Re: Bill Joy interviewed in Salon

Date: Wed Apr 12 2000 - 00:12:51 MDT

On Tue, 11 Apr 2000 wrote:
> Set aside Joy's disappointingly juvenile views on political economy (lifted
> straight out of Dickinson) and his muddled thinking about how some collective
> "we" chooses the shape of the world (ignoring Arrow's Theorem).

Robert Bradbury replied:
> "Arrow's Theorem"? Ref by any chance?

Type "Arrow's Theorem" into any search engine and you will find many

By itself the theorem is strictly about the impossibility of constructing
a voting system that satisfies seemingly reasonable principles of
fairness. However its philosophical implications go beyond this,
just as the unsolvability of the halting problem has implications in
computer science and philosophy beyond the bare question of predicting
which computer programs will keep running.

The more general lesson is that it is impossible to create a fair and
reasonable society. Even an omniscient, omnipotent being cannot create
a world which satisfies the most basic postulates of fairness, at least
not without turning everyone into some kind of zombie. Any time you
have mutually exclusive choices, there is no way of deciding without
making someone unhappy in a way that is arguably unfair. It's tough,
but that's how the world is.

I think what Tom is saying is that we as a society can't choose the kind
of ideal world Joy might like to see, because there is no choice algorithm
that works well. We are stuck with bad compromises, and someone always
gets hurt.


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