The Tails Coming Apart As Metaphor For Life | Slate Star Codex

Source: The Tails Coming Apart As Metaphor For Life | Slate Star Codex, by Scott Alexander

even when two variables are strongly correlated, the most extreme value of one will rarely be the most extreme value of the other

Happiness must be the same way. It’s an amalgam between a bunch of correlated properties like your subjective well-being at any given moment, and the amount of positive emotions you feel, and how meaningful your life is, et cetera. And each of those correlated properties is also an amalgam, and so on to infinity.

And crucially, it’s not an amalgam in the sense of “add subjective well-being, amount of positive emotions, and meaningfulness and divide by three”. It’s an unprincipled conflation of these that just denies they’re different at all.

This leads to (to steal words from Taleb) a Mediocristan resembling the training data where the category works fine, vs. an Extremistan where everything comes apart. And nowhere does this become more obvious than in what this blog post has secretly been about the whole time – morality.

This is why I feel like figuring out a morality that can survive transhuman scenarios is harder than just finding the Real Moral System That We Actually Use. There’s a potentially impossible conceptual problem here, of figuring out what to do with the fact that any moral rule followed to infinity will diverge from large parts of what we mean by morality.

This is only a problem for ethical subjectivists like myself, who think that we’re doing something that has to do with what our conception of morality is. If you’re an ethical naturalist, by all means, just do the thing that’s actually ethical.

The U.S. Needs to Crack Down on White-Collar Crime | Bloomberg Opinion

Source: The U.S. Needs to Crack Down on White-Collar Crime | Bloomberg Opinion, by Editorial Board

In 2015, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates explained why prosecutors struggle to hold individuals accountable. “In modern corporations, where responsibility is often diffuse, it can be extremely difficult to identify the single person or group of people who possessed the knowledge or criminal intent necessary to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said. “This is particularly true of high-level executives, who are often insulated from the day-to-day activity in which the misconduct occurs.”

All of which is true, no doubt — but justice still demands that serious crimes earn serious punishments.

That would require more resources. According to Don Fort, the chief of IRS criminal enforcement, the agency has the same number of special agents — about 2,200 — as it did 50 years ago, despite huge increases in the number of tax filers and the complexity of financial crimes.

A skillful white-collar defense bar has arisen to defend executives and challenge prosecutors. Corporations have grown adept at shifting liability to shareholders. And the will to crack down has subsided. After the savings-and-loan scandal of the 1980s, more than 1,000 people were charged, and more than 100 company officers and directors served prison terms. A similar response is virtually inconceivable today.

This needs to change. White-collar crime is a menace, and the impunity of its ordinary perpetrators is intolerable.

Free Speech Doesn’t Protect Nazis. It Protects Us From Nazis – Quillette

Source: Free Speech Doesn’t Protect Nazis. It Protects Us From Nazis – Quillette, by Daniel Friedman

It is probably true that the value of some speech is less than the cost of the harm it imposes. But … Before you empower government to police speech that is hateful or offensive, or speech that is deemed violent or harmful, then you have to consider the possibility that it will not be your sensibilities that determine which speech is beyond the pale.

It may be true that strong individual rights prevent institutions from protecting marginalized people from the speech of other individuals, but strong individual rights also prevent the state from attacking marginalized people for exercising their own rights. … Free speech may have its drawbacks, but the alternative is much worse.

We must favor individual rights over institutional power, even when individuals do bad things with their rights, because institutional power is much more dangerous when it falls into the wrong hands.