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I'd agree that Jan 6th was top 5 most surprising US political events 2017-2021, though I'm not sure that category is big enough that top 5 is an achievement.  (That is, how many events total are in there for you?)

I wasn't substantially surprised by it in the way that you were, however.  I'm not saying that I predicted it, mind you, but rather that it was in a category of stuff that felt at least Trump-adjacent from the jump.  As a descriptive example, imagine a sleezy used car salesman lies to me about whether the doors will fall off the car while I drive it home.  I plainly didn't expect that particular lie, since I fell for it, but the basic trend of 'this man will lie for his own profit' is baked into the persona from the get go.

My model of American voters ending American democracy remains extremely low.  For better or for worse, that's just not in any real way how we roll.  Take a look at every anti democratic movement presently going, and you will see endless rhetoric about how they are really double secret truly democratic.  The clowns who want to pack the supreme court/senate are just trying to compensate for the framers not jock riding cities hard enough.  The stooges who want the VP to be able to throw out electors not for his party invent gibberish about how the framers intended this.  The people kicking folks off voter rolls chant about how they are preventing imaginary voter fraud.  That kind of movement, unwilling to speak its own name, has a ceiling on how hard it can go.  I believe that ceiling is lower than the bar they'd need to clear to seize power, and I think the last few years have borne this sentiment out.

I'm not sure I exactly get your point re: how to measure Trump's time vs. hypothetical Clinton's time.  I will just repeat my sentiment that we can't know how they would have compared to one another, because Clinton's time will remain hypothetical.  It might have had more or less terrorism.  I will reiterate that the odds of terrorism being the key point to compare those points is miniscule.  If we'd picked Clinton instead of Trump in 2016, things would be wildly different today.  For 3 likely differences, we'd probably have a Republican president instead of Biden right now, we'd have had a technocrat beloved of the media instead of a maniac loathed by them when Covid hit, and we'd probably be fighting wars in Syria and Afghanistan, with Russia unlikely to have invaded the Ukraine.  It would be a substantially different place in a lot of ways that had nothing to do with whether or not the capital was occupied for an afternoon.

As far as putting money down, I will bet on 'the US continues to be a functioning democracy' long before I bet on what kind of calamity might befall us.  I think that a successful insurrection is less likely to be the end of our democratic experiment than a nuclear war, but both remain comfortably in 'far mode', so to speak.

I do buy the idea that citizens are moving left/right and a middle ground is becoming harder to find.  I think anyone as online as our generation is would have to see that much.  I just don't think that results in a civil war of the kind you envision.  Before being ideologues, left and right alike, these voters are lazy and selfish.  We will sit tight, clutching our votes and bemoaning the failures of our political masters/servants, as the world rolls along.

You should probably reexamine the chain of logic that leads you to the idea that the most important consequence of the electorate's decision in 2016 was the events of Jan 6th, 2021.  It isn't remotely true.

To entertain the hypothetical, where what we care about when doing elections is how many terrorist assaults they produce, would be to compare the actual record of Trump to an imaginary record of President Clinton's 4 years in office.  How would you recommend I generate the latter?  Does the QAnon Shaman of the alternate timeline launch 0, 1, or 10 assaults on the capital if his totem is defeated 4 years earlier?

A more serious reappraisal of the Trump/Clinton fork would focus on COVID, supreme court picks, laws that a democratic president would have veto'd vs. those Trump signed (are we giving Clinton a democratic congress, or is this alt history only a change in presidency?), international decisions where Trump's isolationist instincts would have been replaced by Clinton's interventionist ones, etc.  It is a serious and complicated question, but the events of Jan 6th play a minimal role in it.

I'm not sure precisely what you mean, like, how would it work for like 1/3 of Americans to be a threat to America's interests?

I think, roughly speaking, the answer you are looking for is 'no', but it is possible I'm misunderstanding your question.

I don't think I disagree with any of this, but I'm not incredibly confident that I understand it fully.  I want to rephrase in my own words in order to verify that I actually do understand it.  Please someone comment if I'm making a mistake in my paraphrasing.

  1. As time goes on, the threshold of 'what you need to control in order to wipe out all life on earth' goes down.  In the Bronze Age it was probably something like 'the mind of every living person'.  Time went on and it was something like 'the command and control node to a major nuclear power'.  Nowadays it is something like 'a lab where viruses can be made'.
  2. AI is likely to push the threshold described in '1' still further, by inventing nano technology or other means that we cannot expect.  (The capability of someone/something smarter than you is an unknown unknown, just as dogs can't properly assess the danger of a human's actions.)  It would be insufficient to keep AI's away from every virus lab, we don't know what is orthogonal to a virus lab on the 'can annihilate life' axis to something smarter than us.
  3. For any given goal X, 'be the only player' is a really compelling subgoal.  Consequently, as 'wipe out all life on earth' becomes easier and easier, we should expect that anyone/thing not explicitly unable to do so will do so.  A paperclip collector or a stock price maximizer or a hostile regime are all one and the same as far as 'will wipe you out without compunction when the button that does so becomes available to press'.
  4. Putting together 2 and 3, it is reasonable to suppose that if an AI capable of 2 exists with goals broadly described by 3 (both of which are pretty well baked into the description of 'AI' that most people subscribe to), it will wipe out life on earth.

Stipulating that the chain of logic above is broadly valid, we can say that 'an AI that is motivated to destroy the world and capable of doing so grows more likely to exist every year.'

The 'alignment problem' is the problem of making an AI that is capable of destroying the world but does not do so.  Such an AI can be described as 'aligned' or 'friendly'.  Creating such a thing has not yet been accomplished, and seems very difficult, basically because any AI with goals will see that ending life will be tremendously useful to its goals, and all the versions of 'make the goals tie in with keeping life around' or 'put up a fence in its brain that doesn't let it do what you don't want' are just dogs trying to think about how to keep humans from harming them.  

You can't regulate what you can't understand, you can't understand what you can't simulate, you can't simulate greater intelligence (because if you could do so you would have that greater intelligence).

The fact that it is currently not possible to create a Friendly AI is not the limit of our woes, because the next point is that even doing so would not protect us from some other being creating a regular garden variety AI which would annihilate us.  As trend 1 above continues to progress, and omnicide as a tool comes to the hands of ever more actors, each and every one of them must refrain.

A Friendly AI would need to strike preemptively at the possibility of other AIs coming into existence, and all the variations of doing so would be unacceptable to its human partners.  (Broadly speaking 'destroy all microchips' suffices as the socially acceptable way to phrase the enormity of this challenge).  Any version of this would be much less tractable to our understanding of the capabilities of an AI than 'synthesize a death plague'.

In the face of trend 4 above, then, our hope is gated behind two impossibilities:

A. Creating an Aligned AI is a task that is beyond our capacity, while creating an Unaliged AI is increasingly possible.  We want to do the harder thing before someone does the easier.

B. Once created, the Aligned AI has a harder task than an Unaliged AI.  It must abort all Unaliged AI and leave humanity alive.  It is possible that the delta between these tasks will be decisive.  The actions necessary for this task will slam directly into whatever miracle let A occur.

To sum up this summary: The observable trends lead to worldwide death.  That is the commonplace, expected outcome of the sensory input we are receiving.  In order for that not to occur, multiple implausible things have to happen in succession, which they obviously won't.

Put one person in charge.  Every project I've ever worked on that succeeded (as opposed to 'succeeded') had one real boss that everyone was under.

A lot of people (not in this thread) have been generalizing from America's difficulties with the Taliban to what Russia might expect, should they conquer the Ukraine.  I do not think that the experiences will resemble one another as much as might be expected, because I think insurgencies require cooperative civilian populaces in which to conceal themselves, and I expect Russia's rules of engagement will discourage most civilians from supporting the Ukrainian partisans.

It isn't enough for the government to become net harmful.  It has to be worse than the cost of moving to a new government.

You are broadly correct, in my eyes, but it is hard to imagine anyone far enough along in life that they are browsing random sites like this one not having taken a stance on this question, yeah?  Like, this is a switch that gets flipped turbo early along in life, and never revisited.

Those whose stances are in agreement just nod along, those whose stances are opposed reject your argument for all the reasons that you cited (it's a narcissistic injury, etc).

I dunno, I don't think it can hurt, but I doubt your message finds the ear of anyone who needs to hear it.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'astronomical waste or astronomical suffering'.  Like, you are writing that everything forever is status games, ok, sure, but then you can't turn around and appeal to a universal concept of suffering/waste, right?

Whatever you are worried about is just like Gandhi worrying about being too concerned with cattle, plus x years, yeah?  And even if you've lucked into a non status games morality such that you can perceive 'Genuine Waste' or what have you...surely by your own logic, we who are reading this are incapable of understanding, aside from in terms of status games.

I've been saying this for years.  EMH is just sour grapes, it is exactly like all those news stories about how people who won the lottery don't enjoy their money.

Whenever there is a thing that people can do, and some don't, a demand exists for stories that tell them that they are wise, even heroic, for not doing the thing.  Arguments are Soldiers, Beware One Sided Tradeoffs, all those articles sort of gesture at this.  That demand will be met because making up a lie is easy and people like upvotes.

EMH is a complicated way to say 'your decision to do nothing was the best one.', even when that manifestly isn't true.  Try and write down what people will say before them 'I make 70-200% without risk in 2 months' and see if you get bingo.  'The House Always Wins' is your free middle square.

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