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Apparently @Francis and the forum moderation team think there are aspects of this post that could be improved to make it adhere to the Forum's rules. I am happy to collaborate to edit the post into compliance!

I think 1 is >95% likely. We're in an arms race dynamic for at least some of the components of AGI. This is conditional on us not having been otherwise wiped out (by war, pandemic, asteroid, etc).

I think 2 and 3 are the wrong way to think about the question. Was humankind "motivated to conquer" the dodo? Or did we just have a better use for its habitat, and its extinction was just a whoopsie in the process?

[This article](https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/05/02/if-its-worth-doing-its-worth-doing-with-made-up-statistics/) explores why it is useful to work with subjective, "made-up" statistics.

My own view hinges on the following:

  • instrumental convergence: agents will tend to try and accumulate some kinds of resources like money, regardless of what their goals are;
  • value-capabilities orthogonality (often known as just "the orthogonality thesis"): regardless of their capabilities, agents might have pretty much any kind of goal;
  • the fact that most possible goals are incompatible with human thriving (we need a very specific set of conditions to survive, let alone thrive);
  • the fact that current AI capabilities are growing, the growth rate seems to be increasing, and that there are strong economic incentives to keep pushing them forward.

These factors lead me to think we have significantly worse than even odds (that is, <50%) of surviving this century.

Another solution that might be more palatable than allowing someone who just lost their own district to become PM is to normalize having PMs from either of the Houses of Parliament. I'm not sure how Canada elects its senators, but if you make that as province-wide PR then party leaders can be decently assured to get a Senate seat. (Actually, I checked and Senators are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister; constitutional convention might make for the leaders of any parties represented in the Commons to be guaranteed a Senate seat).

It makes sense to me that you'd describe my proposal as easier than Fair Majority Voting - I understand the former, but not the latter!


As for "targeted killing", I think a threshold of, say, 5% of the nationwide vote prevents that. The Tories cannot tell their voters in Trudeau's riding to vote for the NaziLoons, because the NaziLoon vote is discarded as it doesn't reach 5% nationwide (hopefully!). So those Tories have wasted their vote and Trudeau still gets elected. Do you think that makes sense?

The US already has primaries. And the votes someone sabotages away from a comrade might be the ones that mean they themselves do not get elected, while they would if they didn't sabotage.

I think the incentive for a unified messaging "vote for our party no matter who's on the ballot" is stronger than any sabotage incentives.


Edit: I think this deserves some more detail. Keep in mind that I've developed an 'ugh' field with regards to the article, so some of the below might repeat or contradict what I said there - we'll wing it if it happens.

First. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that this does encourage intra-party competition and sabotaging, in a way  that does not happen in most PR systems. I am fine with that, since I am not proposing existing PR systems switch to this district-based method! Countries like the Netherlands, which use nationwide PR, work very very well - they're the best ones we currently have, actually. (Although, specifically in the Dutch case, I personally would raise the threshold which is currently at 0.67%. They have probably the only Parliament in the world to have nationalist parties for three different nations - Dutch, Turkish and Kurdish!)

So, what I mean is: this system is meant as an improvement to systems like the US and Canada; I think it would make "normal" PR systems worse, or at least not any better.


Now, as for competition within the party. I heavily favor parliamentarism over a presidential system. To put it in a few words: head of government is too important a job to have a basically guaranteed 4-year tenure. So if someone sabotages their comrade, they are also hindering their party's chances of forming a government, even if they themselves make it into parliament. That is still an important consideration in a presidential system, albeit to a smaller degree.

That assumes you're thinking of a candidate from district A sabotaging someone from district B. I think party discipline should take care of that, and it seems more disciplined parties would outcompete less disciplined ones, all else equal.

There's also the scenario of competition within a district. The US would likely solve this with primaries. There's an extension to my proposal that allows for combined primaries and general elections, all in one go. Each party could field as many candidates as they want in a given district.  In the general election, voters vote for the candidate they prefer in their district; the votes for all candidates of the same party in a given district are what's used to allocate seats to parties. Then, if you know the Brown Party has won the district of Citystown, then you look at which Brown candidate got the most votes in Citystown - they're the one who's elected.

lucy, given Linch's admonition elsethread, I am taking a break from engaging with the content you present. I am not sure how best to phrase this, but I just wanted to say I empathize with your perception of being viewed as an outgroup/outcaste. I think that must feel quite bad. In spite of so far not agreeing a lot, I don't want to contribute to you feeling that way, quite the contrary; I want everyone to feel welcomed here and in all EA spaces, and I apologize if my actions unwittingly had the opposite effect.

Thank you for your admonition, Linch. I'd point out I wouldn't like to be grouped together with people up- or downvoting lucy; I haven't voted on their comments except but one each way. As for the actual content of the conversation, this is not how I wanted it to be perceived; I wonder if you could help me identify what went wrong at a more detailed level, in private. I know about identifying clear cruxes and having a scout's mindset, I endorse collaborative truth-seeking, yet here I failed to implement these things and it is not clear to me why; I could use help with that.

I was with you until the very end, then I got confused. Do you think it is fair to say that people don't know what's best for them when it comes to trade liberalization? (I do.)

I have way fewer qualms about saying that voters don't know what's best for them. Take, for example, South Africa. They use a pretty darn good voting system - single-ballot closed-list proportional representation with half the seats coming from province-level lists and the other half from nationwide lists - and I think the conduct of the elections themselves is decently well-organized; turnout has been dropping recently, but it was a whopping 89.3% in 1999.

I (cherry-)picked that one election because it brought Thabo Mbeki to the Presidency. He didn't believe HIV caused AIDS; he thought AIDS is caused by vitamin deficiencies. He oriented the country's policy based on that belief. Southern Africa is one of the areas with the highest incidence of the disease in the world. So, yeah, in that particular case the 66.5% of South Africans who voted for him clearly did not know what was best for them.

Also, it could be that we know with only 80% confidence what the best policies are, but we know with a much higher certainty that some policies (like subsidizing gas until it costs less than USD 0.05 a liter, like Hugo Chavez did) are completely wrong. Yet people still vote for them.

So yes, I am fairly confident that by and large people here in poor countries do not want growth, or that they do not want to avoid the policies that we know are harmful to growth.

You could point out that I cherry picked that one election, and that is true. But I think that, generally speaking, elections at least here in Latin America are broadly representative of people's will, or as much as is possible in a presidential system (I think parliamentarianism is stricly better). AFAIK most countries use proportional representation rather than single-member districts, which are a big cause of dysfunctional-ness in e.g. US politics. Basically, we're not stuck in the same inadequate equilibria as the US is. And turnout in, say, Brazil is pretty high, because voting is mandatory.

So, for democracies here in Latin America, I'd be fairly confident on "people don't get pro-growth policies because they choose not to" over "people would want pro-growth policies but fail to get them because of poor election methods or low turnout". (The low turnout hypothesis would also be fishy in that it would suggest a correlation between turning out to vote and being against growth; I'd find that correlation surprising if it existed. If there was any meaningful correlation, I'd expect it to go in the other direction.)

I'm way less confident in African elections. Some countries, like Ghana and South Africa, conduct their elections pretty well, I believe, but that's probably not the norm in the continent. Most countries have very little experience with democracy (the 1999 election I mentioned was only the second one). Then again, some cultures in Africa have traits like:

  • the belief that albino body parts are somehow good for disease;
  • female genital mutilation;
  • insistence on contact with bodies of Ebola victims.

Things like this, as well as political views that are clearly a majority in the continent (e.g. non-acceptance of homosexuality, which is still illegal in nearly 2/3 of African countries) give me substantial confidence that yeah, they don't know what's best for their countries.

(I'm not saying should try to make them want growth; what I am saying is that, if the article is right that that's what EAs should focus on, then we need to keep that in mind.)

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