[Link] Moloch Hasn’t Won (Zvi)

post by Milan_Griffes · 2019-12-28T23:21:00.487Z · score: 12 (10 votes) · EA · GW · 3 comments

https://thezvi.wordpress.com/2019/12/28/moloch-hasnt-won (a)

And there's some good comments on the LessWrong cross-post [LW · GW].


Zvi against the supremacy of Moloch (a).

On the instinct driving belief in Molochian supremacy:

The key instinct is that any price that can be paid to be stronger or more competitive, must be paid, therefore despair: If you didn’t pay the price, you’d be out-competed by someone who did. People who despair this way often intuitively are modeling things as effectively perfect competition at least over time, which causes them to think that everything must by default become terrible, likely right away.

On how many coordinating institutions are actually doing pretty good:


Kingdoms don’t reliably expand to their breaking points.
Poisons don’t keep making their way into the coffee.
Iterated prisoner’s dilemmas often succeed.
Dollar auctions are not all over the internet.
Most communities do get most people to pitch in.
People caught in most Malthusian traps still usually have non-work lives.
Capitalists don’t pay the minimum wage all that frequently.
Many families spend perfectly reasonable amounts on housing.
Foragers never fully died out, also farming worked out in the end.
Most military budgets seem fixed at reasonable percentages of the economy, to the extent that for a long time that the United States has been mad its allies like Europe and Japan that they don’t spend enough.
Most people die of something other than cancer, and almost all cells aren’t cancerous.
Local governments enact rules and regulations that aren’t business friendly all the time.
Occasionally, someone in the educational system learns something.
Science has severe problems, but scientists are cooperating to challenge poor statistical methods, resulting in the replication crisis and improving statistical standards.
Governments are corrupt and hand out corporate welfare, but mostly are only finitely corrupt and hand out relatively small amounts of corporate welfare. States that expropriate the bulk of available wealth are rare. 

3 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Khorton · 2019-12-29T15:11:54.032Z · score: 7 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

It would be helpful if you could explain the relevance of the article to EA.

comment by Milan_Griffes · 2019-12-30T02:39:02.345Z · score: 14 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

If structures that let humans cooperate with each other are prone to Molochian dynamics, it's worth studying the etiology of these dynamics, their prevalence, and strategies for dealing with them.

It seems very likely that structures of human cooperation are prone to Molochian dynamics. See Scott Alexander's Moloch post, James C. Scott's Against the Grain (also Scott Alexander's review), and Harari on the agricultural revolution.

Almost all EA projects rely on structures of human cooperation.


comment by Milan_Griffes · 2019-12-30T18:15:26.554Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Continuing on with Zvi's sequence:

I thought "Imperfect Competition" was particularly good.