[FoRK] Alan Kay Interview

Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo ken_ganshirt at yahoo.ca
Sun Nov 18 11:09:47 PST 2012

--- On Sun, 11/18/12, Stephen Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:

> On 11/17/12 9:53 AM, Bill Kearney wrote:
> gs>> but even some of those get tainted by mindless notions of 
> gs>> "competition."
> > 
> bk> Please, let's be real.  *EVERYTHING* is a
> bk> competition.  From the smallest of microorganisms on up.
> > 
> bk> Having a civil society hangs on the balancing of
> bk> tempering the levels of competition in ways that try to
> bk> avoid going over the brink.  
sdw> Of course.  But perhaps some people have baggage or
sdw> bias attached to the term "competition" ...
sdw> "Competition", in the most common usage, implies agency,
sdw> some entity striving for something, often for perceived
sdw> personal benefit.
sdw> Perhaps failure to see this as an optimization problem ...
sdw> [resulting in competing] ... while adhering to a code 
sdw> that avoids most negative affects is the problem here.

Yes.  The intent of my original comment was not to take potshots at competition but rather to indicate my confusion over the apparent inconsistency in the final exchange in the article.  Nothing more.

Having followed Kay for a very long time I have to believe that his initial comment was simply exasperation that we do not, in our present global situation, have a sufficient balance between cooperation and competition; that competition is overriding cooperation.

I happen to believe that, anyway.  I think that is true in both our government and economic situations.  Not that competition is "bad" but that particular forms of competition now hold sway over cooperation in so many areas where cooperation needs to be present.

Two current examples would be the American federal government's "gridlock" that has the rest of us a little worried about whether they're going to sort out their present fiscal mess (we have a similarly vitriolic competitive situation with our Canadian politics but due to virtually dictatorial powers vested in our Prime Minister's Office there is no opportunity for gridlock because there is no opposition to stonewall things) and the ascendance of laissez-faire capitalism world-wide (I'm not against Capitalism; I just don't think it should be left unfettered).

We seem to be missing the code "that avoids most negative affects"; or at least it has eroded rather badly.


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