Zain Shah

A Freedom Machine

14 September 2014

We all want freedom, the ability to do what we want. Happiness, power, and money are all just forms of it. What if I were to tell you there exists a spec for a freedom machine?

In this game we call life, all those who can reach the finish spot on the board win. Your start position is random, your finish position is random. You need to spend resources to move, and you are allocated random amounts of resources when the game begins. It’s clear that he with the most freedom to move around the board wins, and resources are your units of freedom. There aren’t many other rules.

How do you gain resources? gain freedom? You’ll need to leverage what you have and trade with the other players. Help other players get more freedom as well, and you can demand some of it. Isolate a process you know of, inform other players of the process in exchange for part of their return. Get other players on your side to help you help others, and together you can earn more and more freedom.

As n of players on your side grows while you’re repeating this isolated process, just ensure that the cost for each n+1 > n. Thereby, as n increases, the entire cooperative gains freedom faster, and can afford to amortize it over an ever greater n. Herein lies the positive feedback loop, and over a sufficiently large population the resources you gain asymptotically approaches demand.

This is a freedom machine, a company. It is a construct of a process, an idea, or a novel combination of the resources you already have that can produce greater freedom for others than its cost to them. You have some of it early on, but it’s harder to produce when you’re small and easier to produce when you have help. You give some to others in a trade for some of their freedoms. You ask others to help you and give them some of the freedom you earned in return.

This freedom machine is a powerful, but simplified concept. The real world is wonderfully confounding. The resources are immense and complicated, there are endless combinations of them, and all the other players aren’t exactly equal. Their quality isn’t even directly comparable, and so we develop systems just for getting better ones, and convincing them to join one machine over another.