Social Singularity, Sensor Planned Economy, and the Future of Power Division

The End of the Market and the New Planned Economy

7 min readOct 16, 2021

In the last chapter of the book, “Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society,” the author talks about the “End of the Market.”

“The Radical Markets” is the book which, until just before the last chapter, basically says, “markets are good.”

Letting the market do as many things as possible will make things more efficient.

It has a lot to do with areas people usually think should be outside the market. Moreover, there are cases where it is ethically better to trust the market.

So, it is a “radical” market, which is to say, it goes beyond the usual market universalism and presents an extension of that mechanism.

However, this book starts from the limit of market universalism in the ordinary sense. It is very different from the old idea, which states that everything will be fine if we leave these to the market.

But that is not what this article is about.

In the last chapter of the book, the authors write that if markets are nothing more than “an efficient tool (i.e., a mechanism for finding the price at which the most transactions/optimizations can be made) for solving simultaneous equations (about supply and demand) by massively parallel computers (e.g., lots of people),” then in a world with tremendous computing power, markets may no longer be required. It’s a fantasy.

Of course, without enormous computational power, the only way to achieve it is to have humans actually trade and utilize the price mechanism to determine production and distribution. Yet, in a world where technological singularity occurs, and there is enough computing power to simulate the thoughts of all human beings, the distribution mechanism of markets and prices may become ineffective.

People today are so embedded in capitalism that they forget that the prices and markets are just one mechanism to determine production and distribution.

A world where goods have no price and are correctly distributed?

In this context, the old concept of a “planned economy” will again see the light of day.

Imagine, for example, a world in which it is no longer necessary to discover the demand in the marketplace by managing vast amounts of sensor technology, such as recommending movies that people with similar attention patterns prefer, based on the trajectories of their eyes while watching a screen.

So it’s distinct from what the former communist bloc was doing.

It does what Amazon is doing with logistics and Netflix with recommendations; it will be performed on a much larger scale, based on biometric information. Furthermore, human consumption behavior based on this biometric information will be simulated in one computer for all humans.

With this “all-human computer,” there will be no need for the “market,” which is a calculation done by actual humans.

This is the new planned economy. Or sensor planned economy.

How would this society work for humans?

The technological singularity, if there are enough computational resources to make it happen, will be accompanied by a “social singularity” like a sensor planned economy.

Of course, this kind of computation would not be possible if the demands of humans were so complex that they could not be computed using only biometric information captured in a computer. We know many people with weird hobbies.

Although, the writer is not sure whether actual human beings are complicated enough. The emergence of vast groups guided by totalitarianism and conspiracy theories seems to prove that people, in reality, are not so complex.

Note that this kind of simple manipulation can happen to anyone, regardless of their intelligence. It is a well-known fact that Heidegger, often called the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, was a member of the Nazi party.

So what is the problem with the new planned economy?

Since “Radical Market” doesn’t state much of it, let’s fantasize about it.

First of all, in this society, everyone is generally satisfied. After all, the recommendations are very clever by assumption.

If we leave resource allocation and environmental issues behind for the moment, the problem is not dissatisfaction or pain. Incidentally, on the subject of dealing with distress based on the premise of current social systems, see this article below.

So, is the loss of dignity and free will a problem?

Probably not. Or it can’t be a problem.

Because the recommendations coming from the AI are assumed to be surprisingly well-designed, and in this society, it is too much fun to follow their lead.

Or you can look at it like this: you can reject the AI’s recommendation and choose for yourself, but you end up picking the one that was suggested to you. Alternatively, you could search endlessly for something different and finally end up with the thing that was recommended. In such a world, the word “free choice” would lose its meaning.

Well, it’s a familiar near-future science fiction world.

In such a society, the market and the government almost merge into a single, monolithic layer. If you know “what people want,” you can make it all a “planning” layer. There would be no need for voting or prices since they are indirect research mechanisms to determine what people want.

Liberal Social Singularity and Recommendations

Now, let’s think about this future society more concretely, in as liberal a fashion as possible.

Firstly, let’s say that there is no monopoly by any particular platform because the censorship politics and economy are run on a decentralized platform. Allow saying that the fake-removal apparatus works well and that a system like below quickly labels fake news and rhetorical incitement.

Budget allocations (if there is still a concept of such a thing) are the result of the desires from all citizens collected by the sensor systems, with an improved voting mechanism plugged in and streamed and updated every second of every day.

A mechanism that no longer seems to be able to clearly distinguish between government, planning, one’s desires, and perception.

We call this kind of mechanism “mirror budget” (link below, only Japanese).

From Mirror Budgeting to Weak Anarchism

In the above society, we have AI that will deliver us polished recommendations on making political arguments and votes. Soon, political acts will be just a matter of offering a mere yes or no answer to policy proposals.

By the way, recent stories on AI-human coexistence and ethics are customarily stories of “strong humans,” the myth that AI is a slave and humans are the bosses, meditating on creative decision-making.

To support this myth in a society such as the one described above, perhaps instead of establishing vaguely worded AI ethics laws, “ban all AI-based recommendations to keep human dignity, authority, and decision-making ability” is more straightforward to understand in scope and more effective.

In the social singularity, “humans” are the “outside/world” for the AI planning layer/infrastructure, similar to natural disasters and the environment for humans. “Nature = Humans” are reacting environment for AI with responses, initiated by limited cognition and lifespan, to suggestions extracted from enormous computational resources.

“After reading the entire web and picking up all of your perceptions, I think we should invest another 3% in this budget,” what do you think?

In typical science fiction, people in these societies often can’t stand the suffocating feeling from the absence of the external world and set off on a terrorist campaign to find the true one.

Perhaps that’s true, too. But there is also another problem.

From the Number of Layers to the Problem of Division of Power

The society depicted preceding has only two layers in the end: the “world (life span, leisure limit, death, climate change, resources)” layer, and the “planning (AI, blockchain, sensor planned economy, sensor politics)” layer.

If we are left with a government that has a monopoly on “violence (military/police + diplomacy),” there will be three different layers with distinct principles because violence is neither a plan nor a world.

These layers, by assumption, cover all of the earth, so it is impossible to envision a fair entity outside of them that would regulate these three.

In such a circumstance, what kind of power-sharing, mutual restraint, or division of power among the layers would be necessary to maintain “fairness” or “a system that works without unilateral subordination”?

This question exists separately from the new planned economy and its management. Incidentally, “Radical Markets” is mysteriously devoid of any discussion on the relationship between distrust of the government and financial manipulation. There is an assumption in the story that the government functions honestly and somewhat efficiently.

Are two layers sufficient for a sensor-planned society, or do we need three? Or should there be more? How many should there be?

The figures below are diagrams of our various fantasies to solve these problems in up to five layers.

Division of Powers up to Five Layer Configurations

The very new feel-good topic of the economy involves an old issue, the obvious but poorly implemented concept concerning the separation of powers.

If you are interested, you can read the manuscript below as a continuation of science fiction.