I hope that, eventually, in the distant future, someone holds someone else accountable.
If the 21st century of American history has a tagline, this will be it.
I gotta say, I never get tired of epistemic walkthroughs of peer-reviewed papers. Upvote for you!
If you were to go to the national level, absolutely. But I expect that a local-level experiment could be done entirely part-time on a volunteer basis. I expect this because the local-level major party apparatus is usually a part-time volunteer operation. Further, the threshold for success is much, much lower: you can achieve kingmaker status in a lot of locales by forging a bloc of a score of votes.
This and the previous post put much more emphasis on the plan than other entrepreneurial advocacy I have read, but I deeply appreciate the complete lack of emphasis on software which otherwise saturates the space.
Just over three years after this post was published, I returned to it and switch to a strong upvote from a regular upvote. The post is well written and engaging, and it recently appears to me that it continues to be highly relevant. The proximate cause was the post over at the EA forum about an EA debate competition; there was a lot of well-articulated and popular concerns about debate as an activity, the most excellent of which had, if I understand it correctly, the following true concern:
Methods of communicating that are not truth-seeking compete with methods that are for our mastery. Which is to say, by spending time on symmetric weapons like rhetoric, we are forsaking time spent on advancing the truth.
I think this is a mistake, and that the value of rhetoric spoken-or-written to pursuit of the truth is being neglected. I publicly register my intent to write a post on this.
I would like to register a preference for resilient over robust. This is because in every day language robust implies that the thing you are talking about is very hard to change, whereas resilient implies it recovers even when changes are applied. So the outcome is robust, because the processes are resilient.I also think it would be good to agree with the logistics and systems engineering literature suggested in the google link, but how regular people talk is my true motivation because I feel like getting this to change will involve talking to a lot of non-experts in any technical literature.
I see in the citations for this they already have the Neural ODE paper and libraries. Which means the whole pipeline also has access to all our DiffEq tricks.
In terms of timelines, this seems bad: unless there are serious flaws with this line of work, we just plugged in our very best model for how the only extant general intelligences work into our fastest-growing field of capability.
Meta level: strong upvote, because I strongly endorse this kind of thinking (actionable-ish, focused on coordination problems); I am also very excited that we are now showing signs of being able to tackle politics reliably without tripping over our traditional taboo.
Object level: I wonder if you’d consider revising your position on the not-a-party point. Referring to your comment else-thread:
Instead, the proposal is to organize a legible voting bloc. More like “environmentalists” than “the green party”.
Environmentalists are a movement, and not an organization; the proposal is for an organization. They are a single-topic group that tackles a narrow range of policies; the proposal shows no intention of isolating itself to a narrow range of policies.
What you have proposed is an organization which will recruit voters, establish consensus within the organization on a broad range of policies, with the goal of increasing their power as voters, and you intend to compete directly with the two major parties in their values. Finally, there are no environmentalist kingmaker organizations precisely because there are lots of environmental organizations, which means the positions of individual environmental organizations are not particularly meaningful in elections; this means the organization will need to compete with, or co-opt voters from, other organizations with similar values/goals.
I put it to you that the most natural fit for what you are proposing is a new political party which chooses not to put candidates on the ballot.
This is an ingenious strategy, in my view: by not advancing candidates, the organization is liberated from the focus on winning campaigns, and it is the focus on winning campaigns that drives most of the crappy behavior from the major parties. At the same time, creating a legible block of voters does a marvelous job of avoiding direct competition while capitalizing on the short-term incentives direct competition creates.
This looks to me very much like a political party that takes the short-term hit of not directly holding office in exchange for the freedom to place longer-term bets on values and policy overall. As you observed with third-party viability, winning office is unlikely and so not even trying is not much of a hit, and the potential upside is big.
The short answer is the same thing that prevents the target audience from joining the reds or the blues and influencing them in the direction they would prefer: too much work.
But based on the idea so far, I claim this is a requirement for effectiveness. In order to get either party to change their behavior, they need to have a good understanding of what this group of swing voters want, and that requires getting an inside view.
It is much, much harder to persuade a group of people than it is to simply tell them what they want to hear. You will be encouraged to know that this is the formal position of virtually all political operatives, because their unit of planning is an election campaign and research shows that is too short a time to effectively persuade a population of voters.
It would also be super weird if when targeting disaffected voters in the middle there were no converts from the disaffected margins of either major party (who presumably will still naturally advocate for the things that drew them to the party in the first place, which is almost the same as a true believer in the party advocating). This too is a desirable outcome.
I have no idea if this is the answer, but there’s a cluster if investing discussion on the EA side around mission hedging. That may be relevant.
I find this line of research tremendously exciting, and look forward to every new post in this vein.
As ever, I favor the ease with which this can be pointed at other problems in addition to AI. It feels intuitively like power-scarcity will allow us to get finely graded quantitative results for all sorts of applications.
I agree with this comment. There is one point that I think we can extend usefully, which may dissolve the distinction with Homo Novis:
I think there’s a key skill a rationalist should attain, which is knowing in which environments you will fail to be rational, and avoiding those environments.
While I agree, I also fully expect the list of environments in which we are able to think clearly should expand over time as the art advances. There are two areas where I think shaping the environment will fail as an alternative strategy: first is that we cannot advance the art’s power over a new environment without testing ourselves in that environment; second is that there are tail risks to consider, which is to say we inevitably will have such environments imposed on us at some point. Consider events like car accidents, weather like tornadoes, malevolent action like a robbery, or medical issues like someone else choking or having a seizure.
I strongly expect that the ability to think clearly in extreme environments would have payoffs in less extreme environments. For example, a lot of the stress in a bad situation comes from the worry that it will turn into a worse situation; if we are confident of the ability to make good decisions in the worse situation, we should be less worried in the merely bad one, which should allow for better decisions in the merely bad one, thus making the worse situation less likely, and so on.
Also, consider the case of tail opportunities rather than tail risks; it seems like a clearly good idea to work extending rationality to extremely good situations that also compromise clear thought. Things like: winning the lottery; getting hit on by someone you thought was out of your league; landing an interview with a much sought after investor. In fact I feel like all of the discussion around entrepreneurship falls into this category—the whole pitch is seeking out high-risk/high-reward opportunities. The idea that basic execution becomes harder when the rewards get huge is a common trope, but if we apply the test from the quote it comes back as avoid environments with huge upside which clearly doesn’t scan (but is itself also a trope).
As a final note—and I emphasize up front I don’t know how to square this exactly—I feel like there should be some correspondence between bad environments and bad problems. Consider that one of the motivating problems for our community is X-risk, which is a suite of problems that are by default too huge to wrap our minds around, too horrible to emotionally grapple with, etc. In short, they also meet the criteria for reliably causing rationality to fail, but this motivates us to improve our arts to deal with it. Why should problems be treated in the opposite way as environments?So I think the Homo Novis distinction comes down to them being in possession of a fully developed art already; we are having to make do with an incomplete one.
I strongly agree with the claim, even if we differ on the motivations. I cultivate a sense of shame myself.
Come to think of it, I also deploy my sense of shame with respect to exercise. Following on Rob’s questions, it could probably be considered private.
Welp, I’ve clearly botched this, for which I apologize. To start with, I never meant to make any assumptions about what Logan was thinking, but I can clearly see where that was what I communicated despite myself. This was an unforced error on my part.
I can’t get the In Defense of Shame post, because I don’t have facebook, but I’d be keen to read—do you know if it was reposted anywhere else? I was unable to locate it at Agenty Duck or here. However, if it is about the book In Defense of Shame, then I was talking about the first of the two dogmas mentioned (which they reject).
What I meant to be talking about was the language drift between the past and present, though I now see Logan wasn’t using any more of a standard use of shame than I was. From the Shame Processing link, I see this:
According to me, shame is for keeping your actions in line with what you care about. It happens when you feel motivated to do something that you believe might damage what is valuable (whether or not you actually do the thing).Shame indicates a particular kind of internal conflict. There’s something in favor of the motivation, and something else against it. Both parts are fighting for things that matter to you.
According to me, shame is for keeping your actions in line with what you care about. It happens when you feel motivated to do something that you believe might damage what is valuable (whether or not you actually do the thing).
Shame indicates a particular kind of internal conflict. There’s something in favor of the motivation, and something else against it. Both parts are fighting for things that matter to you.
This is very interesting: on the one hand, it is closer to what I mean by guilt than what I mean by shame; on the other hand, it’s about reconciling competing priorities, which is supposed to be one of shame’s attributes over guilt.
I’m sad about the lack of a social element, but I was sad about that beforehand.Regarding social and private shame: I think I agree that a utopian society would make use of social shame, but there’s a bunch of conditions attached to enable that good use which we now lack. That being said, I’ll consider the problem; I have an ongoing related reading list that should let me come to grips with the idea better.
Saying private shame is interesting; even in the sense that I was using shame, I’m not sure I’d oppose a notion of private shame. It’s really the suggestion of exclusively-private shame, or anti-social shame, with which I would quibble.
Oh, the meaning wasn’t ambiguous; I understood that exactly to be what Logan meant. What I am saying is that this is completely different from how shame (in the past) has been publicly understood. Shame doesn’t have any valuable effects without anyone else knowing; it is dependent on relationships to have value, and mostly concerns the obligations to other people that come with them.
But it does make complete sense to me if shame is being used as a synonym for guilt, which is the norm in the US and especially on the internet.
To elaborate on my claim a bit: I say shame and guilt are different emotions.
Guilt is the feeling we have when we do something morally bad, or fail to do something morally good. If we consider that lying is morally bad, and following from the OP that exercise is morally good, then if I lie or fail to exercise I should feel guilty. This is true regardless of what anyone else knows or says.
Shame is the feeling of letting people down. It is about reputation and the obligations we have to our people (by which I mean family, friends and community). Shame is what I would feel if I were to be caught in that lie, or if someone I cared about knew I told it. Guilt and shame aren’t mutually exclusive: suppose I were a member of a running club, and decided to skip one day and do something else instead—but we see each other as they run by and I am sitting having a beer. Now I feel guilty and ashamed at the same time for the same event: guilt for skipping the run, shame for disappointing my club.
I propose a test: reflect on the last time you did something you felt bad about; then imagine someone important to you, who values things like you do, learning about it. This probably feels worse overall. The question is whether it is the same bad feeling only more intense, or if it is a different bad feeling. If it’s a different bad feeling when someone else knows, then I think there is value in distinguishing between guilt and shame.
None of this makes Logan’s statement bad or wrong; I quite agree with the intended meaning. I only commented because that particular reason highlighted in that particular circumstance threw into sharp relief this difference between guilt and shame, which is otherwise an idiosyncratic interest of mine.
Not germane to the subject at hand, but this stuck out to me:
I think shame is a beautiful and powerful psychological process that probably ought to be treated as personal and intimate, much like recountings of first lovemakings. Trying to use it as a public tool to make people act how you want them to seems to break it.
This flies directly in the face of the historical record. Until modernity began, shame was explicitly and strategically a public tool almost everywhere.That being said, I am pretty sure this is a case of using shame and guilt as synonyms. I am stricken again and confused again by the difference between public and community; shame strongly requires community mechanisms to work, whereas guilt is supposed to work completely independently of it (as an emotion, at least). Neither mechanism would work based on the words of internet strangers, which seems to be the dominant implication of the word “public” now.
News media broadcast things like polling locations, times, and procedures. They do very little in terms of what candidates stand for which positions in a level of detail sufficient to distinguish primary candidates. By contrast, the parties simply provide a list saying which candidates to vote for in elections where that isn’t already clear from the ballot itself.If California and Washington prohibit distributing literature outside polling places, this effect is definitely less strong; but that is just a weaker push towards partisanship, not a push away from it.
That finding does not surprise me, because parties are still the primary mobilizers of votes and distributors of voting information. It seems to me we shouldn’t expect any countervailing influence against partisanship until one party switches to an election strategy where they focus on expanding the electorate and it pays off.
I wonder how this interacts with our crisis mode of governance. I can’t speak for the British or French examples, but in the United States at least in the 1800s our concept of crisis was radically more relaxed. For example, in the period leading up to the Civil War, there were a lot of fraudulent elections as a result of things like people from the Missouri Territory coming down as a militia and stuffing ballots in Kansas; for a while Pennsylvania had two legislatures with their own militias who were skirmishing constantly. All of this fell beneath the threshold of something the Federal government saw fit to take a hand in.At least rhetorically we are prone to treat almost everything as some kind of crisis. I wonder about the degree to which governments operating in the modern media environment are hampered in their ability to recognize a crisis when it is upon them. If crisis recognition is hampered, I expect it to weaken this avenue, which seems to bode strictly ill.
I’m going to call the type of management where codifying the steps to a workflow is a goal in and of itself the “procedure” orientation. There are managers at my job who are like this; they do not care in any meaningful way about outcomes or even if the procedure is actually achievable, considering the establishment and verification of procedure to be the desired end state. The charitable interpretation of this is that they are looking for legibility (they need to be able to see what is going on) and consistency (everyone needs to do the same thing).
My first impression is that when shifting from a results orientation or a procedure orientation to a process orientation, the overwhelming factor will be how well the translation from results to decisions goes.
As a note, in my experience people of the procedure orientation refer to themselves as process people. We’re going to need a different name in order to keep this from being consistently misunderstood or co-opted by them.
I nominate: decision process orientation
Or simpler: decision orientation