Responsibility Explosions

Here’s something I thought of recently with a post that went viral on facebook.  I commented that I wished the post had citations, and someone told me to just google it.

There’s a lot that could be said about responses like that, but the one I want to focus on in this post is what I’m going to call “responsibility explosion”.

The viral post had thousands of shares.

Think of all the thousands of people viewing that post.  Even if it only takes a few minutes to google for the facts, that’s thousands of minutes used up.

On the other hand, if the one single person who wrote the post included citations (and, if just googling it is so easy, why not?), then all that work would only need to be done once.

That’s something the rest of us can’t do (thanks to the design of facebook).  Even if I googled it for myself, I wouldn’t be able to supply those results to the other thousands of people who saw and shared the post.  Only the original poster could have done that.

So, when thinking about whose responsibility something is, remember this.  Could the small number of people who know the facts handle the responsibility efficiently?  Is your message going to be effective if you shoulder people who know less than you with the responsibility of researching and verifying your words?

This is one reason why we have stuff like a school system.  Even for adults (in university, college, etc.) who can do learning and research on their own, education systems use a few knowledgeable teachers to help many others learn in a structured way.

Division of labor!  It’s great.

(See also, Division of Information Labor)

Networking 2019

The Alberta election is over.

During the election, Zain Velji asked us to be the “Campaign Manager” of our own social media.  I was going to write a blog post asking for more from people, but it kinda wasn’t really the time to revive a blog I haven’t used for over a year.

But now I am asking for more.  I have to face that this is my passion.

I’ve already posted in a couple facebook groups, and I’m scheduled to meet some people over the next few days, and I hope I can get more and more going.

Here’s one thing I posted to Alberta’s NDP Members Hub:

I don’t want to leave the future to chance. We can’t expect better outcomes if we stay the same, and just “wing it” with whatever we’ve got.

I want to build values-based community, with fundamental values that can unify people. Build structure and sustainable social networks that are valuable in every way possible to the members. Building skill, gaining knowledge and resources. Contending with the deeper reasons for this defeat, and even reaching for more than electoral victory.

And the first step is to connect directly with individuals who are interested. Let me know what you think.

The Main Options in Human Conflict.

The fundamental options (means to an end) to consider in every human conflict:

  1. Changing minds (possibly even your own mind)
  2. Compromise
  3. Separation
  4. Use of Force
  5. Surrender

Obviously, where reasonable, the first three options should be used instead of the latter two.  And I’d include a wide range of things (perhaps even verbal abuse, certainly verbal harassment) in the category of “use of force” even if it is intended to change minds.  Some people even physically strike someone over the head and shout “think”, and that could be an attempt to change minds too, but certainly involves physical force.  See also:  Conflict Escalation, and De-Escalation.

On the topic of changing minds, it would be nice if we could spread values that made people tend towards correction. Such as:

  • strong curiosity and good epistemology
  • valuing learning more than being right all along (this will even make you have less fear of admitting error):
    • recognizing that learning happens all our lives, so we might be able to improve past what we currently think.  If so, wouldn’t you want to?  The advantages to your own future are clear.
    • Here’s some tips from Julia Galef:  How to want to change your mind.

(and I think these could be used for conflict prevention, too)

Some Simple Things (That I Wish Everyone Already Knew)

     First, when a joke (or something else) is friendly and when it is unfriendly. That could be a big topic, but for now I’ll narrow it down to one situation: when someone asks you to stop.
     When someone tells you to stop something, you have a few options. Your can:
  1. accept their request
  2. not accept their request (by either continuing what they told you to stop, or complaining about their request)
     I’d argue that option 1 is friendly, and option 2 is unfriendly. When someone sincerely tells you to stop something and you continue to do it, it ceases to be friendly. Even if the action looks the same.
     Real friendliness includes wanting to avoid annoying or upsetting your friend. It means caring about their feelings, preferences, and how they want to be treated.
     In some situations that might be difficult, like when their preference conflict with yours. If the two of you really can’t come up with a solution that you both like, maybe you can’t be friends at all. But that’s unlikely to occur in the case of jokes, which you don’t really need to make. So in this example, I think it’s most reasonable to accept their request.

A second (and related) point: sometimes seemingly identical actions can be morally different.

     How can two actions which seem identical be morally different?
     If there is some other difference.
     For example, if a professional boxer starts boxing unsuspecting people in the street, that’s assault. Their actions alone might look identical to the ethical sport of boxing. But the random people on the street (in my example) did not consent to a boxing match. That’s the key difference.

Rape Culture 101: What Is Rape Culture?

Here are my criteria for what the term “Rape Culture” refers to:

  1. memes and attitudes etc. (“culture“)
  2. that are incorrect/immoral
  3. that are related to rape, sexual assault, and consent
  4. and may contribute to problems related to rape, sexual assault, and consent

So the debate over whether Rape Culture “exists” are usually baffling to people who understand this.  Obviously we can see that attitudes and memes exist for any given subject.  Obviously some of them can be wrong.  Obviously errors can be harmful.

What people really should be arguing about is not whether it exists, but whether a particular meme or attitude is actually correct or incorrect.  That’s the part that matters.

And there’s plenty of well-informed writing on that matter.  I might gather a bunch to post later.

For other examples of the “_____ Culture” terminology format, see: “ownership culture”, “blame culture”, “ask culture”, “guess culture”, etc.

Measuring The Wrong Thing

An otherwise wonderful blog made a post that had some valid concerns that could have been stated in two sentences, and the rest of the post is fluffy red herring.  Since comments there are closed, I’ll post my little thoughts here (and I’ll assume you’ve read the post I’m responding to).

Cutting to the chase:  people in 1950 already had tons and tons of science fiction visions of the future (go read about The Golden Age Of Science Fiction), so even if we had achieved complete technological utopia, someone from 1950 would not think any of this was magic or a particular surprise.  The real surprise might be that we haven’t achieved such things yet!

And since when is the number of brand new types of technology what matters in anyone’s life?  No scientist measuring quality of life would care about such a thing, nor would any of the people being asked.  I can’t see it being relevant to economy either.  And surely any measurement of technological progress should actually be looking at the difference in technological capabilities, efficiency, and that sort of thing.

So the post employs some very strange measurement criteria.  It would be much better to measure so many other things.

I’m not even saying progress isn’t slowing in many areas, it might be (the musing about ‘all the easy problems in medicine already being solved’ could be an example).  The point is that you have to convincingly measure something relevant before your opinion is worth much.  And while the article sometimes made points apart from these red herrings, I wanted to debunk them specifically.

Philosophy of Gender

I’ve looked for philosophical writings of gender topics, and been very dissapointed.

I’ve decided to go through this topic here on my blog.  I’ll try to start simple, and build from there.

For the sake of that simplicity, I will avoid using ideological jargon that the average educated citizen probably doesn’t know.  Even the word “gender” counts as such jargon, it is defined in multiple different ways by multiple different schools of thought, and many of these uses of the word would be incomprehensible to the average person.  So I’ll avoid using it, except wherever it is very useful and I think I can use it without anyone getting confused.

Today, I will limit myself to stating the following moral conclusions:

  1. Style preferences should not be opposed.  Anyone at all is entirely right to have long or short hair, wear dresses, wear a style that you find ugly, and so on.  This extends to people modifying their bodies, even if you dissagree such modifications are just “style”.
  2. Activity preferences should not be pushed into segregation.  If you would not condemn one person for taking a particular career, having a particular hobby, having a particular role in life or in the family, or behaving a certain way, then you should not discourage a person who is different from doing those activities.

Collection of ideas for improving Democracy.

(Feel free to offer feedback or suggest more!)

My list of ideas so far, that I’ve either been told about or dreamed up:

  • Enable voting for more than one option, so that votes are not split between two similar positions, but can be given to both.
  • Vote only for individual laws (and policies?), never for people.
    • If some people think this is too much work, then perhaps they could choose (yes, choose, not vote for) a representative (which could be an individual or a group) who will vote for them.  This representative’s vote would count for as many people as they represent.
  • Proportional Representation, so that everyone’s vote counts regardless of who their neighbors vote for.  I think the NDP in Canada are currently pushing for this ^^
  • Draw one (or a small odd number, like 13) ballots from all ballots cast.  Use this draw to pick a winner.  I forget what benefits this was supposed to have, but it gives close ties a more even chance of winning.  Voter supression, and other methods of manipulating close ties, would be less effective.  Over time, all closely tied parties would have won about an equal number of times.

Massive-scale online collaboration

Let’s have the courage to make Wikipedia development one of the default methods of college assignments. It will make our lives easier, make student work more challenging and interesting, and produce something useful for society.

Sounds good. Kind of reminds me of that other education method I saw: students learning another language would be given segments of text from wikipedia to translate. This helped to translate entire pages from one language into another. (Individually they had errors, but combined, the translation was very good).

The video where I saw that is called “Massive-scale online collaboration” and also mentions using captcha to digitize scans of books.  And I found that video from the website Solve For <x>.  Collaboration on projects such as the entirety of wikipedia are amazing, despite being new and young.  There is much more we can do in the future.