[ExI] experiment regarding ethical behaviors vs status:

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 26 00:28:37 UTC 2012

----- Original Message -----
> From: spike <spike66 at att.net>
> To: 'ExI chat list' <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
> Cc: 
> Sent: Sunday, March 25, 2012 12:34 PM
> Subject: [ExI] experiment regarding ethical behaviors vs status: was RE: Will robot cars be TOO good?
> Cool check this article:
> http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/02/shame-on-the-rich.html?ref=hp
> I had a great idea, worthy of a nice science fair project.
> Near my house is a freeway with a right-merge lane.  Drivers are given
> plenty of warning that the far right lane is ending.  This gives them a
> choice to match speeds with other traffic and merge early, thus extending
> the time for their own trip but smoothing traffic.  These are the
> cooperators.  They have the choice of speeding ahead in the empty right lane
> up to the front of the line and stuffing their car ahead of other patient
> drivers who are now well behind, but overall wads up traffic, so it
> penalizes the cooperators twice.  These are the defectors.  

That is a keen observation, Spike. Similar lines of reasoning led me to look at morality and ethics through the lens of game theory. What I discovered is that morality has a sliding scale weighed against necessity that is, except in rare cases, trumped by survival. Nobody demonizes the Donner Party for infighting and canibalism as they starved to death in the Sierra Nevadas during the middle of winter. Yet Jeffrey Dahmer, presumably not in danger of starving at the time of his crimes, is demonized. For the very same ultimate act. So society deems cannibalism acceptable under duress but evil when at leisure.

This is why when someone says something is good or evil, I always ask for whom? After all if God was on everybody's side, then all that Divine Intervention and Providence would simply cancel out. Then it would be as if . . . *gasp* . . . there were no God at all.

> I might be imagining it, but I feel like I have observed that there a lot of
> Porsche and Beemer drivers who are over-represented among the defectors.
> Those particular makes stick in my mind; in general it seems like sporty
> German cars are way over-represented in the defector class.  This defies
> intuition, for one would think the driver in the ratty old pickup with the
> gun-rack in the back window would be the defector: she can force her way in
> up front with that 50 dollar rattletrap and you must let her in; she
> probably doesn't have insurance, and one more dent on her rusty prolemobile
> would scarcely be noticed.  But I seldom see gun-rack pickups do that
> defector trick.  It's the shiny German buckmeisters who seem to defect. 

It does not defy my intuition at all. People don't achieve status by being nice, they achieve status two ways: by being ruthless or by inheriting it from somebody who was. And if you think the driver is rude on the road, then imagine how he is with people who might be standing in the way of his promotion at work. While that pickup driver would probably call you sir if properly approached. Curiously, I have observed that as you climb the scale of luxury cars, starting at around high-end Mercedes and proceeding through Bentleys and Rolls-Royces, the drivers start again becoming more polite. But by that time the person in question doesn't need to hurry anywhere and they likely have a paid professional driver to be polite and keep their car safe. 

> I would like to take some video of this phenom, which is a continuous
> experiment that runs 24/7, and try to extract some useful data.
Sounds like a very cool experiment to try, Spike. You would make a formidable scientist, senor controls engineer.

Stuart LaForge

"The state that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting by fools." -Thucydides. 

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