Monday, March 6, 2017

Big Dreamers Don't Belong In The Inhuman World Of Markets And Capital

Elon Musk is obviously a bright guy. The man has not only had some pretty good ideas, and the will to make them take form, he's had at least some sense of a vision. You might not agree with it (and I don't, for the most part), but he does have one.

His vision, I think, lies in the meld of new, disruptive genius, with new tech titans that want to push everything faster, better, stronger, more effective, and, naturally, more profitable. I believe he thinks that such genius will always be able to operate, at least a little, outside of the normal bounds of quarterly profit and loss. And to a certain extent he may be right. Venture capital can show amazing fortitude, or self delusion, depending on how you might want to look at it, in continuing to fund that which only promises something very big.

And of course, if you are a big dreamer, as Mr. Musk undoubtedly is, your disruptive proposals are likely to be infused with promises of very big things. And, as we've seen, that can certainly work for a while. Markets, however, always find a way to get back to basics, one way or another. And it certainly doesn't help that you find it hard to stay focused on one priority at a time. Even if you had a significant income stream of your own, as well as investor confidence, to back you up, too many things, too big maybe, many of them; eventually what is flowing in, and what is flowing out, get scrutinized very carefully indeed. And it then gets harder to hide the fact that cash flow has become a problem. It was probably a problem before the scrutiny, and the admission, because corners were starting to be cut, and it was likely precisely for that same reason. Shortcuts taken maybe. And so things you didn't use to miss before start to get missed. Are you sure that software was tested thoroughly? Are you sure there was enough testing verification on battery impacts? Are you sure the market is going to support enough of what you are going to have to sell so your venture boys still love you?

I bring Mr. Musk up now because it wasn't that long ago that his vision for space development seemed like the perfect blessing, and reaffirmation of, entrepreneurial excellence leading Capitalism into the stars, and beyond. All you needed is to get the right genius, with the right visionary, venture cap vendors, and we can solve any problem. But this human side of big money dreaming always thinks that it's brand of specialness will hold the cold logic of markets at bay, not only long enough, but on a regularly occurring basis. So much so, in fact, that you should always be able to take it to the bank and have it as a bookable asset. Sadly, though, as history always seems to show, this is not the case.

One can think of Capitalism, and markets, as one of the original algorithms in human organizational systems. As such they are simply a set of rules which create triggers, and specific response paths for those triggers, and despite the fact that humans have always been involved in moving the process steps along at each clock cycle, the rules of the algorithm are amazingly adept at getting humans to comply, no matter how inhuman following through on those rules might be.

It works, I think, precisely because it has been so in line with making the most out of the realities of scarcity. It is an algorithm combination, in fact, that not only must have scarcity to work, it uses that scarcity as a big stick to show that being inhuman can set you apart from being on the usual receiving end of scarcity. In this can you both get to marshal great masses of human effort, but you also then get to play outside the bounds of scarcity. And in that is a drug that has shown remarkable resiliency in staying in the top ranks of addiction.

In any event, though, it also shows why dreamers are going to have to realize that staying with that algorithm combination is just not viable in the long run. The fact that this combination does not like to deal with all costs up front (because there is always a competition to get any other player to front them), and because of the inherent inhumanism of its operation, make it clear, now that electrified experience retrieval is at hand, that it is simply no longer viable, or sustainable.

Now we have to come up with a way for dreamers, and regular folks, to work together so that every day matters, and the big efforts to have our reach exceed our grasp, can both have a very good chance of being seen to; not only now, and tomorrow, and five or ten years from now. I can only hope that bright guys like Mr. Musk pick up on this, and the sooner the better.

Elon Musk's Capital Flow Problems