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J_Thomas comments on Applause Lights - Less Wrong

91 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 11 September 2007 06:31PM

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Comment author: J_Thomas 12 September 2007 01:15:13AM 0 points [-]

"The democracy booster probably meant that people with little political power should not be ignored. And that's not an empty statement; people with little political power are ignored all the time."

But isn't it precisely the people with little political power who can most safely be ignored?

Comment author: bigjeff5 31 January 2011 04:26:12PM *  1 point [-]

In standard democracy, yes, that is the case.

Perfect democracy is pure majority rule. Through history we have learned that this is probably the worst possible idea for a form of government. The mob has no concern for those who are not in the mob, and the apathy of the crowd can lead to some horrific consequences for those in the minority.

This is why most democracies are not really democracies, but have strong constraints that boost the power of the weakest members to prevent them from being overruled on every decision, while still giving the majority the larger share of the power.

For example, in the US the democratic process is split between two houses, The House of Representatives, which is population based and represents majority rule, and The Senate, for which each state gets only two representatives regardless of population. That balances the power while still giving the majority the majority of the power.

It's constraints similar to this (everyone does it differently, the point is that you always need to do it) that allow democratically based systems to work. In the US we also put in a president to make sure things get done, and then went as far outside the democratic system as the founders were comfortable with to install the third constraint on the system - the courts.

It could work just fine if there were plenty of well thought out constraints on it, but "democracy" by itself probably would not work at all; it rarely ever does. Therefore, saying "democracy" without any intention of discussing it is clearly just an applause word. Either that, or the man was totally ignorant. Leave it to someone like that to require the absolute destruction of a major effort like AGI just to learn the pitfalls of democracy that have been learned over and over and over again.

Comment author: omeganaut 11 May 2011 08:08:18PM 0 points [-]

But that in now way implies that they should be ignored.

Comment author: thomblake 11 May 2011 10:05:32PM 0 points [-]

But that in now way implies that they should be ignored.

It at least to some extent implies that they should be ignored. To illustrate:

Someone who is has great political power should not be ignored. This statement is not vacuous; it is instead making a worthwhile statement of fact. Given that, we know that people who do not have great political power should be ignored to a greater extent than people who do have great political power. Thus, that one does not have great political power (at least weakly) implies that one should be ignored (ceteris paribus). This contradicts the claim "That in no way implies that they should be ignored" (emphasis added).

As a side note, the comment you're responding to was left in 2007, and even on a different website. As a general rule, unless you're making a significant contribution, it's not worth responding to comments that were left before 2009.

If you do believe the parent comment is a worthwhile contribution, I'd suggest correcting "now" to "no" (assuming that's what you meant).