Re: (OPE-L) computational modelling approaches for a socialist system

From: Ian Wright (ian_paul_wright@HOTMAIL.COM)
Date: Thu May 15 2003 - 17:41:05 EDT

Hello Jerry,

>Putting aside the questions of simple commodity production and value,
>have you thought about developing a computational model for a
>socialist system?  How would you go about specifying the characteristics
>and constraints of such a computational model?

I have thought about it. I read Paul and Allin's book and concluded that I
could not personally contribute to the scientific work of exploring designs
for new economies because I didn't have sufficient understanding of
That is a fact about me, not anyone else. I think exploration of the
design-space of economic orgnisations is incredibly important, primarily
because it matters to everyone.

One advantage of computational modelling is that it employs formal
languages to specify casual mechanisms. This means that if you formally
specify a system, for example the relations of production in a
hypothetical socialist system, then the (true) causal consequences of
that system can be deduced by running your program. The exploration
of the possible causal consequences of the model is automated. This is
a great scientific advance compared to specifying a system in natural
language and then trying to deduce its properties with pen, paper and
sweat. It also has advantages over logical and mathematical modelling,
but there is too much to say about this, and there are trade-offs.
But I would never want to legislate about the correct methodology,
because there's always more than one way to skin a cat, although
different approaches have their advantages. For example, my work would
be impossible without the previous work in Marxist economics, very
little of which (none?) is computational.

Specifying the characteristics and constraints of a computational
model is no different from specifying them for any other type of model
(natural language, mathematical or otherwise). However, the
discipline of having to craft an artefact that actually runs in reality
forces the modeller to be very precise about those characteristics and
constraints. This feedback process between specification and implementation
helps clarify ideas, reveal inadequacies etc.

So in sum, if one were to explore economic designs, then the computer
is an important tool, perhaps vital. For example, Paul and Allin have,
I believe, implemented their harmony algorithm that balances i/o
tables. I imagine this process was essential to them in order to check
and refine their theoretical ideas.


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