Today I attended "Converting Moloch from Sith to Jedi w/ Daniel Schmachtenberger" (who doesn't appear to be on Twitter but blogs at via The Stoa, which should show up as a video here in a few days.

This session zoomed in on power, relative to Molochian challenges and disrupting (Game B's) Game A gradient-descent. Well, in addition to the headline topic of reshaping the incentive landscape in order to create beneficial gradients or counter the ascent of Moloch. But power got more airtime.

First, if you haven't read Meditations on Moloch, just go read that ASAP. It opened my eyes to a new level of systems thinking and has been hugely influential to me, and I think a lot of the rationalist and adjacent communities. Moloch problems are races to the bottom, situations like "arms race" or "tragedy of the commons" where the system itself encourages collectively-destructive behavior that, with perfect awareness and cooperation, we wouldn't fall into.

The other prereq is called Game B. I'm discovering more and more that what I've been envisioning as a better society has a lot in common with this philosophy/analysis (at least the current scene, like here and here), though I maybe had to reinvent a certain amount of it before I clued in on recognizing it elsewhere. Non-rivalrous (collectively cooperative), maximize human flourishing, systems aware, infinite vs finite game, decentralized, distributed sovereignty, anti-fragile in complexity... the literature seems like a mess still, but I think they (and I) are all pointing in the general same direction.

Anyway. Just want to get a few notes written down before they dissipate. This session reminded me of the reality of conventional power, its importance in being able to exert power towards shifting incentives, and the necessity of being able to win or parasitize Game A in order to make the shifts over to a Game B world. It's not any more effective to set up a money-free (or gift or barter) org - it might seem more "pure" to avoid that often-tainted dimension but it's a heck of a lot less effective to give up that leverage. (Daniel espoused the "gain power in order to destroy/disperse it" mechanic pretty explicitly.) Game A has to be not-lost (which is not the same as "won") via conventional power dynamics, and those power structures need to be understood, included, and transcended to protect the existence (let alone stability) of any Game B space embedded within the regular world.

Gives me some new (renewed) thoughts re the purposes and strategies of my own venture into this space. Not so much "go conquer the world" directly as "protect and expand the borders" in the don't-lose sense. Don't just go stand in front of bulldozers in the Amazon - see the power dynamics and find the best leverage points, which are highly impacted by the power balance. (That linked article, "Places to Intervene in a System", is awesome but I think it basically assumes full power/control.)

<post soundtrack: My Evil Plan to Save the World, to continue the FIF flashback>