Game of Pickaxes


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Talk at Lean LA, July 2012

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Game of Pickaxes

  1. 1. Game of PickaxesThe past, present and future ofcreative destruction in America
  2. 2. First book, 2011 Second book, planned: 2014
  3. 3. What is this game you speak of? “This is a game changer” “Level playing field” “See three moves ahead” “Let’s fix the game by…”
  4. 4. Games of Asymmetry• 2-20• Moral hazard• Principal-agent situation• Pickaxe markets• Bringing a knife to a gun fight• Limited liability• Patent regimes• “Heads I win, tails you lose” structures
  5. 5. Human range of variation gives you natural evolution rateFrequency Height, weight, etc… “Olympics” variables Frequency Humans+TOOLS range of variation gives you technological creative destruction Wealth, weaponry, information
  6. 6. Frequency Wealth, weaponry, information Species sizes, other attributes Looks more like an ECOSYSTEM than a SINGLE SPECIES
  7. 7. Why don’t we just kill the damn fat-tailfreaks before they get too big? Why don’t the fat-tail freaks kill the rest of us?
  8. 8. How to model this evolution?• Mokyr: Cumulative path dependence• McLuhan: “extended human”• Stephenson: different species (Morlocks, Eloi)• Marx: Good vs. Evil (also, other religions)• Dawkins: extended phenotype with memetics• Various social scientists: organizations (Fukuyama, Nozick, Rawls, Foster…)• Diamond, Kurzweil: Collpase/Singularity models• Rao: all of the above
  9. 9. Technological SpeciesRecursively homeostatic bags ofdifferent sorts of tool-extendedhumans defined by internalrealtechnik détente
  10. 10. Ecosystem typesInteracting species in a giventechnological ecosystem tend tohave a shared “flavor” based onthe characteristic “tooling”
  11. 11. Segmentary Barbarian ecosystems Civilized ecosystems Rentier Complex ecosystemsStratified anddecoupled
  12. 12. Ecosystem type determinesthe kinds of games played
  13. 13. Veblen - Marx ModelBarbarian Class Leisure ClassFair “Unfair” FairUnstable Dynamically quasi-stable UnstableFrontier Games Civilization Games Rentier Games(tragedy) (tragicomic) (farce)
  14. 14. (assuming an endless frontier) ?
  15. 15. BARBARIAN TOOLS“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he willeat for a lifetime.” CIVILIZATION TOOLS“Give a man a pickaxe and he will eat for a lifetime. Give a man a pickaxe shopand his descendants will eat for free forever.” RENTIER TOOLS “Should I use a fork or spoon for the caviar?”
  16. 16. NEW TOOLS New frontier opens EMBODY Abel kills CainNEW INTELLIGENCE AGING TOOLS frontier closes DESTROY Cain kills Abel INTELLIGENCE
  17. 17. Human lifespan 80 yearsComplexity of Civilizational“Tool Base” About 250 years Last time Time
  18. 18. Pure “Frontier” and “Rentier” periods are extremely short-lived. Most people spend most of their lives playing civilization games.
  19. 19. TOOLS Make and Break CIVILIZATION**EXACTLY equivalent to “Medium is the Message”
  20. 20. All TOOLS are POLITICAL……Some are just more civilized than others
  21. 21. Barbarian or Civilized?• Medieval armor vs. Roman armor ?• English longbow vs. crossbow• Pattern lathe vs. regular lathe• WordPress vs. printing press• Village clock towers versus pocket watches• Amazon Kindle vs. paper books• Self-checkout vs. human cashier at grocery store• Commodity money vs. fiat money• Lean startups vs. bootstrapping
  24. 24. This is SOCIAL ORDER It defines “NORMAL”
  25. 25. In America nearly every man has his dream, his pet scheme, whereby he is toadvance himself socially or pecuniarily. It is this all-pervading speculativenesswhich we tried to illustrate in “The Gilded Age”. It is a characteristic which is bothbad and good, for both the individual and the nation. Good, because it allowsneither to stand still, but drives both for ever on, towards some point or otherwhich is a-head, not behind nor at one side. Bad, because the chosen point is oftenbadly chosen, and then the individual is wrecked; the aggregations of such casesaffects the nation, and so is bad for the nation. Still, it is a trait which is of coursebetter for a people to have and sometimes suffer from that to be without. ?
  26. 26. Mark Twain 1835 - 1910Huckleberry Finn A Connecticut Yankee Gilded Age: A Tale of Today1884 in King Arthur’s Court 1873 1889All kinds of awesome All kinds of awful Pretty decent
  27. 27. Future NauseaWhen the manufacture of new “normal” isn’tkeeping pace with the rate of change
  28. 28. In 1873 the…Manufactured Normalcy FieldTM was collapsing
  29. 29. How do you cope?
  30. 30. MONEYJohn D. Rockefeller1839 - 1937 J. P. Morgan 1837 - 1913 PICK TWO Physical and Social BEAUTY NORMALCY ENGINEERS SENSE Thomas Blanchard 1788 - 1864
  32. 32. MONEYSteve Jobs Jeff Bezos PICK TWO1955 -- 2011 1964 -- BEAUTY SENSE Dennis Ritchie 1941 - 2011
  33. 33. Future Nausea Realtechnik Equilibrium
  34. 34. The new normal does notjust emerge.It is designed.
  35. 35. Folkways*…the normative structure of values, customs and meanings thatexist in any culture. This complex is not many things but onething, with many interlocking parts…Folkways do not rise fromthe unconscious in even a symbolic sense — though most peopledo many social things without reflecting very much about them. Inthe modern world a folkway is apt to be a cultural artifact — theconscious instrument of human will and purpose. Often (andincreasingly today) it is also the deliberate contrivance of acultural elite. David Hackett Fisher, Albion’s Seed * UX elements of “manufactured normal”
  36. 36. speech ways, building ways, family ways, genderways, sex ways, child-rearing ways, naming ways, ageways, death ways, religious ways, magic ways,learning ways, food ways, dress ways, sport ways,work ways, time ways, wealth ways, rank ways, socialways, order ways, power ways and freedom ways.
  37. 37. Oral, farms, extended, traditional, missionary, parenting, traditional,1780 patriarchal, by disease, protestant ethic, folktales, home schooling, local-agrarian, utilitarian, unorganized, 80% farm and free-agent, local/natural, LAND RENTS, nobility-based, class-based, Wild West, moral authority, guns. Written, townhouses, nuclear, feminine mystique, Kinsey, television,2025* 1979 fashion, SSN, Anglo, “retirement”, by aging+lifestyle, “New Age”, science fiction, K-12+4, factory-farmed, mass fashion, organized, paycheck, national time, TECH RENTS, talent based, homogeneous, police, lobbying and voting, free press. Google Translate, couchsurfing, gay parents, LGBT, OkCupid/50 shades, iPad, Twitter handle, mini-retirements, by choice+economics, religious ways, hacker-lore, TED, Paleo, Hipster clothing, World of Warcraft, coworking, atemporality, wealth ways, Klout, subcultural, antivirus, Twitter, bitcoin/Net Neutrality.
  38. 38. In Kindles Spring 2014