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Agoric Open Systems

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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 12:40 am    Post subject: Agoric Open Systems Reply with quote

Like all systems involving goals, resources, and actions, computation can be viewed in economic terms. This paper examines markets as a model for computation and proposes a framework--agoric systems--for applying the power of market mechanisms to the software domain. It then explores the consequences of this model and outlines initial market strategies.

At the broadest level of abstraction, the problems of social and computational coordination are fundamentally similar. Concrete parallels, however, are rough: memory space is a bit like land, or perhaps a raw material; processor time is somewhat like labor, or like fuel; software objects are like workers, or perhaps like managers or firms. In [I] we list a number of fundamental differences between computational and human markets. For example, within a computational system, activities need produce neither pollution nor other effects on non-consenting objects; the most typical product, information, does not form a depletable physical inventory; specialized labor forces (copies of specialized objects) can be expanded almost instantly and can be cut back without human anguish.

Despite these deep differences, we argue that the fundamental parallels between the problems of social and computational organization are strong enough to motivate the wholesale importation of economic models and metaphors into the computational domain, at least on a trial basis. These differences do, however, suggest that forms of organization that fail or are rejected in one domain may prove workable and desirable in the other. For example, the ability of computational systems to establish rules as genuine constraints where an analogous human legal system can only penalize violations makes possible patterns of organization that can only be approximated in society.
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