Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Morality vs agency

Agency is the engine behind most actions and systems.

Morality is weak. You cannot rely on morality alone to preserve and manage systems.

Every country uses punishment and various incentives to make humans and companies behave.

Thus, expecting countries to "behave" due to moral arguments is naive and doesn't work.

People thought that moral arguments will win the day for migration / international peace / democracy. It doesn't and won't work.

Incentives work. But you need nifty incentive structures to:
1) make it work
2) make people adopt it.

Challenging.

Regarding incentives to adopt (2 above):
You might design the system with stages, so that the initial stages will not have disincentives to current stakeholders, but the long term design will be optimal. Yeah, it feels imoral, dishonest and corrupt. But this is the way you can get it done best.

Lee Kuan Yew, the legendary Singapore leader argued that we should give immunity to dictators that step down peacefully. Of course it is "imoral", but we would have saved many lives this way, and many more countries would have gone democratic, had his idea been implemented

Monday, March 27, 2017

The friction theory of life management

On paper, we all can have a much better life. Just mange your money better. Sleep more, and so on. Endless ways to have a better life are at our fingertips.

In fact, we mostly ignore our huge ability to have a better life.

WHY?

Friction is my answer.

Anything that differs from the automatic flow of being means employing an extra "process" to get it done. This process is not costless. It is actually disruptive of much of our being. Our thoughts. Our physiology even.


Friction in the economy usually means when things cost to move A to B even when A and B are theoretically the same.


Suppose you want to take a nap. Sounds simple. But in fact you need to stop everything you are doing, and force your self to relax and so no. All this is not going to happen automatically. I call this barrier "friction"

Or you are resting and you try to relax. You recall instructions from some book how to relax and sleep better. Those things work for you. you tried once and it did wonders. but you are not feeling like keeping to go with it.

why? Friction. You would need some kind of extra action to do it.

In the relaxation case there is even a more interesting aspect of friction.
Trying forcefully to relax might be counterproductive. You might get stressed by trying forcefully to make yourself do the relaxation. (if it happened to feel like doing it, it will work, but once you enter this forcing yourself to do relaxation state of mind, it might backfire).


In this case we found that friction not only makes it harder to do something. But in fact it actively precludes it from happening. Once forcing myslef to relax blocks relaxation, there is nothing I can do to do it.


My theory is that much of what we can theoretically do but do not, is because of those forms of friction.



PS. John Stuart Mill noted that trying to be happy cancels your happiness. It is commonly viewed as either some happiness paradox, or as "ironic process" (Daniel Wegner "do not think on a white bear" theory). In my view above "try to be happy" is in itself disruptive, thereby blocking possible happiness.

PS1. Ego depletion might be related to this.