Jan 26, 2023·edited Jan 26, 2023

Hi Ryan, i have a lot of respect for you as a programmer and i agree with a lot of the problems you describe in the first paragraphs. But i‘m always a bit perplexed by the solutions you propose in order to solve these problems. I don‘t think it makes much sense to argue against your anarcho-capitalistic leanings, because that would just take way to long. I try to argue against what are the most obvious faults in your arguments. Also, because you don‘t seem to like the word capitalism, i will be using ether real existing capitalism or state-capitalism to describe the kind of capitalism we have today.

>The regulation-proponent never addresses that use of regulatory force is anti-production by definition.

This is somewhat of a circular argument: Regulation is anti-production because the inhibits companies from producing in a certain way. The thing missing here is that there are other forces like monopolistic practices and anti-competitive behaviour that hinders productivity in a economy. I know of course that in a ancap world those problems would just magically disappear, but in current real existing capitalism, if regulation can limit the extend to how these anti-productive activities harm the economy, regulation itself can increase productivity.

A perfect example would be the one of the reason you wrote this article: The Apple store monopoly. Because Apple has a monopoly on there operating system and its app store, it can force developers to charge whatever there want as their commission when purchasing an app from there store. The OS does not allow other alternative stores, eliminating any competition.The solution: forcing apple do abandon this anti-competitive practice by allowing other stores to be installed on there OS. It‘s really hard to see how this is not good for app-developers.

>Behind every regulatory measure aimed at a corporation is another corporation looking for a competitive edge.

I think this sentiment comes from the thinking that every state is corrupt and if the state regulates the market it does so because it is bribed by a company or a specific business sector to do so, giving that company or business sector the advantage in a otherwise perfectly balanced free market. While i agree that most regulation in a state-capitalistic system are motivated by that dynamic, it does not mean that it always must be the case. A state is at least potentially democratic. If a regulatory measure is motivated by democratic forces, it can lead to a juster and more productive economy.

>The software world I hope to help build is different than that which exists today, and that which Big Tech corporations have no problem driving us toward. This would be a world with widespread competition, simple and rewritable building blocks at the core of the ecosystem, simple and open protocols for networked communication, simple and open file formats for the most important information, a high value for user experience and design, and the impossibility of extinguishing computing freedom.

It‘s hard for me to see how in a world of Big Tech, be it in a state-capitalist economy or in an anarcho-capitalist world, even if we had these simple and rewritable building blocks, file formats etc. such large companies could not just use there monopoly and influence to change these building blocks, file formats etc. to give them a market-advantage and to solidify there monopoly like Microsoft, Apple and Google have always done. Essentially leaving us where we are. Even if the playing field is initially leveled there are inherent dynamics in market based economy that help create these monopolies without any state intervention: Network effects, economy of scale, lock-in effect to name a few.

>Man was not born into the world with computers, and operating systems, and software (in fact, he wasn’t born with clothing, food, housing, and a great number of other such things)—he had to productively act in transforming natural resources into those products.

This is an interesting point to bring up since almost every original design of those components that make a computer today have been developed by publicly funded institutions, away from competition and full of people who did the work they did out of pure interest and love for what they do. I say this is because of the common idea that invention can only happen in a competitive free-market environment while historically the private sector has done very little for technological achievement's in terms of ground work and heavy lifting compared to the public sector for which you seem to have so much disdain of. As a matter of fact, even after the invention of computers and telecommunication the private sector ignored those technologies for decades because it didn‘t see any way to generate short term profit form it.

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This attack on regulation and the alternatives/solution you offer strike me as simplistic. It's equivalent in spirit to saying,

"The rule of law is too restrictive. We should remove all laws and then people should just not murder eachother and stop stealing. Let's all be nice please."

People will probably always steal and always murder, unless maybe we live in a post scarcity world, and even then it will continue to happen.

And the same applies to companies. Left unchecked, they will always try to maximize their profits and gain market advantages. And market advantages are not productive. In fact they destroy productivity as it's harder to make any progress without the monopoly hand slapping you away. It's not a plot, it's not a conspiracy, it's not that these people are evil (well some are) - it's just that the incentives are there pushing them towards this way of doing business. They'll prioritize growth to satisfy shareholders.

Unregulated companies do uncompetitive things and hinder the productiveness of entire sectors.

I'm not in favour of extreme regulation, but saying that all regulation is useless let's just be nice to each other and make better software is really unconvincing to me.

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Well written Ryan. Big Tech has created "experience machines" for decades for us all, and the key to their adoption was figuring out how to hijack reinforcing dopaminergic pathways and make the experience addictive. Everyone has struggled (or continues to struggle) with social media addiction, and look how much money that industry has printed.

Your conclusion felt unsatisfactory to me, however. How can we induce productive human action? Society strives for this constantly, I believe as a default, yet we are constantly led astray by the vices of money and fame. These tend to come in fields that are NOT making the human condition better (which professions and fields make the most money?). I agree that the free-market + necessary regulation is the future. My question is, is it possible for capitalism to incentivize productive human ambition in this regards?

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