Posts Tagged ‘globalisation’

Globalisation has to shift from centralised control to smart, distributed control

January 23, 2017

I am expanding on an earlier post since I find that there is much loose thinking when it comes to what people perceive as the sins or benefits of globalisation. The globalisation pundits forget that without local there can be no global

Where “globalisation” should have been “think global, act local”, it has instead degenerated to become “decide globally, impose locally”.  It is part of the classic balance between centralised and distributed, between society and the individual. What should have been an increase in local decision-making in the light of being better informed about global consequences, has instead become decision-making at the global level with consequences being imposed on or coerced from the much smaller local entities. The “anti-globalisation wave” currently ongoing is the reaction from the “local” entities which feel imposed upon. It applies as much to individuals in America’s rust belts to the Indian engineers being laid off in a multi-national corporate because avoided costs (not actual costs) are lower in Europe. It applies to the UK view of the EU which fuelled Brexit as much as to the protests in the state of Tamil Nadu against the banning of Jallikattu. This degeneration applies to the UN, it applies to the EU or the WHO or the IMF or the WB. It applies to “global” or “multi-national” corporations, to central governments, to multi-lateral trade agreements and even to scientific endeavour.

There are many analogies and examples available for the balance to be struck in the centralised control of distributed intelligences. Central power generation has given way – somewhat – to smarter, more distributed power generation. Main frame computing has given way to distributed smart devices as the intelligence and capability of each device has increased. Central telephone exchanges have given way to mobile telephony also as the mobile devices have become smarter. In health care, central hospitals will give way to distributed clinics as the capability and intelligence (by automation and AI) of smaller clinics increases. In Sweden for example, health care is still being centralised to the detriment of the local and lags in this evolution towards smarter, more distributed systems. But the move – globally – towards smarter local clinics is inevitable.

In modern power generation systems, which is what I am most familiar with, we used to have centralised controls ruling over individual, “idiot” pieces of equipment. But nowadays we have intelligence at the point of each piece of equipment and a centralised control which only determines policy at the highest level. It is distributed control which has revolutionised not only the efficiency of generation but also the health and life of each piece of equipment, and above all, the performance of individual plants in an inter-connected grid.

From central to distributed

From central to distributed

“Centralised” – as in the diagram above, is imposition of central power on local entities(UN, EU, Central government …), “decentralised” gives groupings of multi-lateral arrangements (NAFTA, NATO, ASEAN …). “Distributed” is the obvious choice when having a multitude of smart entities and consists of developing and emphasising the natural (adjacent) bilaterals. Swarms of birds or shoals of fish are good examples of  decentralised swarms or shoals, where within each shoal a distributed but highly effective network applies, where each individual is only connected to, and responds to, its immediate (bilateral) neighbours.

The key for decentralisation is, of course, that sufficient intelligence resides at the local entities. Then the network becomes “smart”. This shift back towards smarter, more local decision-making is now overdue in international relations, in politics and in the corporate world. This is perhaps the main hope I have for the new Trump administration. With all his faults and all his bombast, if Trump helps reverse the current unsustainable trend and gets it to move towards smarter, distributed local entities, then he will have exceeded my expectations. In all international organisations (UN, EU etc), agreements and trade deals there is far too much decision-making at the global level. The local entities (say in African countries or Indian States or insular communities in Europe) are not necessarily smart enough yet, but that is no excuse to continue with the imposition of “global” decisions made very far away.

A smart world is not one with a global government as many Marxists and socialists dream of, imposing the lowest common standards on everyone and every thing. It is one where the individuals, the local factory or the local government, is smart enough and intelligent enough to make its own decisions for its own position within the global world it exists in. That would give the freedom and flexibility – which I judge absolutely necessary for the future of humans – for the local entity to fit into the global society it lives in as it thinks fit and is capable of.

Globalisation has to shift from centralised control to smart, distributed control. That will give “smart” globalisation.


The pushback begins

January 21, 2017

There are those who take Donald Trump literally and are terrified. I am not one of them. I am not sure where he might go but I am very glad that the Obama/Clinton, politically correct, platitudinous politics will not continue in the US. In my view Trump is the ultimate pragmatist. He is at heart a “deal-maker”. Everything he says is a negotiable position. Everything he does is part of a negotiation. My expectations are not sky-high, but I am pleased that he represents part of the pushback against the sanctimonious and misguided liberal/left thinking that has reached an extreme position after some five decades. It may have been needed after WW2 but it has gone too far. A globally uniform world consisting of uniformly cloned humans is a nonsense. The blind pursuit of a meaningless “equality” – irrespective of human variations and difference in behaviour – is a barrier rather than a help to fairness and justice.

The pendulum needs to swing back in many areas.

Universal human rights: The concept itself is heavily flawed. That the same “rights” can be enjoyed by and applied to every human, regardless of inherent differences of abilities and behaviour, is fundamentally unfair to good guys and protects the bad guys. The issue here becomes whether there is a difference between “good” and “bad”. The liberal/left position has become, effectively, a denial of the difference between good and bad behaviour. Movements for women’s rights, black rights, LGBT rights and minority rights have all forgotten that enforcing “equality” when natural (and desirable) differences exist, is only a recipe for unfairness. Denying gender difference or denying racial difference or denying behavioural difference is just wrong (and stupid). It is seeking fairness and justice – not equality – which is the goal. These “rights” movements have become vehicles, rather, for spreading injustice because they try to use a reverse discrimination to try and correct for some other perceived discrimination. Behaviour of an individual cannot be divorced from the rights of that individual.

Globalisation: The slogan used to be “think global, act local”. But that has degenerated over the years to ignore the local component. Global rules are now being used to coerce and suppress the local. The EU makes rules in Brussels and forces them, “equally”, down the throats of the labour intensive olive groves in Sicily and the highly automated Scandinavian dairy farms. Global corporations make decisions in their headquarters far away from the factories where their wealth and profits are produced. The UN has become representative of no one and no country. The balance between local and global, states versus central government, EU countries versus Brussels, bilateral deals versus global agreements has become badly skewed towards the global or centralised entities. It is a classic fight between centralised versus distributed. A balance is required and this balance is dynamic. This balance needs to shift back towards a distributed  – rather than a centralised – world.

Wealth and wealth distribution: The poor are not poor because the rich are rich. The focus has shifted too much in favour of taking away from the wealth creators and giving to wealth consumers – regardless of what is deserved. This has been a disincentive for wealth creation to the detriment of all. The distinction between poverty and being poor is being forgotten. A fight against poverty is laudable and desirable. There are two ways of attacking poverty and both are needed. There is a compassionate element and there is a sustainable element. The two are well illustrated by the saying “give the hungry man a fish or teach him how to fish”. Any attempt, however, to eliminate the poor is futile and meaningless. There will always be a distribution (thank goodness) and the bottom end will always be called “the poor” even if everybody is well above the “poverty line”. The traditional liberal/left line is focused on redistribution (deserved or undeserved) while the traditional conservative view is to promote wealth creation (and which assumes a trickle down). Here too the balance has to shift back towards “to each as he deserves” rather than “to each as he needs”.

Taxation: Ultimately taxation is always the confiscation of private property for the good of the majority as determined by the majority. The confiscation is always accompanied by an implied coercive element. It is the society versus the individual. There is nothing inherently wrong with that since any society can determine its own rules for individuals to be members of that society. Here too there is a balance to be struck and a pushback is needed. The balance needs to shift back towards promoting wealth creation and taxing wealth consumption. Taxation needs to shift back closer to the point of sale and further away from the production of wealth. In simple terms, more as sales taxes and less as income tax, more tax on sales of services and less on production of goods.

It is wait and see with Donald Trump. However the world does need a shift back towards the local interest guiding the global engagement rather than global rules being imposed on a local environment. Sovereign interests have to gain a greater sway in global organisations (UN, EU, IMF, WB ….), local manufacturing has to have a greater sway within multinational corporations, states have to have greater sway within central governments and towns have to have a greater sway within their states.  Effective bilateral deals are needed rather than grandiose, global, multi-lateral ones.

Maybe Trump can help with that.

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