Skip to main content

Technological Agorism Part III: AI & the Agora

There are two types of artificial intelligence: the rules-based, & the neural network-based approach. To illustrate the differences, I'll borrow an example from AI blogger Janelle Shane's book, You Look Like A Thing & I Love You, & pretend we're training an AI to recognize dogs.



Using a rules-based approach, we’d create parameters which the AI would then use to determine whether or not the thing it’s looking at, is in fact a dog. Our rules would include things like “must have four legs” & “must have tail,” etc. When all of our conditions have been satisfied, the AI will recognize a dog.

With a neural network-based approach, we show the AI images of dogs & it learns to recognize patterns. The more pictures of dogs we show it, the more accurate the AI becomes. Nowadays, this is usually the preferred approach & will be the subject of this article.

The interesting thing about the neural-network approach to AI - as we’ve already noted, is its reliance …

The Gated Community: A Welcome Trend in Urban Development


I recently finished reading Tim Marshall’s Politics of Place series. It’s a three book trilogy focusing on contemporary international relations. The first two books were both excellent reads - Prisoners of Geography (which loyal fans of The Agora will remember from the source list for our podcast series, Geopolitics) and A Flag Worth Dying For. But the impetus for this article comes from book three: The Age of Walls.

Marshall’s focus here is on political and socio-economic barriers dividing societies. He discusses physical walls such as those separating Israel & Palestine, China & Mongolia and Trump’s proposed border wall. However, he also covers in detail, the internal divisions amongst societies. One of these internal divisions he mentions are those of the gated community. Although Marshall only spends 4 or 5 pages on the topic, he makes points of sufficient interest that I felt it warranted further investigation. After looking into it a bit, I confirmed my initial suspicion that the gated community is in fact, an excellent tool for the agorist. Allow me to make the case.


The idea of the gated community is actually a very old one which dates back to the ancient Chinese civilizations. Archaeological evidence from the Americas suggests that the practice was widespread, and we know by the time Caesar was conquering Gaul, he had to knock down walls to do so. According to Marshall, “Only in relatively recent times - with the rise of the nation-state and internal security, including police forces - did cities allow walls to be taken down or begin to expand outside them.”



Thus, after experiencing a lull, gated communities began to reemerge in in the twentieth century on the west coast of America. Scholars argue it’s no coincidence spikes in the number of gated communities positively correlates with periods of decreased welfarism, as was the case in the 1980s. According to Forbes, by 2009, 11 million Americans lived in gated-communities. Indeed, there are no signs of this trend slowing down. As individuals continue to rely less and less on the state for the provision of security and infrastructure, the more likely they are to seek refuge behind the walls of private, gated communities.

Moreover, the effectiveness of the gated community is undeniable. Even in today’s modern, ultra-PC culture, left wing academics who decry the gated community as exclusionary are forced to concede that the crime rates of private communities are generally lower than those of open communities which are dependant on state policing.


This effect is even more striking in the developing world. In parts of Africa and Latin America, gated communities provide refuge for whole hoards of people who have been failed by crooked, unstable regimes. Marshall points to a 2015 study conducted in Ghana which polled residents of gated communities to find out why they preferred life behind the walls. Want to guess what the top response was? That’s right; “Safety and security.” Similar stories play out in Brazil, Peru, and Nigeria.

Here we have yet another example of private, voluntary exchange increasing the quality of life for individual human beings by offering alternatives to the inefficient state-provision of goods and services. The point is best made by Marshall, who says:

“If significant numbers of people live in communities in which they pay private companies to provide the infrastructure, such as water pipes and roads, and to protect them with private police and fire agencies, while dealing only with private health care, then the role of local and national government diminishes. And if government’s remit is only to administer smaller sectors of society, then the cohesion of the nation-state is also weakened.”

From your lips to God's ears, as the saying goes...

Comments

  1. have you read the novel 'snow crash'? it touches on this idea a bit as well.
    good article, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of my favorite books. Excellent observation! The enclaves Stephenson sets up are extremely similar.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Economics of BTC Maximalism

BTC maximalism is a flawed doctrine, fallacious in numerous respects. 

First, if you'd prefer to hear these arguments in audio, check out this recent episode of ABNP, where @mrpseu & I discused these same topics. 

Also, a qualifier: I'm not capable of making, defending or refuting technical arguments. I'll leave that aspect of the debate to others. My concerns with BTC maximalism are entirely economic and can be divided into four areas. 


Based on the criteria for saleability as laid out by the austrian school, BTC is not the most marketable digital commodity.A lack of portability relative to other cryptocurrencies implies BTC isn't as sound of a commodity. Value storage is a secondary function of money and cannot satisfy the use-value requirement of regression theorem. BTC maximalism lays waste to the Hayekian notion of competition as a discovery procedure. This final point was addressed in detail on episode 50 of The Agora, Crypto-Economics and thus, isn't elabor…

Global Warming & Economics

Libertarians who deny the existence of global warming run the risk of making us all look like a bunch of illiterate fools.

Much like economics, being ignorant of planetology or climate science isn't a crime, but having a "loud and vociferous" opinion on the subject while remaining in a state of ignorance can be a dangerous thing. And frankly, the science behind climate change is elementary.

Sunlight enters our atmosphere and warms our planet. Earth then gives off that heat in the form of infrared radiation (this is the same principle behind those cool goggles our collapsitarian friends have). However, and this is a crucial point - the CO₂ molecules in our atmosphere do not allow IR to easily escape back into space. This is known as the greenhouse effect. As the temperature of the planet increases, polar ice caps melt and eventually surface water will begin to evaporate. Since H₂0 also prevents IR from escaping our atmosphere, the additional water vapor only compounds th…

Don't Vote for Alex

It is 2019 and in Norway, that means county and city-election year. You can vote for me, but this article is all about why you really shouldn't. [1] There are several ways to say 'No'. This is a story about the time I said 'Yes', what I will stay positive to and what I will be negative toward. 

"But it is immoral to support politicians to oppress us because they might relieve us one oppression" - Samuel Edward Konkin III


First of all, there is some explaining to do: In my last article on the New Libertarian I argued that party politics is a waste of time and that you could use that time more productive so this entire piece seems like its contradicting that one. It might, that is up to you to judge for yourself (and if you want a chat I'm very approachable on Twitter), but in my defense, I will highlight two things:

One: I'm not against solution-finding, culture-building or exchange of ideas. I can give no brighter example of this happening than the…