Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Emergence and Complexity in the Resource-Patterns Model of Life

During the past 30 years much focus has fallen upon emergence and complexity. In 1995 I got a view of this field when my late good friend Donald R. Rhodes gave me a copy of Complexity: the Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos, by M. Mitchell Waldrop. I had already taken a few small steps in this area. But the Waldrop book gave me my first awareness that a field had started to organize under the labels: emergence, complexity, and chaos. The Resource-Patterns Model of Life (RPM), the subject of this blog, owes much to that field.

In 1995 I had started to grasp some of Friedrich Hayek's work. Now a post by Emily Skarbek at EconLog, Hayek's Views on Emergence, reminds me that I should show the parallels between the Resource-Patterns Model of Life and those views of Hayek.

Concerning emergence in RPM, recall the starting assumptions of the model:
  • We poor and initially stupid living things (LTs) live in a universe in which there are resources distributed in patterns (RPs).
  • Many of these RPs are vast or complex, such that an individual LT has no hope of exploiting such an RP.
  • Such difficult RPs can be exploited, however, by communities of LTs which have figured out modes of cooperation which enable them as groups, with each individual LT working in a specialty, to exploit the RPs.
But, as it often happens, we LTs do not know where these RPs are until we have discovered them. Often we do not even know what they are until after we have discovered them through our networks of LT-to-LT trade.

So what emerges in RPM is communities of specialized LTs shaped by the preexistent RPs. These communities, as Hayek would say, have been shaped by human action but not by human design. We acted, motivated by self interest and recognizing the benefits of trade, and thereby built industries conforming to the RPs which existed in the environment apart from human design.

What emerges often appears complex, to our initially uneducated perceptions, because we were ignorant of the underlying RPs until our trading networks built industries which conform, by necessity, to the complexity of the underlying RPs.

See my draft Chapter 5, The Learning of Rules.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bias for Collectivism

Last night I watched a great interview, Friedrich Hayek with James Buchanan. (Thanks to Emily Skarbek at Econlog for the post which led me to that 1978 interview.)

A few snippets from that interview confirm my belief that the Resource-Patterns Model of Life RPM leads us beyond Hayek's contribution.

Around 31:08 Hayek says "Our whole knowledge is the knowledge of a pattern, essentially." Hayek does not say more about where the pattern is or how it influences social order. But, I claim, Hayek's pattern equates in RPM to a pattern of resources in the environment, an RP in model's jargon.

Later in that interview around 44:28 Buchanan asks, "How do you explain the revival, so to speak, of sort of Marxist notions, in so much of Europe now and to some extent in this country?"

Hayek replies, "I don't know."

But a researcher who works with RPM can know. RPM offers a definite answer to Buchanan's question:

Because there are resource patterns of which living things have yet to "learn", evolution will often award domination to those populations of LTs disposed to seek orderly cooperation before any pattern is yet known — to those populations disposed to believe that an order must exist and will be found.

While this insight has seemed clear to me for the past 20 years, and while I have been trying to communicate it, few people [0–3] have understood it. So I continue in this blog trying to spell it out more completely. Thank you for your patience with my insufficient descriptions.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Limits of Organizational Planning

On July 4, David Henderson at EconLog posted Robert Murphy on Economic Calculation. That post and my three comments (below the body of David's post) may serve for some readers as introduction to the Resource-Patterns Model of Life,  the subject of this Perceived Order blog.