Sunday, July 31, 2016

Spontaneous order in Pokemon GO

The Libertarian Economic Theory That Might Be Secretly Driving Pokémon Go | Atlas Obscura - Ernie Smith:

July 25, 2016 - "[T]he biggest non-politics story at the moment — the phenomenal rise of Pokémon Go — is seen by some libertarians as a validation of a philosophy that's key to their economic ideals: spontaneous order, the idea that in a world of chaos, order eventually organizes itself.

"The philosophy is closely associated with Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, and borrows some ideas from the 'invisible hand' theory espoused by fellow economist Adam Smith.

"The theory basically follows as such: If you do nothing to set order or regulate flow, order will eventually show itself. By forcing order onto a structure, however, you limit possibilities and outcomes, and the weight of the system eventually falls over on itself. Here's how Hayek puts it in his landmark 1974 Nobel Prize speech, 'The Pretense of Knowledge,' which argues against heavy social engineering of economic structures:
In the physical sciences there may be little objection to trying to do the impossible.... But in the social field the erroneous belief that the exercise of some power would have beneficial consequences is likely to lead to a new power to coerce other men being conferred on some authority. Even if such power is not in itself bad, its exercise is likely to impede the functioning of those spontaneous ordering forces by which, without understanding them, man is in fact so largely assisted in the pursuit of his aims. 
"So, where does Pokémon Go fit into this?

"To put it simply, the design of the game is very hands-off, and its growth is basically pushed forward by the use of spontaneous social systems.

"''The game provides the opportunity for building social institutions, but it’s the actions of the individuals in the game that build it, forming a beautiful spontaneous order "of human action, not human design",' argues Tyler Groenendal of the Acton Institute.

"Young Americans for Liberty, a Ron Paul-affiliated nonprofit that brings together millennials who get excited about laissez-faire economic theory, has recommended the game as a perfect activity for its loose network of chapters.

"''You can find classical liberal ideas playing out in the real world every which way you look, even in your games,' the group's Derek Spicer writes. 'Pokémon Go is just one in the litany of examples of how spontaneous order affects how we play video games.'

"The question is, of course, whether the broader public will make that connection. Or even Pokémon Go players specifically, who already know plenty about chaos."

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