On Being the Right Size

Regarding constraints of biological systems:


Written in 1928 by J. B. S. Haldane, its a quick read and worth it. Near the end JBS sneaks in this conclusion:

And just as there is a best size for every animal, so the same is true for every human institution. In the Greek type of democracy all the citizens could listen to a series of orators and vote directly on questions of legislation. Hence their philosophers held that a small city was the largest possible democratic state. The English invention of representative government made a democratic nation possible, and the possibility was first realized in the United States, and later elsewhere. With the development of broadcasting it has once more become possible for every citizen to listen to the political views of representative orators, and the future may perhaps see the return of the national state to the Greek form of democracy. Even the referendum has been made possible only by the institution of daily newspapers.

Two points here. Dunbar’s Number suggests there is a right size for our ability to meaningfully model other humans in our immediate perimeter of experience. So there is a right size for close meaningful relations if you are human.

And there is a right size of Government, also. And money. And everything touched by life.

Second point: For the first 60 years AI neural networks were completely constrained by the hardware they were run on. They still are, but movement to the cloud has changed the ballgame.

AI is beginning to have no real physical constraints on size as compute and memory resources are cheap and getting cheaper by the hour. The only constraints will be time.

AI is not going to play our size game.

Right now, this AI is being used to create models of you. To target you for advertising. To assess your likelihood to vote. To spit you out as data to be manipulated by other Singletons who do not know you.

But we are not data.

We are Singletons.

And we are the right size for the future, if we use AI only to expand ourselves, and not to turn ourselves into a commodity.

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