Nov 13, 2019 8:47 PM
plant fairy bell on amenta
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"It would?"

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"Well, some might say that I'm biased, but I think that Kan and I are better-than-average blues, and so aliens who would prefer that we get their baby alien might be more like us than they are like average blues."

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Giggle.

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"I do wish they'd tell us what they want us to do, though. It's not fun to do such important things in the dark while very confused."

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"Maybe it wouldn't count or something."

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"I disapprove of judging people by standards they don't know about. Through means they don't know about is fine."

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"Why's it different?"

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"If I know that aliens want us to - I don't know - reduce noncompliance with population controls, but I don't know how they're checking whether we're doing that, I just have to do the best I can in lots of different ways, I can't cheat. If a department of the government here knows that I want them to be fast and transparent and forward important concerns to me, and they don't know how I can tell whether they're doing that, they still do have a way to make me happy - just do that. If they know I'm watching them but don't know what I'm watching for, then I'm really not being fair."

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"But you can't do that if the thing you want is for people to figure out what would be good."

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"Yes, I don't think that's a fair thing to ask of people even if they are the same species of you and have the same broad notion of good."

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"Why?"

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"They can't even just try to figure out what's good, they have to figure out what they think you'll think is good, so you're just testing how good they are at guessing what you think."

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"Hmmmm. I guess."

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"If I had never met someone and when I did I learned that they'd done lots of good things, I would have reason to suspect that they have the same ideas as me about what is good, and this would help me trust them. But once I can contact someone and they want to do what I want, there is not much to be gained by trying to sneakily test whether they have the same ideas as me about what is good, compared to how much there is to gain by working with them on it."

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"...it still seems different if someone wants to do what you want because you want it."

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"It changes what you should expect to happen if they don't need to make you happy anymore, but it's not a good tool to rely on to get things done. Good systems are much, much more valuable than good people."

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"...I can't tell if you understand me."

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"I think I do."

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"Really?"

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"Yes, I think we disagree about how important it is."

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"But it's a thing."

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"Yes. It is just not a good sign about people if it's the thing they value instead of communication and shared priorities and cooperation ability."

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"...it seems like a shared priorities thing."

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"People do not usually pursue an even balance of their current priorities, and so observing them doesn't actually get you nearly as much information about their priorities as, for example, giving them your priorities, and asking which they are most interested in working on. Most people do nothing observable to bring about planets but it is definitely among their highest priorities. Observation is just a pretty bad way even to get at shared values, which is the only relevant trait it gets at at all."

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"Hm."

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