A FUTURE OF BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS
MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
We are always wondering what our underlying purpose is in this world, and some people don’t even take the time to contemplate their place in the universe. They are very satisfied with being machines that eat, drink and defecate; only taking breaks for an occasional first shooter game or reality show.
At this point in time, the human experience seems to be a fight against toxicity, whether physically, mentally or spiritually.
It is also a period where victimhood is rewarded with massive amounts of attention. No matter the situation we assume that victimization is universal because human behavior is cruel, children are bullies, adults are abused by other adults, we have human trafficking, human slavery, racism, and many of us do not understand bizarre behaviors and changes in attitudes about gender.
We are addicted to outrage and become hungry for truth when we are confused. We are satiated when we hear words that we already believe are true, rather than the uncomfortable reality that makes you feel fragile and vulnerable.
We have never had abuse that feels this good.
We thrive on the latest gossip and feed the darker power of hearing about the latest country bombed and remain apathetic.
We become excitable because we sense the next surge or mayhem so that we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that we have avoided that harsh good night where the lights go out for you and your neighbors.
Everything that is broken, we think we can fix. We throw money at it, harsh chemicals and weapons of mass destruction at it. We keep on doing this until we break even more things and destroy the environment.
The planet becomes unlivable in some areas and one again we breathe a sigh of relief that no one near us have become refugees – we see on TV that the world is ending but we do nothing to stop it.
It looks as if we need to become supermen in order to escape the fate of the extinction that is happening around us now.
On July 3rd, 2009, Stephen Hawking spoke at a conference about how he believes humans have entered a new stage of evolution. Although it has taken Homo sapiens several million years to evolve from the apes, the useful information in our DNA has probably changed by only a few million bits. So the rate of biological evolution in humans, Stephen Hawking points out in his, Life in the Universe lecture, is about a bit a year. We have sped up our evolution with the use of drugs, bodily enhancements, and technology. The human we will see in the not too distant future, according to Hawking will be an advanced human, maybe even something that has a semblance to humanity without being human.
We are now entering a new phase, of what Hawking calls “self-designed evolution,” in which we will be able to change and improve our DNA. At first, these changes will be confined to the repair of genetic defects, like cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy. These are controlled by single genes, and so are fairly easy to identify, and correct. Other qualities, such as intelligence, are probably controlled by a large number of genes. It will be much more difficult to find them and work out the relations between them. Nevertheless, Hawking is sure that during the next century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence, and instincts like aggression.
Jose Delgado was a Neurophysiologist at Yale University. Delgado is famous for stopping a charging bull with an electronic box that was simply a radio receiver that received a pulse that was carried down a probe into the bull’s brain.
Delgado wanted to demonstrate how this type of transmission would be able to eradicate human aggression and bad human behaviors. Delgado believed that direct influence of the cerebral mechanisms and mental structures he could create a future man a member of what he called a psycho-civilized society.
In the film the Matrix, there is a scene where the villain, Agent Smith is trying to break Morpheus through mental torture. While Morpheus is writhing in pain and his eyes are rolling back into his head, Smith sneers and makes a speech about what he feels about humanity.
“I´d like to share a revelation that I´ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species, and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we… are the cure.”
When Smith refers to “we are the cure” he is referring to the programs within the matrix that are mechanically controlled and how a symbiotic relationship with machines is the answer to the problems that come with human behavior.
If we truly see human beings as a species we find, instead of robot-like logic, all manner of irrational, self-sabotaging, and even altruistic behavior. This is such a routine observation that it has been made for centuries.
Behavioral scientists have been observing human behavior and have realized that humans are very curious about anomalous things, strange facts, and odd observations that the prevailing wisdom cannot explain.
Sometimes human behaviors at times don’t make any sense.
For example, Casino gamblers, are willing to keep betting even while expecting to lose. People say they want to save for retirement, eat better, start exercising, quit smoking and they mean it but they don’t do anything about it. The majority of people who believe in anthropogenic climate change are not activists and so most do nothing to prevent it– even though they say that it is happening.
In our culture of victimhood, victims of any kind exact their revenge, though doing so hurts their own interests.
Such perverse facts are a direct affront to the standard model of what technocrats call the New Man or the Economic Man.
The Economic Man makes logical, rational, self-interested decisions that weigh costs against benefits and maximize value and profit to himself. Economic Man is an intelligent, analytic, selfish creature who has perfect self-regulation in pursuit of his future goals and is not swayed by bodily states and feelings. The Economic Man is a marvelously convenient pawn for building academic theories.
However, there is a problem with Economic Man – he does not exist, at least not yet.
Furthermore, many may not know this, but with the aids of social media, data mining, and human behavioral studies, the economic man will be created and human behaviors will be augmented to create a more responsible psycho-civilized society.
Richard Thaler, the University of Chicago professor who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, has inspired scholars across different disciplines and fundamentally changed the way we think about human behavior. He is considered the father of behavioral economics — a relatively new field that combines insights from psychology, judgment, and decision making, and economics to generate a more accurate understanding of human behavior.
Economics has long differed from other disciplines in its belief that most if not all human behavior can be easily explained by relying on the assumption that our preferences are well-defined and stable across time and are rational. Back in the 1990s, Thaler began challenging that view by writing about anomalies in people’s behavior that could not be explained by standard economic theory. For instance, in 1991, he started a column in The Journal of Economic Perspectives with two other colleagues that were all about such anomalies.
Among his many achievements, Thaler inspired the creation of behavioral science teams, often call “nudge units,” in public and private organizations around the globe.
Together with Cass Sunstein, he wrote a book in 2008 called Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, which suggests that there are many opportunities to “nudge” people’s behavior by making subtle changes to the context in which they make decisions.
For example, General Electric’s leaders wanted to address the issue of smoking, believing that it impacted its employees negatively. So, in collaboration with Kevin Volpp and his co-authors, they conducted a randomized controlled trial.
Employees in the treatment group each received $250 if they stopped for six months and $400 if they stopped for 12 months. Those in the control group did not receive any incentive.
The researchers found that the treatment group had three times the success rate of the control group and that the effect persisted even after the incentives were discontinued after 12 months. Based on this work, GE changed its policy and started using this approach for its then-152,000 employees.
Another nudge experiment that has been working for some time now is the food nudge.
McDonald’s had an old policy of asking whether customers want to super-size their order. As it turns out, people would often say yes more so than no.
However, research has shown that when customers in a Chinese restaurant are asked if they want to down-size their portions of side dishes, they often do.
The percentage of customers who did so in their field experiments, 14% to 33% of them, ate 200 less calories on average.
And of course, there are several nudges that show the humans mimic behaviors. Have you ever yawned and noticed that this nudges others to yawn? There is also the idea that if you say buh-bye at the end of a phone call—the person on the other end will often say buh- bye instead of the word goodbye before they hang up.
Nudges also help with making people honest. Nudges also can be used as suggestions and with many repetitious suggestions eventually there will be a well groomed and conditioned response.
This is simple behavioral therapy and changes where there is some sort of reward in the end or the promise of a reward, even if there is no reward it does not matter, the brain has already convinces itself that the new behavioral change is for the best even if it is damaging to the person.
Keep in mind that there isn’t always someone there to nudge you– Smoking, savings, honesty, and healthy eating may not be items on your list of problems to address or areas where you’d like to see improvements in your own behavior or the actions of people you know.
But when peer pressures and economic credit is introduced people tend to act differently.
We all know about the FICO credit scores that allegedly are there to make you that responsible adult that is supposed to pay their bills on time. There many people that argue that they are not effective because human behavior is often intimidated over matters or money and they often undersell their self-worth.
We are now becoming victims of the algorithm — the computer becomes your judge and jury when it comes to your economic record – and they will punish you financially for being human.
Computers don’t care about special circumstances. Everything is either black or white. There is no consideration of a person’s basic character or allowance for the fact that people can change their lives and their behaviors. A computer looks at data and assigns a number. Negatives stay on your credit report for seven years or longer. Murderers have been known to walk out of prison on appeal or probation in less time than it takes to clear one’s credit history.
In the future, you may not have that problem.
Computers now are in the process of making you honest or in the future the computer will make your honesty and good behavior mandatory.
In past shows, I have talked about China’s new Social Credit System which is intended to nudge Chinese citizens to adopt good behavior, including motivating them to pay outstanding debts and fines, as well as encouraging them to obey the country’s laws and regulations.
China’s social credit system operates on a points system. If you are a law-abiding citizen who pays your dues in a timely manner, the government rewards you with welfare benefits, low-interest rates on loans and more.
But criminals, delinquents, and those who default on debts, as well as those indicted for bad behavior when traveling overseas will have lower social credit rankings and be marked as having a “delisted” status.
“Discredited” Chinese citizens face greater scrutiny from the public, meet tougher challenges when applying for new credit cards, getting bank loans and in more severe cases, may be blocked from buying airlines or train tickets, until they repay their outstanding debts and fines.
Now while China’s system is the one that faces the most scrutiny – the truth is that they learned from our FICO system how to implement a system of control.
Many people do not know that Japan enforces strict health requirements for its national health insurance, such as requiring people to see a dietitian and counselor if their waistline exceeds certain limits.
French President Emanuel Macron has also called for a new law to ban so-called political extremists for life on social media accounts.
Sweden has taken it to new levels with a rice grain-sized microchip that can be implanted under the skin of one’s hand to replace the need for keys, credit cards, and train tickets. It might sound shocking but over 4,000 Swedes have adopted the technology and they have done it voluntarily.
There is no denying that the FICO system, the Chinese system, and the Japanese health behavioral systems will all evolve into the Swedish solution – or maybe all of them would be combined in order to enforce more Orwellian methods of name-and-shame humiliation and quite possibly chip implants that enforce behavior through pulses or some other mental reminder that the choices you make will keep you from buying or traveling or anything else.
Many people in the world think the microchip will solve a lot of the world’s problems. Some are already saying, the sooner the better, maybe then we can get a handle on the criminals, perverts, and undesirables; especially here in the United States.
The microchip will prove invaluable with identifying a person’s entire medical history, and identification stored on it. It will help protect the children and the elderly, and they may ultimately start implanting the chip in children at birth. It will solve identity theft and stealing problems. You will never have to carry around cash, debit cards, credit cards, or medical information and you won’t have to worry about terrorism or bad behavior because it can be shut down as Jose Delgado shut down the charging bull in his experiments that he believed would ensure a psycho-civilized society.
Every movement and every action will be tracked, monitored, recorded and correlated.
The most sophisticated chips are now the size of a small grain of rice. Some nanochips are even smaller than a grain of sand.
They are implantable devices that provide quick, low-cost implantation easy and affordable.
It takes about 20 minutes and does not require stitches. A medical-grade glass capsule holds a silicon computer chip, a copper antenna and a “capacitor” that transmits data stored on the chip when prompted by an electromagnetic reader. Implantations are quick, relatively simple procedures.
After a local anesthetic is administered, a hypodermic needle injects the chip under the skin.
This Bio-Microchip is a computer microchip that is both a transponder and a receiver. In other words, this microchip constantly sends out a signal that can be picked up by tracking stations, and it can be changed millions of times with technology similar to that of UPC Code technology, thus allowing it to be used for financial and personal transactions throughout the lifetime of the individual. This microchip will send out a signal constantly throughout every day that will uniquely identify that person and his/her whereabouts.
This chip can contain a universal I.D., health information, credit score both financial and behavioral and any demerits that can accrue for any behavior considered deplorable.
In all probability, this will be our first step towards a technotronic transhumant society.
Trans post-humanity faces serious risks, especially from the misuse of new technologies. There are possible realistic scenarios that lead to the loss of most, or even all, of what we hold valuable. Some of these scenarios are drastic, others are subtle. Although all progress is change, not all change is progress. While there are advantages to most transhuman or human enhancement technologies, we need to understand that perhaps it is a moral imperative to limit our ability to integrate with machines and technology.