16 May 2010

Adaptation is smarter than we are

I haven't, yet, read John Kay's new book, Obliquity: why our goals are best achieved indirectly, but I have heard his podcast on the subject in which he says "Adaptation is smarter than we are". One of the great advantages of Social Policy Bonds over the usual way that policymakers try to achieve goals, is their inherent capacity to stimulate adaptive approaches to social problems. Under a bond regime, people are rewarded for achieving targeted social and environmental goals, however they do so. Long-term, broad, goals, such as the elimination of war, become feasible, because government (or whoever eventually pays for the goal's achievement) does not have to specify who shall achieve it or how they are to go about it. That would be left to investors in the bonds, who can be expected to have diverse views about how best to eliminate war, and to adapt their views both with time and according to each conflict (or potential conflict).

If we were prepared to accept adaptation as a policy instrument, then we could not only achieve our goals more efficiently than under the current, top-down, one-size-fits-all centrally planned government-directed way of doing things. We could, as I say, target much broader goals such as the elimination of war, the ending of poverty, and universal literacy. Adaptation is indeed smarter than we are. We ought to recognise that fact, and deploy it to the advantage of all mankind.

No comments: