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Eliezer_Yudkowsky comments on Dunbar's Function - Less Wrong

27 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 31 December 2008 02:26AM

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Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 31 December 2008 05:56:19PM 4 points [-]

Wallace: The Internet is a much better way to interact with the world, both because it lets you choose a community of reasonable size to be involved with, and because it's active rather than passive -- you can do something to improve your status on a mailing list, whereas you can't do anything to improve your status relative to Angelina Jolie (the learned helplessness affect again).

I'd like to see a study confirming that. The Internet is more addictive than television and I highly suspect it drains more life-force.

Even we had better ingrown tools for dealing with larger social groups, you'd still have to face the fact that as a small creature in a vast social world, most such creatures can't expect to be very widely known or influential.

They can expect to be known to most people, if most people know most other people. They can expect to be influential, if they have a good idea that isn't yet known, and people are better at recognizing good ideas from their friends. They can expect to be respected as the leading expert in their natural specialty. Influence and significance are not actually conserved quantities.

You don't have to be alpha to achieve satisfaction in a community. Being a primate-style alpha comes with its own set of problems. Significance is one thing; it's another matter entirely to exercise social power strong enough that other people will heavily filter their communications to you.

Comment author: Kingreaper 17 December 2010 09:07:47AM *  3 points [-]

I'd like to see a study confirming that. The Internet is more addictive than television and I highly suspect it drains more life-force.

I highly suspect that the reason the internet is so much more addictive is the fact you can improve your status. And you don't have to wait for a group meeting, as you do for social groups IRL, because the group is always there.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 27 April 2012 09:00:36AM *  2 points [-]

I highly suspect that the reason the internet is so much more addictive is the fact you can improve your status.

But improving your status on the internet takes a lot of time, and is very probably unconnected to the life outside of internet -- most useful things done in real life do not contribute to your internet status, and your internet status does not contribute to things done in real life. That's the problem: time and the disconnectedness. By improving your status in one world you lose your utility in the other world; improving your status tastes so sweet, but the rewards are very limited and can't be converted.

It goes against our insticts, because we expect that increasing status should bring many benefits, and on internet, it does not. (Just like our instincts expect that sugar goes with vitamins.) In real life, if you have a chance to become a king, go for it, because as a king, you will be able to better satisfy your needs that you have temporarily ignored in order to focus more on becoming a king. But as a king of internet, you have nothing... except the pure refined virtual status.

In theory, you can draw some real-life benefits from the virtual status, but I guess most people fail to do it. Because as a first step, you must get outside of the internet for long enough time to create a strategy for real life... but while you are doing it, your internet status is rapidly falling, and your instincts scream at you to come back and rescue it.

Comment author: mjk1093 22 April 2016 06:30:07PM 1 point [-]

(Just like our instincts expect that sugar goes with vitamins.)

We have the instinct to consume sugar because it is the most concentrated form of energy that humans can process, not because it is naturally paired with vitamins.

Comment author: Lumifer 22 April 2016 07:21:56PM *  3 points [-]

sugar ... is the most concentrated form of energy that humans can process

That's obviously false. Counterexample: fat.

Comment author: Good_Burning_Plastic 23 April 2016 10:40:24AM *  0 points [-]

Fat does have more calories per gram than sugar, but I think sugar has more calories per cubic centimeter. (Not that I think that this one is the reason why it is more pleasurable to eat sugar than fat for most people.)

Comment author: Desrtopa 23 April 2016 06:40:34PM 0 points [-]

Sugar crystal is about 1.5 grams per ml, while human fat is about .9 grams per ml, but fat has more than twice the calories per gram.

Comment author: wedrifid 24 April 2016 07:35:48AM *  1 point [-]

We have the instinct to consume sugar because it is the most concentrated form of energy that humans can process, not because it is naturally paired with vitamins.

Sugar is desirable as the most easily accessible form of energy. Being concentrated is more useful for long term storage in a mobile form, hence the use of the more concentrated fat.