18 November 2023

solving social with forced interoperability

The social networks we use are spaces where our interactions and their reach are very prone to manipulation. It's easy enough to rig a public feed to dampen certain messages and amplify others for profit or politics - and we would not be able to tell. 

The damping of a message wouldn't have to be applied for those in the 'bubble' that already agree with it .. but is very effective when applied to those outside that bubble.

So the people that share a certain idea would be mostly talking to themselves. Useful for organising around an idea, but with little to no spreading of the idea.

This potential subversion of our new public space(s) cannot easily be avoided or even detected while we use platforms whose source code isn't open for inspection.

An idea being called forced interoperability might offer a path to a possible solution. 

Right now there are multiple social networking platforms available that adopt open standards that allow for a federated approach -like Mastodon and the Fediverse- so that different platforms running different software can access the same public space. Most are publicly owned (copyleft) and therefore have public feed algorithms that are open to inspection . 

All of these function quite well but suffer a seemingly insurmountable downside - public spaces work best when they are ubiquitous, and so there's a very very big disincentive to leave the platforms with the largest populations

Forced interoperability is the idea that we solve this knot of a problem by legislating to force the existing monopolies to adopt those open standards so that open platforms we chose can work seamlessly with the Facebooks, Twitters and Instagrams.

The EU is already doing this for messaging - https://www.theverge.com/2022/3/24/22995431/european-union-digital-markets-act-imessage-whatsapp-interoperable

China seems to have implemented some of it in their networks.

We need to push for legislation that forces interoperability for our social networks too.

Different communities choosing the platforms with the rules and ethics they want. And those separate platforms talking to everybody else.

This won't immediately solve that public feed manipulation problem. If everyone stayed on with the existing closed platforms - they still get manipulated. 

But if the idea of freedom from that manipulation grows... without any downsides..
We could see populations voting with their feet on the type of public space they want

15 October 2023

Beyond Selfishness and Altruism: Evolution, Empathy, and Systemic Sustainability

Ben Goertzel on good and evil: 

"It's a complicated and somewhat silly distinction. Human beings under evolution have been shaped by two objective functions: Individual selection and group selection. The tension between selfishness and altruism. A lot of what we view as evil is selfishness -Individual interest. A lot of what we view as good is altruism -acting in the interests of the collective. We are a mix.

But culture has a lot of flexibility in what it teaches as the default position between the two. And we have a lot of room to move to more altruism."
[end quote] 

Expanding on Ben Goertzel's delineation between good and evil through the prism of individual and group selection, there's an additional evolutionary dimension worth considering: the long-term viability of groups in relation to their external environment and other groups. This involves another kind of selection - one based on a group's ability to extend its empathic boundaries and sustain harmonious coexistence with out-groups and the environment.

This "meta-selection" isn't just about immediate survival or dominance but encompasses a group's adaptive strategies for long-term sustainability and coexistence. It's about how a group defines its circle of empathy and the consequent impact on its cooperative and competitive strategies. Groups that practice wider empathy are not just being altruistic; they're investing in a robust strategy for long-term survival. They contribute to a social and ecological equilibrium, enhancing not just their own resilience, but the resilience of a larger interconnected system. 

This perspective also casts a new light on the concepts of good and evil. Actions and policies that foster broad cooperation and empathy, even beyond immediate in-group interests, contribute to the collective good—not just of one's own group, but of the larger ecosystem of groups and the environment.

Conversely, short-sighted strategies, those prioritizing immediate in-group benefits at the severe expense of others and the environment, can be viewed as contributing to a collective evil. They may offer immediate gains but compromise the long-term resilience and sustainability of the broader system. 

It's crucial to note that in this evolutionary framework, the ultimate "victory" scenario isn't one group out-competing all others to the point of their extinction, then living in isolation, sustainably, with the non-human environment. Such a scenario would actually be detrimental to survival in the long run due to decreased systemic robustness resulting from reduced diversity. 

True optimal success in this framework is a rich tapestry of diverse groups, all practicing extended empathy, cooperating where possible, and coexisting sustainably with each other and the environment. This diversity isn't just a moral ideal; it's a strategic one, vital for the long-term resilience and adaptability of life on Earth.

(uses some help from an artificial friend)