Creative Adversaries That Don't Initiate Force | Podcast [curi video]

Summary Notes:
Libertarian nightmare; rich person pays people to not trade with you. What if no one wants to trade with you? Greed prevents people from doing this. There are many options for companies to work with. The real solution in morality.

What if people are making you life worse without initiating force? Don’t initiate force is just a set of rules that has loopholes for doing immoral things. Libertarianism focuses on rules and argues that the rules are basically complete. People can find flaws in you to trigger you and harm you without breaking the law.

Creative adversaries will generally beat a non-creative defender. You are in a contest that does not have limits because they can keep coming up with new manipulation tactics. They are winning in a way by taking away some of your time because you have to defend yourself from their creative attacks.

Hacking is analogous in some ways. Hackers are limited to certain things but they still find hacks. Big companies like Apple and Microsoft have to continually devote resources to defending against hackers. People have to take similar measures to avoid manipulation. Hacking people only results in partial control, not total control.

Code is law is an interesting example of making the finding flaws in the contract an acceptable method of taking all the gains.

Real large-scale manipulation is focused on groups. It’s not targeted at specific individuals. Some marketing strategies have demonstrated success manipulation results for the advertisers. One strategy is to appeal to what people want by tricking people into thinking that product will give them what they want even though there is no real connection.

Creative adversaries are dangerous even if they aren’t targeting you specifically. You can be in the fraction of population that is being targeted.

1 Like

The following quote is from (the numbers 45 and 46 below are footnote superscipts in the original document). The context of this quote is that the authors are criticizing some Canadian environmentalist’s statements on capitalism.

For an example of the perspective of these groups, consider the following quotation from the Science Council in 1977: “A Conserver Society… is a society which… questions the ever-growing per capita demand for consumer goods, artificially encouraged by modern marketing techniques.”45

Or consider the broader critique of capitalism offered by the Gamma group in this typical condemnation:

The unlimited marketing of goods leads to a cumulative reduction in the pleasure of people because of the conspicuous external diseconomies produced, noise, pollution, urban congestion, etc…Many would argue that the market, rather than being a “want-satisfying mechanism” has become a “want-creating mechanism” principally through marketing and advertising.46

I had never really thought much about the argument that advertisers are creating wants. I sort of just dismissed the idea as missing the point that people in a free-market can choose what they want. In the light of your video, it seems that these environmentalists had a valid point and were partially correct about the way the world works. They are wrong to single out capitalism as the cause but right to point out that manipulation tactics are being employed against people in the form of marketing. A fully capitalist society fails to preclude the want-creation problem that they are concerned about. The solution would be a more moral society that aims for rational persuasion in the pursuit of win-win solutions.

People are bad at philosophy/rationality → everything is broken/inadequate → critics attacking any big, complex thing are likely to be in the general ballpark of some actual problem (even if they don’t understand it well and also do it themselves – environmentalists have done plenty of their own propaganda and marketing).