Heterarchical systems vs hierarchical systems

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Unnecessary hierarchy and artificial scarcity are a major source of problems in the world.

In hierarchy there you’re either a boss or a worker, a master or a slave.

In heterarchy you’re a master and slave at once, and as much or as little of each as you choose to be.

In heterarchy you’re a client and a server at the same time, like Bittorrent if you’ve ever used it. You download and upload simultaneously to increase the utility of the distributed heterarchical network.

In some situations hierarchy may be necessary and when it is not coercive in nature then an individual can choose how much and what form they require for survival. In a world of scarcity hierarchy is necessary to determine who can access or use the limited resources. The digital world is not a world of scarcity, and artificial scarcity produced by copyright, software patents and ownership of ideas enforces an unnecessary hierarchy.

Governments support this unnecessary hierarchy in a desperate attempt to protect the jobs of an entitled few. As we face a future of technological unemployment, intelligent machines, complete with distributed governance, we have to develop new systems to encourage innovation to replace copyright which is broken completely.

The origins of any new idea are unknown and can never be proven definitively

If Alice owns a patent it is not proof that Alice created the invention or that she owns the idea. The idea could have been stolen from Bob or anyone else and given to Alice. For this reason the patent system is broken and cannot serve the purpose of rewarding innovation when there is no way in the world to know the true source of an innovation.

Ideas have no owners.

3 thoughts on “Heterarchical systems vs hierarchical systems


    If the reader has worked on a major project, as part of the team, then they will know that the person at the top knows more about the job than anyone under them and may well have done the jobs of everyone under them at some time in the past.

    The project is first broken down into several work packages, split according to the skill-sets required to perform the tasks, with the person in overall charge having the oversight and tasked with supervision.

    The work packages may then be split up into smaller sub-packages by each of those assigned a main package.

    And the sub-packages may be still further split into sub-sub packages – which may be further split into sets of tasks.

    That is the way things get done.

    The guys at the bottom may have spent four years getting a doctorate and have only worked for a year, and are now learning to be useful – a long journey.

    The person at the top may have got their education forty years before and have been learning ever since – on the job, learning from older and more experienced people, attending seminars, conferences, reading the literature, taking courses – year after year after year, making mistakes – but getting it right, most of the time.

    That’s Real World – where men use WD40 as aftershave and women shine their jewels with it.

    And it’s the way that works. And no one ever – ever- uses the words master or slave.

    The idea that anybody can do my job or I can do theirs is academic in the extreme – or, to put it in more classical terms, in Latin – bollocus maximus.

    I carried out an assignment at Hewlett Packard in San Cugat a few years ago – and what was being implemented then was the new imported “flat management structure.”

    Do I need to tell you what happened to Hewlett Packard?

    Like I said, Humanity+ is turning into a religion and the photocopies of Newton and Leibnitz writings are H+ Holy Relics.


  2. Mr. Alexander Macrae, one of the benefits of the information age is also part of the curse. The person at the top is usually flooded with more information than they can process. The persons at the bottom can process the information but from a limited perspective.

    If the person at the top has decision support systems in place then they can at best try to make sense of the over abundance of information which they have access to in the era of “Big Data”.

    One of my proposed solutions is to decentralize decision support in such a way that the people on the bottom have a clearer comprehension of and ability to process the information they can access. Additionally the bottom up style organizations can work for certain kinds of projects where the workers are knowledge workers and everyone has similar access to the knowledge.

    So while I cannot speak for whether or not it would work for a large heirarchical institution such as HP which was not designed for bottom up I can confirm that it is working for companies such as Valve.

    Another example is Bettermeans https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAlnMWlvw9g

    The benefits of bottom up are not the same as the benefits of top down. Heirarchical systems do have benefits in a resource scarce environment, but information is not scarce. We have an over abundance of information, more than any person up top will ever be able to process. Additionally innovation usually comes from the bottom and rises to the top so much of the creativity of the human being can better be captured from the bottom up.

    These are my opinions Mr. Macrae and you’re free to disagree with any of it. I appreciate the feedback and respect the fact that you have decades of experience to draw upon.

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