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[ba-unrev-talk] Re: NAFTA / A New Kind of Science

Jack Park wrote:    (01)

> http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/5/14/233629/069
> Stephen Wolfram's latest book on doing science with cellular automata (CA).
> ....
> A whole bunch of moons back, I coaxed a cellular automata to play the game
> of life (which it will do anyway) using an expert system in each
> cell.  That got written up in Dr. Dobb's Journal.  It strikes me that a
> huge amount of what goes on in the world is driven by nearest neighbor
> interactions, which CA are good at modeling....    (02)

OH yeah....    (03)

Our ability to predict the result of changes in economic policy and
tax rules and such is just horrible, because there are so many
individual "expert systems" out there who are adept at exploiting
gaps in the rules. The "how to get around it" strategies then
proliferate as a result of "neighbor-interactions", where "neighbor"
is a multi-dimensional concept (geographical neighbor, member of
the same profession, part of the same industry, etc.)    (04)

CA that were capable of finding such strategies and communicating
them to neighbors could conceivably improve our ability to anticpate
the impact of policy changes, and identify those many cases in which
the consequences are vastly different from what we might expect.    (05)

Case in point: NAFTA gives a foreign company the right to sue for
changes in the law that cause a loss which is "tantamount to
confiscation". So California is being sued by Candadian companies
for changing the law to make MTBE illegal in gasoline!! Cancer be
damned -- its costing them millions, so they're suing us for.    (06)

Of course, no American company has the right to do that. But a
foreign company does, under NAFTA. Talk about signing away
your sovereignity at the stroke of a pen!!    (07)

Nor are we the victims in all of this. An American company sued
the Canadian government for lost revenues when they put a warning
on cigarette packages! The Candadian government lost in NAFTAs
not-open-to-the-public, no-right-of-appeal, no-review "judicial"
process, so they paid up some $13 million and removed the warnings!    (08)

The victims here, are we the people -- regardless of what country
we are in. It is the multinational corporations who, as a result of
this insufficiently considered legislation, threaten to take over the
world and render local governments -- and even national governments
-- irrelevant.    (09)

With (extremely intelligent) expert-system automata, capable of
interpreting rules and formulating strategies, it just might have been
possible to foresee this tragedy in the making. (Admittedly, the
prospect is somewhat akin to the original hopes for symbolic logic
to make sense out of treaty negotiations. But at least there is a
hope...)    (010)