[extropy-chat] Threesome as most efficient social arrangement?

Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Wed Nov 23 23:17:23 UTC 2005

--- Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:

> On 11/23/05, Adrian Tymes <wingcat at pacbell.net> wrote:
> > --- Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:
> > > Extending to a threesome would provide the additional advantage
> of
> > > sure decision-making due to the tie-breaking effect of a third
> vote.
> >
> > For those decisions which can only go one of two ways.  (A common
> > fallacy is to pretend that most decisions are that way, when in
> fact
> > there are often third alternatives that are usually only identified
> if
> > people don't rush to accept the existence of only two options.)
> Maybe I'm pretending to know something about information theory, but
> it seems to me that all decisions can be reduced to binary form.

In a world of perfect information, yes, they could be.  The problem is
that some commonly-used methods of perception tend to blind one to
certain options - in other words, one does not realize that certain
decisions can be made.  Ironically, the very act of seeking to reduce
everything to binary decisions can itself be one of these methods - not
because of any theoretical impossibility, but simply because the number
of decisions that a multi-way decision turns into is unwieldly large,
and therefore human actors dismiss or do not investigate arbitrary sets
of them - with corresponding arbitrarily poorer-than-optimal results.

> In
> the case of the three individuals, I imagine them brainstorming a
> list
> of possible actions and then ranking them via  a process of binary
> comparisons e.g. better/worse.

They could, but that's often inefficient - and there is a natural
tendency in many peoples' decision making processes to optimize for
short-term time (including time spent on the decision itself), which is
sometimes good and sometimes bad.

> > Rough consensus is not always the same thing as democracy.
> Sorry to mislead you, I was using the word vote in a slightly
> abstract
> sense.  Weighted ranking would be preferred in many situations, and
> you won't often find me arguing for democracy, but that's another
> topic.

The "rough consensus" process means that, instead of voting or ranking
which one is the best option (except as a last resort - which is
sometimes necessary), the parties first try to explore and resolve any
conflicts in data or modelling that cause the various parties to vote
for or rank things differently in the first place.  (If everyone turns
out to desire the same choice, then the choice becomes obvious, and
everyone gets things to go as they want.  Extending this analogy to a
simple - if practically impossible - extreme, imagine if, come the next
US presidential elections, as a result of the debates and campaigning
every voter in America sincerely agreed on the same candidate.)

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