Re: Bounded population (was Re: Bounded utility)

From: Tim Freeman (
Date: Sat Apr 12 2008 - 10:57:56 MDT

On Thu, Apr 10, 2008 at 10:23 AM, Tim Freeman <> almost wrote:
> All the exploiter needs to do to exploit the victim is breed or
> construct or train a horde of humans who want exactly what the
> exploiter wants. It's even better if they'll commit suicide, or
> perhaps kill each other, if they don't get it. Then the exploiter
> provides evidence of this to the victim, and the victim will want
> what the exploiter wants.

The "I"'s and "you"'s stopped working, so I disambiguated the
pronouns. I also called the new guys the "horde", so I have a label
for them below.

From: "Thomas McCabe" <>
>What would *you* do, if you were faced with this scenario? What would
>be the best course of action?

>From context, the question is how to do this right if I am trying to
be altruistic. In real life, people aren't all that altruistic, so
the problem is simple. If nothing better comes to mind, you throw the
exploiter in jail and institutionalize his brain-damaged horde.

If I'm altruistic, I care a certain amount about the exploiter. Use
the symbol "c" (for "compassion") to represent how much I care about
him. I also have a coefficient that says how much I care about each
other person. Those other coefficients may be more or less than c,
and they're used as weights in the obvious way. None of these
coefficients are negative.

If the exploiter is constructing a horde of contrived humans to
manipulate me, then the total amount I care for the exploiter and his
horde after he does the constructing will still be c. I could let him
decide how to distribute the compassion, or I could simply give him c
and the new guys 0. If I'm not sure who the exploiter is, or I don't
have a secure way to communicate with him to discover how he wants to
adjust the coefficient, then the last option looks best.

This last alternative doesn't imply I'd mistreat the horde. If I know
that the exploiter cares about them, and I care about the exploiter,
then my behavior toward the horde will still be compassionate. I
would also treat them well if other people I cared about cared about
the horde. It is not a special case to be compassionate toward
someone who is dead, so my kindness toward the horde would not be
dependent on the continued existence of the exploiter.

(In reality, like other humans, I'm not all that altruistic or
rational, so I'm really talking from the point of view of some
hypothetical rational actor we might make someday.)

This is covered briefly at :

Tim Freeman      

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