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December 10, 2007


Was this before or after Lord of the Flies I wonder?

Anyway, I think children are different enough from adults that you can't conclude much about what adults will do from studying the behavior of children.

Blue, Green.

Ethics be damned we need more experiments like this

God could be the ultimate supervillian. Except it would make for a very small 'in' group.

Ian C.: Is there any reason in particular that you think that adults are so different from children? I would say that most adults most of the time act pretty childish, though they often couch it in a form that seems more mature.

I have also speculated on the need for a strong exterior threat. The problem is that there isn't one that wouldn't either be solved too quickly, or introduce it's own polarizing problems.

A super villain doesn't work because they lose too quickly, see Archimedes, Giorgio Rosa, et al.

Berserkers are bad because they either won't work or work too well. I can't see any way to make them a long term stable threat without explicitly programming them to lose.

Rogue AI doesn't work, again because it either self-destructs or kills us too quickly, or possibly sublimes, depending on quality and goal structure.

The best proposal I've ever heard is a rival species, something like an Ant the size of a dog, whose lack of individual intelligence was offset by stealth hives, co-op, and physical toughness. But it would be hard to engineer one.

I don't want to say what it is for fear of spoilering it, but is anyone else thinking of the same groundbreaking comic book I am? Perhaps that's the supervillain Eliezer is thinking of...

last time we spoke about it, Eliezer was of the opinion that the last scene implies that A***** V**** failed. I thought it was more ambiguous than that.

"Is there any reason in particular that you think that adults are so different from children?"

I believe the main determinant of how people act is their ideas (as against biology or some other factor). So choosing a group of people to represent society who likely have a far narrower set of ideas than actual society is probably a bad experiment. Because it's not just any old difference, it's a difference in the main causal factor.

"Now that we know who you are...I know who I am. I'm not a mistake! It all makes sense. In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch-villain's going to be? He's the exact opposite of the hero, and most times they're friends, like you and me. I should've known way back when. You know why, D****? Because of the kids. They called me Mr. G****."

I love fictional evidence. Interpret as you will.

Eliezer - would you not say that humanity could take its pick of super-villains, but chooses not to do so because this would be akin to taking out flood insurance when there had been no floods in living memory? Nuclear war, near-Earth objects, global warming, grey goo, take your pick of vaguely-disturbing-but-comfortably-removed-from-real-life Doomsday Scenarios.

I fear humanity wouldn't unite, Independence Day-style, until our destruction was pretty much assured. Or, more likely, until the markets noticed that the end was nigh and sought to do something about it.

I've no doubt everyone's well aware of Phil Zimbardo's seminal 1970s prison guard experiments, but if not, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki

As I pointed out before, Ronald Reagan had the idea of humanity uniting against an anthropomorphic menace long ago.

I've thought that the single best thing that could happen our species is a hostile alien invasion (short of electronic transcendence, that is).

I don't feel this in/out group bias very strongly -- so I think it's possible to eliminate the mentality under certain circumstances. The question becomes, what are those circumstances, and how can they be reliably recreated?

Well when I look at the behavior of some sports fans it seems so strange. At a football game recently I saw a few people sitting behind the opposition bench and trying to bate the players into a fight.

Global warming shows that it is not so simple to create a common enemey.

"Sometimes I think humanity's second-greatest need is a supervillain."

Isn't this like saying the hurrican was so great it created all those contruction jobs? I agree it would be nice if we could work together more, but lets do it to be productive, not just to maintain status quo.

This may depend on how long the cooperation lasts after the external conflict occurs.

Why the hating on summer camp? The good ones are wonderful.

Please don't spoil important literary works in this thread. Spoilers will be deleted.

Great post. History's main supervillain has been the Devil -- unfortunately, the Rattlers inevitably decide that the Eagles do his dark bidding, and vice versa.

Setting the conversation of a super-villain aside is there another important aspect to this study, such as the unification of two groups at odds through collaboration and teamwork? Segregation is polarizing and continues this 'us vs. them' attitude and often these ideas are challenged when collaboration occurs, voluntarily or forced.

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