On empathy and love of our children (+ distributed vs central systems).

Listened to another Sam Harris podcast (The Virtues of Cold Blood, interesting right?) this morning where he spoke with psychologist Paul Bloom.

They made two excellent points that I thought they didn’t quite take far enough.

1. People HATE it when you ask them why they love their children. They conceded that the reason we love our children is because of evolutionary adaptation. Yet, they were not as sure why people hate it when you question why they love their children. I think there is a pretty simple explanation, its evolutionary again. The people who were interested in why they loved their children died out bc their commitment wavered. While those who were blind in their commitment, survived and had more children. (This also has interesting implications on Religion and other such faith based methodologies.)

2. They argued that a world with no empathy is a better one. Where they define empathy as the emotional force that makes us as a society care about 1 person’s plight more than 1 million people. As opposed to compassion, which is just to care about people in general. In general I agree with this. However, they went on to make an interesting assertion: That we should all care about all the people in the world equally. Which I think has some problems with it. If we care about everyone in the world equally, and thus divert our attention not to our friends, family and colleagues, but rather to the most needy, how efficiently are resources actually being allocated? They argue that there should be some system to allocate the scare resource of people’s time to those that are most needy. But, isn’t this already what empathy is? It allocates resources in a distributed manner to those that are around you in your life.

The trend that has broken this system is globalization. Now, instead of caring about those in our community, which leads to better lives for us and our descendants (natural selection), we care about the one syrian boy that washed up on the beach in turkey or the mass murders that happen in the US even though regular gun crime is a much bigger tragedy.

I think the fix to this, is to use the same technology that enabled globalization to enable tighter, more distributed communities. Instead of having one global media, there should be a media for each community. This creates a distributed systems where if one given community fails, its not the end of the world, its actually good. Its natural selection.

To some extent, this is what the US is based on. The states vs the federal government. Creating a distributed system. Now that we have the technology to create better information systems, we can do even better and create new communities and maybe even a distributed government. In general, distributed systems seem to be more robust and successful. See Soviet Union (central planning) vs United States (republic) or Western Europe (nation states) vs Imperial China (Central god like emperor).

Then the danger of someone like Trump getting elected as president wouldn’t be nearly as great.
^Day 3/90 534 words

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s