[This is the outline of the talk I gave at Readercon 25 about Dystopian Economies. I am currently in talks with glyphpress to expand this and some other writings into a sourcebook for gamebuilders and GMs that use the Shock system (and for anybody interested in inventing fictional but reality-influenced futureworlds). You can download the original Shock: Social Science Fiction here, or buy the follow up, Human Contact, here. ]
I'm going to start with a personal anecdote. When 9/11 happened, I was a senior in college.
- changed majors late (operations engineering; program folded)
- taking all econ classes
- in-class experiments. You play games as a teaching device.
a) prisoner's dilemma
b) deciding how to split money
c) choosing to give $5 to class or $1 to self
- 9/11 "broke" the games.
a) always a little broken; people not perfectly selfish even "Best" of times
b) measurably more generous with each other
c) similar effect across country
d) has happened after other national tragedies
- after a year or so, tapers off, like our response to Katrina, Boston Marathon. Back to "normal."
My point is: you don't make people better by changing the game. By which I mean:
- incentives are important, as are penalties
- but behavior is too complicated to "fix" with conditioning tricks
a) don't get rid of criminals by making perfect laws
b) don't get rid of kindness in concentration camps
- I say this even though there's a sub-field, econometrics
a) tries to quantify, predict, measure effects of policy change
c) CBO, Fed - if futurist, be following their press releases
d) econ like weather forecasting
i. real science
ii. better than random chance
iii. but a lot of chaos
I don't believe an economic utopia is possible.
- not a SYSTEM which fixes the problem independent of PEOPLE
I do think you could get to a kind of utopia even in a very compromised system
- it's the goofiest thing in the world, but the answer really is LOVE
- family, social bonds
- seeing yourself as part of something bigger than you, something noble
So I'm going to talk about economics, and what I'm going to say is mostly about the bad actors
- because antagonists are good for stories
- and I trust you all know how to be good guys
- RIGHT? (laugh line)
Anyway, keep in mind when I talk about EVIL corporations it's because I'm talking about EVIL corporations.
- "not all men"
- yes, I know.
- OK….( Read more... )