Archive for June, 2020

Challenges in transitions

Saturday, June 20th, 2020

So, I see on the news someone was killed in CHOP (the capital hill police free zone). I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not. Of course, the presence of police with their current behavior could also very likely have led to someone dying so it’s not as clear cut as “Cops are good, mkay”.

It reminds me of a Niven story, ‘cloak of anarchy’, in which society has chosen to make ‘anarchy parks’ where there are no rules except no one shall raise a hand against another, enforced by a system of robots that have some form of stunner. These robots run on beamed power, and a character in the story decides to experiment with whether “real” anarchy would work by knocking out the beamed power source.

It goes about like you’d expect. Actually, possibly because it’s fiction, the situation deteriorates far faster than it has in CHOP. However, it underlines the challenge in transitioning from one system – even a broken system – to another.

Making a real functional society without police in their current role is challenging, and unfortunately by the time the group realizes that real change needs to happen various transgressions have already occured which make the current situation untenable. Unfortunately my personal beliefs about the people running CHOP is that they are not the team to forge a new criminal justice system or new government – part of this is A: they couldn’t even agree on the name of their autonomous zone and B: they changed it, which suggests they spent time and energy on the subject when triage of the situation would suggest there are much bigger and more immediate issues to be addressed. I wonder to what extent they have even discussed what they will do with individuals who are acting in ways that are not in the best interests of the group.

I feel bad about having a low opinion of the group of people who have been, among other things, occupy – I agree with almost all of what they want, but I feel like we need to triage and work the most important problems first – the fact that their manifesto had *30 items* concerns me about their ability to do this. I agree, everything is broken, but we can’t fix everything at once. Ideally, we’d figure out which problem is most at the root of our issues and fix it first, or alternately figure out which problem is hurting the most people and fix it first.

I am glad that the general public is finally recognizing that the cops are out of control and have become as big a hazard as the criminals – but also as I mentioned in previous posts we need to not just throw them under the bus either. They were placed in a framework that asked them to enforce bad laws – and I really think any time you make a human hurt other humans because of stupid bullshit political ideaology (i.e. the drug war) you damage that human. I mean, you look at things like Vietnam and you clearly see that the people who come back from murdering innocent people over resource allocation system ideology end up profoundly fucked up – we’re just not built to hurt people. We can do it, because we’re *very* programmable, but not without taking some damage ourselves. And I have to imagine that the cops arresting people for smoking weed and watching them get years in jail have to have known at least subconciously that they were acting immorally and making the world a worse place, and I have to assume they took damage from that. At the same time, we ask the police to handle some of the most difficult situations humanity faces – things like the infamous “domestic disturbance” – and increasingly we hate them because we know they’re making the world a worse place. We also know they routinely shoot citizens for no good reason and get away with it, which makes fearing them rational. It’s not a good place for the police to be in and it’s not a good place for the citizens to be in..

However, we do still need guardians – especially because our memetics are so bad. Our religions do awful things to our minds, and our advertising often does some undesirable ones as well. And, it’s difficult for a new system of guardianship to self-organize in a way that’s going to work right right out of the box. The story I mentioned above really shows why this is difficult.

I really don’t know what the right answers are or I would be down at CHOP trying to sell my viewpoint of what a utopian future would look like. I know that the current situation must change because we have cops planting evidence, cops killing citizens, and a obvious systematic bias based on the color of skin. And we also treat life like it’s incredibly cheap – we care more about money than we do about life and will put someone in jail for a year for stealing $100. In the meantime, we’ve built a economic system that is going to fail more and more spectacularly as automation gets better and better – and we’re busy making automation better and better.

I will inject one more comment – conservatism is wrong and stupid. History shows us over and over that when we believe we can do things, we can do them. And modern conservatism says “My money is more important than your life” – while at the same time repeatedly destroying real value in order to make paper dollars. Humans fall in love with political brands, but I think if you pulled everyone out of their bubbles and let them sit down and think for a while they would recognize that politics in general in the USA is broken and we need to kick *everyone* out of the pool and start over – but also that beyond that, conservatism is even *more* broken. That there are republicans trying to block mail in voting – they claim that it’s based on fraud but I’ve dug deeply into the dataset and the fraud I found was fractions of a percent, never anywhere near anything that could change a election – it’s really about the fact that conservatives are willing to cheat to win. At this point my feeling is even conservatives know their policies are bad for the group as a whole, but they are quite willing to let other folks die if they can continue to be rich – and then they’ve sold some very irrational things to some very frightened and/or gullible people. I find it the most interesting when I see conservatives who are only alive because of collectivist health care arguing that the state should not take care of people who make mistakes.. I can’t help but wonder if they realize at all that they want to saw off the limb they’re standing on.

Clarification to previous post

Saturday, June 20th, 2020

So, since there seems to be some confusion.. in the last sentence of the previous post, I was saying we need a organization to *help the cops*. I don’t *want* them to end up homeless and hungry, and I feel they have been ill done by by our system in general. These are living, breathing human beings and while the current situation is terrifying and has programmed into them some very destructive beliefs, their lives also still matter. We need to deprogram them of the harmful programming that results from too much authority, and also from being the hated and feared face of a broken authoritarian system that’s run by madmen. (That’d be the top-level politicians, who I have a very low opinion of)

I do not *want* the police to be homeless and hungry even if we determine that the way we were using police is inappropriate and we need to break apart the system we have built. That is what I was saying.

And, the scariest thought

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Who is going to protect us from the cops after they’re defunded? If they’re the most violent criminals among us, they’ll still *be* there. Community policing isn’t going to protect us from the angry, feeling they should be more empowered than they are, wanting to crack some skulls ex-cops who will now also be homeless and hungry.

We need a massive organization to help bring them back to some kind of sanity.


Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

So, thinking about it, I’m more afraid of the cops than of criminals. I really hope that overall pressure forces a reset of the criminal justice system. I think it’s far more likely that I will be killed by a police officer than a criminal, and far more likely I will be beaten by a police officer than a criminal. I also think the police should be ashamed of their repeated use of violence on peaceful protesters. It does fit my understanding of what they have become – a bunch of bullies who abuse their power at every opportunity and who have no respect for the constitution or the rule of law.

Hearing about the police placing protesters in the hospital in critical condition, I think we need to keep the pressure on until they are disbanded and replaced with a system that is likely to be less flawed. They are almost as big a bunch of murderous thugs as our military has become.

The problem is the politicians who would normally oversee that are also a bunch of criminals – some of the biggest thieves among us – and love that the police are murderous thugs because it is part of the base of their power. It’s hard not to feel like a revolution is the only option, except a revolution would just replace this flawed system with another equally flawed system. We need to design and testbed a good system of government *first*. Since the US is made up of 50 states it’s a ideal testbed environment if we are willing to do the smart thing. Of course, doing the smart thing is not what America is known for, we’re the “hold my beer” country where stupidity is king. But I can still hope.


Monday, June 8th, 2020

So.. now that we have computers and a pretty good mastery of statistics, if we had any common sense, as we recognize that the current police and criminal justice system is rotten to it’s core and needs disbanded and replaced, we would

A: figure out what the goals for a justice system should be (rehabilitation, restoration, and prevention, i think)
B: figure out how to measure those things
C: try *many different things* in *multiple cities each* – we might try community policing, having AIs watch the police, training police using techniques used in other countries, etc – I could easily come up with 5 things we should try each for the police, the courts, and the jails. Then by looking at success by the measures in A, figure out which system is the best and move all the cities to that system, and make a mental note to do the same thing again in 20 years.

I actually am thinking one of the things we need in general is some sort of circuit breakers built into the system of government that detect a excess of corruption and force a reset. Without that, people end up putting their thumb on the scales and before long we’re all enslaved by the least moral and most ruthless among us.

The broken windows theory of police abuse

Friday, June 5th, 2020

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about police abuse of power lately, for reasons that are probably obvious to anyone living on Earth in 2020. (For those of you *not* living on Earth in 2020, a police officer strangled to death a citizen who had committed a trivial offense. The citizen was of the skin color that is systematically abused on earth and the officer was of the skin color that is traditionally associated with privilege and power. There have been widespread uprisings against both the skin-color aspect of the crime and against the police state in general and the idea most police seem to have that they are above the law.)

One of the things I’m thinking about is how we need to send the message to police much more often, and in much stronger ways, that they are not above the law. I think a AI needs to ride along in every police cruiser, and every time a cop uses his lights to skip a light, or changes lanes without signalling, or otherwise ignores the law because he or she think they’re above it, they should accumulate some form of fine or logged history of abuse. Too much abuse, and they should be fired.

The problem is that neural networks learn entirely too easily, and so often we don’t even know they’re learning. The cop learns at a subconscious level that they can break the rules they enforce on other people and nothing will stop them. Eventually they think so much that they’re above the law that they start murdering.

One of my thoughts about this whole matter is that power and responsibility must, as Heinlein pointed out, balance. When someone has power without responsibility they become progressively more abusive. this article documents how power causes brain damage. I’ve seen police posting on facebook who obviously are deeply brain damaged – they think all citizens should kowtow to them even as officers commit murder, that protests of murder should be met with progressively more abuse. And of course, that’s exactly what we’re seeing.. whenever protesters and cops meet up, the cops are using tear gas and batons even when the protesters are doing nothing wrong. THe police are angry that we dare challenge their authority, and part of why they are angry is they have brain damage from being police for too long.

Anyway, I do think that we all see officers ignore the law driving around in their cruisers all the time. And I also think that doing so emboldens them to think they are above the rest of us and can do anything they want to the rest of us. I think we need to continue to make it clear to them that they are a part of us but that they are not above us and that the same laws apply to them as to us. While it’s understandable that they might break some laws when in pursuit of a criminal, they should scale that to match the crime. THe fact that the cops *always* catch the criminals – even when all the criminals did was speeding – suggests to me the cops are abusing their powers. I suspect most police would risk people’s lives in order to make sure they bust someone for the crime of running away from the police. We know that they feel they should shoot at people who run away if they are of certian skin colors. I know that the only time I’ve been physically abused by the police, it was for the crime of not stopping quickly enough – I did stop, but it took about a minute.

One of the things I don’t think the police have thought about is that there is a feedback loop here. I run from the police when I am in a manic state because I am afraid of them. Being afraid of them is reasonable because over and over I have seen that the police kill citizens. I know from the statistics that as a person with a mental illness, being killed by the police is statistically one of the most likely ways for me to die. The fear is reasonable. And yet, the fear angers them. As the police abuse more and more, more and more people will be afraid and all of this will continue to grow worse.

I have been repeatedly threatened by the police inappropriately. As such, my opinion is that if possible, we should fire all of the police and start over. I believe there is a culture of abuse in America’s police departments where there needs to be a culture of safety. I believe most citizens already know this. And I think one thing that shows this is how often police break laws in ways that threaten the public when they are driving around in their cruisers. One of the things I have seen repeatedly on my small low traffic street is police driving at double or more the speed limit – not because there is any need, but just because they are “above the law”. I think a AI monitoring their behavior would be hugely helpful and I do not think such a AI would be difficult to create. Unfortunately we have a very large corpus of police behaving badly to train it on.

There are two other large obvious problems. One is that Americans are trained via propiganda to think well of the police. Most Americans have never thought about the absurdity of charging someone with a crime for selling a loose cigarette in a train station, or stealing $100. Americans think it’s reasonable to do a year of prison for stealing $100 – life is cheaper in America than in any other third world country I know of. The people who make the laws are not actually thinking about making a utopia, they are thinking about how they can get reelected and keep their cushy job. I know as a progarmmer that it’s difficult to write code that works well under all circumstances even after careful consideration and with all the best tools for writing and maintaining code humanity can invent. Laws are code for humans and they do not run in a testbed, they are not debugged, and they are enforced at times by angry thugs who are also members of white power organizations. We need a better way of writing and testing laws, and we need a good way to delete laws, and we badly need for the police force to be on the side of the criminal rather than on the side of the politican until we reach a point where our laws are balanced and sane. Elsewhere I have made other criticisms of our criminal justice system, and I think it needs reformed top to bottom with a ‘throw it all out’ mentality that only saves the very best bits – and we should ask for the help of other, more successful countries when we do this

Anyway, the point is, Americans are by and large already inclined to side with the cops and seldom realize how unreasonable most of American law is. And it only requires one holdout on a jury to avoid a cop being convicted of a crime. In the meantime, the supreme court has basically said, “Cops can murder if they want to. They have qualified immunity” – and you can safely bet every police officer is told about this early on in their career. And the police union will hire the best emotional-button-pushing lawyer to get them off. My theory is when a cop is convicted, the jury should be entirely made up of criminals. Yes, it’s a double standard. But police should be *better* citizens, at least when it comes to following the laws, than the rest of us. And they aren’t. They don’t follow the laws at all. We know they plant evidence, because we’ve seen them do this on cop cams. We know they murder. We also can guess that the type of person who *wants* to be a cop, who likes the job, is probably deeply flawed in a lot of ways.

Now, I can cite counterexamples. I do not think any of this is true of every cop, and I think only a very small percentage of cops are willing to actually murder. But the percentage is getting larger, and the powers that be are encouraging further abuse, and I do seriously think every cop who speeds just because he can should face the same fines the citizens he stops do. (It might be amusing to make the enforcement of the fines for places where the AI detects the cop committing offenses aligned to times the cop busted citizens.. if you don’t enforce speed laws, you can speed, but the minute you bust a citizen for 5 over, you accrue fines for every time you drove 5 over when you didn’t need to. It might lead to a *awesome* outcome – police refusing to enforce unreasonable laws)

Anyway, I think there is universal agreement that we need to change things. I think the changes needed are much deeper than most people think, and I think that our memetics are awful – we have been taught fundamentally wrong lessons that make us willing to shoot at a burgler to avoid having our TV stolen, for example. And we have allowed our police to turn into a dog that worries the sheep.