Let’s Bring Regulation Into the 21st Century

With the predicted electoral red wave coming this fall and its likely continuation in 2024, now is the time to plot a course for the complete reshaping of regulation in this country. Are you listening, President Trump?

There is no reason to start the planning on day one. Rather, Republicans should have a detailed plan(s) already prepared to begin implementation on day one. They can do what they can when Republicans take back Congress and push it to warp speed when they win the White House.

Now is the time to do this and to use our scientific knowledge of swarm intelligence as our guide.

Today, far too much regulation—at both the state and federal level—is based on the antiquated predictive system design. This is a hierarchical “boss” design where bosses are expected to be able to predict the future and then actively guide the process towards this future.

At its core, it is fundamentally about telling people what to do. It might be a valid strategy and design if all you want is power over people but it is destined to perform poorly in all other areas.

A scientifically proven better design is one in which you tell people what not to do. By telling them what is not allowed, you effectively set up general boundaries—i.e., stay inside the boundaries and whatever else you do is fine.

This is a far superior emergent system design where ideas and solutions bubble up from the bottom. The participants find solutions and improvements rather than depending on a visionary boss to guide the process.

This is also the genius design our founders used in the Constitution. It clearly lays out what government can’t do, thus leaving individuals the personal freedom to discover life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—however the individual cares to define these.

And the result of this design has been the wonder of the world. There has never been a freer, more prosperous country in the history of the world.

The founders let their intimate understanding of tyranny and what they considered natural law be their guide. We now know at a more fundamental level the reason for their success. They designed a system which unleashed the incredible power and intelligence multiplier known as swarm intelligence.

Swarm intelligence is truly a fundamental force and something that cannot be wished away. It has been shaping us and our societies since long before we were humans. It multiplies our collective IQ by orders of magnitude.

A key ingredient in swarm intelligence is that no one is in charge. The group operates just fine with no management at all, just countless interactions between individual members with each following simple rules of thumb. A system like this is called self-organizing.

That’s how swarm intelligence works; individuals following simple rules, each one acting on local information. No one sees the big picture. No one tells any other individual what to do. No fearless leader is required or desired. And in a self-organizing system there literally is no cause and effect, it just is. That might be tough to wrap your mind around but that’s the way it is.

All regulation needs to build on this design as it is a provable fact any group that follows these rules will make itself smarter. 

Governments and their boss-structured predictive system design violate almost every aspect we know about swarm intelligence.

Those things that make for smart group behavior like decentralized control, response to local feedback, and simple rules of thumb are the exact opposite of what predictive regulation attempts to do. Self-organizing systems are an incredible strategy to deal with complexity and an unknown and changing future—predictive regulation is not.

Pretty much every single advancement in human existence—both pre- and post-science—were driven by the wonders of swarm intelligence. Regulation in the 21st century is no different.

Obviously having no regulation is best, but in those circumstances when we collectively determine it is required—or necessary as a political compromise—we should ensure the regulations are built with reality in mind.

We wouldn’t build airplanes which contradict the laws of aerodynamics and neither should we allow government to write regulations that ignore the fundamental force of swarm intelligence.

Republicans can transform a significant part of government by embracing this reality and thereby ensure themselves political dominance for decades. Now is the time to lay the foundation.

About John Conlin

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change. He holds a BS in Earth Sciences and an MBA, and is the founder and President of E.I.C. Enterprises, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world, primarily through K-12 education. He has been published in American Greatness, The Federalist, The Daily Caller, American Thinker, Houston Chronicle, Denver Post, and Public Square Magazine among others.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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