Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Side note

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

One side note to the previous post – one major problem I see in general is that people tend to identify a political and resource allocation system, declare it perfect, and then fight for it. In the case of the USA we’re willing to commit mass murder to stop other countries from practicing collectivism, for example.

What we don’t do, and we *really should*, is figure out ways to testbed different systems and compare them with each other – and I don’t think that the ideal country is the one that can build the best weapons systems, but in general the current situation of the world has a number of people trying to optimize for this.

People have religious level attachment to systems of government – no one believes in testing, or in test-release cycles for things like laws. If we wrote code for applications the way we wrote laws, you wouldn’t even be able to get a working word processor written. In general one big problem is people believing they are right – and continuing to believe it even when proof they are wrong is shown to them.

This of course is part of the inherent limitations I talked about with NNNs, in the previous article. But we should build systems of government with the intention that we will check on the basic structure and tune it from time to time. It is not enough to vote in and out people to hold representative positions in a system that is itself failing to meet the needs of the users.

The implications of the limits of neural networks on political systems

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

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.

My response to Robert Reich’s comment on cryptocurrency

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

1) I think it’s a good thing to take money – the power to mint it and control it – out of the hands of government. Crypto also offers the possibility of evolving money in two important directions – #1: we can start tracking metadata for each transaction including real world resources and man-hours – ETH already has the vehicle for this, although it would take getting everyone to understand why it was a good idea to get it implemented #2: We can start using separate types of money for renewable and nonrenewable resources. Cryptocurrency helps open people’s eyes to the idea of ‘multiple types of money’ and could also be a vehicle to help facilitate this. Squishing all types of value into one type of money is resulting in us repeatedly doing stupid things.
2) The large use of energy is something that could easily be rectified. If instead of having all participants constantly hashing and scaling the difficulty needed by the total hashrate, we required participants to *occasionally* hash to prove they *could have* (replace the proof of work with a proof of capability of work) and to hash on demand (allowing the network both to get the hashes it needs to make the blockchain go and also allowing the network to challenge suspected cheaters to prove they really can turn over them hashes) we could reduce power exponentially. The huge power usage is because no matter how many participate, the payout per block is the same – and stupid numbers of people have started participating. We can design the network to still do what it does while using a lot less power than it does.
3) Blockchain technology offers us a lot of awesome possibilities, including the possibility of checking vote aggregation ourselves. So far it’s the wild west on the idea of using it for money/value, but the idea is a good one – governments would likely be much better behaved if we took the power of the purse away from them. This is not saying I don’t believe in funding government operations – but right now, my government is murdering massive numbers of people using my tax dollars, and I feel represented by basically Bernie, AOC, and no one else. Cryptocurrencies offer us the possibility of taking some power away from governments and I think that is a good thing
4) Some cryptocurrencies also use very little power while empowering a new way of building a communications network – I gesture you to Helium.
5) All that said – the future of cryptocurrencies as a vehicle for value is extremely unclear. No one should invest any money in them they can not afford to lose. It is also not at all clear what future cryptocurrencies based on a proof of work that uses hashing have post the advent of large quantum computers.
6) Most of the time I agree with you, but on this one I think you’re probably under informed and acting as a shill for people in power that are frightened – though whether that’s because they *don’t* understand blockchain or whether it’s because they do, I don’t know.

“Liberal bias on campus”

Friday, May 14th, 2021

Apparently republicans are complaining about the “liberal bias on campus”. I believe this – because conservatives are generally interested in implementing things that are false-to-fact. Actual education on the data does not support the conservative agenda nor the conservative ideals. But this isn’t a flaw in America’s colleges – rather, it’s a flaw in what has become conservativism in America. Now, mind you, I was never a fan of conservative thought. I’ve never thought the past was better than the future except perhaps in some very specific instances like windows 7 and the motorola photon 4Q – I definitely recognize that things like Obamacare are a huge leap forward and that a concentrated effort on awareness of the least of us is in fact leading us down a path that’s likely to end with a lot more equality and justice for all, even if it might be a little uncomfortable on the way.

So, I was never a fan of “let’s stay where we are” or “let’s go backwards” or “let’s have a small government that doesn’t protect us from the privitations of big moneyed individuals” even before American conservatism became “let’s do everything we can to enslave the little guy so Betsy Devoss can get her third yacht” and “let’s cheer on the KKK and tell the cops good job shooting those innocents, please shoot some more”

But now that American conservatism is “Go ahead, punch him, I’ll pay your legal bills” – not to mention failing to pay bills (a common Trump thing) – not to mention ignoring science (I don’t know which I find more pathetic, the antivaxers and antimaskers or the people who want to pretend global warming isn’t real) not to mention ignoring common sense (Let’s destroy the most valuable liquid on the planet – water – in order to get a little bit of energy in a system where the *sky is raining soup*) not to mention ignoring hard data (we could talk about the laffer curve, or we could talk about abstinence only education)

Basically, the phrase that comes to mind when describing conservative goals at this point is ‘just plain dumb’. They of course support this with a cavalcade of lies, and most of the purpose of the conservative party is to make sure that at all costs, the pigs stay more equal.

My point is, colleges have a liberal bias not because they have a political agenda, but because they are teaching the facts, and the facts do not support American conservatives.

Badly needed improvement to US medical system

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

One thing the US medical system badly needs is a set of rules similar to the ones mechanics operate under.

1) They should be required to provide a quote beforehand. Recently a doctor ordered some unnecessary imaging for me and the imaging lab could not even tell me how much it would cost.
2) They should not get paid if a reasonable person would conclude they did not solve the problem. This would require a little bit of special-case handling because of course you have hypochondriacs who would never believe they had been cured, but I am sure we could come up with a way (maybe a independent panel of reviewers) to implement it. For long term treatments money could go into a escrow account until the patient concludes the work was successful.

As it currently stands, they have NO reason to behave themselves. They can charge anything they want, they never have to get any results, and because of protectionism for health insurance companies you can’t even change providers if you don’t like the results you’re getting unless you want to wait for the next enrollment period. Being a doctor is a license to steal – and also my ongoing experience with them suggests they all think they know my body better than I do and they often do not bother to even listen to me.

From my POV, health care in the USA is the worst in the industrialized world – and the people who run the system have no shame and are making no real attempt to improve it.

Part of why I definiately lean to the left politically

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

So, as I see it, conservative – right leaning – people are generally anxious to throw people under the bus. Illegal immigrant? You’re not a person, you deserve to suffer. Black? The cops should just shoot you now. Poor? You should be enslaved so the rich can get richer. And so on.

Now, this is a *LOSING STRATEGY* – which is why for the past hundred years, every time the conservatives get in power the economy in general does worse, individuals do worse, and happiness levels drop. However, humans are programmable creatures, and the conservative news does a good idea of selling, over and over, the idea that it is a winning strategy. They also carefully sell the idea that we’re barely making it, that we’re all going to starve if 10% of us don’t work, which is utter bullshit – humanity is *spectacularly wealthy*. But – as we all know, having power *causes brain damage* – and part of how that manifests is when they get in power, conservatives actually think they are improving the world by throwing people under the bus, as often and as quickly as possible.

Liberals are in love with the radical idea that if we work together we can all get further. Obviously, so am I. Generally to the extent you can build a trustworthy government it is also the best vehicle for making sure people *don’t* get thrown under the bus. Part of the problem is we perpetually have people trying to throw other people under the bus so they can profit – you end up with for-profit prisons, prisons with for-profit telecoms, for-profit immigration detention centers combined with artificially low immigration quotas, and all sorts of similar things. Naturally the for-profit prisons use their money to advocate for making more and more things illegal.

I guess when I look at the government, I see the social services arm as mostly trustworthy but under-funded, the education arm as somewhat trustworthy but someone needs to take away all those stupid tests, and the criminal justice system as downright evil and needing completely retooled. The laws are somewhere in the middle. I go back and forth on whether earth is a dystopia, or just a long way from a utopic center – I definitely am aware that my position is well, well above average on Earth (I am ‘privileged’)

The windows 10 nightmare

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

So, this is a great article that I think sums up why I think windows 10 – and MacOs 11 – are both heading straight into dystopian land. Big corporations believe that it’s their computer, not yours, and thanks to Citizens United, those big corporations own the government as well.

(one of my friends immediately equates me saying this with me being a Trumpian Antimasker who believes the Hollywood Elites and Liberal Academia are responsible for all the ills of the world – and I really don’t think it’s the same thing at all. Trumpanzees and antivaxers believe in things which are *not true* – I believe in something which is *demonstrably* true, which is that Microsoft has placed themselves in a position to install software on your computer without your knowledge or consent and is steadily abusing this position more and more. You *cannot* remove Edge from Windows 10. Nor a whole long list of other applications. Microsoft sincerely believes it is their computer, not yours. Even scarier, in S mode you cannot install Chrome)

At this point I am *hoping* Microsoft screws up in some way which results in bricking millions of windows PCs, because at least that will get the government to notice how scarily dictatorship-like their position is over the desktop market. In the meantime, I will keep running windows 7,

The problem with post-truth politics

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

So, increasingly we live in a world where people believe what they want to believe, regardless of facts – this of course has been true for a long time in the case of conservatives (it’s very clear if you consider the delay line effects that when liberals are in power, the economy does better, yet conservatives always claim their policies are better for the economy, for example – and it’s been demonstrated repeatedly that the laffer curve does not play out the way the politicians claim it will and yet over and over people fall for the idea of the laffer curve – which is the core idea behind the failed Trump-era tax cuts)

One of the problems we have is that our political system exerts no punishment for being wrong, and politicians who are in fact appealing entirely to emotion continue to be re-elected based on doing the wrong thing over and over because that’s what their electorate, who prefer to live in a post-truth world and are aided by lying news sources (i.e. fox news), want and believe.

I think we need to add some sort of closed-loop automatic firing of politicians who guess wrong. It’s already been demonstrated that inside a capitalist system, it’s profitable to keep lying to the people, and the net result is that the system optimizes for the happiness of a few select individuals at the cost of the happiness of the group as a whole. I think we literally do need to automatically fire the people who, for example, vote in favor of the lying about who won the election, or vote in favor of the laffer curve, or whatever the lie of the week is. At the moment this would advantage the democrats, who are by and large making data-driven and science-driven decisions, but I am sure at some future date they will fall victim to the same rot that has taken over the republican party, so this is really a nonpartisan suggestion over the long haul. The decisions we drive the ship of state using should not be based on lies and wishful thinking.

Of course this probably means we shouldn’t have religious folks in politics, since the vast majority of religion seems to be built upon lies and wishful thinking as well. It would be a dramatic departure from history – and I don’t know of anywhere that has actually tried it – to, for example, require unit tests for success to be written for every law that is written, and require the law to be struck if the unit tests fail – and if someone enacted the law after being warned that history indicates this type of law tends to fail, require that person to be looking for a new job as well.

Conservatives and paying

Friday, April 9th, 2021

So, I’ve been pondering Trump (for example)’s tendency to rob his supporters, stiff his vendors, and whatnot. I then started to realize that every time anyone has in any way messed with my paycheck, they have been politically conservative. Politically conservative people are more likely to delay paychecks, fail to pay, pay less than what was invoiced, etc.

I was realizing that this makes sense. Conservative politicians are generally the ones who say we should not have safety nets, not support our neighbors, etc – this makes sense, they are dishonorable in the sense that they want the advantages of being part of a group (see Resource Allocation As A Group) without being willing to pay their share. They’re like the people who want to use open source software but keep their bug fixes as proprietary instead of contributing them back to the open source project.

I wonder if they realized that if *everyone* behaved as they do we would all be much worse off as a species? I suspect some of them know this but are too hooked by the money and power being the biggest asshole is gaining them, while others of them are genuinely deluded into believing that being conservative (in the sense of going back to times when we were more selfish and/or awful) is a winning move.

The awfulness of conservatives (A recurring theme)

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

At one time, I thought that conservatives provided a balancing effect on our viewpoints and we’d make worse decisions without them.

I’ve come to believe that no, in fact, we’d be a lot better off without their influence on the systems of power and in fact they are just awful, possibly even evil.

Look at recent events. They want to ban providing food and water in lines for voting while they deliberately reduce the number of polling places in liberal areas. This is called cheating – and it is something they do often otherwise we wouldn’t be burdened with them at all.

And, of course, they want to ban children – which they include 18-to-21-year-olds-in – from getting health care if they are transgendered. THis is a impressive level of awfulness. It does represent the truth that conservatives do not want us to be free – they want billionaires to be free and everyone else to be enslaved, and if at all possible they would like the Christian equivalent of sharia law. But not for them – after all, look at Matt Gaetz – only for everyone else. They have basically no moral compass – they are convinced a abortion is murder but bombing people who happen to believe in a different way of allocating resources is A-OK – in fact bombing people just because they happen to have oil is A-OK, or even just because we’d like more profits.

They generally care more about money than continued survival – they’ll defend fracking because it’s fine if our children have bizarre cancers and no water to drink as long as they can continue to have dirt cheap electricity and gasoline now – and they’ll also defend preserving stupid investments – we will tax the wind turbines because they’re competing unfairly with coal, we will block new solar installations because it might make fracking irrelevant.

They will of course find epic new ways to be racist. When Trump ran on a platform of racism, they loved it. Bring back the Klan!

And, they’ll argue for finding ways to make it look like humanity is barely holding on when in fact we’re fantastically wealthy. They’ll demonstrate the ultimate in fiscal irresponsibility, designing a awful resource allocation system and then insisting we stick to the paper accounting system when the reality is we have tons of food and tons of land and houses.. but the paper accounting system says we don’t have enough so we need to make people starve to death.

They will game the system whenever possible, and they’ll encourage the tyranny of the ultraminority – after all, the majority of people were not conservative even when the conservatives manage to capture both houses and the presidency. The conservatives are just willing to do more awful things – as they demonstrate day after day

They also repeatedly lie using their media and then claim that it is the liberal media that is lying. It’s demonstrable that they lie, but their followers just carefully forget all the lies. I am sure there’s a fair amount of brainwashing / emotional illogic agreeing that goes on every time their followers listen to Fox And Friends or Rush – and of course a lot of their followers carefully ignore any data point that indicates they are wrong.

The question is just, is there any way to totally disempower them or at the least ensure they only have as much power as a fair vote would grant them? The problem here is they are willing to do awful things – probably eventually including calling for the murder of liberals – in order to get their way. They need spanked, badly, but I am not sure how to spank them. They *want* a civil war – they would love to shoot millions of us. There’s no reason to think either side would win in a civil war, either – it’s something everyone would lose.

The irony is they are the people that talk the loudest about words like ‘Freedom’ – but of course that only means you are free if you think like them. And they wrap their authoritarianism and willingness to cheat in the flag – just look at Mitch claiming all his awfulness is patriotic.