In my model, every act of societal rule-breaking slightly undermines literally every societal rule (although if the rule in question is bad enough this might be worth it). So that’s a trivial “yes”.
If we restrict things to more direct effects, I think most people are realistically going to interpret your policy as “don’t pay taxes that I personally don’t agree with” rather than “don’t pay income taxes in particular, there is something a priori special about income taxes specifically that puts them into a fundamentally different category from all other taxes, this is definitely not a category that I made up retroactively because it happens to be convenient for me in my current circumstances”, no matter how much you protest that your real policy is the second thing. Therefore if they agree with income tax and disagree with Georgist tax, they will think they can ignore Georgist tax and that you will have no right to complain when they do. So, again, yes.
I think that if your government is basically a protection racket, extorting resources from its subjects while providing minimal benefits, then refusing to pay taxes seems pretty ethical to me.
But if you think your government is, overall, something that you would rather preserve than destroy, then I think the ethical case for paying taxes is pretty strong.
Most people would say that you shouldn’t steal, murder, cheat your business partners, etc. even if you could get away with it and donate the proceeds to charity. I think the widely-accepted justifications for not doing that are, broadly:
Some form of deontology that says you need to follow those basic rules of fair play even if the utility is not great.
Consequentialist reasoning that breaking these rules damages society’s ability to coordinate around the rule that was broken (and, to a lesser extent, to coordinate around any rules at all), and this societal ability is so immensely valuable that this outweighs other considerations in most realistic scenarios. (Especially considering that your lying brain will exaggerate the societal benefits of anything it thinks is in your self-interest.)
If you accept either of those arguments for not robbing a store, and you think your government is on-balance good to have around, then I think you should also accept those same arguments for paying your taxes. If the government is basically legitimate, then evading taxes is pretty similar to theft. At minimum, it’s defecting from a societal rule that is widely considered important and which has been thoroughly ratified by our standard societal-rule-process.
The consequentialist bullet-point above is similar to the ethical objection that you argue against in the OP, but I think you’ve imagined the commons-being-damaged too narrowly and thus significantly underestimated the value at stake. For instance, maybe you think our current tax rules are bad, but perhaps you’d like the ability to have and enforce any tax rules at all, even when some of your fellow citizens disagree with you about what rules are ideal. Will you be able to have that, after establishing that you think it’s OK to refuse to pay taxes just because you think the current system is inefficient?
I also think this specific objection you make is very far-fetched:
Why exactly should I expect the rule of law to collapse (rather than for the government to be reformed or replaced) when the consent of the governed wavers: could the results not just as plausibly be positive ones?
Imagine using this argument against one of the more widely-accepted rules I mentioned above, like murder:
Alice: You shouldn’t murder people, even if you could get away with it and the world would be better off without the specific person being murdered, because that would damage society’s ability to coordinate around the very important “generally don’t murder people” rule.Bob: But if that rule loses popular support, why wouldn’t it just be replaced by a new rule? And couldn’t that new rule just as easily be an improvement?
Alice: You shouldn’t murder people, even if you could get away with it and the world would be better off without the specific person being murdered, because that would damage society’s ability to coordinate around the very important “generally don’t murder people” rule.
Bob: But if that rule loses popular support, why wouldn’t it just be replaced by a new rule? And couldn’t that new rule just as easily be an improvement?
Good rules are a small target in possibility-space and it takes work to hit that target. If you want to get a better rule, you’d better put a lot of effort into coordinating with other people and carefully channeling your force towards that small target. It seems incredibly naive to me to think you’ll get a good rule automatically just because you smash the existing rule.
Additionally, there must be some historical reason that we have the rule we have. For important, high-profile, long-standing rules (like murder, or taxes), a plausible guess at that reason would be that it was the best rule our predecessors could realistically get. Unless you have some specific reason for thinking you can do better than them, it seems fairly unlikely that you could get a substantially better rule even with a highly-coordinated effort.
Bob is also imagining this as a clean switch from rule A to rule B, whereas in reality there will probably be a long period (maybe indefinite) when rule A is damaged enough to become less effective but not damaged enough to collapse.
There’s also inevitable collateral damage to other rules.
You complained that the objection you were responding to seemed like a rationalization that someone would make up if they had already decided on the answer and wanted a convenient justification. But this particular counter-objection seems like pure wishful thinking to me. Yes it’s possible to imagine a good outcome, but is that outcome likely? How much effort are you currently putting into steering towards this hoped-for good outcome? Will your fellow scofflaws even agree with you about which outcomes would count as “good”?
I think civil disobedience is sometimes a good tactic for protesting a bad rule, but you should have at least a rough proposal for how you want the rule changed and an overall strategy for actually getting that change. It’s also exceedingly suspicious if your “civil disobedience” involves keeping a low profile and putting money into your own pocket, rather than making headlines and going to jail for it.
In 2022, 8,143,000 federal tax returns were filed in which the filers failed to pay what the returns said they owed. There were also at least 413,000 taxpayers who failed to file returns (only counting the ones the I.R.S. knows about). That same year, the I.R.S. successfully prosecuted 699 people for tax crimes of all sorts. Even if every one of those prosecutions had been of people who merely refused to pay (or to file and pay), that would mean that an individual tax scofflaw would have had something like a 1 in 12,000 chance of being brought up on charges.
I have not checked your sources, but it sounds like the first number you are quoting is probably referring to the people who did not immediately pay their full tax when filing. Have I misunderstood?
My models predict that the subcategory of people who continued to not pay their tax unless/until criminally convicted is substantially smaller, and that charges are vastly more likely to be brought against this subgroup than against others. (The larger group also contains: people who made a honest mistake; people who are legitimately but temporarily unable to pay, and will pay when they can; people who can be intimidated into paying by scary letters; people who have assets that can be easily seized.)
This suggests to me that your “1 in 12,000” number may be a rather substantial underestimate for the risk within the scofflaw subgroup.
For variant 1, do you mean you’d give only the dishonest advisors access to an engine, while the honest advisor has to do without? I’d expect that’s an easy win for the dishonest advisors, for the same reason it would be an easy win if the dishonest advisors were simply much better at chess than the honest advisor.
Contrariwise, if you give all advisors access to a chess engine, that seems to me like it might significantly favor the honest advisor, for a couple of reasons:
A. Off-the-shelf engines are going to be more useful for generating honest advice; that is, I expect the honest advisor will be able to leverage it more easily.
The honest advisor can just ask for a good move and directly use it; dishonest advisors can’t directly ask for good-looking-but-actually-bad moves, and so need to do at least some of the search themselves.
The honest advisor can consult the engine to find counter-moves for dishonest recommendations that show why they’re bad; dishonest advisors have no obvious way to leverage the engine at all for generating fake problems with honest recommendations.
(It might be possible to modify a chess engine, or create a custom interface in front of it, that would make it more useful for dishonest advisors; but this sounds nontrivial.)
B. A lesson I’ve learned from social deduction board games is that the pro-truth side generally benefits from communicating more details. Fabricating details is generally more expensive than honestly reporting them, and also creates more opportunities to be caught in a contradiction.
Engine assistance seems like it will let you ramp up the level of detail in your advice:
You can give quantitative scores for different possible moves (adding at least a few bits of entropy per recommendation)
You can analyze (and therefore discuss) a larger number of options in the same amount of time. (though perhaps you can shorten time controls to compensate)
Note that the player can ask advisors for more details than the player has time to cross-check, and advisors won’t know which details the player is going to pay attention to, creating an asymmetric burden
on a meta level I wonder whether I should have actually been less straightforward in my presentation of what I believed. In theory, there’s a difference between optimizing for Alex to win, and being completely honest to Alex, and it might have been better for me to have been more strategic about my presentation. As in, not suggesting suspicious-looking moves like 30. f7, even though I thought they were right. Optimizing in someone’s favor by not being completely honest with them sure is a really risky sort of thing to do, and I doubt I really could have pulled it off all that well, but it’s something to take into consideration in the real-world AI scenario.
One option to mitigate the risk is to be open about what you’re doing. “I think the best move here is X, but I realize that X looks very suspicious, so I’m going to recommend that you do Y instead in order to hedge against me being dishonest.”
An honest advisor might say “I still think my recommendation was good, but if you’re not willing to do that, then X would be an acceptable alternative.”
I don’t think anyone is saying that “always let the human shut you down” is the Actual Best Option in literally 100% of possible scenarios.
Rather, it’s being suggested that it’s worth sacrificing the AI’s value in the scenarios where it would be correct to defend itself from being shut off, in order to be able to shut it down in scenarios where it’s gone haywire and it thinks it’s correct to defend itself but it’s actually destroying the world. Because the second class of scenarios seems more important to get right.
As I understand it, the shutdown problem isn’t about making the AI correctly decide whether it ought to be shut down. We’d surely like to have an AI that always makes correct decisions, and if we succeed at that then we don’t need special logic about shutting down, we can just apply the general make-correct-decisions procedure and do whatever the correct thing is.
But the idea here is to have a simpler Plan B that will prevent the worst-case scenarios even if you make a mistake in the fully-general make-correct-decisions implementation, and it starts making incorrect decisions. The goal is to be able to shut it down anyway, even when the AI is not equipped to correctly reason out the pros and cons of shutting down.
That’s my understanding of why it’s bad, yes. The point of the button is that we want to be able to choose whether it gets pressed or not. If the AI presses it in a bunch of world where we don’t want it pressed and stops it from being pressed in a bunch of worlds where we do want it pressed, those are both bad. The fact that the AI is trading an equal probability mass in both directions doesn’t make it any less bad from our perspective.
How would those questions apply to the “trammeling” example from part 2 of the post? Where the AI is keeping the overall probability of outcome B the same, but intentionally changing which worlds get outcome B in order to indirectly trade A1 outcomes for A2 outcomes.
When reading this essay, I kept having the feeling that you had just said something using specialized jargon that you were about to explain, except every explanation devolved into yet-another historical reference that required its own explanation, and none of the explanations ever tied back to the original thing.
I am left with the impression that you think there is some important difference between “don’t add extra elements” and “remove elements if you can”, and that you think Ockham said the second thing. I don’t know what you think the difference is, or why you think it’s important, or why you think Ockham said the second thing (the quotes you gave sound more like the first thing to me, insofar as I can distinguish between them at all). And I have a sneaking suspicion that at least one of those two things means something very different to you than a plain reading would suggest to me.
Also I am left with the impression that you care a lot about what various historical figures originally meant and not very much about the actual practice of epistemology, since you seem to argue only about historical context and not about why some principle would be good or bad to actually use.
There are many fully cooperative board games, where all the players work together to win or lose as a group.
But these do not involve bargaining or compromise, because all players are aligned. (They may involve strategizing about which goals to prioritize, but this is not the same thing.)
There are many partially cooperative board games, which can only be won through cooperation and negotiation.
Based on my experience in the board game hobbyist community over a number of years:
Games that describe themselves as partially-cooperative are a very small percentage of all board games
They have a reputation in the community for being terrible
Mostly they are just typical MostPointsWins games except that there is also a possible outcome of “everyone loses”
Their payout functions are often so loosely defined that players cannot even agree on whether they are zero-sum or not (and then players get mad at each other because each of them thinks the other is intentionally throwing the game). In particular, it is usually not clear whether “everyone loses” is different from a “tie”, and if so how.
My model says that approximately all of these are designed by people who are interested in the partially-cooperative story but aren’t particularly paying attention to the strategy of the game
That said, I surely haven’t played every game in this category. I’ll add my name to the list of people who would be interested if you can point out specific games that do this for real and do it well.
There are many competitive games for 3+ players where it is common for two players to make strongly mutually beneficial deals, especially when the third player is currently winning.
Yes, but with the possible exception of some games from the previous category, these are all zero-sum. This really colors things quite a lot.
Typically these games are primarily about convincing your enemies to attack each other instead of you, which in turn is primarily about misleading your enemies about how well you’re doing. (I’ve found I can get a surprisingly large advantage just by pointing out every time something goes badly for me, fueling a subconscious impression that I’m not a threat.)
There are many competitive games that run multiple rounds, where placement in each round matters, not just who gets first place, so negotiating to end up in second instead of third has value in the long run.
These can be viewed as a single long game that is still zero-sum.
Yes. (Which is very different from “stay out of this one forbidden zone, while otherwise doing whatever you want.”)
I see a way to download a PDF, and I see a way to view it in a browser via a URL that includes the phase “epubviewer”. Is there a way to download this as an ebook that I have overlooked?
I think a majority of the tetris fanbase in the modern era [prefers PvP versions]
Why do you think so? I’m not sure that good data on this exists, but my prior is against it, and the best my Google search turned up was this article on tetris.com opining that single-player is probably the more common form.
I wasn’t trying to counter the overall point of the essay. I agree with a lot of it, though this isn’t quite how I usually look at things.
I think of goals and agency as being critical ingredients in games (without agency you have a movie; without goals you have a toy; sandbox-y games like Minecraft are pretty close to the game/toy boundary and reasonable people might disagree about which side they fall on).
The “power fantasy” stuff seems like it’s basically pointing towards the fact that using your agency to accomplish a goal tends to provide a feeling of power, but I have an intuition that goals & agency are more central/fundamental to games. I think that an activity with goals and agency would seem like a game to me even if I didn’t get feelings of power from it, whereas an activity that gives me feelings of power without using goals or agency would not seem like a game.
“Power fantasy” also feels like it is somewhat getting at player motivations, but...well. I’ve seen several proposed models for player motivations—for example Bartle’s Taxonomy or the “player types” used by the designers of Magic: the Gathering—and mostly I feel like they’re situationally useful as fake frameworks but haven’t managed to reach the “ground truth” of what’s really going on. (Not that I have a better model to give you.)
Players are very clear about what they want. Look at the list of the most popular games.
This links to a Wikipedia page that does not currently exist.
All the most popular games are PVP.
This seems false to me. Though the article’s link to the most popular games was broken, I found these lists:
Wikipedia: List of best-selling video games - #1 is Minecraft, #2 is Grand Theft Auto V, #3 is Tetris
Wikipedia: List of best-selling PC games - #2 is Minecraft, #3 is Terraria, #4 is Diablo 3
Wikipedia: List of most-played mobile games by player count - #2 is Candy Crush Saga
Steam: Top Sellers (All Products) - #3 is Baldur’s Gate 3, #4 is Cyberpunk 2077
Board Game Geek: all board games by rank - #2 is Pandemic Legacy, #3 is Gloomhaven
I roll to disbelieve on “Every single board game rulebook contains the line “The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.”
Was it not obvious that this claim was hyperbole, or do you mean that you disbelieve it even after making allowance for that?
Based on my personal experience, this is an extremely common goal in board games. Additionally, games with different conditions very rarely have “points”, so players tend to assume that any game with “points” will also have this as the goal.
It’s certainly not literally all board games, though.
I don’t expect disputes to be common (among the kinds of people who are interested in learning cooperative bargaining practice)
I thought you had aspirations to make games like this a popular entertainment rather than just a specialist training tool.
I don’t really want to get into a deep discussion on privacy issues, but this seems frighteningly casual:
People you talk to online always have the ability to record you (did you not know this) so it’s not a real concern.
While that is certainly technologically feasible, IANAL but I believe in many cases that would be illegal (without your consent) due to wiretapping laws.
Ignoring that, people could reasonably feel OK about their conversation partner having a recording while not feeling OK about some third-party game company having a recording.
Even if they are OK in principle with you having a recording they may have nontrivial expectations about how you’re going to safeguard that recording. (Do your employees have the capability to browse these recordings for fun, without receiving an arbitration request? Can players use false arbitration requests to trick you into revealing recordings of other players?)
People might feel OK with the community looking at recordings of their contracts to arbitrate a dispute but not feel OK with the community looking at other stuff that was said during the game.
Some players of your game might be minors and not considered legally competent to consent to stuff.
If you actually made this recording system with the philosophy that “privacy is not a real concern” I think you’d be inviting a scandal and in extremis could maybe even go to jail.