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Comment author: bogus 15 May 2017 07:54:43AM *  0 points [-]

The 'bronze age collapse' is instructive, when everyone learned to make iron, barbarians destroyed every hierarchy and the cities fell.

Not sure what your point is here - early iron-smelting cultures were not "uncivilized" in any real sense, they're just understudied! We've even discovered entire sets of royal archives near Hattusa - the Hatti or Hittites being perhaps the most prominent early-iron-age civilization. Indeed, the Iron age itself may have enabled the formation of large, internally-peaceful 'empires' in the longer run - clearly a significant advancement in social organization!

Comment author: RedMan 22 May 2017 11:29:05PM 0 points [-]

Thank you for clarifying, in the long run, there was stability and we do not fully understand it...I believe that my assertion about the transition being messy and involving the collapse of bronze age civilizations rather than their persistence still stands though.

My point is that new developments upended the old social order, and cleared the way for the eventual rise of alternatives. Today, similar levels of destruction will be challenging to recover from, because infrastructure, once trashed, leads to things like the birth defect rate in Fallujah, not just empty space where new things can be built, and battlefields which yiels bumper crops.

Comment author: ChristianKl 15 May 2017 01:36:16PM 0 points [-]

The standard scenario assumes that individuals can win against large, well resourced militaries, this has been true at various times in the past, but is not true today.

Individuals like Julian Assange or Snowden manage to hit sizable blows against nation states.

In Flint, MI, institutional collapse was followed by a loss of control of infrastructure, which lead(pun intended) to a collapse of control systems, and the resultant toxic pollution will destroy the population resident there without external intervention.

That's not a good description of the system. Flint made a bad decision that resulted in increased lead in the water but the the amount of children with elevated levels of lead was still lower than it was a decade ago.

Comment author: RedMan 22 May 2017 11:23:41PM *  0 points [-]

They certainly swung. I'm not certain that they successfully imposed their will on the activities of the nation states they attacked. Neither of them are comparable to Alaric, one is comparable to https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Délicieux who despite making a big scene, had no immediate or meaningful impact on the institution he rebelled against.

Do you have a better, easier example of what I've described, or do you disagree with the broad statement in addition to the specific example of Flint?

Comment author: RedMan 13 May 2017 07:03:38PM *  1 point [-]

Assertion: Statement about heavy weapons in OP is incorrect.

In collapse scenarios any entity capable of bringing modern military technology with the attached organizational requirements to bear can and will dominate organizations which cannot.

In many collapse scenarios, political wrangling over who controls the institutions capable of managing that force becomes the dominant struggle. In Venezuela of today, for example, the government is incapable of guaranteeing security or access to reaources for the population at large, but is capable of staying in power. The standard scenario assumes that individuals can win against large, well resourced militaries, this has been true at various times in the past, but is not true today.

The 'bronze age collapse' is instructive, when everyone learned to make iron, barbarians destroyed every hierarchy and the cities fell. Today, any technology that can have a similar effect requires specialist knowledge and access to the fruits of infrastructure (Home-made explosives can be made from common industrial chemicals, but not really from things you can grow in your yard).

Destruction of social infrastructure will not create individual liberty, but it will scatter a bunch of toxic waste that will require even greater levels of development to clean up.

In Flint, MI, institutional collapse was followed by a loss of control of infrastructure, which lead(pun intended) to a collapse of control systems, and the resultant toxic pollution will destroy the population resident there without external intervention.

Bad news all around when entropy wins.

Comment author: bogus 08 April 2017 12:24:31PM 2 points [-]

It's not clear how founding a new college would solve the underlying issue here, which is a demand for educational prestige. There's plenty of community colleges in the US anyway and most of them are not that bad, the issue is that they're not perceived as 'prestigious' compared to e.g. the Ivy League.

Comment author: RedMan 08 April 2017 02:28:37PM 0 points [-]

The prestige the ivies have in the eyes of the families of Irvington is misplaced. Anything to promote that community's pride in itself, rather than investment in a declining institution, is probably a win.

Winning within the rules is obviously taking a toll, the prize isn't really worth it, so exit is an option, and in my opinion, it isn't a bad one.

Comment author: lifelonglearner 08 April 2017 05:33:04AM 2 points [-]

Hey, author of the article here.

I actually think it'd be probably net-positive if we had people trying to go lots of different routes to differentiate themselves. This seems like the sort of positive competition that leads to good externalities. (There's an example somewhere where Luke and Scott got into an arms race for writing good articles...)

Anyway, I'm interpreting the above to say that...students at Irvington should go to community college, which will have net benefits in the long run? Not 100% sure I'm parsing the second half of your third paragraph.

Comment author: RedMan 08 April 2017 12:01:14PM *  0 points [-]

Thank you for the reply. I'll rephrase.

I assess that the following statements are true, please correct me if I am wrong:

-Based on your writing samples, you personally are probably capable of handling the academic workload at a high prestige college.

-You are typical in terms of ability in comparison to your peer group

-Race and geographic location may be working against you and your peers in your admissions process

-You and your peers will find yourselves scattered to the four winds attending less prestigious universities that you're not particularly happy with.

In light of the above, I suggest that you should look into founding (or taking over, I don't know what the community college landscape looks like where you are) a community college explicitly to serve the interests of members of your community affected by the above truths.

You have the most important ingredient for a successful college, which is to say, you have a cohort of motivated learners. From a business and legal standpoint, founding such an institution is an attainable objective. You are right next door to a lot of companies that need talented people, these companies could be persuaded to invest in infrastructure for churning out a future talent pool. You have enough money in Fremont (pass the hat, do a lottery, it's there) to rent property, hire instructors, pay for subscriptions to professional journals, and probably build a lab or two.

If you're not going to get the 'big name', stay local, work within your own community, and build something better.

Comment author: Darklight 07 April 2017 08:36:48PM 0 points [-]

Well, if we're implying that time travellers could go back and invisibly copy you at any point in time and then upload you to whatever simulation they feel inclined towards... I don't see how blendering yourself now will prevent them from just going to the moment before that and copying that version of you.

So, reality is that blendering yourself achieves only one thing, which is to prevent the future possible yous from existing. Personally I think that does a disservice to future you. That can similarly be expanded to others. We cannot conceivably prevent copying and mind uploading of anyone by super advanced time travellers. Ultimately that is outside of our locus of control and therefore not worth worrying about.

What is more pressing I think are the questions of how we are practically acting to improve the positive conscious experiences of existing and potentially existing sentient beings, and encouraging the general direction towards heaven-like simulation, and discouraging sadistic hell-like simulation. These may not be preventable, but our actions in the present should have outsized impact on the trillions of descendents of humanity that will likely be our legacy to the stars. Whatever we can do then to encourage altruism and discourage sadism in humanity now, may very well determine the ratios of heaven to hell simulations that those aforementioned time travellers may one day decide to throw together.

Comment author: RedMan 08 April 2017 03:01:32AM *  0 points [-]

Time traveling super-jerks are not in my threat model. They would sure be terrible, bu as you point out, there is no obvious solution, though fortunately time travel does not look to be nearly as close technologically as uploading does. The definition of temporal I am using is as follows:

"relating to worldly as opposed to spiritual affairs; secular." I believe the word is appropriate in context, as traditionally, eternity is a spiritual matter and does not require actual concrete planning. I assert that if uploading becomes available within a generation, the odds of some human or organization doing something utterly terrible to the uploaded are high not low. There are plenty of recent examples of bad behavior by instituions that are around today and likely to persist.

Comment author: lahwran 05 April 2017 07:28:55PM 0 points [-]

I acausally cooperate with agents who I evaluate to be similar to me. That includes most humans, but it includes myself REALLY HARD, and doesn't include an unborn baby. (because babies are just templates, and the thing that makes them like me is being in the world for a year ish.)

Comment author: RedMan 07 April 2017 06:22:21PM 0 points [-]

Is your position consistent with effective altruism?

The trap expressed in the OP is essentially a statement that approaching a particular problem involving uploaded consciousness using the framework of effective altruism to drive decision-making led to a perverse (brains in blenders!) incentive. The options at this point are a) the perverse act is not perverse b) effective altruism does not lead to that perverse act c) effective altruism is flawed, try something else (like 'ideological kin' selection?)

You are unequivocal about your disinterest in being on the receiving of this brand of altruism, and have also asserted that you cooperate acausally with agents similar to you, (based on degree of similarity?) and previously asserted that an agent who shares the sum total of your life experience, less the most recent year, can be cast aside and destroyed without thought or consequence. So...do I mark you down for option c?

Comment author: bogus 07 April 2017 03:50:08PM *  1 point [-]

You may not like the admission bias in the Ivies (I do not, either - the discrimination against Asians is of course especially damning, since Asians do not even share the putative "White man's burden" of their ancestors having wronged minority ethnicities in the past, that's often invoked - however dubiously - as a moral justification for "affirmative action"), but the amount of "Yacouba Aboubacar's" being admitted in any given year is so low in practice that this does not measurably affect the arms race we're talking about here. Even doubling or trebling the number of admission spots at each Ivy would not change things much!

Comment author: RedMan 07 April 2017 04:22:20PM *  1 point [-]

Exactly, you gotta differentiate. How hard is it really to build a fusor like the Taylor Wilson kid the article references did as a teen?

Just have a hook, make the news, and you'll be golden. You can't just be a smarty pants, you have to be a smarty pants and an 'oh isn't that interesting'.

When you're in a terrible game with a perverse incentive structure...either play to win or don't play. If his blog took anonymous comments, I'd suggest starting an 'Irvington community college' with the kids who didn't want to go to low prestige schools, passing the hat in that community could pay real dividends and in a generation, it might become one of those high prestige schools...I mean, if that kid is average for his high school...

Comment author: RedMan 07 April 2017 03:20:06PM *  2 points [-]

Asian kid at Irvington, wants to get into a high competition school in the US, needs to differentiate.

Strongly suspect that legally changing his name to 'Yacouba Aboubacar', listing French as a language on his application, checking 'African American' instead of 'Asian', and writing an admissions essay about the challenges of having an African name in a high-pressure academic environment would, dollar for dollar (name change fees might be close to a single sat prep class fee) be a better investment of resources than just about anything else he can do.

His friends would hate him for it, some would imitate, and maybe one or two would escalate by going for estrogen prescriprions in 11th grade and starting 'transitions' that they will abandon after submitting college applications.

I believe that the lawsuit mentioned here has merit, I don't know where it is now, and look forward to seeinf it wind its' way through the courts: https://studentsforfairadmissions.org/updates/

Comment author: Darklight 05 April 2017 03:58:11PM 1 point [-]

This actually reminds me of an argument I had with some Negative-Leaning Utilitarians on the old Felicifia forums. Basically, a common concern for them was how r-selected species tend to appear to suffer way more than be happy, generally speaking, and that this can imply that was should try to reduce the suffering by eliminating those species or at least avoiding the expansion of life generally to other planets.

I likened this line of reasoning to the idea that we should Nuke The Rainforest.

Personally I think a similar counterargument to that argument applies here as well. Translated into your thought experiment, it would be In essence, that while it is true that some percentage of minds will probably end up being tortured by sadists, this is likely to be outweighed by the sheer number of minds that are even more likely to be uploaded into some kind of utopian paradise. Given that truly psychopathic sadism is actually quite rare in the general population, one would expect a very similar ratio of simulations. In the long run, the optimistic view is that decency will prevail and that the net happiness will be positive, so we should not go around trying to blender brains.

As for the general issue of terrible human decisions being incentivized by these things... humans are capable of using all sorts of rationalizations to justify terrible decisions, and so, just the possibility that some people will not do due diligence with an idea and instead abuse it to justify their evil, should not be reason to abandon the idea by itself.

For instance, the possibility of living an indefinite lifespan is likely to dramatically alter people's behaviour, including making them more risk-averse and long term thinking. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it could lead to a reduction in people making necessary sacrifices for the good. These things are also, generally notoriously difficult to predict. Ask a medieval peasant what the effects of machines that could farm vast swaths of land would be on the economy and their livelihood and you'd probably get a very parochially minded answer.

Comment author: RedMan 07 April 2017 02:54:45PM *  0 points [-]

Thank you for the thoughtful response! I'm not convinced that your assertion successfully breaks the link between effective altruism and the blender.

Is your argument consistent with making the following statement when discussing the inpending age of em?

If your mind is uploaded, a future version of you will likely subjectively experience hell. Some other version of you may also subjectively experience heaven. Many people, copies of you split off at various points, will carry all the memories of your human life' If you feel like your brain is in a blender trying to conceive of this, you may want to put it into an actual blender before someone with temporal power and an uploading machine decides to define your eternity for you.

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