[ExI] calling for our exi computer security hipsters, was: RE: Donald Trump

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sat May 7 07:38:02 UTC 2016

On 2016-05-06 23:27, spike wrote:
> After pondering my own question, I fear we did this us.
> Why doesn’t this sort of catastrophe ever happen to the saner nations, 
> such as, like, Britain or Germany?
> Oh wait, back up one.  It did happen once in Germany.
> OK then, Britain.  Why don’t the Brits ever find themselves in a spot 
> where their two major parties nominate odious characters, then somehow 
> convince themselves only those two parties can ever matter forever and 
> ever amen?  And why did this happen to us?  And can we do anything?

Well, the Brits actually had a long-running Tory/Labour balance, with 
the concept of having the governing party supported by one or two small 
parties a weird hypothetical. Same in Sweden, where for much of the 
postwar era it was a constellation of the social democrats + leftists 
vs. the conservatives + two smaller parties. But in both cases shifts in 
voting patterns made these balances unstable. Shift happens.

The real issue you are pointing at is the rise of populism. Right now a 
lot of people in countries from Poland to Honduras are really upset at 
(1) things changing in ways they do not like, and (2) the political 
establishment being corrupt, inept or just behind it. People flail about 
for somebody who will do things differently, and that is why they elect 
naive leftists (Greece), comedians (Italy, Guatemala), nasty 
conservatives (Poland) or vote for various xenophobic parties (Sweden, 
Germany, etc.)

However, vanilla populists are not the main threat. They are 
know-nothings that will do damage of a particular style. It is the 
authoritarians that I fear. The difference is that authoritarians are 
populists that claim (1) they have the solution, the only solution, (2) 
outside epistemic standards are irrelevant, and (3) the solution 
involves following their dictates. Once they get into power dissent 
becomes threats to the government and all the good things it intends, so 
it must be suppressed by all right-thinking people. They are the ones 
that close societies.

My suggestion is that the key part is safeguarding the open society. 
Help build solid legal and technical protections for journalists, ensure 
that the judciary is independent, make sure name-and-shame mechanisms 
and whistleblowing makes corruption and misuse of power risky, spread a 
wider understanding of what the enlightenment achieved, and so on.

Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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