5GW and Ruleset Automation

In a recent post, Tom Barnett synthesizes Coming Anarchy RevG, ZenPundit, and myself on the subject of 5th Generation War. (It’s a timely subject, as Curtis has just launched a blog dedicated to 5GW!) Tom’s post is very kind, and he uses one of my thoughts as a basis for winning, and preventing, 5GWs:

But say we get the SysAdmin up and running, are we entering the realm of 5th Generation Warfare?

I would say yes.

The key phrase from Dan’s analysis that clicked it for me is that once you’re observed doing your thing in 5GW, the gig is up, and that follows nicely with my NASCAR scenario (BTW, Art Cebrowski and I were going to set up a research project on this concept at the Naval War College, but our dual “falls” prevented that–his from disease, mine from whatever it was that got me fired).

But the natural counter to that (much like relying on authoritarian govs in the Gap as the natural counter to 4GW–although it’s a long-time loser strategy) is the notion that you win by extreme transparency: you democratize “observe” for the world, for nations, for individuals.

Here is where the coming wave of ubiquitous sensing shoved through a SOA-enabled IT world gets really interesting (today it’s my MySpace, but tomorrow it’s AllSpace!).

Development-in-a-Box really gets you into 5GW because it alters the observed reality–pre-emptively–in a sort of bribe-the-proles mode that steals the thunder of the 4GW warrior of today in the same way that social welfare nets and trade unions stifled the rise of socialism in Europe.

So, in effect, DiB helps move the Core from the Horatio Alger phase of lecturing the Gap (just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try all over again!) to the seriously seductive phase of active recruitment.


And that’s why it seems only natural to me that we marry that Chinese model to something better like DiB, turning it from simple raw-material market-capture to serious jump-starting toward emerging market status (remember those hedge funds getting interested in Africa).

So a SysAdmin-DiB approach that strategically allies us with China and hits them where they ain’t (yet strong) would see Core “bribe” Africa pre-emptively with connectivity-leading-to-development (and yes, ultimately pluralism in politics), and perhaps focus with some equal effort on SEAsia and Latin America.

Development-in-a-Box (Steve’s strategy plus Tom’s vision) is how we work the Gap-to-Core journey.

That, to me, is what’s so revolutionary about the SysAdmin-DoEE-AtoZ-DiB toolkit: it says to the world that America’s getting into the business of marketing its own catch-up strategy WRT globalization, instead of leaving that model’s enunciation to either the radical left or right of the Gap (as we did with Marxism, Leninism, fascism, Stalinism, Maoism, Pol Pot-ism, and so on and so on).

Development-in-a-Box is part of the work of Enterra Solutions, Barnett’s (and Steve DeAngelis‘s employer) — a firm that focuses on ruleset automation and other business process services. I general I agree, but as one movie demonstrates, ruleset automation — and thus Development-in-a-Box — has its limitations…

Prosecutor: We’re in luck, then. The Marine Corps Guide for Sentry Duty, NAVY BASE Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I assume we’ll find the term code red and its definition in this book, am I correct?

Witness: No sir.

Prosecutor: No? Corporal Howard, I’m a marine. Is their no book, no manual or pamphlet, no set of orders or regulations that let me know that, as a marine, one of my duties is to perform code reds?

Witness: No sir. No books, sir.

Prosecutor: No further questions.

Defense Attorney: Corporal, would you turn to the page in this book that says where the enlisted men’s mess hall is?

Witness: Lt. Kaffee, that’s not in the book, sir.

Defense Attorney: I don’t understand, how did you know where the enlisted men’s mess hall was if it’s not in this book?

Witness: I guess I just followed the crowd at chow time, sir.

Defense Attorney: No more questions.

The Long War will not be won by just explicit rulests or implicit rulesets, just horizontal controls or vertical controls. And one is not more important than the other. Both Automated Rulesets (like what Enterra sells) and Internal Rulesets (what people quietly believe) are important. Relying on automated rulesets to the exclusion of intuition destroys “fingertip-feeling” and forces us to make “rational” but sub-optimal decisions. Yet relying on intuition alone would prevent scientific investigations into dangerous types of people and how best to handle them.

What is needed for the Gap is not automated rulesets nor implicit rulesets, but functional ones. Throughout the Arab World, Sharia [Islamic Law] may be a better alternative than what now exists because of its market-orientation. In China, letting the current corrupt growth continue while internal elites import WTO rulesets is probably the best course. In North Korea we should Kill Kim, of course, while at home federalism and states right are the essence of Americanism.

As the founder of the greatest capitalist revolution in human history once remarked, “No matter if it is a white cat or a black cat; as long as it can catch mice, it is a good cat..”

One thought on “5GW and Ruleset Automation”

  1. Douglass North, particularly in his “Understanding the Process of Economic Change,” emphasises the importance of institutions, even informal ones. He shows that some of these institutions come through the process of trial and error, or even shock.

    However, institutions are grown, not imposed; and I'm not sure Barnett recognizes this.

  2. “However, institutions are grown, not imposed; and I'm not sure Barnett recognizes this.”


    But also it might be that one most effective ways a 5GW organization will work is that it works toward creating an environment in which these institutions will self-organize. Remember, people generally hate things that are imposed upon them, but embrace things that they build with their own hard work and ingenuity.

    In my mind if the goal is to establish such internal rulesets a 5GW effector will seek out and quietly strengthen and promote the organization and the rulesets it embraces as it equally quietly weakens and exposes the flaws of those it does not.

  3. Purpleslog,

    True, and Deng's indebtedness to traditional Chinese merchant-and-smallholder culture, combined with Britain's influence in Shanghai and Hong Kong, should not be underestimated.

    Tragically, Deng would not have been needed if not for Mao. It took nearly the complete eradication of what was once China to even require such a capitalist turn. But then again, Carter and Thatcher began similar counter-revolutions in their countries after decades under the Liberal/Leftist yoke, so China was hardly alone in her dalience with destructuion.


    One of the most important aspects of institutions is perceived fairness. This, much more than rational design, is important. At its worse Enterra's ruleset automation seems just like the same “best practices” bs that nearly destroyed the West after the Second World War.

    Let's hope it is something better. And to the extent it creates transperency, not just processes, it is. For instance, from Kurzban and DeScioli's laboratory research: [1]

    “We found evidence for the hypothesis that adding a cost to view information decreases aggregate contributions, probably because the motivation to induce others’ reciprocal contributions diminishes under these conditions. (Kurzban and DeScioli 2)

    Finally, players are willing to endure costs to punish those who contribute relatively little to the public good, hinting at anger at a betrayal of trust (Fehr & Gachter, 2002; Yamgishi, 1986). (Kurzban and DeScioli 5)”


    Remember that the existence of other 5GW organizations will make victory harder for any given 5GW organization. Blitzkrieg (5GW) armies do not work toward a world where blitzkrieg forces will self organize — they work toward a world where it's impossible for other blitzkrieg forces to survive!

    Perhaps the most successful 5GW organization in a world of youtube [2] will be those that are immune to youtube-style

    Still, it's interesting to imagine how a 5GW might go about not just implementing a political objective but in becoming a system-level power itself…

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/09/12/ethnocentricism-and-xenophobia-may-be-useful.html
    [2] http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/003809.html

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