Monday, May 09, 2011

The dishonest minority

Bruce Schneier is writing a book (which I will buy as soon as its available):
All complex systems contain parasites. In any system of cooperative behavior, an uncooperative strategy will be effective -- and the system will tolerate the uncooperatives -- as long as they're not too numerous or too effective. Thus, as a species evolves cooperative behavior, it also evolves a dishonest minority that takes advantage of the honest majority. If individuals within a species have the ability to switch strategies, the dishonest minority will never be reduced to zero. As a result, the species simultaneously evolves two things: 1) security systems to protect itself from this dishonest minority, and 2) deception systems to successfully be parasitic.

Humans evolved along this path. ...

The term "dishonest minority" is not a moral judgment; it simply describes the minority who does not follow [some?] societal norm[s]. Since many societal norms are in fact immoral, sometimes the dishonest minority serves as a catalyst for social change. Societies without a reservoir of people who don't follow the rules lack an important mechanism for societal evolution. Vibrant societies need a dishonest minority; if society makes its dishonest minority too small, it stifles dissent as well as common crime.
I am a strong proponent of applying systems theory, meta-systems theory and evolution to politics and economics. I very much admire Schneier, an expert in security of every sort.

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