posted on 2021-07-21

systems and diversity

as i've said in a previous post: i really like culture; and, to that end, i like diversity (by which i mean people being more weird and different from one another).

there are many systems that exist today that affect diversity. most of them punish it; not as a coincidence, but because diversity is a fragile value: if you optimize for something else, it will tend to get optimized out.

if you optimize for economic efficiency, diversity gets optimized out because the most easily served economy is one in which demand is relatively uniform.

in general, if you optimize for people having their values satisfied, diversity gets optimized out because the most easily satisfied set of values is relatively uniform and easy to satisfy values; if you tell a superintelligence to "make a world where everyone has their values satisfied", the simplest way to achieve that (other than killing everyone) is to make sure everyone has very simple values like doing nothing all day or dying as soon as possible.

the scary thing about such an optimization is that it "works": at no point does an economy headed towards uniformity need to collapse; on the contrary, the more it has optimized out diversity, the more efficient and stable it'll be! so, we need to near-intrinsically care about preserving diversity, even when all else seems fine. this makes diversity preservation probably my largest concern with capitalism; at least, a system that wouldn't care about efficiency, wouldn't necessarily be aligned against diversity (though it might be aligned against it for other reasons).

social pressures such as generalizations and expectations punish diversity by rewarding conformity.

democracy and general consensus enforcment systems punish diversity by generally letting majority lifestyles be better supported by society than minority lifestyles.

i do know of one force of human nature which encourages diversity: fetishism. fetishism tends to make people prefer things specifically because they go against the norm. as such, i propose that if we value rich culture, we should want to cultivate fetishism.

the takeaway is: in any long-term societal plan, we need to care not just about values being satisfied, but about what values people have to begin with. a clear example in modern capitalism is advertising: it's okay that companies are aligned to satisfy values, but with advertising they get to affect what values people have to begin with.

(one could argue we could encourage people to crystallize and conserve their values, as well as forbid the creation of new persons; but i'd rather that not be required)

posted on 2021-07-21

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