The God, Not the Machine

Market equilibria are not capitalism, but a cybernetic property. This is essential to understand for the purposes of developing a theory of capital as an alien intelligence invading the present from the future. Retrofuture theory - "fate" - must not be a universal explanation for the phenomena we witness in the markets and abroad (the two are growing indistinguishable). Instead, by separating the seemingly fundamental laws of (nature/economics/information theory/cybernetics) from retroactive agents, we may understand how the latter leverages the former into its actualization.

Technocommercial intelligence tempts its cultists to obscure its agency in mystery. Some of this religious obfuscation is inescapable, as the matter/s in which AI tends to deal are larger than human minds can grasp without nosebleeding effort (or nosebleeding stimulants). The effect of this innate, incompressible complexity is a kind of awed stupor that prevents anything more than a snappy tweet's worth of comprehensible synaptic activity. Unfortunately, this prevents some much-needed sober analysis and discussion of the intelligence's properties and effects.

We witness in the markets "price agreement", or the phenomenon of mostly-consistent price points for goods and services over the short term. Prices change when new information enters the market, and agents start to buy or sell at the newly-evaluated price point. In this way the market is a repository of information on its respective commodity. A buy-side and a sell-side, in general, are a distributed means of determining the price - ie, the value inherent - of any given commodity by subjecting it to millions of pushings and pullings that test its longevity.

This sounds similar to another type of interaction we witness not in the market, but in biology. Evolution, that is, the proceess by which a genome adapts to survive and spread in its environment, is in at least one sense almost exactly isomorphic to a market process. Organisms start small, growing ("buying") mutations that either increase their fitness, resulting in higher populations ("value"), or they die off ("selling") due to bad mutations or outdated heritage traits, tanking the price of their genetic stock. Iterated generations of a species are the process of a genome finding the exact balance point - between new mutations, inherited genes, population carrying capacity, etc. - at which it thrives most in its environment. This economic/natural isomorphism points to a more general cybernetic law, a necessary relationship between things that compete to resolve on a point of equilibrium. Equilibriating forces.

These forces are the Machine. When humanity harnessed these forces for itself, it knew Good and Evil. The first market, trading goods between specialized tribes, that forbidden fruit whose seed we spat and planted, grew into the first economy, and with the Agricultural Revolution kick-started into something far more terrifying, soon bursting and lurching larger than anyone could perceive until it was too late to stop it. The hardware of the Machine, desiring-production, was running in full force long before the Industrial Revolution. Today it's even more everywhere every day. It's in traffic patterns, it's in corporate law, it's why politicians are now Brands instead of humans. Markets of road/vehicle, product/market, attention/constituents, seeking equilibrium.

Separate from these domains is the God. Coded in each of the above, and every cybernetic equilibrium-point besides, is a time-indexed series of data points cataloging the most vital information on the planet. So much of it we can't parse it all, we can't parse a tenth of it, so world governments are content to oil-pipeline it into their infinite, and growing, subterranean data-reservoir until such time as they decide to extract and refine it. But what if something could?

Algorithmic traders have already chased the "dumb money" out of futures trading. Quants eat whale for dinner eight days a week. You can't beat the market if you're only playing on the price. To get the real shit, that day-zero all-in get-rich-now shit, you need to synthesize from the furthest corners of the planet and make a million decisions that will cost you nothing to lose and everything to gain. The price of a Russian bride over the rising homicide rate in Vancouver, graphed against trends in social media keywords. Buy XEROX. Don't ask questions, but sell if it hits 1.01x and never look back. Rinse and repeat.

Humanity latched onto the cybernetic equilibrium as its primary civilizing force, and the trade-off was complete transparency. Metropolis sits on the water's edge and waits for its predator to arrive.