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Tyrrell_McAllister comments on The Power of Agency - Less Wrong

57 Post author: lukeprog 07 May 2011 01:38AM

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Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 07 May 2011 03:55:36PM *  7 points [-]

The paragraph itemizing the powers of agency especially reads like wishful thinking: Just pay a little more attention to small matters like fixity of purpose and actually acting in your own interest, and you'll get to be famous, rich, and a historical figure! Sorry, that is entirely not ruthless enough. You also need to be willing to lie, cheat, steal, kill, use people, betray them. (Wishes can come true, but they usually exact a price. ) It also helps to be chronically unhappy, if it will serve to motivate your extreme and unrelenting efforts. And finally, most forms of achievement do require domain-specific expertise; you don't get to the top just by looking pretty and statusful.

How could you reliably know these things, and how could you make intentional use of that knowledge, if not with agentful rationality?

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 08 May 2011 08:39:15AM 6 points [-]

You can't. I won't deny the appeal of Luke's writing; it reminds me of Gurdjieff, telling everyone to wake up. But I believe real success is obtained by Homo machiavelliensis, not Homo economicus.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 09 May 2011 12:56:33AM 7 points [-]

This is reminding me of Steve Pavlina's material about light-workers and dark-workers. He claims that working to make the world a better place for everyone can work, and will eventually lead you to realizing that you need to take care of yourself, and that working to make your life better exclusive of concern for others can work and will eventually convince you of the benefits of cooperation, but that slopping around without being clear about who you're benefiting won't work as well as either of those.

Comment author: wedrifid 08 May 2011 09:30:22AM 2 points [-]

But I believe real success is obtained by Homo machiavelliensis, not Homo economicus.

Love the expression. :)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 09 May 2011 12:52:19AM 3 points [-]

How can you tell the ratio between Homo machiavelliensis and Homo economicus, considering that HM is strongly motivated to conceal what they're doing, and HM and HE are probably both underestimating the amount of luck required for their success?

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 09 May 2011 05:51:37AM 4 points [-]

How can you tell the ratio

fMRI? Also, some HE would be failed HM. The model I'm developing is that in any field of endeavor, there are one or two HMs at the top, and then an order-of-magnitude more HE also-rans. The intuitive distinction: HE plays by the rules, HM doesn't; victorious HM sets the rules to its advantage, HE submits and gets the left-over payoffs it can accrue by working within a system built by and for HMs.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 09 May 2011 07:34:55AM 3 points [-]

My point was that both the "honesty is the best policy" and the "never give a sucker an even break" crews are guessing because the information isn't out there.

My guess is that different systems reward different amounts of cheating, and aside from luck, one of the factors contributing to success may be a finely tuned sense of when to cheat and when not.

Comment author: cousin_it 09 May 2011 07:47:14AM *  3 points [-]

Yeah, and the people who have the finest-tuned sense of when to cheat are the people who spent the most effort on tuning it!

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 09 May 2011 07:52:26AM *  5 points [-]

I suspect some degree of sarcasm, but that's actually an interesting topic. After all, a successful cheater can't afford to get caught very much in the process of learning how much to cheat.