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Good points! I didn't get into 'How do you really calculate the net-societal utility outcome of your actions, including second+ order effects?' since I think even the 1st order immediate consequence calculation is intractable.

In practice you shouldn't ... help people that will do harm with your help. I think this is one of the limits of pacifism(with Kaladin's dad being an example of that, incidentally) at some point passive obedience to an unjust opressor has the same consequences for the other people they harm as active cooperation. It is a moral duty to actually do something to harm or at least minimally help a person or institution or government from doing bad things. Just saying I don't like what this Hitler guy is doing with my tax money isn't really acceptable once the harm he's causing becomes really monstrous. So if I'm really calculating paying 2 personal utility to generate 4 utility for Bob, I should take into account what Bob's actually gonna do with his 4 utility. But again that becomes computationally impossible almost immediately, hence we use heuristics(aka moral principles) to dictate how we should behave.

By politics I mean governance, collective action via voluntary organisations and state action. 

The connection seems clear to me: I want to pool resources with others in a way that makes all of us better off. Increasingly elaborate and large scale systems of social coordination is how we do that and that's what modern states are. (for better or for worse and as hijacked by niche, elite special interests as they can seem to be and/or actually are)

As ... disappointing as contemporary western governments are, I still think most 'charity' or utility redistribution in modern societies is done by government via schools, healthcare, pensions, police and other security systems and relatively cheap/free infrastructure. These are all things that were privileges or luxuries in the past that are now baseline and we all pay for them together.

The modern idea is that politics is dirty and gross. And pretty much any politician I can think of off the top of my head is at best disappointing, at worst vile. However, developed societies went from feudal serfdom or slavery or highly unequal large underclass early industrial society to modern social democratic welfare states with a historically relatively high standard of living even for the worst off(or at least for the almost worst off, the really lumpenproletariat among us aren't doing that great, but the people at the bottom 15% threshold are, relatively speaking).

This transformation happened because people, not necessarily professional politicians but some were that as well, pushed for change in an intentional, organised and persistent way. And they got it. 

The grossness of modern politicians is a problem that will either be solved by better politicians emerging or will destroy our societies. Crap elites kill civilizations. 

Without organised, collective action towards the goal of improving our lives in specific ways, with specific policies ... we won't get the things we want. Society doesn't get better randomly, it gets better because groups of people agitate in a direction they think will make it better and sometimes they get what they want and sometimes what they wanted actually was a good idea.

1. Omega predictors are impossible

They are unstable/impossible not just in practice but in theory as well. It's theoretically not possible for Omega to exist because the decision of 1-2 box is recursive. You're essentially invoking a magical agent that somehow isn't affected by infinite recursion.

"Omega can 'snap' through the infinite recursive loop." No it can't. And if you claim it can you're essentially dropping a nuke inside your logical system that can probably produce all sorts of irrational true=false theorems.

2. Writing on whiteboards, acausal control is just superdeterminism

Brain in a box perfect duplication just implies determinism is true. We are all pure functions of our inputs, if you can perfectly duplicate the context and the function then the outputs will be the same(barring quantum randomness, but I'm assuming we claim that quantum randomness is also not actually random so superdeterministic physics or smth).

It indicates that the experience of choice is illusory. Neither of 'you' are deciding to do anything. You are just running the same computation in multiple duplicated physical locations. See

3. Determinism has 0 informational content. It is meaningless and you shouldn't care about it

Let's say you are faced with a choice: eat a burger or stick to your diet. Well the universe is pre-determined so you might as well eat the burger. Well the universe is pre-determined so you might as well not eat the burger.

There is no informational content in determinism. It's illusory that we make choices... But so what? We can't get an outside perspective over the 4D crystal of the universe we are a part of.

If it helps the wave function of your self to exist happier then just assume that it's predetermined you'll make all the correct, virtuous choices and then obviously you'll make them and that's that.

Didn't seem to work for me. It still seems to get confused trying to match similar words together even when they shouldn't be. Again quite, dumb/young human.

WW3 is a suicide pact. The #1 thing that defines modern Russia is cynical self-interest. Putin won't die for his professed ideals(which he does not believe in anyway). If he gives the order the people around him won't be willing to die and they'll just kill him. I view this all as extreme brinksmanship that will ultimately lead nowhere. 

Russia's oligarch billionaires aren't incinerating their Swiss mansions over some dead proles on the Ukrainian front.

Fundamentally wrong mental model, in my opinion. (but upvoted for presenting a well structured one!)

As if saying: "We shouldn't put people in prison because it raises the cost of murder and increases demand to murder." 

Violence is a wildfire, not an auction market. Quantity of violence is zero absent a catalyst, once the catalyst is provided it goes up exponentially until it reaches some saturation point at which point it runs out of fuel and collapses again to zero. 

Supply and Demand for violence form a positive feedback loop. (+ an activation barrier to get started and a cliff back to nothing at the end, dunno what proper terms would be here)

The measures that can be taken are to raise the cost of starting a war(make the catalyst more expensive) or end the war FAST(overwhelming force on one side).

Half the reason Putin is doing this is because he wasn't slapped hard the first time he went invading Georgia(cheaper catalyst in the future). Arguably, the main reason he felt safe invading Georgia is because the US trampled over international law when they invaded Iraq and lost the moral bully pulpit needed to mobilize the EU for sanctions.

The other half of the reason is he thought Ukraine would fold immediately(he thought he had overwhelming force).

The murder example is actually perfect. A lot of murder is revenge killing. A lot of it is essentially feuding going back decades(you killed my uncle, I'll kill your son etc). Same goes for war. France and Germany had a tit for tat war every few decades relationship for centuries. 

The way to break that cycle is by monopolizing violence. 

And it actually does break the cycle in that it removes the immediate popular causes for revenge killing or revanchist war. (Not to say that new causes cannot lead to war again, but the relationship between France and Germany is qualitatively different than it was in the last 80 year span of peace between their countries.)

To take this straight to the nuclear winter dark side.

I've been reading a bit about MAD 101 and I hate it. I'm slowly embracing the idea that the most safe thing to do is to be as explicit and precommitted as possible to massive retaliation if red lines are crossed. Emotionally that sounds nuts and I'd like everyone on every side to just spam we're not using the nukes, calm down.


IF people say that and red lines keep getting crossed, at some point Side A thinks they can push one more boundary and get away with it, but Side B decides this is the limit and they press the button.

As such I think, but don't believe if that makes sense, bellicose rhetoric about nukes reduces the risk of nuclear escalation. Implicitly people clamoring for the West to precommit to not using nukes if the Ukrainian war spills out of Ukraine are actually fuzzying Putin's calculus in a very dangerous way. 

On a lighter shade of dark note, I definitely think Putin getting away with all of his little salami tactics measures against the West in the past 10 years was why he thought he could get away with Ukraine. If massive sanctions had been issued at any point in the past, it would have never gotten to this point in Ukraine. But then again, the West would have had less justification for the sanctions...

That doesn't seem rational to me, or if it's somehow not irrational on an individual level, makes it a bad idea to model Russia as a rational actor as a whole.


Absent honest, safe, free speech, leadership's map diverges more and more from the territory and then comes crashing back to reality when they drive off a cliff they thought was a highway.

A group of individuals behaving in their own rational self-interest can make very irrational, self-destructive group-level decisions, if the incentives the members have are perverse enough. I guess the idea itself is as old as the book(Moloch style religious arguments have existed since forever) but I somehow never thought about it from the lens of predictability, of being a part of the same consensus reality. 

Everyone around Putin was shocked that he went to full war, because they all knew they were lying to him and it would be a disaster. He alone lived in a hall of mirrors. I assume he's smashing a bunch of them as we speak.

These numbers are absurd, in my opinion. 10s of thousands of military dead is massive numbers in a modern context. You cannot compare 1800s warfare to modern war, people literally lined up in a square and shot at each other until half of them were dead/injured back then. And due to crap med tech tons of injured didn't survive. Modern conflicts have MUCH MUCH lower death ratios.

America finished the conquest of Iraq with like 150 dead(granted Iraqi army folded). Over the course of the whole occupation(2003-2011) America lost around 4500 soldiers. If Russia loses like 1000 soldiers before taking over Ukraine that's absolutely brutal resistance.

Iraqi force's losses were much higher, but still not over 20k during the invasion. Keep in mind there WAS a lot of resistance. The invasion took like a month or something, so wasn't just a trivial walk through the country. Source:

Yemeni civil war isn't even at 20k yet after 8 years, as far as I can tell

I think 20k combined military civilian deaths in the next 2 weeks would be absolutely massive resistance and probably the bloodiest war in decades.

The real question to me is if the Ukrainians are holding all major cities by the end of this week. At that point substantial military aid from the EU will be steadily flowing in through the west and it becomes a lot less clear how Russia makes progress. Mass bombardment of cities... doesn't do anything if people are angry and stubborn enough to keep fighting. 

A lot of people keep saying that Putin feels afraid of NATO. I really dislike this meme. Russia has been an imperial aggressor in Eastern Europe(and beyond) for centuries. The belt of countries from the Baltic to the black sea have been the Russian Empire's victims again and again since the 1700s through to the fall of the USSR.

Now that Eastern European countries are joining a defensive alliance suddenly Putin feels threatened? 

Why? He has nukes. The end. No one is ever invading Russia. It is just impossible. NATO is not going to invade Russia. 

All NATO membership does is make Eastern European countries expensive or impossible to bully. This is what really bothers Putin. 

There is nothing an abuser hates more than when their victims can protect themselves. He is not afraid of NATO invading Russia, an absurd idea that again would NEVER happen, because it takes more than the whims of one crazy dictator to trigger a NATO attack. 

Putin is afraid that the people he views as his rightful prey and subjects are now able to defend themselves. That's it. He's a predator and he wants his subjects vulnerable.

Don't give him the benefit of the doubt by taking the BS rhetoric about NATO encroachment seriously. As if NATO was bribing and invading countries one by one to get them to join the way he does geopolitics. Pure projection by a psychopath.

I sort of get it and I want to believe it. But it makes no actual sense and that's terrifying. The west would barely care if Putin was doing this in the *stans or Georgia. The only other target to go to after Ukraine is Moldova and then the Baltics.

If he goes in the Baltics that's war with NATO. Nothing about the reaction to Ukraine makes a difference there. It's black and white NATO vs not NATO.

I feel like the most parsimonious explanation is he's not being very rational, rumors about him having terminal cancer are also pushing me towards that belief. It really doesn't seem like anyone on the Russian side saw this coming either, which is extra scary.

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