When you're done watching, read on. I'll wait for you.
Okay, finished watching? Good. Now I have a few things to say. But before I start, I want to share the first thing I wrote down when I first watched this:
I'm still trying to think about how a cooperation-based economy would be fundamentally different than a capitalist economy. I'm not entirely sure I followed where he was going with this talk....Regardless of whether this is what he was in fact thinking, this is where his talk has taken me. The altruistic punisher effect, as he showed it, is quite small. On the large scale, the only thing close to it is a society which bands together via taxes to impose regulations on others. But a HUGE portion of society (I'm talking about you Ron Paul fanatics who visited this blog for the sole reason that this entry came up on google blog search for the "Ron Paul is awesome" quote that I just gave) does not feel that these regulations are a good idea. (Even Ann Coulter has publicly stated that when she listens to Ron Paul speeches, she starts to fall in love with him up until he talks about foreign policy, at which point she says she regains her sanity.) Is it possible that while the altruistic punisher idea works consistently on the small scale, it breaks down at larger scales?
Is he saying that we might be able to create a new form of economy where each of us works together in ways that create wealth for us all as opposed to just ourselves? His mention of the ultimatum game seems to be used as evidence to show that even when we lose out in a capitalistic sense, we may have an innate desire to cooperate in such a way that everyone gains fairly in the end. Is he extrapolating this to say that the new economy will be one where a companies might start doing things that help everyone, even when self interest ceases to be a motivating factor, simply because to not be fair is to invite the wrath of a public which expects cooperation no matter what?
I'm thinking about it, and it certainly makes sense that if the ultimatum game is played with a million dollars, and player A claims $900 000, you'd have to be crazy to turn down the $100k. Yet then he starts to give examples of companies that are starting to go altruistic today. As more and more companies fall into this mold, will it happen that we as a society will come to expect such behavior, and then punish those companies that don't exhibit it? If so, then companies will HAVE to be cooperative, even if it is to their detriment, since if they don't, society will make it even further to their detriment.
... To be honest, I'm still really fuzzy on all this. If you ask me again tomorrow, I may hold an entirely different view. But today, as I write this, the idea seems not only plausible, but also the evidence Howard Rheingold gave seems to actually support the idea that we could be moving in that direction as we speak.
What do you think?