The implications of the limits of neural networks on political systems

One of the things I’ve been thinking about a bit is the limitations of neural-network based life (i.e. us) and how they affect the political systems we form and our quest for something approximating a utopia.

Here are some of the more obvious limitations of NNNs:

1) “Unlearning” is difficult in general
2) Certain subjects (politics and religion) tend to end up compiled as hard structures and therefore be difficult to unlearn
3) The part of us that actually makes decisions and the part of us that explain the decisions we make are not that tightly coupled. Due to this, we will often explain our decisions in ways that are not correct even though we are not consciously lying.
4) Skills we don’t use tend to atrophy as the network repeatedly rebalances to reinforce and improve skills we do use. This in particular is a problem when we exercise too much power as we tend to lose our ability to empathize with people we have power over. Literally, authority causes brain damage – this is dramatically demonstrated time and time again throughout our society but we have made no real move to indoctrinate people into understanding that it is true or to change the structure of our society to be less hierarchical.. one study here.
5) While we as collective individuals are very good at identifying the source of information (internal vs external) – or at least think we are – individual subnets have a very difficult time doing so. Therefore people asserting authority can order us to do things that are wrong and we are very likely to do them anyway – see the Milgram effect.

I was pondering why I think that our best and most ideal political systems are not really implementable in the real world. I’ve talked about wanting a direct democracy where people only vote on the topics that interest them, and their vote is weighted based on demonstrated knowledge on the topic in question. There’s no way that the powers that be would ever willingly let go of their power, partially because they are brain damaged and do not realize they are – see #4.

People also are carefully in this country brainwashed to fear collectivism, mostly with appeals to emotion and faulty statements. In the real world resource allocation involves flows of resources, not flows of money, but we’re assured that any time someone gets a free meal it costs dollars out of our pockets.

I do think the most ideal resource allocation system would have a greater aspect of collectivism than the world we currently live in. I also do think that a direct democracy mixed with a meritocracy would result in the best possible governance. The advantages of using a more collectivist resource allocation system is that we could pursue mass automation without anyone starving or not being able to live indoors, and the advantage of a direct democracy which is also a meritocracy are legion and probably could be the subject of a entire series of articles. We’d have to start out by talking about the basic problems with representitive democracy, especially when limited to a two party system.

Anyway, it should be pretty clear why a direct democracy is preferable over a representative democracy considering #4. When speaking of collectivism, though, I think it is important to draw a distinction between communism and socialism.

I wish that I could believe otherwise, but I have to say that until and unless we can build a command and control system that isn’t subject to corruption, communism is a bad idea. The reason is that in a communist system, the resources belong to the state. We have yet to figure out how to build a trustworthy state – ideally I wouldn’t even allow the states of the world to own weapons of mass destruction.

Socialism is definitely a better idea (the resources belong to the workers) but one unfortunate tendency is that unethical individuals will claim to be leading a socialist revolution until they get into control and then it turns out their socialist revolution is actually a attempt to build a dictatorship or oligarchy.

Anyway, I think no matter what you do, you have to remember that it’s a bad idea to leave people in power for too long. We have seen in the united states a government that has run away into repeated acts of pure evil – starting wars over false pretenses and for profit, drone strikes that kill 10x the number of innocents that they kill targets – and we can go back further in time and see the government repeatedly destroy people’s lives for daring to promote collectivism, and willing to use a machine gun on workers who are striking for better conditions. We can see the government repeatedly break it’s word with the native americans. We can, over and over, see the government being horrible. And yet, there is no real attempt to fix it. At this point I think a lot of people recognize there is a problem, although one very big issue is that we do have two different utopias – at least!

Anyway, I hope that at some point we will run into a generation which will think about, as they are designing resource allocation systems and command and control systems – and please remember those are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS – communism, socialism, and capitalism are NOT political systems nor systems of command and control – dictatorship, monarchy, oligarchy, representative democracy, direct democracy are NOT resource allocation systems – and consider the limitations of humans as they design our path forward.

I also do think there is a large role for programmable computers in a future world. Just in representative democracy they can be used to draw the lines of districts but they can also help us run a direct democracy with discussion groups for individual topics, weighting and votes on individual topics, etc. I know that a number of people are concerned that such a system would disenfranchise the homeless and poor, but I think we could easily arrange to have computers in libraries to give people the access they need – and I also know that we could arrange for computers in prisons and that there are a lot of reasons to think that that would be a good idea.

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