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Immortal since Jun 17, 2010
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mad-scientist and computer programmer looking for something more interesting than most people accept as their future
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    The Paradox We Must Solve To Avoid Extinction of Humans
    Game theory. Secrets vs freedom of speech. Hierarchy vs symmetric organization. From where we are in history (how society is organized, global power dynamics, how we think, etc), it appears that all paths (to possible futures) that average people can imagine lead to nuclear war and extinction. When? After a few more things like Wikileaks or the Patriot Acts or the Off Switch To The Internet or The Economy Almost Crashing happen. Those kinds of things destabilize an already unstable system, and they're going to start happening more often. Doing anything to stop them is also a destabilizing event, like Off Switch To The Internet was a reaction to things like Wikileaks. The paradox is that if we work against any part of the system, it escalates toward nuclear war, but if we do nothing, it will become more hierarchy organized (leaders and followers, government and civilian, master and slave, etc) to protect against such things and average people will eventually become angry enough at the system that enough of them become terrorists to make governments reactions be big enough to destabilize the system, which also leads to nuclear war. If we change anything, or if we do nothing and wait, it all appears to lead to nuclear war and extinction. That's the paradox.

    Past events in politics are covered up because other countries learning such secrets would prove violation of legal agreements and plans between countries and would start wars, but protecting such secrets causes wars in a different way. To protect such secrets, they make laws about "national security" and systematically redesign and regulate technology to control communication. They put an off switch on the internet or parts of it. They control what can be said on TV and radio. Cell phones in USA are required to have an E911 chip inside them for purposes specified in the Patriot Acts. To protect their political secrets, they systematically redesign and regulate communication through technology. It has worked for most secrets until recently.

    They won't admit it, but Wikileaks and websites like it scare governments more than anything else. Think about it. They spend trillions of dollars controlling communication, and then some group of people without much money or political power communicates large amounts of their secrets they spent trillions of dollars to keep secret. The whole global infrastructure is a hierarchy with them at the top. That's what they bought to stay in control and protect their secrets. Then some group of people without any significant power or money defeats their multi-trillion dollar system. That's efficiency. Its not just about the technology. Its the system of "national security" and who is allowed to know what information and many levels of it. Its an impressive system and does what it was designed to do, but what it was designed to do is the problem. The systems of organizing people and technology are designed to distribute the accountability in a way that usually prevents secrets from getting out to average people. When Wikileaks (and similar websites or communications) defeated that multi-trillion dollar system, governments realized they had a much bigger problem than they thought. They know its going to happen again and in more ways. Technology will continue to advance. It will become easier to communicate, including political secrets that would start wars if known by other countries.

    Governments know they can't shut down the internet for long without starting wars. But the way they've set things up, the internet is the most dangerous thing to them. It allows any 2 people to communicate. Freedom of speech is dangerous to governments that do things they shouldn't do. Their problem is they've already done those things and wars will start if other countries learn of what each other did and are keeping secret.

    To protect the existing system, they take more freedom of speech and other rights away from average people. They make the system stronger and bigger and more complex and harder to maintain. They build crap on top of crap and are afraid to think ahead far enough to a time when the first crap is solved. They've given up all hope of solving the problems and put their efforts into making it worse slower.

    There are ways of organizing all the people on Earth in peer-to-peer ways without governments, including "punish the nonpunishers" which is a theoretical thing in game-theory where everyone enforces things because to not enforce them would cause an enforcment on yourself if someone sees you not enforcing it, and so on however far back people are observing each other. Hierarchies are not the only way to organize global power. There doesn't have to be an "us" and a "them".

    What will surprise most people is the similarity between "punish the nonpunishers" and how society is organized now. In a business, a manager is punished if someone under him does something very bad and the manager does not punish him. If the manager's manager does not punish that manager for not punishing the employee, then the owner of the business would punish the manager's manager. If the business is sued for some mistake, then whoever made that mistake would probably be fired because those above him (up to the owner of the business) do not want to be punished by those above themself. In that case, the government is the one who would "punish the nonpunisher", where the "nonpunisher" is the owner of the business if he did not fire the person who made the mistake the business is being sued for.

    Punish The Nonpunishers only works when there are cycles (a circular path) between those who can punish each other. Everyone has to be accountable to someone else, normally whoever notices them not punishing someone who does something wrong. In a hierarchy, those at the top are not accountable to anyone, so there is no cycle.

    Wikileaks created such a cycle. It gave average people some ability to make their leaders accountable.

    There is a solution to the paradox, but it has to be fine-tuned more exactly than most people think is possible. They think politics and organizing society and Human nature are too unpredictable to organize enough for this to work. They may be right, but the alternative is nuclear war and extinction. There are a million possibilities, and maybe 1000 of them don't end in extinction. If we leave it to chance, its 1000 to 1 against us.

    To further complicate the paradox, if enough people learn a solution to the paradox, that knowledge could be enough to destabilize the system and cause nuclear war. If they try to use their new knowledge to change the system, that could destabilize it. So even if you know the solution, its probably not really the solution, as it negates itself depending on how it is used. 1000 to 1 odds was too optimistic. That didn't take into account the effect of enough people knowing the solution and trying to use it with their normal screwed up ways of thinking.

    I'll summarize: Society is a hierarchy and is becoming more hierarchy to avoid nuclear war and extinction, but becoming too much hierarchy causes average people to fight governments and cause the same. Society would have to stop being hierarchies and start being peer-to-peer organized (like Punish The Nonpunishers) to avoid extinction, but any small change toward that would destabilize the system and also result in nuclear war and extinction. We can't change and we can't stay the same.

    All paths that an average person can imagine lead to nuclear war and extinction. Not directly there, but whatever they would choose to do if they had power over the system would lead to it. Nothing anyone has done in all of history is similar to any of the rare solutions to this paradox. I don't know if I can explain it to you at all, but I'll try.

    It can't be hierarchy and it can't change to peer-to-peer (the opposite of hierarchy) except in certain fractal patterns. The problems grow on top of older problems. It has to be reversed in the opposite pattern it grew to avoid destabilizing the system at any 1 time or place.

    To do that people would have to understand what caused the problems, but most of them do not understand game-theory or are not smart enough to understand such a complex system. That further complicates the paradox.

    We would need a simulation of the system to explain it most effectively. I've been thinking about how to simulate the relevant parts of society using only the freedom of speech parts and maybe some Punish The Nonpunishers and other parts as a game, but my thoughts are not complete. Playing this game would give the players intuition of a similar problem as is happening globally on Earth so they could use the same strategies to reverse the bull that has accumulated mostly since technology started advancing exponentially. Here's my thoughts so far on that game:  but its not what we need. It's a start.

    I'm eventually going to build a software system that uses psychology to grant psychic powers  to everyone to be used as a communication network that can't be censored, effectively transforming society from hierarchy to peer-to-peer in a very short time exponentially expanding from the first few people who learn such psychic skills from the psychology and artificial intelligence based software. The paradox is complicated by the possibility that could destabilize the same system described above, resulting in nuclear war and extinction. The same would probably be caused by creating smarter than Human artificial intelligence by itself, in an arms race between countries reacting to the possibility that the other could be using it. This paradox is so hard that no amount of power can solve it. Its an accuracy problem.

    I expect 1 of the few solutions is related to the global telepathy (and other mental abilities) network, the artificial intelligence I'm building, and the Free Speech Just Pay Shipping game I'm planning, but theres a lot of ways to combine them and still a lot of details to work out. If it works, enough people will learn the solution to this paradox and learn the right ways to use it, and MAYBE we can avoid nuclear war and extinction.

    15 years ago the Unabomber predicted something like this would happen.
    But I disagree on his proposed solution. Instead of trying to destabilize the system, we should do smooth changes toward a peer-to-peer organization of all people. The Unabomber thought technology could only lead to such destabilization or the machines evolving past Humans, and 15 years ago I might have thought the same thing, but now I think there are a few very-hard-to-do ways that technology can also be the solution. Artificial intelligence can expand our minds in ways we can not yet imagine or destabilize an already unstable system with more military technology. The most dangerous of all is if it advances our technology so we can travel between the stars but then gets out of control like the global power on Earth today. Instead of worrying about destroying our species and planet, we could destroy galaxies. Technology increasing at exponential speed is not science fiction, and that's where it leads. The Unabomber wrote about a "crossroads" for our species. That has already passed. This is a second crossroads, where we choose hierarchy or peer-to-peer organization for the Human species. Peer-to-peer has less risk of destabilizing all our society. If you want to live, that's the future to work toward.

    Earth can't stay a hierarchy (it leads to nuclear war) but any small change away from that is probable to start a nuclear war. Or did any of you have a better idea how to solve the paradox?

    Sat, Jan 8, 2011  Permanent link

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    nagash     Sun, Jan 9, 2011  Permanent link
    not so sure if "nuclear war and extinction" is really the only possible outcome in most of those scenarios, but either way, a great post as usual :)
    BenRayfield     Mon, Jan 10, 2011  Permanent link
    I left out a lot of details. What I expect is a gradual escalation of aggressive events between average people and/or governments, fueled by the unending advancement of technology which makes bigger weapons and communication of their secret crimes easier, and more than that fueled by their preemptive reactions to those things. I can't know for sure, but it appears very probable that the reason they're hiding so many things is what I described. It probably is much worse than they cause average people to think, and I had to adjust my predictions based on the reasons they caused that uncertainty to exist. I think some of them would allow (by doing small things with that side-effect and doing nothing against it, regardless of their advertisements that they are against it) wars to be started and continued to make themselves look less like criminals if it would have that effect. Its probable whatever the many governments are keeping secret are a tangled web of agreements and plans that diverges toward that for the same reasons the laws of thermodynamics say temperature will spread out instead of reducing in some area for no reason. On average, every time they change something to directly avoid aggressive action, they indirectly cause 2 times that much aggressive action in the future as a reaction to whatever they changed to fix the problem for their country or group instead of fixing it for the whole system (all 7 billion people, not just their masters... usually its only a few of their masters talking secretly). Their secrets prevent cooperation at the level necessary to avoid such esclation of aggressive action. When I say cooperation, I mean between most of the 7 billion people, not just their masters cooperating with each other. The aggressive events (including Wikileaks, freedom-destroying laws, torture for military information, etc) may increase slowly, but it will never decrease on average the way they do things, therefore it would have to get to any arbitrarily large amount (extinction), unless power shifts from those hierarchies (governments, etc) to somewhere else. Does that explain why it would lead to nuclear war and extinction? If not, the way the world is should be enough reason by itself to fix it.

    Because  is 150 instead of 7 billion, the hierarchies and systems of control were created to reduce the level of cooperation needed to leaders instead of everyone with everyone else... That system has failed. It has been escalating aggressive action ever since technology started advancing exponentially. One of the goals of my artificial intelligence research is to use music as a user-interface to slightly change psychology to increase Dunbar's Number therefore solving the problem that caused the hierarchies to be created and naturally leading to the Punish The Nonpunishers way of organizing society obsoleting governments starting from the cycle of accountability that Wikileaks created.