15 2014: By rich ways do you mean an optimistic attitude? I'm not sure I'm following you correctly. I understand the ledge analogy, but what are we looking at from that ledge? Do they value what you are leading them to? What is the experiment, and do they have the resources to do it well? Like the guy with a family who is working so much that he is starved for time with his family he may be feeling like that that is all he wants and until that need is met then he may not see anything else clearly. Like a person who is starving hungry, sometimes that need has to be met before talking about innovation or finding solutions to other problems. Thats just kind of the way that people function, I think. It is a self preservation instinct, but as a father, for example, that instinct is not just for ones own self but for the whole family. Entrepreneurship is always coupled with some form of risk. That may not be something for a father in that position just because he doesnt want to put his family through it if it means pain for them. so and even without a family the principle is the same. I'll stop since I may be out in left field talking to myself haha.
        • Jan 16 2014: Mark,

          By rich ways I meant more plentiful abundant understanding, though in the particular example and experiment I simply meant them seeing the particular sight with a particular way. I wanted them to see and consider an idea I had seen from the ledge to then tell me what they thought of such notion. Without them getting to the ledge, getting the idea it's rather difficult for them to comment on the actual idea. The experiment involved doing an ideological consideration regarding what meaning to use.

          It's amazing how some individuals will begin to object to a notion/expression without even getting the notion/expression. They think they get it, without ensuring that they actually get it, sometimes they never even realize that their objections are to what they perceive rather than to the actual thing. Succinctly put first lets understanding a statement, then comment on it. You said it well with "clearly establish the foundational points".

          I hold everyone has the resources to do the experiment, it's just that they don't want to because they already know the results and refuse to accept the implications. For example if the experiment involves the claim "lets consider that truth of the matter exists" some will object on the grounds that such consideration will rob them their freedom to agree or disagree and insist that the truth doesn't really exists that it depends on what individuals claim to be... Of course sometimes a consideration may tumble a life's work and even have deeper implications. What do you mean that the earth isn't the center of the universe and everything doesn't revolves around us? What do you mean that the truth of the matter isn't as the expert authorities on the matter claimed? Remember that in academia/beliefs an error in ones statements can tumble the house of cards. In principle whomever makes the right claim takes the authoritative powerful position in practice determining who is right can be complex and oftentimes is done by position.
      • Jan 16 2014: I do believe there is underlying truth in everything and I also believe that getting to an agreement with others is always worth the effort. The truth will set you free! :)
        • Jan 16 2014: Mark,

          Choosing to be bound by truth enables one to understand the possibilities of what one ought to do. In actuality one remains bound to truth, it is just that the truth enables one to actually understand what be and realize what to do about it. I did a cartoon involving the most secure prison which involved the idea that prisoners remained bound because they thought they where free and if they crossed over to the other side they will become bound. It was a bit humorous because each side said the exact same word to the others "Freedom is on this side, you'r side be in prison. The gateway or doorway had a two signs, one read "Prison's door" and it was on the side of the prison, the other read "Freedom's door" and it was on the side of Freedom... 'Prisoners' would not dare go into the prison's door which lead to freedom because they thought the door was to the prison for so read the sign. Those prisoners who had gone through the door and reached the other side read the sight there ("Freedom's door" ) and quickly returned into the doorway thinking it lead to freedom ... The wise and 'free' knew how to interpret the signs correctly!

          One can be bound to truth which enables one to do quite a bit OR one can be bound to a deception and think one be free to do as one pleases. The freedom one has involves opting to recognize the truth of the matter or rejecting it. The notion that "one can determine the truth of the matter" requires that one know precisely how to interpret the statement and followthrough with the appropriate actions. In other words one can choose to get it right or wrong without this meaning one gets to control what be right and what be wrong. Picking what is right leads to getting it right and picking what is wrong leads to something else.

          I find worth the effort to converse with others and if an agreements is reached its even better.
      • Jan 16 2014: yeah bro! thats good stuff! can I see your cartoon? I'm in the arts myself and love to see what people are doing! Especially when it is done to make a difference and spread the truth!
        • Jan 17 2014: I would have to search for it somewhere, translate it into English and somehow get it to you... and though the idea I consider was great my drawing sketches I consider still have much to be developed... it was effective for what I needed at the time... If still interested let me know (and will find it or recreate it...
  • Jan 8 2014: hi again, just another thought

    One's self interest is often accomplished not by freedom of choice, but by freedom from choice in a good environment. Ironically I learned this form TED.

    I mean children would not do what is best for them if given the choice, and if you think about it same for adults. Yes, we do want the best for ourselves, but do we really act on what we want? If we are given no choice but to do what is best for us, we would not default back. That is where the liberty in economics comes in hand; by lifting your self you lift everybody around you in a free market economy. Now, do we actually left ourselves? Some do, and some do not because we are free or choose and that is what makes free economy great. -liberty
    • Jan 8 2014: What does it take to choose to act on what be best accordingly to what be best?

      In other words how does one incorporate habits and practices that are best for individual ?
      • Jan 8 2014: hi Esteban

        The answer of what is good bad or great is not black and white, it is so diverse I would not even consider it as gray. It is like the specter of all colors. Many say that there is not any answer for your question, but i strongly disagree; I believe it is the exact opposite, there are infinite amount of answers for your question.

        What is right one's self interest regarding the habits differ for one person and another, it differs form one person to any other, should say. Everything is put in a perspective and every person's perspective is different leading to everyone having different answers to what is right or wrong, good or bad, great or worst.

        The bottom line is you have the freedom to do or not to do what you think is good to you, regardless of your answer there is always someone who will disagree.
        • Jan 8 2014: Salem,

          I been on a quest seeking the resolution and to better understand what it takes, often getting into all sort of interchanges. Curiously often times there seems to be a rather peculiar shift that moves from 'what be best' frame into 'what individuals think/claim/believe to be best' frame.

          As you sort of say -"Everything is put in a perspective and every person's perspective is different leading to everyone having different answers to what is ...- Thing is that when I 'push'/'pull' to move out of some perspective and into 'what be' there seems to be strong opposing reticences that seek to maintain the subjective notion that holds there being absolutely no absolutes (which rejects the fact of there being absolutely some absolutes).

          Its a bit like me proposing we look at what the text claims and individuals insisting we disregard 'that' and instead look at what we each think /imagine/ desire / perceive/ claim it does. How are we to know if what we think to be corresponds with what happens to be when we reject to consider what happens to be? Said in a slightly different form ... To get it right, one has to choose what happens to be right... then one can decide if one agrees or disagrees with it. There exists a subtle difference between the freedom to do it right or not to do it right which involves selecting what happens to be right that differs from being able to establishing something else as what happens to be right. That is to understand what you mean, I must decode the words according to the meaning you use.

          I like to say: if I where you, I would do ... what you do!

          Generally most use that statement in a different form without noticing the logical fallacy they commit. Its a bit like when someone claims "I don think that... " and proceeds to point out what they though off.
          If one wrote it, one had to think of it!

          I am still seeking for the better resolutions and ways. I am convinced there are there to be discovered/created.
  • Jan 8 2014: hello

    Liberty is defined in many ways. It is not however not defined by the pursuit of self interest or happiness, but rather of the option in pursuing of one's self interest.
    For example, my interest is chocolate, i love chocolate. Liberty is not having chocolate, but the option of having chocolate if i wanted to. i love chocolate but i do/don't want any now; that is liberty.

    I am new on TED and this is my first comment I am not sure if i answered the question in a right manner. i saw some of the comment and some seemed irrelevant to the subject.

    Looking forwards for any replies.
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      Jan 8 2014: Salem, you perfectly summed up what I was going to ramble about. I love your analogy, as it does a great job of explaining liberty within the context of our social framework.
  • Jan 7 2014: "Each person is a cog in this machine."

    If it is the case, and i think, it is, then 'Liberty' means liberation from the need to belong to this machine.
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      Jan 7 2014: Very succinctly put!
      And the irony is that without the cogs there is no machine.
      Liberty and the pursuit of whatever one likes is an attractive proposition so long as your tummy is full, your blood warm, and you are free from pain and fear.
      When Hard Times hit, 'Libertarian' values quickly lose their sparkle.
      • Jan 7 2014: What if this machine is oiled by fear ?
        We think we need it for security , but do we feel secure ?
        ' Machine ' generates Hard Times we fear and seek protection in the machine that generates them.
        A kind of vicious circle :)
        • Jan 7 2014: What if our fear of the machine is part of the machines mechanisms to feed it fear?
          What if the need for security is part of the machines mechanisms to feed it fear?
          ' Machine ' generates enemies we fear to feed upon the fear that generates and to have us seek protection in the machine that generates them.
          Kind of like racketeering extortion scheme set up by the thugs where businesses pay the thugs to be protected from the thugs ...
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          Jan 7 2014: Hmmm. Interesting thoughts. Very interesting.
      • Jan 7 2014: Sumesh, in the comment below you said '...pleasurable wants that our minds sometimes misinterpret as needs."
        Probably it's what we should deal with: our minds. The machine we belong to is the function of who we are at present state of our mind.
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          Jan 7 2014: Agreed 100%
          True liberty is a state of mind, not a state of being. It's probably why we will never have true liberty, we are nowhere ready as a species I think.
      • Jan 8 2014: So, it's the state of our mind that slaves us and sells us to the machine it created to guard the status quo till the last syllable of the recorded time.
        Is it what you are saying ?
        I would be more optimistic :)
        Have you noticed that as a species we've become antagonistic to the planet we inhabit ? This situation can't be tolerated any longer. Crisis is the opportunity, we have to evolve as a species.
        If we don't , why should we survive ?
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          Jan 9 2014: :)
          T(ouch)é. I can't argue with that. Even though your question is rhetorical, It begs an answer because at the back of my mind is the nagging suspicion we would somehow rather choose extinction than evolution.
          All in all you make a convincing argument.
        • Jan 9 2014: Natasha,

          Note that depending on which state our mind holds and cultivates there emerge different influences over what happens within us and within the machine, the state of our mind can help direct the workings of the machine! Yea I have noticed that as a species we've become antagonistic to the planet we inhabit... and to our fellow creatures ... some have even become antagonistic to themselves and others rather than finding an enriching way to synergistically collaborate. I have also noticed that some individuals within the species do care about the planet we inhabit... and for other fellow creatures ... some have even begun to do what needs and ought to be done in themselves and with others seeking an enriching way to synergistically collaborate.

          Some will choose evolution of extinction while some will choose a better road... and hopefully the latter will thrive ... extinguishing the extinction notion once and for all through a better road... Life sustains life to those who seek to live. life is also the death of death and the life of death. we could have life without death (only life with enduring beginnings) BUT we could not have death without life (the death of death leaves life live once and for all... the singularity that endures forevermore (where death exists as a bygone possibility that will remain forevermore as just a possibility).
      • Jan 9 2014: Esteban, there is no reply option on your post, hope you'll find my response here.
        You say,
        "Some will choose evolution of extinction while some will choose a better road... "
        As a species we share one destiny, don't we ?

        " ... some have even become antagonistic to themselves .."

        Those ' some' are, actually, 'us' , iow. we become antagonistic to ourselves. If you think, that personally you don't, think again. Do you use electricity ? Do you drive a car ? Do you eat food , which is delivered to your place via air from far away? Do you address to a doctor...a lower...etc..if necessary ? No need to continue, probably you understand what i am trying to say , we are one complex system and as all complex systems it is governed simultaneously. The system we've created is us and it's antagonistic to us.
        Don't take me wrong, i don't want to say, that there is no use of doing the best you can with what you have, it does matter. But i think, we would be in a better position to understand what actually is going on , if we didn't entertain the idea that there are 'others '

        Who are those bad guys who are ruining the planet ? :)

        Sumesh, sorry for hijacking your reply button :)
        • Jan 9 2014: Natasha,

          Indeed at some point there are no more replay options so we have to do as you did or respond at the top and ideally provide the context to what we are responding...

          I was going to say that as a species we do share one destiny ... until... I realize that meant and was only applicable if such a destiny involves everyone dying... rather than some carrying on the torch.

          When I stated "" ... some have even become antagonistic to themselves .." I did had in mind that 'some' included 'us personally'. i think, we would be in a better position to understand what actually is going on , if we entertain the idea that actually corresponded to what actually is going on... entertaining the idea that there are 'others ', the idea that there aren't 'others' becomes secondary and subservient to what is done with them ideas. From a perspective where it's just 'us' (no others) what we/you/'other'/me do corresponds to a personal/shared decision by each and all to do what we do. 'new agers' tend to have the notion that we are all one until this one tells to do as one tells; then 'they' display a spectacular reticence to do as one tells; the transformation 'they' suddenly display to the one telling a story which isn't part of 'their' system becomes quite evident. What's rather amusing to me is how they get into all sort of contradictions with themselves and others rather than just do what ought to be done. For example consider the relativists and the absolutist it turns out that when the relativists rejects the absolute way they deny being a relativist and when they accept the absolute way they deny being a relativist. Curiously the absolutist can ALWAYS choose that the absolute truth be the relative truth and legitimately become both an absolutist and a relativists simultaneously. That feat is only possible for the relativist under one particular case where they just happened to choose the right answer. I prefer the option that actually provides more freedoms.
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    Jan 7 2014: 'Liberty' is the state of being where one has the ability to independantly conclude whether or not the meaning of liberty is the pursuit of one's self interest.
    The decision as to whether the meaning either literally or in spirit is aligned with the generally accepted norms within society is sadly mostly tested when 'damage' to another individuals right to liberty has already been infringed. This is why true liberty is currently impossible for our species. We seem to have settled into a tempered form of prescribed liberty that 'polices' self interest. This is a good thing. We are currently still very potentially 'animalistic' if left COMPLETELY at liberty to pursue the biologically driven interests in meeting the pleasurable wants that our minds sometimes misinterpret as needs.
  • Dec 23 2013: There is no liberty in this matrix
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    Dec 22 2013: "Liberty" means freedom of choice. So the answer is yes. It IS self interest, and it IS social interest. It is the ability to make choices based on those value systems.
    • Dec 24 2013: No, it is not self interest in the normal way "X is Y" is used in English. It includes the freedom to exercise self interest, but it is not identical to self interest.
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        Dec 28 2013: If my choice is to pursue self interest, I can. If my choice is to pursue social interest, I can. Liberty is the ability to choose how to act based on my value system. Not yours.
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    Dec 22 2013: I think it does mean the freedom to pursue one's own interests, but if those interests intrude on the liberty of another individual, then it's authority. Authority implies lack-of liberty for the subjugated. Thus a society that values liberty can only maintain liberty if it resists excersizing authority, to whatever extent seems reasonable.

    So for example, we can say that a dictator has maximum liberty, but the society he dictates doesn't. Thus liberty shouldn't be seen as merely an end goal for individuals, but for society. If we all want liberty, we need to respect the liberty of others.

    Authority seems to be a natural occurrence, i.e. even if there's no authoritative structure in place, individuals will be free to attempt authority, which can only naturally be met with authority. For example, if we live in an anarchic society, but you attempt to do me wrong with force, then for me force may be the only viable response. So I don't believe that to have liberty, we need to completely abandon authority. But I don't believe authority needs to be in the form of a central authority. I believe a "code of conduct" for society could exist without a central government enforcing a body of laws. Even an anarchic society may have a code of conduct that's enforced only by individuals, which would clearly rely on the majority of individuals respecting the code.

    All this being said, I don't believe liberty should only be seen as an "all or nothing" goal for society. We don't need anarchy to have liberty. We can take any society, from anywhere on the scale of authoritarian to libertarian, and begin hand-picking aspects where we would like to substitute liberty for authority. Even for a country like North Korea, eradicating a single rule in the name of liberty, "3 generations of punishment" for example, would greatly improve the quality of life there.

    So I don't see a radical revolution as being necessary or viable for liberty anywhere. Liberty can be established bit by bit.
  • Gord G 50+

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    Dec 22 2013: Liberty is a straw man of democracy.

    Individual rights must be subjugated in a democratic society in favour of the majority(at least in theory). Which means self interest is tempered by social consciousness.

    Pursuit of liberty in a self interested manner requires an individual to first consider their wants in relation to the majority (or at least the systems created by the majority). Only then can they formulate the best approach to achieve their goal. So I don't believe there's a direct correlation between liberty and self interest.

    But that said...I think the artifice of liberty is perpetuated by self interest. ;-)
    • Dec 24 2013: Spoken like a true fascist.
      • Dec 25 2013: Spoken like a callus self centred antagonist. No wonder democracy needs social programs. Have a nice day.
        • Dec 26 2013: Only a self-centered fascist could consider liberty to be a "straw man".
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    Dec 21 2013: Should the pursuit of one's self-interest be guided by wisdom?
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      Dec 21 2013: Absolutely, as should all pursuits.
    • Dec 24 2013: According to the Ayn Rand cultists, any guidance or limit on self-interest beyond self-interest is innately immoral.
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    Dec 20 2013: no it does not. the very essence of liberty is that you can pursue whatever goals you want. if your goal is to help others, it is well within the scope of liberty. you don't become antiliberal doing that.

    the correct definition of liberty is self ownership. you own your life. you can do whatever you want with it, including bad and good, smart and silly, selfish and altruistic. it is up to you.
    • Dec 22 2013: But you cannot pursue any goals you want, there are always material limit.

      Almost no matter what we do, we cannot currently send, say, one million people to Mars. Or can we?

      Self-ownership also means taking the blame and correcting mistakes.
      If your goal is preventing others from excercising their liberty, even indirectly... that's where the problems begin.
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        Dec 22 2013: there is no limit in pursuing a goal. your tools are limited, but goals are not.

        self ownership does NOT mean correcting mistakes. i can make mistakes, and stick with them. i can be an alcoholist, and freeze to death under the bridge.
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    • Jan 19 2014: Brendan,

      Thanks for the article. I found some interesting intellectual tidbits in it and would like to say that the issues resulted from what individuals choose to do with the stuff than from the stuff itself. There are a couple of ideas I would like to highlight:
      - Of course they adopted it because agriculture is an efficient way to get more food for less work.
      - One answer boils down to the adage "Might makes right."
      - O It's not that hunter-gatherers abandoned their life style, but that those sensible enough not to abandon it were forced out of all areas except the ones farmers didn't want.
      - there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others.
      - Only in a farming population could a healthy, non-producing elite set itself above the disease-ridden masses.
      - took up farming not by choice but from necessity in order to feed their constantly growing numbers.
      - they traded quality for quantity,

      There is the whole issue of the problems resulting from the concentrations of individuals in a given area allowed by higher yields and higher dependencies on certain particular resources. Maybe the issues stem from the notion of getting more food for less work --- taken to the point of getting others to do all the work including the one to fork the feed that will be taken away to feed social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others.

      Would like to reiterate that from where I stand the issues results from what individuals choose to do with the stuff than from the stuff itself.
  • Jan 19 2014: As this conversation allotted time draws near ( only a couple of hours left) I wonder about the topic, our interactions around it and a couple of other 'things'. I had expressed the wish that 'WE' could had create a shared conclusion; at this moment it seems quite evident what each choose to do within the timeframe of the conversation.

    Ideally these conversation would involve a coming together, with each side positing 'their contribution', engaging in an enriching interchange and culminating with a shared deeper understanding of the notions, their validity and even a couple of extra things. From where I stand this conversation followed a different route and basically just wiggled around the mountain. I had hoped we could had reached the view from the mountain top and enjoyed that sight together.

    Visionaries make statements on the assumption that it will prove to be true in dew time, where as charlatans make statements on the assumption that what isn't will pass as if it was true. The crucial difference invokes how the acceptance of the facts impacts the statements. Only the visionary can rightfully continue to make the statements!

    Technically an individual bound to the pursuit of one's self interests:
    - could be a slave of their self interests
    - could be a master of their self interests
    - could be doing it for all sort of reasons

    It should also be evident by now that seeking one's own gain, one may make gains for everybody or may just involve a transfer of gains from others to self (which can include extras that lead to devalued stuff). Hopefully each will realize that the way to increase wealth involves inducing wealth generation within self and within others (that is 'without self' - external to self) in line with what actually generates wealth. Social systems built on the proper understanding of the human person can result is all sort of things. Individuals ought to be conscious of what it is they do, support and help feed (and do what's right).
  • Jan 19 2014: I send an idea to be reviewed about special toll roads with electric coils by side, But no Information so far

    Can I know why no comment about the Idea I submitted, Either it is not workable etc, or why it cannot be posted, It was told 24 hours I could get a reply But so far 3 day nothing happens
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    • Jan 19 2014: Brenda,

      You seem to point at 'individual' accountability as a key success factor... where the systems both allow and makes sure 'the individual' remains fit to finds 'compatible jobs' rather than whatever happens to come along first... that coupled with mobility and a couple of other factors bread in a bunch of enriching opportunities for each and everyone. In other places it's a bit like pay and don't dare ask question because we will make you pay more for it... whatever we say and whatever we consider fair determines what's fair and what's acceptable tribute for what we give/demand of you.
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        • Jan 19 2014: Brendan,

          For a while I held the story of human 'evolving' from 'hunters' into 'cultivators' with some laggers who couldn't leave behind the exploitative ways of hunting and embrace the caring ways of cultivators. The hunter vs cultivator metaphor integrated many ideas from fighting for scarce resources to collaborating to maximize crop yields.

          To me this story was sort of a spring board into the economy of scarce resources with bylaws to prevent fights among hunters loot while fostering collaboration to gain strength in numbers. On the other hand was an economy of cultivated sustainable abundant resources where the same land was made to yield much more produces. The latter seems to be an economic model which still has much to be developed as former bylaws spilled over into the new domain.

          There came a time when I realized that the story ought to have a third archetype kind of human : the trader. (Just now I am wondering about the possible implications for having this kind and if it will lead to an additional economic model) From what you said Denmark's happiness ranking seems to stem from their caring collaboration to look after each wellbeing to ensure survival- likely influenced by their geographical northern location. Japan in ways is like Denmark though in a different parallel and their societies seem to be quite different!

          ( Of course we would also have to consider who made the article... and why? Kind of like considering who made the map and why because different maps/stories result in different appreciations). There likely is much more to the stories that each hold than we have considered . The point I been seeking to push is how to integrate them in an enriching way. That is the individual, the collective symbiotically collaborate resulting in a product of a whole richer than the sum of it's parts. Rather than a mechanism for transforming private gain into public benefit we ought to look to expand what each gains by helping the other.
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    Jan 17 2014: Never.
  • Jan 16 2014: So long as it does not infringe upon another individual's liberty.
  • Jan 15 2014: Consider that underlying my comments in this conversation there is the idea : "By seeking one's own gain, they make gains for everybody".

    For those wondering why I have responded to many comments here, I sort of have sought to provide an expansive alternatives that may seem to challenge the points made when it basically seeks to expand what be considered to ensure a broader 'better' possibility. This process helps me better understand the issues while hopefully also being useful to others. In a way whenever I see a particular storyline that I come to see promotes a certain way I tend to put forth an alternative which seek to promote an alternative storyline...

    For example when I perceive someone resort to an absolute to claim there are no absolutes I chuckle at the cognitive dissonance of the claims and actions. Personally I prefer to hold that there are absolutes. Note the cognitive congruence and harmony between the absolute claim there are absolutes and the notion of that being one of the absolutes that there be. This position also helps to figure out what be happening. I can also take the relativistic perspective. In fact I can even take a perspective where the absolute and the relativistic become one while remaining singularly distinctive. In this singular perspective one be both a relativist and an absolutists harmoniously and there distinction sort of blurs. Its akin to seeking one's own gain, by making others gain and helping everybody be enriched! It's a win-win situation! I gain while you gain and everyone gains.

    This conversation is coming to a close in a couple of day and I wonder if we could create a shared conclusion in these timeframe.
  • Jan 15 2014: Any liberty is not absolute..still bounded by existing laws and rules...the pursuit of one's self interest is still in question...no matter how good the intention is...the result is still important...
    • Jan 15 2014: gas grill

      As you sort of stated, the intention of getting to the finish line and getting there are two important part of the event. Lots of things be still important: the intention, the actions, the preparations, implementation, timing, results, the company, who one helps along the way etc..

      I have noticed that liberty is absolute, individuals choose if to remain bounded by existing laws and rules and follow them; If they choose to step outside of them laws and rules and 'enjoy' the repercussion; if they choose to (cede/change/enforce/maintain) them rules and laws.

      There is much that could be said in relation to the pursuit of one's self interest focus on self or others and these ways being an intention or an actuality ... the key question involves how to converse and carry these ideas in reality? for what we seem to still require much insights and lessons into conversations that some do not like to have and actively avoid having to safeguard their ways...
  • Jan 14 2014: It does mean the ability to pursue your own self interest.

    However, the theory that people will indirectly serve the greater good while pursuing their own self interest is a logical fallacy. There is no direct link to the greater good without some sort of regulation to guide decision making in a general direction, going against the very essence of liberty.
    • Jan 14 2014: Celling fans

      the logical fallacy you mention vanishes when the regulation to guide decision making in a general direction resides within the self, because the self realizes that it is in their best interest to take care of everyone wellbeing. In other words one may cultivate plants/animals/environments to cultivate the oxygen/food/spaces they want to experience.

      I can even see how the regulation to guide decision making in a general direction could be external to the individual without this infringing on the individual's liberty. Someone can choose between the right way and the wrong way and thinking they got it right or wrong with or without actually getting to know the truth of the matter though they may think they do know it... or that it just doesn't exist when it does exist and guides what happens wether some recognize it or not...
  • Jan 13 2014: if we were a population of one then yes, however we live in a society of many, and so where the pursuit of a person's own self-interest impedes the liberty of another, it must be restricted.
    • Jan 13 2014: Indeed, where the pursuit of a person's own self-interest (clean healthy air in public place) impedes the liberty of another (to smoke in such places) , it (smoking) must be restricted.