Cooperation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Diversity

Liberty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Responsibility

If we take a systems perspective and think of life as "Search", thus defining any system that is capable of searching the space of the possible for the survivable as “living”. Then the idea is that liberty is embedded in the very definition of life-as-search. It captures the idea that freedom isn't just a value to be balanced against others but is foundational to the concept of life itself. It is the mechanism by which life (in its various forms) explores, learns, and adapts.

This same definition also captures the fundamental need for responsibility, as that which constrains search to the survivable, and does not lead to destruction.

Why take action?

Because we are at the time of greatest change, greatest risk, and greatest potential benefit in human history.

The possible benefits, and the possible risks, from Artificial Intelligence, seem to me, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, to dwarf all other classes of risk (or benefit) combined.

It seems clear to me that the future will either be better than most imagine possible, or we won't have one; and that will more than likely be decided in the next three years. I really do not see anything more important for our common future than this.


Reform is needed

. The economic system is broken. Fundamental reform is needed. Universal Income should keep it going long enough for real solutions to be developed.

. International cooperation in diversity is demanded. Wars must end. All of them.

. We must move to full recycling of all goods.

. We must respect diversity, everywhere. In part that means being prepared to try the unproven, the unknown - supporting real scientific, technological and social innovation. Strength in diversity, not economic efficiency.

. We need to protect our environment.

. We must respect real planetary boundaries - physics and biology over economics and politics.

I started a software business in 1986, which I still operate, so I have some real experience of computers and what they can do, of solving complex problems, and clear memories of people saying what they couldn't do - but what they are now doing. The freely available version of ChatGPT is already a faster and better programmer than I am, for some classes of problems. The paid version (GPT4) is about 100 times more competent. GPT5 is already planned for about 18 months time and will be about 150 times more powerful (and cheaper to operate).

My major purpose in standing for parliament is the long term survival of humanity - me and everyone else; with as much freedom and resources as we can responsibly manage. And as stated in the subtitle of this page - a balance of freedom and responsibility is foundational to the very definition of life. Some rules are necessary, but not too many, and just following the rules is never enough to meet the definition of being responsible.

Kaikoura.org contains some stuff directly related to this election. TedHowardNZ.wordpress.com contains most of my writings over the last 13 years (and a few from before that time).

I will work towards ensuring a long term future for humanity; where individuals have the freedom to do whatever they responsibly choose (and responsibility is necessary at every level of freedom and complexity); where the needs of the environment, individuals and communities are appropriately balanced; where diversity is accepted and respected; all to the best of my limited and fallible abilities, in cooperation with any and all who are willing to work with me.


What follows is taken from 2 responses by ChatGPT to 2 questions that I asked it. A full transcript can be read here.

We have a need for a deeper understanding of systemic issues and the importance of cooperation in addition to competition. Indeed, complex systems, including societies, are not solely driven by competition but also rely on cooperation to ensure their long-term survival and well-being.

Competition can bring benefits in terms of innovation, efficiency, and resource allocation. However, without proper cooperative constraints and mechanisms, competition alone can lead to destructive outcomes and undermine the stability and sustainability of the system.

Cooperation is crucial for establishing the foundations of a thriving society. It involves collaboration, collective decision-making, and the recognition of shared goals and values. Cooperative systems allow for the pooling of resources, the establishment of fair rules and regulations, and the promotion of equitable opportunities for all individuals.

The advent of automation and artificial intelligence introduces new dimensions to the systemic incentive structures. Acknowledging and adapting to these changes are vital to ensure that the benefits of automation and AI are harnessed for the collective good and the long-term survival of society.

A comprehensive understanding of these complex dynamics and the need for a balance between competition and cooperation should be actively promoted and communicated to all levels of agents involved, whether they are individuals, organizations, or governing bodies. Education, public discourse, and transparent decision-making processes play critical roles in fostering such understanding and facilitating the necessary systemic adaptations.

In summary, a deeper appreciation of the importance of cooperation, alongside competition, is vital for addressing systemic issues and ensuring the long-term survival and well-being of intelligent agents.

Making a deep understanding of the importance of cooperation and the systemic dynamics accessible to all levels of agents is indeed a significant challenge. However, there are several approaches that can help foster this understanding:

Education: Incorporate the principles of cooperation, systems thinking, and interdisciplinary studies into educational curricula at all levels. Teach individuals about the interconnectedness of various systems and the importance of collaboration for long-term sustainability.

Public Awareness and Communication: Conduct awareness campaigns and engage in public dialogue to disseminate information about the benefits of cooperation and the risks of excessive competition. Utilize various communication channels, including media, social platforms, and public events, to reach a broader audience.

Leadership and Role Models: Encourage leaders and influential figures in various fields to promote and exemplify cooperative behaviors. When individuals in positions of authority prioritize collaboration and emphasize the collective good, it can inspire others to follow suit.

Collaborative Initiatives: Support and facilitate initiatives that encourage cooperation across sectors, disciplines, and communities. Foster platforms for collaboration, such as partnerships between academia, industry, and government, to address complex societal challenges collectively.

Experiential Learning: Provide opportunities for individuals to engage in real-world experiences that demonstrate the value of cooperation. This can include participation in collaborative projects, team-based problem-solving exercises, or community-based initiatives.

Research and Development: Support interdisciplinary research that explores the dynamics of cooperation and competition within complex systems. Foster collaborations between social scientists, economists, technologists, and philosophers to advance our understanding of these issues and develop practical frameworks.

Ultimately, a multi-faceted and multi-level approach is necessary to promote a comprehensive understanding of the importance of cooperation. By combining education, public engagement, leadership, practical experiences, and research efforts, we can strive to make this understanding more accessible and pervasive across different levels of agents in society.

[End of ChatGPT responses.]

My further thoughts

Freedom is a fundamental aspect of being human, of being able to search the unknown for the useful and the survivable; but freedom without constraints is necessarily destructive (the literal bull in the china shop). Exactly where an appropriate balance is in any specific context can be extremely context sensitive.

Too little freedom, we die, as we are not creative enough to deal with the ever changing reality that we exist in.

Too much freedom and we destroy the very constraints that make pattern at our level possible.

Looked at another way, this same thing can be characterised as the role of competition and cooperation in evolution, where competition can be seen as freedom, and cooperation can be viewed as constraints. It is not one or the other, it is both, necessarily, and both must be in a balance that is appropriate to the specifics of the context, and even seemingly minor changes in context can demand massive changes in that balance.

We need to accept diversity, humility, and the need to engage in eternal enquiry, and reach successively useful approximations; and we cannot get there from the classical simplistic notion of "True/False", it demands greater complexity and uncertainty than that.

Responsibility is essential for survival, being constantly on the alert for what constraints are actually required in any specific context, and any particular level.

Central control is not an optimal solution. Optimality for intelligent agents demands devolved responsibility, with every agent using their intelligence applied to the specifics of the contexts they find themselves in. This is true at every level. Every golfer knows that trying to consciously control their golf swing is not going to end well. What works is giving the subconscious a clear picture of the desired outcome, then handing over control to the subconscious for execution. At the social level, control needs to be at the level of individuals, provided that those individuals are acting responsibly, and are working within sets of constraints that do have a reasonable probability of socially survivable outcomes.

We must accept uncertainty and responsibility, each to the best of our limited and fallible abilities, if we are to have any reasonable probability of long term survival (and for me that is essential).


A discussion with ChatGPT4 on Value

Useful Local Kaikoura Links

Mayfair Theatre modern entertainment

Destination Kaikoura wide variety of attractions and accomodation.

Kaikoura Dark Sky Trust promoting dark skies, removing light polution, and promoting the amazing night time vistas Kaikoura has to offer.

Whale Watch

Encounter dolphins, sea birds, cafe and food.

Wings over whales

South Pacific Helicopters

Air Kaikoura

Kaikoura Helicopters

Seal Swimming


Seal Kayak tours

Peninsula Walkway

Hutton's Shearwater Kaikoura's own Titi - breeds only here in Kaikoura

Ted - 2022

Why do this?

I know that our economic and social systems have some serious issues, and am committed to working cooperatively to change the systems so that they do actually work for everyone. I have been thinking about these issues for 60 years and writing about them for over 40 years, and working at many roles in the community testing things, so that I could have practical as well as theoretical knowledge of as many aspects as possible. I have worked as farm worker, lab worker, engineer, fisherman, technical advisor, consultant, system designer, teacher, auditor, compliance officer, adjudicator, politician, advisor and been a husband and parent.

Ailsa and I met here in Kaikoura 1991, we were married here 1994, and we have lived here since 1998, so I am local by choice, and intend to remain so. I run a small software and consulting company.

It seems clear to me that the rapid changes due to technology require a response like universal income. If that is thought of as a dividend on the accumulated knowledge and creativity of humanity, then it works.

A big part of me just wants to retire and enjoy working locally, but I have been working away at multiple levels trying to create systems that deliver reasonable levels of security and freedom to everyone, for so long, that I believe I have useful skills to contribute, and my sense of responsibility demands that I try. It is now your choice that matters. If you are interested in issues like world peace, then this answer demsontrates some of the complexity present.

I am interested in politics that actually serves the interests of all people for security and freedom, and meets the need of the environment, and that demands responsibility from all of us (each to the best of our limited and fallible abilities).

I started a software business in 1986, and have run it ever since. In 2008 I found a melanoma on my temple, and in 2010 after 3 operations I was sent home "palliative care only" and told I could be dead in 6 weeks and had a 2% chance of living 2 years. Every day is special, and valuable. Follow this link if you want more details of my cancer journey.

I like working with people to solve complex problems in a way that benefits everyone. I am not a great fan of control, but I am a great advocate of cooperation, and I fully acknowledge that naive cooperation will be exploited - so not that, not at any level.

The most complex problems at present seem to be around the sorts of systems and governance structures and technologies that promote both security and freedom long term, across all levels of complexity present.

We all have our conservative and our liberal sides, and both are necessary. Putting them in opposition to each other, rather than having them work cooperatively together, seems to be one of the serious failings of our current political systems.

Our society needs to be fundamentally cooperative if we are to have any real probability of long term security. Nothing wrong with a bit of competition, provided that it is firmly built on a cooperative base that acknowledges the rights to existence and reasonable levels of freedom for all sapient entities, and ensures that all have enough resources to achieve that.

Our current economic systems have many levels of incentives that are posing risk to us all.

Some sort of universal income seems to be the best short to medium term response.

You can see more of what I have written about since 2010 on my wordpress blog site, including subjects like politics, epistemology and risks and responses.

My highest values are individual sapient life, and the liberty of all such individuals. And if liberty is to survive then it must demonstrate responsibilities appropriate to context: to take all reasonable measures to ensure the lives and liberties of others, and by implication to take reasonable steps to look after the social and ecological systems upon which we all depend.

Complex systems are always changed by every interaction. No set of rules can ever deliver consistent results in all contexts, it takes something much more, it takes responsibility from all of us. David Snowden gives a reasonably simple introduction to the management of complexity in his Cynefin Framework.

We all need to acknowledge those responsibilities, to be guardians (kaitiaki) of all around us. And for most people to accept that, the systems have to be actually looking after their needs in a way that they recognise as being reasonable. For those of us in Kaikoura Ngati Kuri gifted the role of kaitiaki to all the community in 2008 as part of the Te Korowia process of gifts and gains. In a deeper sense mentioned many times above, guardianship needs to be a fundamental part of any life form that is going to survive long term. So the word Kaitiaki is Maori, but the essence of what it means is built into the very definition of complex life.

And liberty in action leads to diversity. We must all accept the inescapable logic that real liberty results in diversity, and we must accept and respect that diversity (all levels), provided that it is demonstrating appropriate levels of responsibility. So nothing simple or easy.

I have been a member of our Zone Water committee since it formed, and enjoy being part of the team looking to see how we can sustain our water, our community and our ecosystems. Health water healthy life is our moto. The top 6 of these wetlands are ones that our zone committee have made a difference to in our district, in cooperation with land owners and others.

This was the final paragraph pre 2023 election

The choice is yours. I think I have skills useful to the survival of us all, and to creating a world in which we can all explore the possibilities of being human in whatever way we responsibly choose. It is now up to you, who you choose to give your vote to in this 2023 parliamentary election. I ask that you give it to me. I will do my best to make it count.

96 people voted for me - more than 2, but nowhere near enough.

Site produced and authorised by Ted Howard, 1 Maui St, Kaikoura ©2006-2023