Rivalrous Games with Exponential Tech pose Existential Risk

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Papus79
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Rivalrous Games with Exponential Tech pose Existential Risk

Post by Papus79 » October 11th, 2020, 12:08 pm

Is there anyone else here following the sorts of dialogues that go in this direction these days - ie. evaluating the 21th century technological leaps, democratization and increasingly lower thresholds for gaining world-destroying power (whether through cyber attacks, CRISPR and other biological engineering, even nuclear in some cases), and the realization where we're living in a world that's dominated by zero-sum games and arms races that have a way of dominating and destroying any peaceful commons which forces everyone into games or deals they can't refuse?

Typically when I'm listening to these sorts of things it tends to be voiced most lucidly by people like Jordan Hall, Daniel Schmachtenberger, Jim Rutt, etc., and I give them credit - they are trying to cobble together as much information as they can not just to alarm people but actually figure out what paths we have forward to get ourselves out of the mess mentioned above. Daniel in particular has an NGO that he founded and it looks like he's involved in a few others as well, and he's mentioned a media project he's hoping to kick off which will sort of 'open-source' the news in a way that rewards error-correction as a way to have an information structure whose natural dynamics have truth and fitness paired together and, hopefully, helps shift the dynamic away from the commons being a place where the idea is a race to the bottom on limbic hijack (ie. targeted fake news for clicks and advertising revenue).

Part of why I find this area of discussion so interesting - it seems clear to me that if we ever want a world worth living in we have to be able to get at least some permanent corner to be truth-oriented even if truth and fitness tend to have an antagonistic relationship, especially where the space you find yourself holds fitness, mimetic novelty, and ultimately power by any means to be the core value.

Part of what kicked off my interest in posting this, while I've had a lot of interest in this topic for a while, was seeing a 'Deep Code bit' Jordan posted from a conversation he had actually in March of 2019 with Modern Wisdom (Youtube) titled 'How Do You Redesign Civilisation?' and it seemed like one of those conversations that did a really good job of encapsulating the core concerns in less than an hour.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Arjen
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Re: Rivalrous Games with Exponential Tech pose Existential Risk

Post by Arjen » October 12th, 2020, 1:41 am

It reminds me of Jackson Oswalt, who built a fusion reactor in his home lab at age 13.
https://youtu.be/Wh5TUlzBwLw
Incredible.
Dangerous.
I have no idea how to stop that.
Should we stop progress?
I have no final answer to that.
The saying that what is true in theory is not always true in practice, means that the theory is wrong!
~Immanuel Kant

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Re: Rivalrous Games with Exponential Tech pose Existential Risk

Post by Terrapin Station » October 16th, 2020, 11:44 am

Papus79 wrote:
October 11th, 2020, 12:08 pm
Is there anyone else here following the sorts of dialogues that go in this direction these days . . .
I can't say I have. Most of that sounds like the sort of thing that makes my eyes glaze over. I'm just to skeptical for that sort of stuff. And I'm also not someone who is on the whole dissatisfied with the world/civilization/life in general.

Wouldn't I change anything if I could? Sure. But the changes I'd make are not in the direction that most people seem to desire, so it's not something I worry about too much. I just do my thing in the context of what we have.

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Re: Rivalrous Games with Exponential Tech pose Existential Risk

Post by Papus79 » October 16th, 2020, 11:54 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
October 16th, 2020, 11:44 am
I can't say I have. Most of that sounds like the sort of thing that makes my eyes glaze over. I'm just to skeptical for that sort of stuff.
I'd say I'm starting to think I'm one of the few people I know who isn't too skeptical for it, and it might be because I don't understand skepticism properly.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Re: Rivalrous Games with Exponential Tech pose Existential Risk

Post by Papus79 » October 16th, 2020, 12:18 pm

Papus79 wrote:
October 16th, 2020, 11:54 am
it might be because I don't understand skepticism properly.
Meaning I'm probably subscribing to the Asperger's definition rather than the practical/pragmatic one.
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Re: Rivalrous Games with Exponential Tech pose Existential Risk

Post by Terrapin Station » October 16th, 2020, 12:42 pm

Re skepticism, for me, basically the more grand and/or overarching the claim being made, the more work required for me to buy it.

So, for example, re the idea that "'open-sourcing' the news in a way that rewards error-correction . . . " would have any advantage over the way that newspapers, television news, etc. works at present would require a lot of work to support before I'd buy it. And then surely a lot of claims made in support of that would require a lot of support for me to buy, too, especially the more grand/overarching the claims would be.

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Re: Rivalrous Games with Exponential Tech pose Existential Risk

Post by Papus79 » October 16th, 2020, 12:59 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
October 16th, 2020, 12:42 pm
Re skepticism, for me, basically the more grand and/or overarching the claim being made, the more work required for me to buy it.

So, for example, re the idea that "'open-sourcing' the news in a way that rewards error-correction . . . " would have any advantage over the way that newspapers, television news, etc. works at present would require a lot of work to support before I'd buy it. And then surely a lot of claims made in support of that would require a lot of support for me to buy, too, especially the more grand/overarching the claims would be.
I think this gets me back to the Asperger's vs. non-Asperger's definitions of skepticism, and the non-Asperger's version might be the pragmatic/practical version.

The Asperger's version would be applying critical thinking and testing claims where as the pragmatic/practical would be using a whole stack of outsourcing heuristics (like 'have I heard that before?' or 'Have I heard of the person this person is mentioning before?') before even getting to critical thinking on something that's being discussed. What I've increasingly come to find - in private life, most obviously in places like Facebook where if it's not a meme (unless the poster has a team of sycophants) it's zero likes, zero comments, it seems like a near universal that people invest zero effort in anything they're not familiar with.

I'm at least grateful that I don't really hear people saying 'It's either mainstream news or it's hollow moon and flat earth', that's nowhere close to the mark, but it seems like any concept of efficient frontier or efficient tradeoff (time for effort) is skewed heavily for most people toward work, watch TV, sleep. It would be fine if that were 90% of people even, being that it only takes maybe 10% or less of a population talking about something to get some set of ideas into the broader cultural sphere, but it seems much closer to 99% or better who are practical/pragmatic skeptics of the sort I described, meaning that the content of ideas, their internal consistency, or whatever else about them pail in comparison to whether or not they're already popular or well-known ideas. That pretty much means anything not mainstream without an orchestrated media campaign never has the velocity to actually persuade people that it's a popular enough opinion to be relevant and hence it stays forever in the 'Oh, that's interesting - I've never heard of him' range.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Re: Rivalrous Games with Exponential Tech pose Existential Risk

Post by Papus79 » October 16th, 2020, 1:11 pm

I keep finding myself going back to Renee Girard's memetic theories because it seems like imitation and conformity is far more the driver of human motivation and identity than any particular search for gaining one's best factual bearings and so far I really haven't found better explanations for that observation.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Re: Rivalrous Games with Exponential Tech pose Existential Risk

Post by Sculptor1 » October 16th, 2020, 1:28 pm

Arjen wrote:
October 12th, 2020, 1:41 am
It reminds me of Jackson Oswalt, who built a fusion reactor in his home lab at age 13.
https://youtu.be/Wh5TUlzBwLw
Incredible.
Dangerous.
I have no idea how to stop that.
Should we stop progress?
I have no final answer to that.
It's not dnagerous.

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Re: Rivalrous Games with Exponential Tech pose Existential Risk

Post by Papus79 » October 16th, 2020, 11:17 pm

To highlight some of my own thoughts on the trajectory of culture - I like the technocratic movement toward results-oriented fixes and increased analytics, better performance for funding in groups who are working on issues, and I don't think Steven Pinker is wrong in terms of what we could do in the next few decades. My bigger concern is how all of this shifts if the US, and potentially other places, lose social cohesion to such a degree that these projects get sidetracked by the outbreak of civil war in various formerly first-world countries and possibly other places.

I'm deeply concerned about the problems with the advertisement-driven model of news or the ways in which not only do we have online algorithms curating people's news feeds differently to where two people can look up the same thing on Google and get significantly different results, and there's the ways in which Youtube, Facebook, etc. curate recommended interests to such a degree where they tend to pull people further out of the norm with their recommendations because taking people down conspiracy rabbit holes keeps them on site more which means more revenue.

The core issue - I think there are a lot of people who are still under the spell of seeing humanity as something like a little rational god in an ape body who wants to make the best sense of the world that they can and is hoping to contribute their part to a better world, always trying to improve their knowledge, get better every day, etc., we're really far more likely to fall back on tribalism, super-simplified solutions (like blame x-group or get rid or take x type of person out of power and utopia emerges), so much of this shows just how much religion and politics have a liquid relationship and they almost even seem to share the same corner of the spectrum they're on. The arms races we get into are so much wound up with status, abstraction of procreation desire (whether one is planning on having kids or getting a vesicostomy and still making their rounds), and bringing up Rene Girard - we fight over what is scarce or what we and others want that only one person can have and what's worse, many of us tend to not know what we want until we see what someone else wants and that kicks off a competitive arms race as they sold us on wanting to possess what they want to possess. So it goes with the whole pursuit of power, and the thing about power is it puts many pretty ideas to rest - you can either survive other people's wielding and even abuse of power or you can't, and that - just as much the status chase for partners and social approval - drives us ever forward in zero-sum dynamics.

What do we do with those zero-sum dynamics then when we're up over 50% unemployment - even if those who are unemployed are not only fed and sheltered but have internet and devices almost as a fundamental right but they're seen as the lowest class of society and treated as sub-humans by others with such ferocity as if those who aren't in that class are trying to make up the difference for them not sleeping under bridges? I really don't think we have any reason to believe that snobbery, pettiness, or cruelty will dissipate - far more likely that it will be exponentially worse as economic class disappears. Having us still be quite savage and likely even more savage under those circumstances, then adding the democratization of quite dangerous technologies including things like synthetic biology - we either need a government who really takes Darwinian game theory seriously and has people like David Sloan Wilson, Robert Sapolsky, neurologists, etc. as advisors on public policy or we're likely to take enough severe shocks from what might likely be highly-leveraged individual actions to be either headed toward either states that are totalitarian and invasive out of necessity due to the accelerated nature of what one person can do through an act of terrorism or we may effectively blast ourselves into a new dark age.

Tristan Harris actually gave a quote recently from E. O. Wilson that summed it up concisely - “The real problem of humanity is the following: we have paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology. And it is terrifically dangerous, and it is now approaching a point of crisis overall.”.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Re: Rivalrous Games with Exponential Tech pose Existential Risk

Post by Papus79 » October 16th, 2020, 11:31 pm

I forgot to add to the top of that - putting hundreds of millions of people within arms-reach of each other online means that social predators and bad actors are more powerful than every before in their ability to destroy public dialog. We're finding out just how easy it is for someone to wave the threat of an epithet over someone that could destroy their future and that the accusation needs no ground to be effective. We're starting to realize that the game-theory of dishonesty seems to be far more powerful than reason or truth on a social level because destruction is far easier, far more immediate, than the delicacies of nuance or sense-making and it takes very little willful distortion to shut that all down. It's also far more immediate in its threats and as people act in their immediate short-term interest by capitulating to what would have just been witch burners of the past or the Satanic Panic people of the 1980's it seems like some combination of a Narcissist-Borderline juggernaut is ripping our sense-making to pieces and we have little or nothing in the way of cultivated self defense tools for answering back at these sorts of power and control tactics.

The only good news is that some of the above comes in waves and can burn itself out, my worry is that some of this does seem to be solidifying into something like post-modern religions and we're likely to see just as many wars against reason (it's 'whiteness' this year, who knows what it will be packaged as in a decade or so) as people find their comparative value to other people either effaced by their inability to keep up with the aptitudes necessary to be above the 50% mark in society (which as before grades a person's right to dignity on a curve) or whom simply needs a religion, a tribe, simple answers, and not having a mystical religion to lean on they mangle politics into that image.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Re: Rivalrous Games with Exponential Tech pose Existential Risk

Post by Papus79 » October 19th, 2020, 8:48 am

Side note but related - anyone seen 'The Social Dilemma'? I've listened to a fair amount of Tristan Harris's long-form interviews on the topic but I haven't actually seen the film yet. The overall gist of that though encapsulates a lot of my comments above as well as a lot of Jonathan Haidt's concerns about our fundamentally tribal nature getting hijacked.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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