Re: The Violence Problem

Anders Sandberg (
22 Dec 1997 18:00:45 +0100 (David A Musick) writes:

> I think this forum is an excellent one to discuss the violence
> problem. Violent acts have a great potential to disrupt our visions of
> the future. I don't think we can pursue our extropic ideas for long
> without doing much to solve the violence problem. We need to consider
> why humans are violent. From there, we can discuss ways of effectively
> deterring violent behavior. I think discussing the violence problem will
> be more interesting and more productive than discussing the issue of who
> will be allowed to possess firearms.

I agree completely. As I see it, it can be divided into two main
problems: one is how to decrease the amount of violence in general,
and the other is how less-violent groups should deal with violent

Violence is an expression of aggression, and deeply ingrained in our
mental structure. This suggests that we cannot easily get rid of it
without some clever re-structuring of out brains (not something we are
likely to be able to do within close future), although it can likely
be controlled by setting up good mental safeguards (which are of
course fallible, given sufficient irritation) during maturation. The
big question is how to do this well (without stopping other,
beneficial behaviors or limiting defense ability), and how to spread
useful controls among people who have dysfunctional controls.

The second problem seems to be a variant of the Prisoners dilemma:
mutual defection is much less valuable than mutual cooperation, but a
defector can exploit cooperators. Axelrod's results suggest that the
non-violent group should adopt a "nice" strategy (no first strike), be
forgiving (do not try to punish competitors too much), provocable
(respond immediately to aggression), avoid envy (focus on increasing
their own absolute fitness rather than their relative fitness compared
to competitors) and be clear (make sure others can interpret their

On a game theory website I also found the suggestion of attempting to
change the rules so that one avoids getting caught in a prisoners
dilemma. This might occur by becoming immune to attack in some way,
for example by being essential for the defectors or moving out to a
different niche (place); do we have any better meta-strategies?

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y