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Political Roko's basilisk

by Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir1 min read18th Jan 202010 comments

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Roko's Basilisk
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Why has there never been a "political Roko's basilisk", i.e. a bill or law that promises to punish any member of parliament who voted against it (or more generally any individual with government power, e.g. judge or bureaucrat, who did not do everything in their capacity to make it law)?

Even if unconstitutionality is an issue, it seems like the "more general" condition would prevent judges from overturning it, etc. And surely there are countries with all-powerful parliaments.

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Because a lot of power isn't projected through laws. If you take Hitler's Enabling act, parliamentarians that didn't vote for it, did get punished but there was no need to explicitely write that into the law.

A lot of these examples are distinct from Roko's idea, in that they are self-reinforcing, but generally through other mechanisms than distinguishing supporters from non-supporters and targeting those groups specifically.

There's a pretty strong governance norm (and in many cases constitutional protection) against this kind of segregation and targeting, at least in nominally-free democratic societies. A politician who puts opponents in jail JUST because they are opposed (or proposes a law that punishes ONLY those who oppose it) won't last long in most civil societies. In fact, the ability to do stuff like this is a pretty strong indicator that civility is a sham in that area.

This, of course, doesn't apply to a hypothetical all-powerful AI, as it doesn't really care about democratic support or what its' subjects think.

Surely it was, but in slightly different form, in which it is rather trivial: When a person says "If I win the election I will give everybody X".

But that's not Roko's basilisk. Whether or not you individually vote for the candidate does not affect you as long as the candidate wins.

3avturchin1yIn early Soviet history they actually checked if a person actually supported the winning party by looking of what you did 10-20 years ago. If the person was a member of wrong party in 1917, he could be prosecuted in 1930th.
3Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir1yInteresting. Did they promise to do so beforehand? In any case, I'm not surprised the Soviets did something like this, but I guess the point is really "Why isn't this more widespread?" And also: "why does this not happen with goals other than staying in power?" E.g. why has no one tried to pass a bill that says "Roko condition AND we implement this-and-this policy". Because otherwise it seems that the stuff the Soviets did was motivated by something other than Roko's basilisk.
0avturchin1yIt was not promised, but anyone who read the story of previous revolutions, like French one, could guess.
3 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 3:51 AM

I think something like this actually happens a lot in politics. To give a contemporary example, in many places in the West currently, the best way to protect oneself against being politically attacked in the future via accusations of various "isms" and "phobias" is to prove to be an "ally" by loudly accusing others of "isms" and "phobias" or otherwise helping the faction that tends to make such accusations to gain more power.

(Posting as a comment because it's not exactly what you're looking for, i.e., a bill or law.)

I guess Brexit is something along those lines, ain't it?