Hypocrites! (Was: Free Markets)

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (sentience@pobox.com)
Sat, 13 Sep 1997 23:17:21 -0500

There have been a few people on this list who claim to value the lives of
people burnt out by the economy, or left without jobs, or the poor, or the
starving, or the denizens of crack ghettos...


Is *this* how you would help them? *This*? This interminable WHINING?
Accusing anyone who disagrees with you of being a Nazi? Blither! Blather!
"Oh, you cold, inhuman, scum you! How can you see their suffering and not be
moved?" But then I shouldn't complain; sometimes I forget that the purpose of
all that endless pain is to provide you with political ammunition.

There have now been over a hundred messages on this subject. Some of them are
from Extropians who never claimed to be sympathetic; whether I agree with them
or not, THEY are not guilty of hypocrisy. THEY claimed no commitment and made
no demands.

But through all that blither, *nobody* who demanded compassion made ONE SINGLE
SUGGESTION, practical or not. Except, of course, me. I posted, in "The
Economy of Plenty", a series of technological partial solutions to the named
economic problems. In return, I got five posts blaming everything on the
government, one post claiming I was a communist (Wrong!), and two objections
that should have been requests for amplification. I responded with three
explanations, only one of which added additional detail.

In other words, out of a hundred posts, only TWO contributed ANYTHING to the
problem. TWO. Both of them by ONE person.

Holly Pearson, who started this whole thing, said: "I have perused the extro
list for over 2 years now, and I have yet to hear any reasonable talk about
compassion or building livingry for the majority o humanity that is becoming
increasingly unnecessary in the free-market."

I responded with a solution. Did he respond to it? Did he even mention it?
He, who started his post with a quote from one of my Web pages?

I don't condemn the thirty Extropians who argued that the poor don't need
help, or that trying would be counterproductive. They could be right. But -
and here is a key point - nothing they said declared an obligation.

But you! You, Holly Pearson! You, Rick Knight! What have *you* done for the
poor? What have you even tried to do?

I designed an economy stable under technological stress.
I synthesized a practical technology for intelligence enhancement.
And, still in development, the Sunlight mod to prevent burnout.

So LISTEN! LISTEN to me, Holly Pearson!
Listen to the person you quoted! Listen to the only solver of the problems
you're so worried about!


*Think* if you want to contribute something! Use your *mind*! Compassion is
NOTHING! Dogs have compassion! Apes have compassion! We are the high and
powerful humans! We are capable of solving problems, not just demanding that
they be solved!

Will you dissipate that power in endless political whining and blaming? Will
you use 1e14 synapses to produce debates so predictable that AI simulations of
it have been around for twenty years?

Do you want to solve the problems? Then learn:

1) Humans are evolved to be political debaters, since the winners got to be
village chiefs with attendant mating privileges. The resultant instincts are
enough to preclude any rational treatment of the problem. I estimate that at
least half of human misery is due to this one fact. Blame *anyone* for a
problem and you will never solve it.

2) The Universe doesn't give a damn HOW right your cause is. If you want to
correct a problem, you have to analyze the system, find a malfunction, and
break it. If you want to break a vicious cycle, you have to find a weak
point. Frontal attacks may be satisfying, but be the evil "poverty" or the
"bad education, the root cause of poverty", frontal attacks don't work.
Redesigns might, *if* you're smart enough.

3) When a humans says that A causes B, he means that, if a situation lacking
B is perturbed by A, B will result. In short, it takes a difference to make a
difference. So if you want your crusade to have a different outcome than all
the other stupid failed crusades, you have to be *different*. Not just
different from the "Establishment", but different from every single other
human being who has ever expressed an opinion on the subject. Otherwise,
you're simply repeating a mistake.


I hope and pray, Holly Pearson, that you will read this over, think for a while, and then come back and say: "Can you, cognitive engineer, save me from the 'burnout' I anticipate?" And I would say, "Sure, but my neurological version ('Sunlight') will take a few years; you might want to research monoamine oxidase inhibitors in the meantime."


Oh, and one last thing. Cease your references to "Extro-Nazis" and "Extro-Holocausts". The Nazis were not merely unsympathetic, nor were they mere Victorians looking down on the poor as human rubbish. The Nazis deliberately exterminated eleven million people. They transported prisoners in crammed, locked train cars, with no food, and no water, for days, until most of them, particularly the ones on the bottom of the pile, were dead on arrival. Pregnant women, children, and people too old to work were cremated without hesitation. They worked the remaining inmates until they turned into walking skeletons, and forced these walking skeletons to stand freezing for hours in "roll call" until many simply collapsed, dead, to the ground. Dead and naked bodies that looked like stick figures were stacked and sent up in smoke. Shoes were made from their skin. Half the inmates of Auschwitz died within days AFTER their rescue by American forces.

So just SHUT THE FUCK UP about Nazis, okay?

"They motioned my mother to one line, and me to another. I was sent to another part of the camp, and when I asked where my mother was, they pointed to the smoke from the crematoriums, and that was when I found out my mother was dead."

- Recorded voice of a survivor. From the Holocaust Museum's Permanent Exhibition.

         sentience@pobox.com      Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
         Founder, Benevolent Mutants of the Apocalypse
      Disclaimer:  I'm not telling you everything I know.