Finally got around to reading Elizabeth Sandifer’s essay and if there was any doubt, this makes it clear how much of an unserious and malicious person Scott Alexander/Siskind is. Siskind’s writing deliberately pretends to be respectable to provide ideological cover to some real evil.
“Success in knowledge isn’t about the facts we know, but by how good we are at judging the truth of uncertain things.”
That’s a very good treatment of why meetings are work and removing all of them can have negative effects.
Here’s one of many possible takedowns of Luhmann’s work that should give you a good taste of how useless it is without having to read any of the works themselves. Imagine living in a society where they got this instead of ANT.
The block quoted below for instance is exactly the same vibe as Rudolf Steiner’s nonsense.
Durch diese Beschreibung ziehen sich auch die Funktionssysteme, also Wirtschaft, Wissenschaft, Politik usw. über die gesamte Welt. Ihm fällt dabei allerdings schon auf, dass es gewisse Bereiche gibt, die scheinbar mehr Einfluss auf das Weltgeschehen ausüben als andere. Vielleicht, um eine zu vertikale Formulierung zu umgehen, die er nur für die Feudalgesellschaften vorsieht, nutzt er für dieses Ungleichgewicht die Unterscheidung nach Zentrum und Peripherie (Luhmann 2005: 249). Dabei sind wir, die aufgeklärten und fortschrittlichen Länder des Westens, natürlich im Zentrum.
“Can I be held responsible for the actions which this technology empowers? Would I feel better if I couldn’t?”
A good initial list of questions to hone in on the moral dimensions of the technologies we are creating.
Even a cursory dip into the subreddits and other social media posts, whitepapers, and other documentation and community discussions surrounding generative AI, makes it hard to miss the spite and negativity directed at human creativity. They are almost necessary preconditions to be part of the development community. Ironically, of course, the developers celebrate their own creativity in building these software tools, despite the fact that they implicitly rebuke the work and lives of everyone who creates or thinks meaning is confined to living things.
That perspective which I’ve also noticed in the people pushing this stuff is incredibly damning. They hover up the sum creative works of humanity and privatize it into shitty models.
For how popular and questionable Yuval Noah Harari’s writing has been, it has barely seen any scrutiny. This critique by Darshana Narayanan is on point and most of the things in it were—I hate to say it—glaringly obvious from the get-go.
‘Whomsoever is possessed of magisterial strength is courted; while whomsoever has inferior strength pays court to others. It is for this reason that the shrewd ruler strives for might.’
We improve at this process by becoming more creative, having more slack, being more equanimous, and pruning more efficiently.
Drastically lowering the voting age as Germany is considering here would solve a huge amount of problems (which is why it will of course not happen).
David Runciman has argued along similar lines that rejuvenating democracy usually happens by expanding the franchise, in this case to children.
Slate Star Codex and Silicon Valley’s War Against the Media
An excellent overview of the issues around Slate Star Codex without having to read a single word of the blog yourself. That’s an excellent service.