RE: Meritocracies and freedom of information

From: Chen Yixiong, Eric (
Date: Tue Oct 16 2001 - 17:20:10 MDT

> Ah, but could an AA not then become mature, though deliberately
> tricking the system (say, by simply declining to declare MM status),
> and then exploit the MMs' prohibitions while using a pseudonym or
> similar to get around the limits on discussion? Even if some acts were
> traced to the AA, the MMs could not do anything that would
> significantly limit the AA's future.

Yes, you mention a certain flaw that we do see in our societies.

In the past, some "infants" (Latin can get quite offensive sometimes) did manage to trick some companies to give them loans or other
stuff without payment. The law did catch up a little, but not enough. Of the few case laws I know of, one concerns a tailor whom
could not claim money for some clothing he supplied to a rich "infant" because the Court deemed these as not neccessaries (since the
"infant" already had about 20 pieces of similiar clothing) and thus not subject to payment.

Meanwhile, the companies did wise up quickly, refusing to do business with such people unless they have some guarantor above the Age
of Majority whom they can bind the contract with, remaining as the status quo today. Meanwhile, I did hear of cases in the US where
some kids vandalise property and the Police could not do anything about them because they considered the children too immature.

In the case of the proposed colony, I intend the rules I propose more as guidelines than as absolutely binding, so the AAs can still
receive punishment if they go against the system in bad faith. As for punishment, I had not figured what would work, but I suspect
it would have a more intellectual than physical nature. [Note: I don't *make* the punishment. I can only propose it and let the
Intellicracy figure this out.]

The possibility of AAs taking advantage of MMs does seem possible, however, the colony would most likely provide little incentive
(as a well designed system should) to troublemakers. For one thing, it can trace all messages internally (but of course, everyone
can look at the traces too). I had not even mention that discussion systems of the future may hardly resemble the primitive systems
we use today.

I must also make clear that the goal of this restriction does not simply have the purpose of preventing the AA from learning about
taboos, but even more that the AA does not spam or otherwise abuse the system by wrong usage, and also that the AA actually
contribute something useful to the system instead of nonsense. I suspect that the colony will have few, if any, taboos, and probably
its inhabitants need not wear clothes if they so disire.

For another, its education will also focus on psychology, sociology and general self-understanding, important topics that our
societies ignore at its own peril. [Side note: The educational system will provide only the most elementary skills neccessary for
independent learning. The people learn any advanced course by themselves (and they can teach each other if they want).]

If some "smart-ass" AAs want to do "adult" things, then they should apply for the MM trial peroid. If they just want to make
"harmless" trouble, perhaps a VR simulation system and some fellow players might allow them. Concerning MM exploitation of material
items, they can't do too much partially because the economical system does not have such strict lines drawn for individual property
so they can't "own" things (or at least in the understanding of the cocnept we have today).

Please also note that I had not fully expanded on the idea yet, only providing a rough guide to the final form of the system. The
actual implementaion ought to handle such situations much better.

> Basic problem: legal categorization of people is imperfect. If it
> benefits people to exploit the difference between the law's intent and
> its reality, people will do so. (Ideal systems can be imagined, but
> historically, any attempt to implement always introduces bugs. Merely
> saying "this one will be perfect" has, when tried, only resulted in
> less attention being paid to actually fixing the bugs.)

This shows the flaw with using absolute and as many rules as we can to fix the problem (a la program-o-topia), as Godel's Theorem
and its good friend Murphy's Law will manifest themselves. A good legal system ought to focus more on goals, guidelines and
heuristics instead of rules and more rules. Unfortunately, I have yet to compute sufficient details.

> This is a problem with the accreditation, too, since "accredited" and
> "not accredited" are but legal categories in this case. However, here
> the abuse is more likely to be by those who do the acceditation, since
> there are few benefits to not being accredited, but many perceived
> (and, IMO, mostly false) ones to making sure that people you do not
> personally know and trust can not exploit a field of knowledge.

I don't like the concept of accreditation, having experienced and seen some of its abuses.

For instance, education here in Singapore (and I heard, in many other countries) sucks. I dare not hire people only using
educational qualifications, but would hire regardless of qualifications and test their true skills instead, because I had
*personally seen* the quality and expertise of those people to know better.

I had not mentioned that modes of unreliability commonly used not just have great unreliability and variation, but one can actually
subject them to abuse in various circumstances. Common and known tactics such as "spotting" questions, completing many similar
questions (and thus learning the test very well, defeating its objectiveness) and even cheating.

Such assessments also grew to the status of the ends of education instead of merely a convenience for HR personnel, with students
actually refusing to study anything "outside the syllabus" and concentrating on memorizing the textbook so that they can pass the
assessments that come their way. This comes with grave consequences for one's society, where people focus on learning for
accreditation instead of learning for the joy of learning. They learnt to rely on others for learning direction instead of
themselves, often resulting in an explosion of thousand-dollar courses that teach nothing much but merely provide them with a
certificate to get them the job they want.

In such a case of passive learning, at worst these people believe absolutely in what the textbook says, subjecting them to
Government propaganda and also as willing sheep for the commercial course providers to fleece. At best, they do not learn the
essential skills to think and learn so that they can make new discoveries and contribute to their societies' progress. It turns out
that only a small elite manage to escape this trap, and they, not the passive learners, control the future.

As we approach the Singularity, these people won't make the mark. They see the increasing complexity and changes of our societies as
obstacles to their stable lives than as opportunities for learning and exploration. Like the Luddites in the past, they will soon
find their skills and abilities obsolete by the computers, and perhaps not too long later, they might start a neo-Luddite movement
to fight back the computers instead of changing their mindsets, with grave consequences.

One might hope that accreditation might work, but in most cases, some parties will eventually take control of the accreditation
process and take advantage of it. Some professionals use this to limit the membership to their profession so that they have a form
of oligopoly over their clients and could charge high rates. Governments could also use such tactics to ensure that their citizens
get an adequate dose of propaganda.

Even in an ideal Rational Society without the possibility of abuse, the unreliability of accreditation would make one think twice
before implementing it. At best, such accreditation would have only a superfluous nature, and at worse, it would prevent individuals
from contributing to the society in the best way possible while placing less incompetent people to take the controls.

The best form of accrediation, I believe, would result from the actual (and perhaps potential) skills and achievements of an
individual applied to the actual problem you wish to solve. All else, like attempts to detect the ether, would only fall flat on
their attempts.

Refer to the following for some details of what I feel dissatisfied about:

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