Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward

There are still two elephants in the room that I must address before concluding. Then I will discuss paths forward.

Moloch’s Army

The first elephant is Moloch’s Army. I still can’t find a way into this without sounding crazy. The result of this is that the sequence talks about maze behaviors and mazes as if their creation and operation are motivated by self-interest. That’s far from the whole picture.

There is mindset that instinctively and unselfishly opposes everything of value. This mindset is not only not doing calculations to see what it would prefer or might accomplish. It does not even believe in the concept of calculation (or numbers, or logic, or reason) at all. It cares about virtues and emotional resonances, not consequences. To do this is to have the maze nature. This mindset instinctively promotes others that share the mindset, and is much more common and impactful among the powerful than one would think. Among other things, the actions of those with this mindset are vital to the creation, support and strengthening mazes.

Until a proper description of that is finished, my job is not done. So far, it continues to elude me. I am not giving up.

Continue reading

Posted in Immoral Mazes Sequence, Moral Mazes, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Protecting Large Projects Against Mazedom

Previous Post: Create a Full Alternative Stack

If we wish to accomplish something that would benefit from or require a larger organization or more levels of management and bureaucracy, what should we do in light of the dangers of mazes?

There are no easy answers. Real tradeoffs with real sacrifice are the order of the day. But we can do some things to expand the production possibilities frontier, and choose wisely along that frontier.

As is often the case, this starts with admitting you have a problem. 

Too often, it is assumed that one should scale without worrying about the costs of scaling, or without counting becoming a maze as one of the biggest costs. Not stretching oneself maximally thin, or getting in the way of this process, becomes the sin of not maximizing effectiveness or profits.

That ensures failure and rapid descent into a maze. Start by getting out of this mindset. 

If you are looking to accomplish a big thing that requires lots of organization, management and bureaucracy, here are ways to help contain the damage. 

None of them should come as a surprise by this point. This is more of a synthesis of points already made, and not a place I feel I have special additional insights. So I will keep this short.

Continue reading

Posted in Immoral Mazes Sequence, Moral Mazes, Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Create a Full Alternative Stack

Last time I proposed nine strategies for fighting mazes. All of them were either systemic solutions requiring coordinated and/or political action, or cultural shifts that happen one person at a time.

Now for the tenth and final proposal for how to fight mazes. The tenth is a proposed strategy that one dedicated person with sufficient resources could implement on their own.

If you are in a position where you have the resources to implement this, please make an effort to take this proposal seriously. And please contact me if you are potentially interested and wish to discuss it further.

Solution 10: Create a Full Alternative Stack

In some ways this is the most ambitious solution here. It may seem Utopian. 

In other ways, it is the least ambitious, and most practical. It could be implemented by a single sufficiently wealthy and committed individual or organization. All other known solutions can be implemented locally, and would help locally, but need general adaptation to succeed in general.

The full alternative stack offers a contract. 

Disengage entirely with mazes and traditional distortionary incentives, competitions and signals of all kinds, and discard all zero-sum activity, in favor of doing the thing. Whatever the thing in question may be. Make no compromises to make oneself legible or attractive to outside sources of funding. Tolerate no maze behaviors of any kind. Hire and fire with this deeply in mind.

In exchange, if you keep your end of the bargain, the stack will fully fund you and your operations, at fair prices that do not take advantage of the hold-up opportunity presented by your giving up of other opportunities. Evaluation will be fully on the object-level merits, and the generative processes involved. 

Continue reading

Posted in Best Laid Plans, Economics, Immoral Mazes Sequence, Moral Mazes, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Potential Ways to Fight Mazes

The previous post listed some of the causes of higher than normal maze present in today’s society. 

This post asks what might be done about it, both as an individual and via group coordination.

I believe it is better to first ask “what are the things that would help?” even if one does not know how to implement them or convince others to get them implemented or even if they are good ideas worth implementing. Then figure out if any version of the idea is worth implementing. Then ask how to put the ideas into practice.

All of this assumes that lowering maze levels is both desirable and important. This post takes that assumption as its premise. My case for it has already been made previously.

Some items on this list are political interventions. They require solving the collective action and public choice problems of writing and passing good versions of the appropriate laws and regulations.

Some of these items are cultural shifts that happen one person at a time. This is a different kind of collective action problem. Word would be spread, potentially convincing others to support the cause.

Continue reading

Posted in Economics, Immoral Mazes Sequence, Impractical Optimization, Long Post Is Long, Moral Mazes, Politics, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Ten Causes of Mazedom

We continue answering the questions we asked earlier. It was claimed last time that maze levels and the danger of mazes was lower in the past than it is now, and that overall maze levels have been rising, as measured both by maze levels within organizations across the board, and maze levels within the overall society.

The world is better for people than it was back then. There are many things that have improved. This is not one of them.

I am confident this is the case and have pointed to ways to see it. I recognize that I have in no way proven this is the case. I don’t have a way to do that. Rather I am relying on your own observations and analysis. If you disagree, I hope the discussion that follows will still prove useful as a comparison to what you see as an alternate possible scenario where these dynamics are less toxic.

Now we ask what may have been different in the past, and whether we can duplicate those causes.

Continue reading

Posted in Immoral Mazes Sequence, Long Post Is Long, Moral Mazes, Politics, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

How Doomed are Large Organizations?

We now take the model from the previous post, and ask the questions over the next several posts. This first answer post asks these questions:

  1. Are these dynamics the inevitable results of large organizations?
  2. How can we forestall these dynamics within an organization?
  3. To what extent should we avoid creating large organizations?
  4. Has this dynamic ever been different in the past in other times and places?

These are the best answers I was able to come up with. Some of this is reiteration of previous observations and prescriptions. Some of it is new.

There are some bold claims in these answer posts, which I lack the space and time to defend in detail or provide citations for properly, with which I am confident many readers will disagree. I am fine with that. I do not intend to defend them further unless I see an opportunity in doing so.

I would love to be missing much better strategies for making organizations less doomed – if you have ideas please please please share them in the comments and/or elsewhere.

Continue reading

Posted in Death by Metrics, Immoral Mazes Sequence, Moral Mazes, Uncategorized | 15 Comments

The Road to Mazedom

Previous post: How Escape From Immoral Mazes

Sequence begins here: Moloch Hasn’t Won

The previous posts mostly took mazes as given. 

As an individual, one’s ability to fight any large system is limited. 

That does not mean our individual decisions do not matter. They do matter. They add up. 

Mostly our choice is a basic one. Lend our strength to that which we wish to be free from. Or not do so. 

Even that is difficult. The methods of doing so are unclear. Mazes are ubiquitous. Not lending our strength to mazes, together with the goal of keeping one’s metaphorical soul intact and still putting food on the table, is already an ambitious set of goals for an individual in a world of mazes.

We now shift perspective from the individual to the system as a whole. We stop taking mazes as given.

It is time to ask why and how all of this happens, and what if anything we can do, individually or collectively, about it. 

Continue reading

Posted in Immoral Mazes Sequence, Moral Mazes | 6 Comments