Holochain Forum

Cybersyn + Holo-REA + Holochain?

Wow I just came across this article on Reddit. I had heard of Cockshott before, yet hadn’t delved in yet. This seems a great intro, and would love to discuss all this here. I’m just going to paste the second part of it the essay here for easier access:

the Soviets, from 1962 to 1970, were experimenting with ‘OGAS’, a vast computer system that linked up factories and industrial centres of Russia to a mainframe that recorded and processed this direct production information which economists could use to produce economic plans from.

This was advanced by the Chilean ‘Cybersyn Project’ (1971 to 1973) which, although never leaving the prototype stage, allowed factory workers to collect and visualise their production performance, check the impact of economic plans and linked them both to a central mainframe computer and every other factory in said system.

The system was principally designed by British ‘operations research’ scientist Stafford Beer, which embodied his notions of ‘organisational cybernetics’ in industrial management.

One of its main objectives was to devolve decision-making power within industrial enterprises to their workforce to develop self-regulation of factories. Both of these specific models failed to be implemented, the first due to late-Soviet bureaucracy’s mal-funding and the latter due to a CIA coup.


This was not lost on economists of the time, who (by the fact that 99% are die-hard Capitalists) smugly interpreted all these failings as absolute qualities of planned economic models and as evidence of the superiority of ‘free-market’ Capitalism being proven once again.

Meanwhile, in the mind of Scottish Computer Scientist Paul Cockshott, an idea was beginning to form. He saw in the rise of consumer ‘micro-PCs’ and teletext technologies in Britain in the 1980s a massive potential to revive the ideas of cybernetic economic planning only flirted with by the socialist states a decade before by using these already existing technologies.

Cockshott interpreted the Soviet system’s main contradictions leading to it’s collapse being the lack of worker’s control of production and the resistance of implementing algorithmic computer calculation in economic modelling.

Both of which he believed stemmed from the unfortunate bureaucracy of the Communist party of the Soviet Union post-Stalin and it’s denial of the continuing of the class struggle within socialist society (leading to a right-wing takeover with Khrushchev).

He predicted that the specific limitations of product variety (along with many other key contradictions of analogue economic planning) could be done away with through the automation of economic calculation that computers allow.

Cockshott finally formalised his ideas, and learned economics formally with co-author Allin Cottrell for his 1993 book ‘ Towards A New Socialism ‘, which was written in response to the collapse of the Soviet Union, as a practical rebuttal to the idea that Socialism died along with it.

Here he described in detail his practical model of a cybernetic Socialist economy which would utilise direct democracy and communal production as it’s key tenets.

Current Relevance

Today the left talks a big game about destroying Capitalism, but the practical models to replace it are few and far between. Most are so wrapped up with the moral outrage of the very obviously oppressive and exploitative system we all suffer under that they don’t have any time to actually think what else we could do.

Cockshott, and the few like him who have actually put the work in to produce these practical visions of our Socialist future are invaluable in our Capitalist Realist landscape, with our collective inability to imagine a positive future beyond capitalism.

Even more than that, in the current cultural landscape, ‘technology’ as a concept IS communicative consumer electronics. More people have a mobile phone than a working toilet, with most being ‘smart’ phones.

These devices are able to record audio and visual data from their camera and microphones with striking clarity (among an amazing amount of other sensory information) and process them locally and remotely almost instantaneously through the internet.

This is to say nothing of the comparatively immense power of regular PCs and already existing computer-based infrastructure that record and control every aspect of banking, surveillance, direct communication and industrial organization.

Cockshott had BBC Micro’s and Teletext, we have iPhones and Wifi internet.

Companies such as Walmart (as detailed in the infamous book ‘ The People’s Republic of Walmart ‘) in particular have engineered incredibly sophisticated cybernetic planning systems which can send information directly from individual tills to a central computer system to be incorporated into economic plans and models instantly through a private network.

The difference between the model of Walmart and CyberSyn or OGAS is basic: the former is made for profits at the expense of workers, the latter was for production FOR the workers.

This is the contradiction Cockshott, and the movement of CyberSocialism aims to resolve.

Source: https://challenge-magazine.org/2020/11/20/an-introduction-to-cybersocialism/


From my bookmarks:

You wouldn’t have it because the limiting factor isn’t computation, but knowledge / information.

The complex problems solved by prices and a market is a very complex and decentralized computation that makes use of local knowledge that isn’t centrally available. Like, what should a jacket cost in the Rocky Mountains. Or what should this specific plot cost. What is lacking in the planned economies isn’t that they have all the knowledge needed to make the calculation, and then just needed a faster (quantum) computer to make the calculation. It is that they don’t have a way of aggregating or collecting local information relevant for each transaction.

Well, we have a way, but that way is of course a decentralized price system.

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskEconomics/comments/871eq3/quantum_computers_socialism/

REA is great, of course. In fact, I believe it’s the only proper way to do decentralized/collaborative accounting. Not to mention how OPEN it tends to be. But it’s an accounting tool just like any other. To replace the markets, you’d have to do much more; you’d have to highjack the hippocampus of all the participants in such a “socialist” society (haha!).

Idea! CyberSyn + hREA + Holochain + Neuralink might just work! Haha!

You may also want to check out:

[To ostracize potentially unwelcomed commenters, consider announcing so in the OP; such as “The A Man may not comment”.]

Please would you consider editing your comments and turning them into one big comment, instead of it being split up into 4 comments like it is now? Then if someone wants to engage with your comment they can do so more easily?

I am really not enjoying the way you are spamming my posts like this with multiple comments. Please do not continue to do so here and on my other posts.

edit: thank you A-man for editing and removing.

You are welcome to comment. I would just like to request that you create your own thread for stuff you are interested in, if it is not orthogonal to the things others write about in their posts (such as in my post here). You have the power to create your own space to discuss things by making your own posts on this forum. Creating your own posts gives other people the choice of how much they want to engage with the content of those comments/posts. And if you do want to engage with people in their threads, sticking to one comment like you’ve now done here in mine might work better, at least for me it feels much better now.

Maybe I can clarify for you and others here that I’m personally mostly interested to talk constructively about Cybersyn and socialist applications for Holochain and Holo-REA technologies in this thread.

So when it comes to the stuff you shared here, I did not find it interesting and I do not want to go into a debate into these areas with you. If you want to debate ‘capitalism vs. communism’ etc., maybe you can go to a place where others also want this, such as r/CapitalismVSocialism or r/DebateCommunism? I do not want to engage with you further about that topic online because I have not enjoyed talking about it with you so far. I have also not felt heard and understood when I did take the time to reply to your comments.

I’m not sure if you remember, but you have resorted to ad hominem attacks, as well as continued to share very black and white statements, and making generalizations which I respectfully disagreed with. You and I have pretty much already discovered a few times that we have different perspectives, right? For me there is no need to rehash that.

As of now it feels like you’re trying to convince me, without you actually listening to my viewpoints, and I’m not interested in that. I myself do not care about convincing you.

If you disagree with my stuff in the future, no worries, please then just make a separate thread about it. You can quote me and tag me if you want, but please refrain from starting side conversations on my threads, like you also did here. I do want to share that if you do make threads with points like the ones you shared above, it is unlikely that I’ll engage. As I shared I’ve already seen that our interests and views lie in differing places. Maybe you will find people who do understand your viewpoints and share your perspectives, or who have the space to engage critically with you, which I do wish for you.