What Would Advanced Social Technology Look Like?

Good Ones

A better version of social media that fixes its flaws. Causing less outrage but fostering constructive collaboration. Paul Graham repeatedly hints at this e.g. here and here (these are not the best quotes but those I could find quickly). Maybe something with a distributed trust or social credit system like Advogato aimed at. You will feel safe there while getting valuable input and feedback with a balance of confirmation and relevant new information. 

Schoocial Media (name suggested by my son). A combination of the good ideas from 

  • social media (getting in contact with the people that let you grow most), 
  • Lambda School (incentives aligned between educator and educatee), 
  • Khan Academy (free high-quality lessons), and 
  • Dragon Box (teaching elementary education in a fun a natural way).

I'm not sure how this would actually look like but my son seems to have some ideas. One is that memes can summarize actual core scientific insights in a memorable way and can lead to exploration of what is behind it - e.g. on Khan Academy. He has shown me quite a few cool ones e.g. about relativity. 

General Public Contract - A growing cooperative society - by some called a cult - that applies a positive-sum mechanism to build a better society on top of - or embedded in the existing society at large. It does so by using a valid legal contract among all parties. A contract like the "General Public Virus", that requires participants to contribute to it to gain its benefits. One extreme example would be a contract that requires you to effectively give up your private property except for your immediate belongings in exchange for access to the net utility of the property managed under the contract. 

Bad Ones

Real Social Engineering. Technology that models motivation and communication of large numbers of humans accurately enough to predict the impact of communication acts or to select the most promising communication scheme for some target metric. Today's click optimization will look like child's play against this. Most likely it will not be capable of predicting global trends like Asimov's Psychohistory but good enough that everybody not having access to this will be the future Third World. Among those having it, it will be zero-sum of course - and tricky, because fixed-point algorithms will need to be developed. I once read a short story about something like this but can't find it. Any takers?

A Caricature of Science. One of the very bad things that could happen is that significant parts of science could lose public trust by not delivering or even worse by falling prey to partisanship (esp. beyond a single country). I fear a religion-like science cult where results are more influenced by group expectations than by the experimental method and hard statistics. I think some people would say that we are not that far away from that but I think it could be much worse.   

Fake Solutions - I expect a lot of structures that promise to solve real or imagined flaws of society and/or that fight the good solutions that are resistant to exploitation (like the GPC above). Organizations, companies, NGOs that appeal to moral values but don't deliver. Mostly because of the mechanisms outlined by Robin Hanson e.g. here and here. Or by SSC here


To foster the good ones and counter the bad ones, the Long View would suggest starting early at finding and categorizing and creating transparency about them.

Pain is the unit of Effort

We need more posts like this that lay out how different people deal with the pain space. 

There are at least four quadrants (I'm in the lower middle I guess):

 Low painHigh pain
Low happinessWithdrawn depressed peopleThe example from from Pain is not the Unit of Effort where you signal pain
High happinessNormieslsusr is here I guess
Life at Three Tails of the Bell Curve

(I found this via Pain is the Unit of Effort)

Some of this also describes me well.

  • Feelings of energy/wakefulness.
  • Excitement.
  • Increased attentiveness and concentration. - flow is my default mode
  • Feelings of euphoria. - or at least a high happiness set point

Can't say about reaction times. Also, curiosity is my most extreme trait too. 

I have joked at times about drugs being for people who don't have their endocrine system under control. I also get lots of work done. There is a difference though: I am playing it long term safe. I value family highly. I'm in between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff I guess. This means that I don't go to extremes but find Goldilocks solutions.

About the disadvantages: I do have headaches and appetite suppression too but not anxiety or obsessive behavior. I do have a broken sleep rhythm. Over the years I have figured out most of the headache stuff but sleep stability stays elusive.

Pain is not the unit of Effort

For me, the main point of the post is that the role of pain is often misunderstood. Compared to the article my perception was actually kind of the opposite: That the people I knew avoided pain more than needed. They saw it as an indication of a lack of success. But the result is the same: The role of pain is often seen either as highly correlated (positively or negatively) with effort or success. 

But the pain-space is large and non-uniform. People don't always mean the same thing with pain. It can be physical harm, exhaustion, stress, mental fatigue or suffering, persistent illness, but also lack of free time or freedom, some tiredness or distraction. It goes from small to large things and people draw the boundary differently. And if you are below that imaginary boundary people don't call it pain. Don't even feel or notice it at all. Like an accepted pain set point. Parents who have adjusted to their life as parents typically accept a lot more discomfort as normal than before they had kids. As another poster wrote: The level of physical hurt we (society) accept has changed a lot over time.

And people are different. The OP describes some and is describing me here:

My classmates would sign up for eight classes per semester when the recommended number is five, jigsaw extracurricular activities into their calendar like a dynamic programming knapsack-solver, and then proceed to have loud public complaining contests about which libraries are most comfortable to study at past 2am

(though not the complaining part or about "how many pages they have left ... due in three hours"). 

I did write a program to fill the calendar with all the most interesting courses. The key here is the most interesting ones. I enjoyed it. I was not stressed. If I was not feeling well or had something else going I would just not attend the class. On the other hand, I didn't attend parties. These were stressful for me. I couldn't understand how people could enjoy these. Those seemed to be bad choices.

The upshot for me is is that you can hurt but be happy at the same time. It is pretty common in sports I think. But it also works for mental or psychological stress. My mother called this eustress

I think that is what Mark Manson means when he writes about what pain can you sustain. I even did an LW poll back then about that question - adding more pain dimensions. What is pain for one person is something that is in the healthy range for another. Note that I am talking about the exact same objective level of hurt or effort. A young athlete clearly can endure much more hurt than an untrained or old or healthwise unlucky person. I remember a post about the acceptable window with some people having a wide range and others barely any non-hurting maneuvering space but can't find it. I think there should be a conversation about what your healthy and sustainable pain level is.

Brienne Logan gives some advice on figuring our physical pain. But I agree with the OP that we need more guidance on mental pain. Your task is to find ways to be happy with a moderate level of pain. 

How to get the benefits of moving without moving (babble)

Thank you for your reply. I was reading the political question to be about what you as an individual could do. Then it is a surprising explanation and I do not have that much trouble coming up with ideas for that case.

Sunzi's《Methods of War》- War

reading "enemy" as "competitor" it might be that poaching their employees is worth more than a normal hire? 

Yes, I was thinking about generalizations like this. Or when competing in a moral maze you might want to try to get subordinates of a manager on your level to work for you - even if only a bit. Not saying that is ethical but those are the things it generalizes to.

The Pointers Problem: Human Values Are A Function Of Humans' Latent Variables

You could learn the pointers by observing how the model is incrementally built over time. There is much more explicit in children learning. Compare to how our modern values being very different from our ancestors'. 

The Pointers Problem: Human Values Are A Function Of Humans' Latent Variables

I think what you call the pointers problem is mostly the grounding problem applied to values. Philosophy has long tried to find solutions to it and you can google some here.

(I'm still reading your post but this as quick reply)

Sunzi's《Methods of War》- War

Thank you. 

A good soldier steals victory from the enemy.

This is the sentence I will use as the title in my insights Anki deck. The key insight is that in a conflict keeping up ones own 'supply' is more expensive than taking even a little from the enemy. I think that generalizes.

How to get the benefits of moving without moving (babble)

Is there a reason the political ones are so incredibly more unrealistic than the relocation ones?

Load More