Links to Consider, 12/25
Bo Winegard on conservatism; Winegard and others' Twitter fantasies; Gurwinder on research on social media; Infovores on AI
Conservatism is skeptical of radical or utopian ideas that require the dramatic transformation of society because those ideas are not only usually wrong, but also corrosive of the current social order. And even when they are correct, they are best realized through incremental change, not revolution.
…the conservative worries that disorder presents a perpetual threat to civilization.
Of course I had to quote that last phrase, because it invokes the civilization-barbarism axis in The Three Languages of Politics.
I would say that progressives and libertarians are more worried than conservatives about power relationships. Progressives see oppressed classes and blame existing social arrangements. Compared to most people, libertarians picture state actors as less wise, less pro-social, and more power-hungry.
Winegard dislikes populism, which he sees as combative in ways that are not constructive or, for that matter, conservative. It offers
a puckish anti-establishmentarianism that often delights more in the humiliation of its enemies than in the persuasion of its critics.
I would quibble, in that I don’t think that conservatives are going to persuade critics. But a less pugnacious conservatism could appeal to a broader constituency.
Quillette lets three writers, including Winegard, fantasize about a better Twitter. Winegard writes,
the personally vindictive nature of Musk’s campaign and the breathless reporting of his chosen conduits suggest a vengeful agenda. This is an ominous development if one believes that anti-establishment nihilism and uncharitable attacks on political opponents can only exacerbate existing divisions in an already polarized society.
Jim Rutt suggests
the creation of a marketplace for open-sourced feed algorithms to which users could “subscribe” for a few dollars a month, yielding an ecosystem of innovative ways to manage our attention.
A useful feed algorithm idea would give users the ability to limit the number of tweets they see per day, and predictive algorithms could be used to select those tweets which the user would likely find most interesting or important. This could be made tuneable by button-click feedback. Another useful feature in a feed algorithm would be the addition of items I might not usually expect to see.
Read Rutt’s entire contribution to the discussion. Next, Cody Moser writes,
contrary to received wisdom, less connected networks are better than more connected ones. Collective decision-making is, at bottom, a process of consensus-building. In a roundtable of 50 people, the loudest, most charismatic voice will dominate and squeeze the conversation to a single fixed point. But in 10 roundtables of five people, 10 very different conversations will develop, with unique ideas and consensuses.
A meta-analysis of 62 studies (N = 13,430) found that narcissism was positively correlated with time spent on social media, frequency of tweets, and number of followers.
…online political discussions attract superficial, status-driven people who act as horridly online as they do offline. This finding was corroborated by a large study of 36,000 communities on Reddit, which found that less than 1% of communities start 74% of conflicts.
…social media posts that attack the opposing political tribe receive twice as many shares as posts that champion one’s own tribe.
He suggests making more use of the mute and block buttons. I think that with a subscription model in place to replace advertising as a source of revenue, Twitter could stop implicitly subsidizing the worst behavior and perhaps even find mechanisms to tax it.writes,
High openness is the big winner in terms of the Big Five. Those willing to explore new and diverse ideas will be quicker to ask whether the old ways of doing something might be best discarded in favor of using AI, and in many cases such experiments will be rewarded.
The major downsides of openness—first and foremost the propensity to waste a lot of time trying new and ultimately fruitless ideas—will be be largely mitigated as AI enables creative thinkers to very quickly try out lots of ideas with a minimum of wasted effort.
I am tempted to stake out a skeptical position regarding GPT-3. I do not believe that it heralds an AI revolution. Instead, think of it as just a different way of doing an Internet search. It’s incorporating the same data as Google, just giving you a different gloss on it. The gain is that you get results in natural language, paragraph format. The loss is in terms of reliability—the paragraphs can include false statements because the machine learning mistakenly incorporates answers to related to, but not the same as, your query.
I find myself in agreement within his post regarding ChatGPT. Because I place a higher weight on truth than on use of natural language, I think that ChatGPT may be a step backward for AI, not a step forward.
Seems your read on ChatGPT is correct. The creators are already putting their thumb on the scale on issues like climate change. The answers to a question like “is climate change more important than grid stability” have shifted in only a few weeks. This issue is complex but if all you get is a tribal answer I’ll pass.
Regarding Twitter, Winegard evidently prefers we all should affect only a complacent equanimity in the face of shocking disclosures of government abuse of power and abject Quisling-like compliance on the part of the Twitter personnel. In the interests of maintaining good relationships with dogmatic ideologues in the hopes they might somehow become amenable to his views, he counsels behavior that is more likely to lead to simply defining deviancy down, i.e., letting matters pass with only some perfunctory polite tut-tutting. When such outrageous violations of basic moral principle and even criminal prohibition have taken place, strong negative consequences are imperative.