RE: Truth machines

Billy Brown (
Mon, 21 Dec 1998 12:52:08 -0600

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> The effect would be to strengthen all forms of power.
> Democracies could
> enforce honesty; dictators could enforce obedience. The democracies
> would win, but first there'd be an interregnum in the democracy -
> politicians and bureaucracies, faced with en masse unemployment, would
> band together and do anything to hold onto power.

Why do you assume democracies would win?

A truth machine would reduce the problems of autocracy by telling the autocrat who he can trust. As a result, he has less need to actually oppress anyone. Stupid dictators will do so anyway, but smart ones will realize they can now have their cake and eat it too. They can give the subjects enough freedom to create a healthy, functioning free market without risking revolt, because it is so easy to round up the actual revolutionaries.

Democracy, on the other hand, would not function even as well as it does now. The truth machine would give us politicians who actually believe whatever the majority opinion happens to be one the major issues of an election, which is not a good thing when the majority is usually wrong. Worse, it would remove one of the major barriers that prevents all those stupid regulations from being enforced - imagine what agencies like the IRS, the EPA and OSHA would do with it.

In a world with truth machines, autocracy could easily be a more viable form of government than democracy.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I