comment by Raemon ·
2020-11-22T22:53:40.305Z · ? · GW
My own original notes as I prepared for the talk:
It is possible to learn new coordination principles, with implications on how to optimally interact.
In an ideal world, you'd be able to state the principle and have people go "oh, that seems right", and then immediately coordinate using it. Unfortunately this is often not so easy.
If people don't understand your principles, you won't be able to use them to cooperate with people. (People might be able to make simplified guesses about your principles, but may either overfit or overgeneralize their response and not be able to respond in nuanced ways. They may also just decide you aren't worth interacting with as much)
It's harder to bring up new principles during conflict or high-stakes negotiations, because everyone knows it's possible to use clever arguments to persuade people of things falsely. I know I sometimes pursue "biased fairness", where there might be multiple fair-ish-sounding solutions to a conflict, but I'm incentivized to notice and argue for the one that benefits me. I worry that other people are doing the same. During a conflict, I neither trust myself nor trust other people to be as fair, clear thinking or impartial as they would be Not-During-A-Conflict.
During _stressful_ conflict, where people are operating in scarcity mindset, I trust them (and myself) even less.
People also just sometimes impose norms on each other in a bullying way that doesn't respect each other at all. The internet is full of people doing this, so people have defense mechanisms against it. I claim this is correct of people.
Thus, if you want to get a frontier principle or norm into the general coordination-toolkit for your community, I recommend:
1. Try to write a public blogpost *before* a major conflict comes up, where people have the ability to think clearly, argue, and mull it over *before* any high stakes implications come up.
2. In some cases, it might still be important to unilaterally enforce a norm or defend a boundary that people don't understand, or disagree with.
If Alice decides to unilaterally enforce a norm, my suggested "good sportsmanship" rules for doing so are...
- state "I recognize that Bob doesn't agree with this norm/boundary/principle."
- state "I'm aware that this increases the cost of Bob interacting with me, and that I have some limited ability to impose this cost of Bob before he [stops being my friend] / [stops working with me] / [becomes less pleasant to interact with] / [possibly decides to impose costs back on me]".
- depending on Alice's relationship with Bob, she might say "Bob, I'd like it if you tried to understand why this is important to me. I'm willing to put in interpretive labor explaining this if you're also willing to put in interpretive labor listening."
(see: "Goodwill Kickstarter")
I'd summarize all this as "Alice can spend social capital on unilaterally enforcing a norm, or commanding people's attention to think more about the norm even if they don't think it makes sense on the face of it. This social capital is limited. Alice can also _gamble_ social capital, where if people end up thinking 'oh, Alice was right to enforce that norm', then Alice gains more capital than she loses, and gets to do it again later."
But, importantly, social capital isn't infinite. If you spend too much social capital, you might find people being less
I think this all goes more smoothly if it's actually an agreed upon meta-norm than if people are doing it randomly, and if it's made explicit rather than implicit.
One key problem: "social capital" is a vague abstraction that isn't super clearly tracked.
You also kinda have a different social bank account with different people who care about different things. I think humans are moderately good at tracking this implicitly, but not _that_ good. You might accidentally overspend your bank accounts.
People might also disagree about how much social capital you have to spend on a thing. If Alice unilaterally imposes a norm on Bob and Charlie, Bob might think this was okay, but Charlie doesn't. And then that can cause conflict, imposing costs on all three people.
There's a fine line between "judiciously spending social capital on things that are important" and "just bullying people into getting your way a lot, and maybe being charismatic enough to get away with it."