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  1. PoignardAzur

    Videochat August 2018

    Oh man, I have so much to say on the "capitalism" topic. Ross's main point was that humanity's greatest problem was its inability to handle either far-away problems or extremely malicious powers eg (sociopaths becoming head of states). I agree with the gist of it (we're our own worst enemy), but I disagree with the specifics. Ross is framing the problem in terms of hostile actors who actually want to make everything worse for everyone else, or at least who want something selfish and are ready to endanger other people's lives to get it (eg someone who would go "everyone has just enough food to live and that's great, but I'm going to take as much food as I can to be rich"). I think the main problem with face when designing political and economical systems is that most people are decent people, but most decent people are really bad at cooperating when the stakes are serious. Regular people are the problem, not just nebulous greedy super-rich CEOs. Ross said that most people go with the flow, but that's not always a good thing. People don't think about their actions in terms of morality. Maybe they think they do, but when you look at economical trends, people mostly do what benefits them, especially when they're under pressure (eg because they're poor). Some people think that capitalism runs on "greed", but I think it mostly runs on "people need things (food, shelter, medicine, access to information, social activity, entertainment, etc) and the people who can provide those things also need things from other people, and everyone does what gets them the things they need". Corruption was rampant in the USSR because people went "I need food / furniture / a car, and I'm never going to get it in a public store. So I need to buy it on the black market", and so they did. Their decisions weren't based on what they thought the effects of their behavior were when generalized on an entire population, their decisions were based on "waiting for hours in the cold in a food line sucks!". The way AlexanderWales put in in The Dark Wizard of Donkerke, people follow the path of least resistance. So a good society is one where the path of least resistance for everyone is one that incentivizes people to act efficiently and cooperate with each other. XXth century communism was pretty bad in that regard. Capitalism isn't that great (because it wasn't designed, it's just the aggregation of individual incentives), but at least in a capitalist society people are mostly incentivized to produce things that other people want so they can get the things they want. --- By the way, Ross, if you're interested in this topic, look up "coordination problems", which is the technical name for what you were grasping at. Meditations on Moloch from Scott Alexander is a long-form dissertation on the subject.
  2. PoignardAzur


    I know you're trying to keep this videos short(ish), and you had trouble meeting deadlines and all... but I kinda wish you'd developed more on the unrealistic parts of the game and what a more realistic version would look like. I think a lot of people who see the video would think "No, this is perfectly realistic, corporations do evil things like this all the time", which is kind of true but also ignoring a lot of nuance and complexity in what corporations can, can't and won't do. In particular, the story revolves around this magic alga that would somehow replace both petroleum and nuclear energy (presumably without just moving the problem around like hydrogen or or real life biofuels). The thing is, we have a ridiculously hard time moving past petrol and nuclear *because* there is no viable alternative to them. We're not putting these billions of dollars into fusion power research for fun. If we did have an ecological silver bullet energy (just for fun, let's call it "Argent energy"), then no amount of patent suppression, corporate corruption and sabotage would keep it from being released. The money oil companies could make by suppressing Argent energy would just be massively outweighed by the money investors could make by patenting it and selling it worldwide. (although now that I think about it, from what the episode shows us the game doesn't seem to say that the alga is ready for commercialization or even close, just that people are working on it; some of the shenanigans do make some sense if we assume the technology is still undeveloped, promising enough to warrant suppression by oil companies, but not promising enough that it would attract tons of investors and have backups everywhere; but then there's the question of why future people are even interested in this alga if they never use it in the future, and it was sabotaged before it could get any traction) Anyway, my point is I would have loved to hear you talk more about this stuff. Cynical rants about politics and economy are one of the reasons I love your channel

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