Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Studies on Studies on Slack

  • SlateStarCodex published a new essay on Studies on Slack, here's a summary with some examples highlighted:
    • He discusses how competitive pressure can make things improve, but if there's some "slack" from this pressure,  an organism or organization can pursue longer-term goals.
    • Starts by discussing evolution, but then gives examples in Capitalism, history, Civilization (the game), civilization (itself), the spread of ideas, etc. 
    • Gives example of Italy vs. Switzerland to suggest that maybe a little warfare can help with ideas.
    • Gives example of Sears where apparently the CEO thought there should be more internal competition, but it didn't work out.

  • I don't think the Italy vs. Switzerland example demonstrates much
    • it's not a large sample, there were many other differences between them, and the Swiss produced stuff too
    • It would always have been better and led to more progress if countries didn't kill each other and looked for other ways to compete, like the modern Western world does (or like Isaiah envisioned)
  • Trade is great but it also has many inefficiencies since it requires negotiations to get the right price and diligence to evaluate the service done, so adding too much intra-company competition sounds like a bad idea.
    • A company succeeds in part because people work together for a certain goal without trying to cut corners at every opportunity.
    • If everything is entirely based on getting a good performance evaluation, there will be too many attempts to game it. 
    • On the other hand, if there's no evaluations and the company just relies on selfless dedication, free-riders will bring the company down in the long term.
    • An economy overall requires even more "evaluation" (i.e negotiated prices) since it's an even larger group where people feel even less commitment to the collective and where there's less implicit evaluation of one's performance. This is why communism failed, but a small startup can succeed

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