What good story wouldn’t have a protagonist to juxtapose the antagonist? A force to resolve the conflict. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the machinations of Moloch. One of the most powerful aspects of Moloch is how he slowly chips away at our autonomy over extended period of time. The capitalist incentive system put a stake in the ground when Adam Smith published “A Wealth of Nations” in 1776, the year the United States began its revolutionary war. That’s almost 250 years ago, which means Moloch can operate within generational, multi-century timelines. With this patience, he makes us complacent to the systems in place, rather than question and change their design. Individually we are too weak to fight against these macropowers, which make it the path of least resistance. Compete. Survival of the fittest. Capture profits.
But we have survived many interactions with Moloch, so what is it that makes humans so resilient? How did we evolve to produce such technological and scientific breakthroughs that we have yet to see anywhere else in our Universe? Take a moment and consider this question with me. Actually take a moment to answer it for yourself.
There is no one answer. You can take this question from any number of lenses based on your expertise, and experience. But here is the answer I find most interesting to me. To me, what makes humans so unique is our ability to cooperate. Think about the greatest achievements of mankind. Again, take a moment to actually consider the question, because everyone might have a different opinion or perspective on our collective achievements. Once you have it, now tell me, was the achievement accomplished alone? I can almost guarantee it was not because the greatest of achievements require cooperation at scale. Whether that’s a family, a community, a company, a state, a country, a world. Our super power as a race is not to race against one another, but to support and build with one another.
The problem is our wetware can’t handle the scope of the contemporary human network. We evolved to really only be able to handle a finite number of relationships, but now we have to manage this on a global scale. Humanity got good at aligning groups that could handle the increased concentrations. Whether it was geographic imagined borders, a religion, or a nation-state - we kept finding ways to chunk our collective efforts into ever more inclusive categories. But these are still just tribes, and due to resource scarcity, a need for safety, a desire to have the best mate, or plain old exploitation there will always be competition.
But not all games are zero-sum. Not all boards are set by Moloch. As strange as it might sound, there is a God fed by our values. She has planted a desire deep in the hardware of humanity and life to thrive throughout the Universe.
Liv Boerre calls this God of cooperative games WinWin in the future of Life Institute’s episode on the topic. At first she coined the term as a joke, it stuck with her and I have to agree I kind of like it. Not only does it immediately communicate the frame of a win-win situation, but it’s also kind of funny and lighthearted sounding. This is a God who does not care about winning the game she plays with Moloch, and so Moloch cannot influence her. She is curious, exploratory, and sees in every situation a puzzle with a solution where everyone can benefit.
WinWin and Her Casual Stroll to the Top is meant to act as a counterpoint to Moloch and Generative AI’s Race to the Bottom. I don’t want us to lose sight of the summit we’re heading toward, even if we’ll have to weather some treacherous ground before we reach it.