Nicholas Conrad


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Thinking about this more in the shower the following occurred to me:

3rd party voting meets both conditions. As a vote, the potential gains are much larger both on nominal alignment and execution (as non incumbent parties are (I imagine) more likely to take action to disrupt the status quo if elected).

But 3rd party voting is also a form of demonstration, enticing mainstream parties to align more closely with your highest value positions (at least nominally) to win proven (and numerable) voters. E.g., if you're a Democrat with special consideration for environmental issues, a vote for the green party probably has a bigger influence on democratic environmental policy than a vote for a moderate democrat (with no included signal that it's environmental justice motivating your vote) paired with attending an earthday rally. Maybe?

If you're locking yourself in to voting for one of the two major party candidates to even have a chance at moving the needle on policy, then I would argue you're not multiplying a small probability by a large benefit because the major parties actually agree on almost everything and only clash on marginal execution issues (the occasional brexit type referendum notwithstanding).

For all the anti-war protests in the Bush years, Obama kept them rolling at pace for almost a decade; for all the tea party protests in the Obama years, republicans had no fiscal restraint when given the purse strings. These were just the noisiest issues on each side (and may be interesting to explore deeper in relation to the value of demonstration) but the list of policy more-or-less agreement between them is nearly endless. So the benefit in normal (non-brexit) elections is marginal at best.

You're making a big assumption in your analysis of the value of voting, that one's preferred policy bundle is on the ballot to vote for in the first place. Anyone who feels more aligned with a 3rd party (in the us at least) has to a nearest approximation 0% chance of having their party's candidate elected in even small local elections, much less national ones. And that candidate still likely doesn't align 100% with their policy preferences. Recent polling shows reps and dems increasingly don't like their party's candidates either, they just really hate the other party's, resulting in a lose/lose spiral of fielding 'lesser of two evils' candidates in lowest-common-denominator contests to drink each other's tears. It hardly seems altruistic to me to perpetuate or participate in such a system, even if you have a small (basically 0) chance of moving one or two policies marginally in a less terrible direction (and remember: there's no guarantee your candidate actually does move policy as you'd hoped once in office).

Incidentally, I did vote today; it's a wonderful signal to my peers that I am a good and responsible member of society who doesn't need any lectures on civic duty. Quite rational, though next year I might just order a roll of 'I voted' sticker on Amazon instead.

My highschool debate experience taught me to recognize some 'cheap debate tricks' in rhetoric, but the sad truth is they exist because they work. Most of my judges at competition were volunteers without any particular training in rationality or logic. In one debate where the resolution was something to the effect of 'the use of nuclear weapons is always unjustified' (in which I had the affirmative) at the end of the debate the judge gave a speech about his time in the Pacific during WWII, and how his he and tens of thousands of his compatriots would've all died if they hadn't dropped the bomb when they did, concluding that no argument could convince him it wasn't justified. There is no way this caliber of judge is going to spot even basic fallacies.

In general, the form of debate instruction is just a toolkit for effective motivated reasoning. The pre debate research is all about amassing facts that support your position, and to the extent that you also have to be aware of facts detracting from your position, it's only so you can research counterpoints to those facts, or otherwise discredit them. The debate itself is an exercise in whatever the opposite of active listening is; don't take the opponent's argument as a whole, or understand their position in any deep way, just listen to idenify the tiniest inconsistencies or errors, then pull them out of context and attack.

I don't know how it could be improved, maybe if instead of convincing a judge who is not particularly informed on the topic, the goal was to arrive at some kind of consensus? Instead of modeling presidential debates we model supreme Court opinions? Everyone has to try to write a position that actually gets other people to sign on? There are certainly some insensitive issues that would need to be overcome, but at least the focus would be on broad ideas rather than nit-picking, and each contestant would need to think about convincing other high-information participants rather than the lowest information one?

Hmmm, I didn't find your linked post particularly related. Maybe I'm just not smart enough to understand the connection. It seems like you are talking about post-singularity ai, and I am certainly talking about pre-singularity. Sure, if the ai is actually looking at the atoms in our bodies as resources to fuel it's paperclip factory and has the power to take them, there's no cost of living adjustment that's going to offset being turned into paperclips. But the whole concept of the singularity is that it's kind of pointless to speculate about what happens afterwards anyway.

Given that I'm talking about near-term ai, all I'm trying to say is ai will take human jobs if and only if they reduce the input cost of production. That's a big downside for the person laid off, but a small upside multiplied many times over for everyone else. As the cost of goods falls, ceteris paribus people's real wages rise (tautologically). As ai become more efficient and capable of doing more tasks, prices tend towards pure resource cost for production of any given good. Ceteris paribus, under such conditions real wages would be enormously higher than nominal wages today.

This seems obvious to me, but I don't hear much about this upside from anyone in the ai is taking our jobs conversation.

My assertion, though you're right to point out it's just conjecture, is that even when nominal wages fall due to reduced working hours, this will be offset by huge increases in buying power.

I find your horse analogy flawed in 2 respects:

  1. in my scenario costs of inputs are reduced, whereas in London the cost of sufficient land to keep a horse and stable are vastly increased. If it was almost free to keep horses in London, I surmise they wouldn't have to do very much to earn their keep, and plenty would.

  2. in fact, we've see a huge increase in previously working and livestock species being kept as pets in both rural and urban environments as the cost of feeding and housing them fell, and all they offer in return is a vauge sense of companionship.

"if I just want some mangos for myself, and there happened to be widespread disagreement among humans about what things are mangos, I could just have my genie simulate my brain's concept of mango and everything would be just fine. On the other hand, if I wanted my genie to make mangos for resale, this wouldn't work."

This seems like it would only be true if you yourself don't understand what aspects of quasi-mangoness are desirable on the market. Otherwise your conception of mango that was simulated would include the fuzzy "I don't call subset x 'real' mangos, but lots of people do, and they sell well" data, no?

Age stratification in a world where people live arbitrarily long means you never have an opportunity to become a respected elder in your society; generations of more respected super-elders will be around no matter how old and wise you get.

Also, in this world, are people youthful indefinitely? I think many of the age related changes in activity choices are driven by physical aging, not maturity, e.g., choosing cocktail parties over clubbing happens not because you realize one day that cocktail parties are a richer experience, but because one day you realize you get too tired by 10pm for the club scene.

One interesting effect is an infinite time horizon over which to accrue interest, such that everyone will eventually have the ability to live on passive income, which should make any welfare system only applicable to the very young. Assuming people can have children indefinitely as well, it might be wise to have a system in place whereby you can only have children if you can fund endowments for them. This would:

  1. eliminate the need for welfare for the young
  2. tie the rate of population growth to the rate of economic growth (overpopulation is always a risk in inmortal societies)
  3. ensure wealth transfers from older, richer to younger, poorer generations
  4. build in a 'level up' goal (you know you've made it when you can afford your first child)

I think ultimately, people won't be able to rely on a particular societal configuration to keep them amused (and I'm not sure that is good goal for society anyway) and they'll be forced to turn inward. Meditation, or other practices (or possibly drugs) that facilitate experiencing "the now" in a powerful way will become important.

My sense is that this is just language coopting useful ideas in favor of useful sounding ideas. The term 'value' is quantitative and objective, as it is used say, in economics or finance. It's not inherently vauge, and goals can be comeasured as valued higher or lower. I imagine this comeasurable sense was shared in early philosophical use as well, as in debates about whether liberty or equality is the higher value.

If the language in vouge changed to 'priorities', I doubt it would take long before mission statements said thing like "prioritizing strengthened community through live art". This seems no more lucid or operationalizable to me.

You briefly touched on this as a function of growth, but I think the direct causality is generally underappreciated in the "robots are taking our jorbs" conversation: AI / automation replaces human labor because it is more efficient. That means the products produced through such means will be less expensive, and the more efficient AI becomes, the cheaper they get. So it's not just true that people will have to work fewer hours to maintain their current lifestyle because AI will grow the economy generally, but also directly because of the reduced cost of their output (and labor is a substantial portion of the cost of most goods today).