No accounting for style yet, but otherwise it seems to work pretty well. Not an improvement on your writing but I am sure the target is poor writers who are sensitive to the fact that it is poor.
Boom! That is exactly the kind of thing I needed. Thank you!
I wonder about the question of catch-up growth.
There’s a point raised in Is Scientific Progress Slowing Down by Tyler Cowen and Ben Southwood about problems relating to using TFP as an estimate of the value of progress, which is that it is hard to categorize ideas which are adopted late. Duplicating one of the quotes in the comments there:
To consider a simple example, imagine that an American company is inefficient, and then a management consultant comes along and teaches that company better personnel management practices, thereby boosting productivity. Does this count as an improvement in TFP or not? Or is it simply an increase in labor supply, namely that of the consultant? On one hand, some hitherto-neglected idea is introduced into the production process. That might militate in favor of counting it as TFP. On the other hand, the introduced idea is not a new one, and arguably the business firm in question is simply engaged in “catch up” economic growth, relative to more technologically sophisticated firms.
Generalizing a bit, this seems like it could introduce counting problems everywhere. For example, after WWII half of Eurasia had to be rebuilt; does this count as catch-up growth? What about the industrialization of other countries, whether via deliberate economic development strategies or outsourcing—these factories weren’t built with state-of-the-art techniques, but rather because the same old technology was cheaper to build and operate there.
How closely does this global boom in catch-up growth coincide with our 1970s stagnation timeline, and can a part of the explanation be something as simple as capital being redirected from technical progress to expansion of the current technical base?
Out of curiosity, where do logistics fit into the categorization you use? I ask because we seem to be measuring only by top-line numbers like mph, but mph was never the point in the first place—now almost everyone in the country can get almost anything made anywhere in the country dropped on their front porch in ~2 days. In real terms this is a radical increase in speed for transport of goods.
My guess is something like the overlap of transport and information; logistics is information applied to transport. It doesn’t change the thesis really, I just notice that a lot of things we now rely on that they didn’t have during the periods of high growth is the notion of on net, which we now apply very widely but in the 19th-20th centuries prior to computers was represented chiefly by manufacturing and notions like vertical integration.
I agree that you have identified the key problems. 1 and 2 appear to me so unsolvable as to be indistinguishable from impossible, and any other issue I can think of is gated through one of them.
I have an extremely strong prior that any plan which requires an entire population to change their behavior at once is fundamentally wrong and not worth considering. Although I do note that plans involving a fraction of the population changing their behavior, or an entire population changing their behavior over time, are still worth considering.
It promoted trade between Russia and China but all of that came at the expense of trade through the rest of inner Asia. The treaty was negotiated shortly after the Qing defeated the Dzungars, and was the first time they could trade directly because they shared a fixed border.
Further, this trade was imperially backed, so the actual imperial families and their patronage networks were the prime beneficiaries. This is a very different situation to one where trade is unrestricted, because patronage from the court is the deciding factor rather than, say productivity. By analogy to the English case, why would a Qing textile mill care about producing more if the demand is satisfied locally and the amount they can send to Russia is fixed by imperial writ? Or more broadly, suppose England swore off trade with Europe and signed a large trade treaty with Russia instead; would that have helped or harmed the industrial revolution?
The strongest argument is located in the book Empires of the Silk Road by Christopher Beckwith. He goes further than the consensus position about the influence of trade on China, but the consensus has been updating rapidly for years and his picture agrees better with my understanding of economics. The position that Beckwith is arguing against is articulated by Thomas Barfield in The Perilous Frontier. The most detailed description of the period of history is Peter Perdue, China Marches West. The latter two are on my reading list, so I might wind back my estimation; consider it a strong opinion lightly held.
Not about Gendlin, but following the trail of relating chunks to other things: I wonder if propaganda or cult indoctrination can be described as a malicious chunking process.
I’ve weighed in against taking the numbers literally elsewhere, but following this thread I suddenly wondered if the work that using few words was doing isn’t delivering the chunk, but rather screening out any alternative chunk. If what we are interested in is common knowledge, it isn’t getting people to develop a chunk per se that is the challenge; rather everyone has to agree on exactly which chunk everyone else is using. This sounds much more like the work of a filter than a generator.
When I thought about it in those terms, it occurred to me that it is perfectly possible to drive this in any direction at all; we aren’t even meaningfully constrained by reality. This feels obvious in retrospect—there’ve been lots of times when common knowledge was utterly wrong—but doing that on purpose never occurred to me.
So now it feels like what cults do, and why they sound so weird to everyone outside of them, is deliberately create a different sequence of chunks for normal things for the purpose of having different chunks. Once that is done, the availability heuristic will sustain communication on that basis, and the artificially-induced inferential distance will tend to isolate them from anyone outside the group.
might be working entirely with wordless chunks, that they invent, combine them into bigger ideas, compress into smaller chunks, without ever being verbalized or given word form.
This part points pretty directly at research debt and inferential distance, where the debt is how many of these chunks need to be named and communicated as chunks, and the distance is how many re-chunking steps need to be done.
I have something for this: Asia in general and China in particular was doomed by the signing of the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689. The argument is essentially that China locked themselves into stagnation by disrupting trade over land.
Land-bound trade in Asia took place primarily over the Silk Road. This is something of a misnomer, as it isn’t a trade route between Rome and China but rather trade with and through Inner Asian economies.The success of the Silk Road is defined by these economies, and these economies in turn are defined by the nomads who populate the steppe and Central Asia.
However, agrarian empires are traditionally hostile to trade. The reason is that the volume of trade is higher the closer two trading partners are. This in turn means most of the gains from trade are realized by the recently-conquered frontier, and that trade is happening with their not-conquered-yet neighbors, which runs the perpetual risk of drawing the frontier away from the imperial core.
The Treaty of Nerchinsk fixed trade at a certain volume and to go through specific locations between the Russian and Chinese empires. This suited the interests of Peter the Great and the Kangxi Emperor, but severely constricted the flow of goods going through the interior in both directions.
This was the period that ocean going trade exceeded overland trade in volume. Along with the decline in total wealth generated, they also cut themselves off from the flow of information that comes with trade. I suggest this pitched the Qing Empire into stagnation, radically reducing the likelihood they would experience an industrial revolution internally.
Some workplaces are also populated by bullies and obnoxious people. So while some people lose friendly contact with a great set of colleagues, others are freed from being forced to be around a bunch of jerks. Hard to say how that washes out in the end.
This is an excellent point. There are whole companies with a pretty terrible reputation for this kind of thing; I wonder if they would go out of business because leadership doesn’t know how else to operate, or be saved by people suddenly sticking around for more than a year and developing real competence.
Further, I wonder how well the bullies are represented among that exclusive-social class, except in this case they work exclusively for the experience of domination rather than camaraderie. While I expect them to be the smallest segment we’ve discussed so far, I also expect their neutralization as being the biggest per-capita difference in terms of other people’s welfare and productivity.
If we model bad social experiences like bullying and jerkassery as akin to loss aversion, we might be able to make an estimate. If we model this “social loss aversion” as a 2:1, where experiencing 2 good social interactions is wiped out by 1 bad social interaction, then it starts to look like if one-third of workplace interactions are bad then losing social contact is a break-even proposition. I can easily imagine that being the case in lots of places, particularly since different people are bound to have different real curves for this “social loss.”
I think I agree with your original argument; more specifically my claim is that these people are a small enough fraction of the population that the harms to the majority in terms of happiness and productivity would be greater on net than any productivity boost the exclusively-social workers would experience.
Responding to your responses:
The crux of my belief here is that the interest of the work and the prospect of helping other people are not separable from the camaraderie element. The majority of the actual power these factors exert comes from the social reinforcement. For example, if the satisfaction of the work were enough, why not just work directly alone? This effect is much stronger in things like startups and/or charities, although entirely separately I can see an argument that most startups and charities collapsing would be much more efficient from an economic perspective.
I suspect this is a key disagreement—backing up a bit, I claim that normal for people is more or less continuous social contact. Social contact at work may not be as satisfying as family or friends, but it is at least something. So under this model, time at work is time away from social contact, which is strictly bad and added to the other costs of working a job. This turns a job into a pretty stark money-for-suffering trade, and I see no reason to expect compensation will increase even though suffering does.
I agree it’s a separate cost to measure, but I assert it shares the same cause. So there can be no scenario where you lose camaraderie but maintain teamwork (or enjoyment of the work, or the satisfaction of helping people) at the same levels.
I cannot imagine the destruction of social bonds in work being a long-term positive, except possibly from a full-bore anti-work perspective. There are three considerations that dominate my thinking:
If camaraderie is out, this means the business succeeds or fails on the financials alone. Startups will reap a grim harvest of failure, because virtually none of them are financially viable and the camaraderie of being in that environment is a significant factor in survival until the threshold is crossed. The valley of death gets wider and deeper; the ability of a business to endure a recession or disruption also goes down.
If camaraderie is out, a job does not fall back to neutral, it falls back to hostile. It is actively bad for people’s health to be shut off from social contact for long periods, and this means that jobs in general will be bad for you; they are sources of stress with no countervailing psychological forces.
Teamwork suffers to the same extent as camaraderie, which means any type of work that relies on multiple people to adapt quickly takes a direct production hit. The conditions for camaraderie to develop are also the conditions that produce enough familiarity with teammates to enable high performance with them.
With the kind of scaling required to approach utopia, by what mechanism do we screen out the bad bits? Our legacy includes total war and human sacrifice; these things too would scale.
I say mostly that you have competent people working on the right cause. You do also need to look at exactly what you are doing, but the reason having competent people working on the cause matters more is because finding the right thing to do is the hardest part. If it were obvious it would already be done, and mediocre execution on the right thing beats superlative execution on the wrong thing, it seems to me.
As an intuition pump, consider that successful startups usually pivot at some point and this is why investors prefer evaluating the team to the idea. A little more consideration of the same point reveals that the people are where the investment goes and how the capital is built in both the literal and gearsy senses.
There are a variety of experiences which are relatively common in religion, but quite rare elsewhere. The best articulators of spiritual experience I know of are Buddhist mediation traditions, which describe a whole range of different mental states. Others specialize in reaching a few, like the ecstasy pursued by whirling dervishes and Pentecostals passing around a snake.
This has practical consequences; there is a notion in political anthropology called the theatre state, wherein the government’s function is not resources or security but rather to provide dramatic ritual experiences. Naturally these are through the vehicle of religion. It is an increasingly popular viewpoint when considering issues like large-scale human sacrifice in Mesoamerican empires like the Aztec and Maya.
But if you are actively searching for empathy for faith, I think we are better served by not thinking about people or groups. Instead, consider math: I propose that when we use equations or methods of analysis that are dissimilar from how people think (which is most of them) and then use those answers, what we are doing is similar to the radical surrender you point to. The difference is of accuracy and precision, so it is less of a leap, but still goes in the same direction.
Imagine the Apollo mission: a few people wrapped in a few layers of foil drifting through an environment utterly inimical to human life. The course is computed; they do the burn for traveling to the moon, and then stop the thrusters to conserve fuel. Hineni, hineni O Newton.
The two I immediately thought to check were 1, 2. I fully expected these posts to be at least controversial, with a substantial chance of negative score, but they outperformed my expectations. Now that the karma has been normalized, the ratio of vote:score is much more consistent with the some people liked it and some people didn’t expectation I had.I note the breakdown is also consistent with a medium amount of small upvotes and very little dislike, but considering the content I was betting on at least a few strong downvotes.
Reviewing some older posts current scores, I am in that weird place where I have to un-do some updating about community preferences. It is mildly gratifying to have been pretty accurate in the first place, though.
This feels like one of those social-reality level problems. It seems to me that as long as the concept has a single socially real meaning, we get all the same value out of it with respect to communication. I am unsure about thinking; on the one hand individually it is better to have a concept that cleaves physical reality at the joints, but it feels like with a group that understands a socially real meaning we are more likely to discover the limits of the concept.
I suppose the question there boils down to whether transmission is more important than generation, and if so by how much?
I too have voted!
And then I walked away to come back later for points adjustments. I don’t expect to make many more, but see no reason not to keep the option.
The single-agent MDP setting resolves my confusion; now it is just a curiosity with respect to directions future work might go. The action varies with discount rate result is essentially what interests me, so refocusing in the context of the single-agent case: what do you think of the discount rate being discontinuous?
So we are clear there isn’t an obvious motivation for this, so my guess for the answer is something like “Don’t know and didn’t check because it cannot change the underlying intuition.”