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Carl_Shulman comments on Dunbar's Function - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: Carl_Shulman 01 January 2009 05:09:29PM 2 points [-]

Well, they won't be doing numerically identical pieces of work. Are you thinking of things like patronage and nepotism positions that exist solely to hand money to their holders? An auto company employee who comes to 'work' and sits at a desk doing nothing from 9 to 5 in order to collect a paycheck, which is offered because of the UAW, isn't contributing anything to the company or the economy, but his enrichment makes a difference to the union leaders, since he will provide union dues and a vote. Many people are in this category, but the most blatant ones are still only a small fraction of the population.

If you start to include positions like government-subsidized social services jobs with nil or negative effects on recipients, people providing medicine that has nil or negative effect on health, people working in subsidized private industries (agriculture subsidies, etc) that destroy wealth on net, office politics positions, organized crime, legal versions of same (telemarketers selling bogus products or tricking people into signing harmful contracts), and similar categories you could wind up with a majority of the population in many countries. But if by 'making a difference to someone' Robin just means that an employer benefits from having the employee on staff, most such jobs wouldn't qualify.