Archive for January, 2012

January 22, 2012

“Democratic” bacteria

I was reading the other day an article in an old New Scientist (1.10.11) referring to group behaviour that I found intriguing.

The study was around bacteria (Pseudomonas) that are antibiotic resistant, but the interesting part was about the fact that a. they have the ability to work together as a super-organism and b. that while they are capable of overwhelming any human organism defences they cause pneumonia only to 15% of their “victims”!

Both events are extraordinary but not surprising, I would dare saying.  The surprising part was what the scientist s discovered, being the reason for that.

And I copy …“It turns out that the armies of Pseudomonas are often greatly weakened by indiscipline in the ranks.  They come to be dominated by cheaters and layabouts, who feast on the spoils of victory but ignore all orders to attack. These selfish bacteria multiply faster then the obedient ones, resulting in a less aggressive infection. The discovery opens up the possibility of radical new ways to tackle superbug infections… (by) deliberately encouraging the growth of  cheater strains and injecting them into  people”!

I do not exactly know why, but I immediately associated the bacteria behaviour with politicians from several democratic countries currently under “stress”. Not all of them of course, there are indeed those they methodically, in the name of an ideology, try to destroy the last defences of Democracy, and they are currently winning the battle I am afraid, but those cheaters, those that have never fought a battle but have just enjoy the benefits ….

Ending 1

You probably understand where I am heading with this… Should we encourage the people in the next election to “inject” more of them into the “system” in order to save these countries…?

Or Ending 2

You probably understand where I am heading with this… The instinct of the people in the last election was right and that is my explanation why these specific countries still exist!

Have your pick. As usual, comments of all kinds welcomed. SM

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January 21, 2012

Paperless currency, is there a case for implementation?

We wrote already two relevant articles on the subject. In every case, when the articles published, in news sites or linked through general interest sites, the shock of the “radical” change needed appeared to overwhelm a part of the non-familiar with the subject readers, resulting in an avalanche of queries regarding its implementation challenges. The trend was dissimilar with the one we encountered from our regular readers.

It became apparent that the degree of analysis required on a subject is equivalent to its expected benefits.

We write this blog in compliance with this otherwise profound conclusion.

Our regular readers will be aware of why one the major propositions within the Gaianomy framework is the introduction of paperless currencies. For those that the concept is unknown, as a parenthesis, we present briefly some of the potential socioeconomic benefits of a paperless currency system.

  • Eliminates tax evasion (Only in Europe it can ease the taxpayers burden by €1.96 T yearly!)
  • Eliminate practically overnight government corruption and officials’ briberies (current corruption statistics suggest that more then 90% of transactions are made in cash)
  • Reduce drastically money driven street crime (if all money is digital only objects can be stolen which again cannot be exchange for cash)
  • Regulate syndicate managed prostitution and illegal gambling, which primarily operates with cash
  • Reduce within 5 years from its introduction the drug trade by at least 80%. 5 years is the maximum time before the privately owned in any country gold stock, that is practically the only other means of exchange beyond hard currency for drugs, will be depleted. Simultaneously with drugs becoming less on the street by the day, all drug related anti-social behaviour would diminish rapidly (see global statistics on drugs related crime) with the effect reaching some of the route causes of civil wars (see Mexico, Afghanistan etc.)
  • Eliminate the fear of counterfeit money
  • Eliminates all the black markets (at least the 93%)
  • Impact positively on gang cultures as the loss of their operational capital will reduce their attractiveness as alternative to work options
  • Create the conditions to stop illegal economic migration between countries (barter in kind is not enough to sustain illegal migration and no trafficker will accept barter as his remuneration)
  • Eliminate bank robberies
  • Reduce the jails population by at least 35%
  • Reduce reoffending ratios in relation to non-violence crime that are primarily of financial nature
  • Interrupt terrorist group financing channels
  • Stop poaching (Black markets will find it very hard to operate by reverting to other then cash)
  • Last but not least, the links between enterprises, organisations, political parties, public servants and individuals with vested interest in the continuation of the existence of black markets, illegal trade, human trafficking, drug trade, weapons trade, It will immediately be unveiled. It will be easy after that to know whom not to vote in the next election.

You will have to agree, that it is an impressive catalogue of benefits, which societies may ignore to their peril. We see no apparent reason why any government will refuse to implement it. Especially if one considers all the additional positive side effects, the application might have, like: reduction in policing needs, money production and distribution, reuse of the cash handling human resources to more productive economic sectors, the inevitable reintroduction into the economy the proceeds of previous illegal activities, the long term health benefits of the country’s population, the reduction in health spending etc.

Of course as every change in societal level, one must manage such an undertaking carefully and in a socially sensitive way. Based on the feedback we received the major of the challenges identified were:

  • If one country only, implements the paperless currency how can they stop other currencies from “over-spilling” through its borders?
  • Will the cost of policing, the implementation, will exceed the benefits?
  • What will happen with the tourists?
  • How technophobic and elderly will adjust?
  • How the less educated will avoid overspending?
  • How one may address fraud in its usual forms?
  • How the banks will react to the additional stress on their systems and services from the additional amount of transactions?
  • In case of the county’s communications networks going down, how transactions can continue?
  • What the implementation cost will be?
  • How a country should avoid phenomenon of people hiding their currency during the transition period, which will feed later on the black markets once more?
  • Does it need constitutional changes?
  • In case of a country, like Greece that is a part of the EU does it need EU approval?

Lets take them one a at a time.

“Over spilling”: The ways to, illegally, import currency are known and involve mainly smuggling either through the customs or through the borders. In the case of the European Union where boarders do not really exist and people can transfer with them any amount of money without any checks.

To counter the risks a country ought to: (a) introduce a comprehensive law where all risks are addressed and for all possible bridging attempts, the law enforcement units have a “weapon” (b) transfer all fiscal benefits from the implementation of the system to the people in order to transform them into guardians of the institution (c) introduce punishments severe enough to be respected (d) offer sufficient rewards for compliance and uncovering illegal transactions (e) offer at the points of entry an easy to use and effective system of transferring currencies into paperless forms either by prepaid debit cards or by links to direct debit facilities or mobile solutions without additional cost to the bearer.

We calculated that a period of 5 years would be enough to reach a compliance level exceeding 93%.

Cost of policing the implementation: As already mentioned above, one should design the system in a way that society owns responsibility for its diachronic success. No level of policing can substitute that. Hence, our proposition seeks the people’s endorsement primarily and its government bodies secondary. In support to the societal “neighbourhood watch” one should add, of course, intelligent controls into people’s transactions whereby “broken” trails, amounts they cannot be justified, within the country and outside of it, are flagged.

 

What will happen with the tourists:  We covered this in the two previous replies

How technophobic and elderly will adjust: Technophobia is one of the manifestations of resistance to change. As Habermas would put it interest drives actions. What we are proposing as a resolution, and feel free to add to it, is to counteract resistance through benefits and ease of use. We know for example that the fear of being mugged is higher than the fear of pressing a button on your mobile or typing a pin or placing your finger on a sensor. There are so many user-friendly technologies today that the probability of a nation finding no solution to cover the need of this niche group is remote

How the less educated will avoid overspending: Well this one is simple. In every transaction, the system can give them the remaining available credit similarly, to what today the cash dispensers are able to do.

How one may address fraud in its usual forms: Well this is a very large subject. Fraud will always exist but this time it has just one option to be electronic. This however is a backdrop for the fraudsters as every transaction will be recorded and traceable. We analysed all of the “usual suspects” and in every case we found a way to counteract it. We look forward to suggestions from you for cases where someone may get hold of your money without leaving a trail.

How the banks will react: We believe extremely positively. You see, for the banks collecting the taxes, on behalf of the state, and paid for it, is not something we see them objecting to. The states on the other hand have more then enough benefit from the reduction of personnel needed, the immediate collection of the VAT and the benefits deriving from the counteracting of systematic tax evasion that willingly will pay enough to compensate the banks. Finally, the potential stress on their systems and services from the additional amount of transactions is not even an issue for modern technology.

If the county’s communications networks going down: The probability of this happening to a wider region due to the inherited redundancy of today’s communication networks is negligible and in any case one will be equally able to utilise the mobile network infrastructure or any other wireless network for that reason. Al technologies for this to happen are both existing and mature.

What the implementation cost will be:  According to our calculations, anything between $35 to $350 per transaction point, which is negligible and can be, possibly, financed by the participating banks and the mobile operators.

People hiding their currency during the transition period: We expect phenomena of this type to appear, however diachronically as all research in the field of institutions suggests will disappear. We see as being part of the 3 to 7% inefficiency we predict in the system, but definitely more research may be needed. Bottom line is we do not really see this as an issue if all measures described above are in place.

Does it need constitutional changes: None in the team is a constitutional-law expert. As a matter of interest, we tested the proposition’s compliance against the Greek constitution and we found no evidence of the opposite

In case of a country, like Greece that is a part of the EU does it need EU approval? There is no prior experience, due to the novel nature of the idea, but knowing the way EU operates we think that the answer should be yes. Will they oppose? We very much doubt it. Will they delay an implementation attempt, most probably? Nevertheless, we definitely believe they will succumb to the propositions strong arguments eventually.

January 14, 2012

The 12 Olympian Gods and the Hierarchy of Societal Needs

Mythological stories always fascinated me.  Listening about the gods and the heroes was my favourite hour, in the elementary school, in antithesis with history. Not that initially I was able to distinguish between myth and history. To history’s credit, it had battles heroes and kings and the Greeks were always the winners, but something was lacking. Myths appear to be always so much better as stories, then the “boring” history.

I will return home every afternoon, with my mind full of new stories to tell to my poor mother, who patiently will sit next to me and listen. I thought she could never distinguish the actual story from my “additions”.

I never became the hero I always wanted to and the nearest I came to these gods was be climbing mount Olympus and allowing my fantasy to act as augmented reality, there is no app for that yet.

The study of Christianity that followed in consequent years (compulsory back then) took away all the Olympian glamour and forged into my mind a new belief, that one god is better then twelve. There were no more stories for my relieved mother. There was no glamour anymore just suffering, a very different perspective of life.

It took me another 30 years or so, to realise that there was no so much difference after all between monotheism and polytheism. Both of them were there to cover human existential needs, both of them represented a different but not dissimilar philosophy of life and both of them, theology aside, were social institutions designed subconsciously (primarily) and as such build to order, to serve specific societal needs.

At last I had the answer that was lurking at the back of my mind for so many years, “why one is better the twelve” and I realised that based at least on the third perspective the institutional one, that the Greeks and the rest of the monotheism-bounded humanity got it wrong!

I realised as well how difficult the transition must have been and why even now these old religions still have proponents. Beliefs and spirituality aside, it is the social institutions and what they represent what keeps them alive.

I came across yesterday, while cleaning my folders, an image of the twelve gods and exactly next to it, the jpg file with the Hierarchy of Societal Needs. It did not took long before curiosity overwhelmed rational and “in the name of science”  I started to explore the needs, institutionally wise, the twelve gods were designed to cover if mapped against the Hierarchy of Societal Needs (HoSN).

It was a bizarre, to say the least exercise, but then again something that to my knowledge none attempted before which by itself, as every scientist will tell you, was justification enough.

It did not take long after that to find what every one of the twelve gods was representing to my ancestors and map it against the HoSN.

Having read so, far I bet you will be wondering what was different back then. Well it depends upon your expectations.

For one their gods were there, primarily, to cover for all their uncertainties, all their fears and everything else their science could not explain. (See highlighted in yellow the institutions covered from the 12 Olympians).

The socioeconomic framework was there in all its glory, so it was nationalism. All four basic-needs levels namely survival, coherence, progress and prosperity where to a degree represented.

The interest though, some to my surprise, was that:

  • They did not fear about having work or not, they all had!
  • They did not care (fear) that much, about money and currencies and the most important was that they show no need for “wealth as a mean” so, no prayer was spared to gods for gold and riches. Harvest yes, “prosperity” yes but riches was not in demand.
  • Diplomacy and Politics were totally absent from their fears list
  • Banks as well, were absent (as expected?) and so were “Services”
  • Immigration was not an issue nor was Social Integration… slavery was doing an excellent job
  • They did not have any type of complex civil services so they did not have to create a god to protect them from bureaucracy… lucky people!
  •  …
  • And the most important they were at ease with war as an integral part of life!

That last one, to be honest, spoiled the whole image because, I have to admit, until then I was tempted to, triumphantly, declare that my ancestors were wiser then us.

As usual, I leave enough for you to conclude on your own.

SM

January 6, 2012

To get the “truth” in UK you will need at least three news channels. …and the power of mental associations

Association is a synapse-like mental sub-structure, connecting two, recorded (sensed) or pre-existing (genetically imprinted), informational units into one, on a conscious or subconscious level. There are strong indications that associations operate as a membership function of a fuzzy set http://bit.ly/qhKzcQ  varying its strength overtime. It is a fundamental tool within the new synthetic institutionalism proposition but to the average reader means absolutely nothing… until now. You see so far, all research was based on questionnaires and small relatively samples ignoring (due to methodological mainly shortcomings) the subconscious level http://bit.ly/Ibin0. If I ask you to give me your opinion, you employ your rational to do so suppressing subconsciously all information institutionally bounded. It is human nature. If, on the other hand, I never ask you the question but instead I dig through your writings where conscious and subconscious operate in unison your opinion would be crystal clear. What ever you believe for whatever reason will surface. If in addition I combine ALL associations made in writing so far, by all of you, then the probability of accuracy will exceed 97%!  http://bit.ly/19iKDS This is the power of association and that is how we analyse institutions (in case you were curious). As usual, we would leave to your discretion to make any conclusions from the graph, from our part we would make just one. To get the “truth” in UK you will need at least three news channels. Please send us your conclusions and we promise to publish the best.

The Gaianomy T-T

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