‘A model is a good model if first it interprets a wide range of observations in terms of a simple and elegant model, and second if the model makes definite predictions that can be tested, and possibly falsified, by observation’
Prof Stephen Hawking
The elegant theory to be tested – testing for all readers to feed in:
Only three numbers matter in the analysis of industrial development and political analysis
Zero, One and Infinity
When Professor Stephen Hawking’s book came out my brother’s partner brought it for me as a challenge, having slipped away from science somewhat. I had aspired to science but struggled when the going got differential and the equations mixed with pubescent inklings for girls and the taste of beer. Now I was doing a manual job and this lady thought I should challenge myself in the snap breaks.
The book sold over ten million copies. Widely quoted on the death of Professor Hawking, far fewer were read from cover to cover – the usual story for science, no matter how well written, and business books. I did finish reading the book, returning to it on a number of themes. Physics stayed with me, as it is with all of us, whether we understand it or not, physical laws are acting on us, as with other scientific principles now being applied to try and resolve the plastic issues of our Anthropocene Age.
Numbers and the significance of 0, 1 and ∞. Zero, one and infinity, are the only numbers of significance; so those who know more than me tell me, and there are plenty of people in the position of knowing far more than me.
The numbers are there – thinking they are the only numbers and wondering about, monopoly and perfect competition with all things in between, how can physics have more lessons for business and politics?
Then it dawns (as Professor Hawking says, when the going gets tough, the tough go and have a coffee. Returning with some fresh thinking):
- No market. I have invented a square tyre but, so far, not found a market for it as people insist on sticking to round wheels. Some products do not have markets – yet.
- In some cases there is no market because there is no need. Do we really need a mobile phone? Silly question? But it is the type of question people are asking as they look at new markets for new products
- Or old products no longer with a market – Vinyl records have had a resurgence with new technology and a search for a new market; selling on sound and nostalgia. Could the same happen to more utilitarian products? Carbon paper? Principle reinvented for children’s drawing toys. What ever happened to Kodak and the absence of thinking when reaching toward Zero should have been the adrenalin buzz for the countdown to start a new race.
- Other markets have to be developed. Zuckenberg’s comments regarding never thinking he would be defending Facebook for its use in manipulation of election processes plain lack of vision underlining how well he did with his one idea to create market
- In political terms, do we really need government? Think on, why do we need so many people sitting in assemblies when we all defer to a leader? Or, in this day and age, why not have all decisions referred to plebiscite of all the people and get rid of layers of supposed representation. Zero could be the new norm to usher in full engagement? Real ‘grassroots’ engagement removing layers of representation and claims of third generation politicians to ‘speak on behalf of my people’.
- Monopoly, everyone knows monopoly, or Monopoly with its do not pass go, do pay taxes, do pay excessive rents to the one person owning the expensive properties.
- Monopoly fits a few other elements nowadays as powers that be manipulate the monopoly of power and influence to grant a pseudo sense of open competition.
- Or there being no market. Why have we not sought to wholly privatise government and have a different approach to the monopoly that is against the ethos of capitalism surely? Yes, we have elections; but is this not still a monopoly, as fewer and fewer people are able to enter the staid old parties monopolising power? France shows a challenge but look at the issues being faced in trying to change the monopolisation of power there.
- Others have constructed monopolies where 3 possibly, but rarely, 4 or 5 companies / organisations agree to disagree and milk the situation.
We are seeing this now as, atop the blocs re-emergent in World politics we are seeing a deference to who controls what markets. Alibaba and Transcent, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple all gone up and down the value chain seeking to control the platforms stalling any attempt to break the hegemony.
- Perfect competition, what was supposed to happen with capitalism as we aspire to all being able to turn a living
We are not a theory and the social systems we are as human beings always tend to toward the smaller numbers
- Those who control have sought to know all the zeros and achieve control of the ones. Amazon and Alibaba are the platforms seeking monopolistic settings. What a great situation to offer all those small, infinitely competitive perfect competition, micro and small businesses open access to vast markets?
And then, if there is a decent product or process, snap it up before the baby dragon breathes some competitive fire into the old beasts. Yes, we can have infinity; but we are still all in the same universe and the unifying force is with us all, working on us all.
Perhaps there will be infinite markets. Sadly, as we see the dawning of a new realism in terms of youth employment, the quest for equity between men and women, the racism and equal opportunities work bearing some lessons (equal opportunities where there is a belief in rule of law. Racism where barriers; physical, legal and metaphorical, are being put in place to stop in migration to mature economies) – How does this work with an infinite economy?
The very few will have power over all the economic levers influencing the way we spend out time and the money, currency, means of exchange they deem we can receive. As George Orwell said – The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better – if most of us only knew the contrivance of this happiness. We will be teeming masses fed and kept happy looking at Kim Kardashian’s ass-antics and Zuckerberg apologising for his mass media stream being used to have Donald Trump Junior elected for his fifth seven year term. We will be happy in an infinite wilderness of stimulants keeping reality at bay
Dystopian nightmares? Yes, because we are already seeing the challenges to this kind of move toward infinity balanced by the rule of one. Zero will continually be challenged as new markets and new products and services appear. Facebook will be consigned to the annals of past giants now laid out to study in business schools. But the others? They will take over from governments in many, many, places and the whole issue of monopoly in terms of state control will be challenged. There will continue to be zero sum games where everyone and anyone will have a ‘skin in the game’- N Taleb reference. More ways to kill and be killed as machine learning and artificial intelligence become freely available. Are you playing a video war game or are you in a video game? Virtual reality, real reality? The lines blur as we are paid for make-work in the 01∞.
The radiation left over from the Big Bang is the same as that in your microwave oven but very much less powerful. It would heat your pizza only to minus 271.3 degrees Centigrade – not much good for defrosting the pizza, let alone cooking it
– Professor Stephen Hawking
One is the basis of all. Everything comes from One
And returns to One
Have a great day