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Define “Good”

We all want mostly the same thing
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The current UK debate about Brexit is interesting from a human/social point of view. This idea is stimulated by that, but is a wider thing.

Most people want the world, and our society, to be a nice place. We care about people, their lives, and we care about fairness. When the (very heated) debate on Brexit comes down to it, it’s about fairness. Is it fair that big corporations make money by manipulating us for their own benefit. But then, “our” economy, jobs and pension funds depend on those same big corporations. What is fair? What is good?

Notwithstandinghowever, we are but a tiny part of the continuum of humankind. Our individual views are based on the context in which we were raised.

This idea then is to use a combination of polls, referenda, and AI-enabled trawling of social media (compensated to account for those who don’t have access or desire to use social media) to construct a quantifiable global human view of what is good, fair, and in the interests of all humankind.

Frankx, Oct 22 2019

Link to my general definition of "Good". https://book.mindey...tml#i-lee-principle
"Good is to let the world exist, and evil is to destroy it.", and "The generalization of 'world' is 'Everything', and the negation of destroying it results in aspiration to let Everything exist." [Mindey, Oct 22 2019]


       That's never going to work. One poll will show morons like Trump supporters who refuse to believe that global warming has anything to do with the rampant consumption of fossil fuels. The same people when polled think the entire universe is less than 6,000 years old. Then you have the likes of ISIS who want to kill everyone, then you have the Brazilians burning down the Amazon to make McDonald's burger ranches. The point is that there are a lot of crazies who will think their particular craziness makes the world a better place.
xenzag, Oct 22 2019

       //Notwithstandinghowever// I think you mean "Howevertheless"
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 22 2019

       [xenzag], yes, I agree that all of these people have violently different views on what is right and fair, because they have been influenced/brainwashed by a particular set of experiences over their life. But each one (and you, and I) believe our own world-view because of our own life experiences.   

       Rather than saying one view is right and another is wrong, at least collectively determine the consensus view (in some carefully defined and collected way), identify the common ground (about caring for humankind) and work towards a common goal.   

       //howevertheless//... hmm... I wanted to add to the vocabulary.
Frankx, Oct 22 2019

       That's fine, just remember you have to pay him a royalty every time you use it ...   

       "Good" ? To quote Havelock Vetinari "They think they want good government and justice for all, Vimes, yet what is it they really crave, deep in their hearts? Only that things go on as normal and tomorrow is pretty much like today.'"
8th of 7, Oct 22 2019

       Feet of Clay. Pratchett’s a bit of a hero of mine, had some insightful views on society, and some great and funny writing too.
Frankx, Oct 22 2019

       //at least collectively determine the consensus view// That's the bit that has no meaning. If one group of people believe that God wants all infidels to be executed and another group believes in a replica of Noah's ark sitting in some shite hole town in Kentucky, what's the consensus view?
xenzag, Oct 22 2019

       Unfortunately, those with the most extreme views also tend to be the loudest (and the more they get asked to shut up, the louder they get...).
The main problem is that, in any large group of people, there will be a percentage of Bad (what that percentage is, depends on what the group is or how it is defined/collected). I think that asking people "what is good" will fail from the outset. "Social Media" is definitely NOT a place to look/ask, as, again, the worst are usually the loudest.
Probably the only way to figure it out is to get some-one else (ie. not human) to analyse us. Benign AI is about the only solution, until we meet aliens...
neutrinos_shadow, Oct 22 2019

       ... except they're treating your species as a hilarious form of entertainment and aren't going to spoil the fun by intervening in any way.   

       Think "Meerkat Manor", where the residents rush round squabbling with one another and lashing out with the equivalent of doll's house chair-legs and frying pans and completely forgetting to keep a watch for the eagle that's just landed in a nearby tree ...
8th of 7, Oct 22 2019

       Even these two people will have more shared beliefs than either might be willing to admit. Perhaps the belief in an external spiritual presence that prescribes “good” behaviour; some common agreement on what is “fair”; a belief in caring for ones family and close ones; perhaps an agreement that mankind’s crass abuse of the environment for financial gain is wrong...   

       There will always be outliers, but collectively, we have so much in common. But until our common beliefs are actually collected and documented, we don’t even see that we’re agreeing.
Frankx, Oct 22 2019

       We wish to point out that civil wars are always the most vicious, because you know exactly who your enemy is, how They are different from You (a.k.a The Good Guys) and exactly why it's OK to hate Them so much.   

       It's actually quite hard for humans to hate someone they know nothing about; one of the benefits of travel and education is that they open up the prospect of more comprehensive prejudice and dislike.   

       Have you checked your gravitometer readings lately ? If you notice any inexplicable tidal forces, it's because you're being pulled towards the HalfBakery's Cynicism Event Horizon ... once you cross that, everything gets a lot easier.   

       // some shite hole town in Kentucky //   

       May we enquire if you know of any urban areas in Kentucky that aren't shite holes ? Because we don't ...
8th of 7, Oct 22 2019

       //It’s actually quite hard for humans to hate someone they know nothing about//   

       I disagree. Until I spent an evening with a National Front nazi racist bigot, I thought they were all intellectually retarded, evil, toxic people. I discovered a) an overall concern for human wellbeing, b) a deep-seated feeling of unfairness in the way “the system” treats people, and c) a belief in human rights and free speech.   

       The more I find out about people, the more I see we’re the same.
Frankx, Oct 22 2019

       No, because you knew "something" about the object of hatred.   

       If you had known nothing at all about their origin, culture and beliefs, you would find it difficult to build up a head of steam until you had some sort of knowledge about them.   

       In a "Turing Test" scenario, where every detail of gender, ethnicity, accent and appearance are concealed, how long would you have to interact with "Candidate #23" before you could express either affection or hatred ?
8th of 7, Oct 22 2019

       While we may be able to define "Good" (link), in a way most people intuitively understand... Yet those people may fail to realize what it truly means, because such generality explodes to all of those parallel universes of possibilities that neither of us truly know or can comprehend.   

       One useful take-away from this definition though, is the requirement for us to look for what do we want truly. A hundred years ago we wanted horses, but it appears that they were not what we truly want. We truly want "transportation"? You say, but it's probably not what we truly want either.   

       There's something much more desired by all: satisfactions of desired conditions. Math stuff.
Mindey, Oct 22 2019

       It's probably fair to say that the vast majority of humans in the vast majority of circumstances, from time immemorial, truly want oxygen.   

       They can manage without pretty much everything else for varying durations, but oxygen tends to be high on the priority list. Just try stopping someone's oxygen supply and watch how they react.   

       "Good = Oxygen" might be perceived as a bit simplistic, though.....
8th of 7, Oct 22 2019

       Serotonin and dopamine: the only things you like.
Voice, Oct 23 2019

       // Serotonin and dopamine //   

       Or more generally, just satisfying conditions... It's what all that anyone has ever wanted, because "Goal" is defined as a set of conditions that, when satisfied, the goal is said to be achieved.
Mindey, Oct 23 2019

       //Serotonin and dopamine: the only things you like//   

       There really must be an Asimov style morality piece in that somewhere.   

       World spanning administrative AI is given the primary goal of maximising human happiness with an instruction in plain english dropped on top of it's linguistic comprehension architecture..   

       After a short period of cogitation on this request proceeds to drug the entire planetary population into blissful happiness, population starves to death (all far too happy to be arsed to go find food), humanity extinct within the week.
Skewed, Oct 23 2019

       A word of advice: a sentence like // Is it fair that big corporations make money by manipulating us for their own benefit// does not belong in a "define" idea (such as it is), as it postulates as an accepted fact something that is not actually universally accepted, and uses words that themselves are loaded (such as "manipulating")   

       Even the baseline assumption that "most people want the world, and our society, to b a nice place..." is questionable. Most people want to be left alone is probably more defensible. But as the one trick pony whose screenname starts with [x] points out, there are plenty of people out there who would view your adherence to their world view as more important than peace and quiet.   

       With the best of intentions, this idea is about what? a mechanism for achieving consensus?   

       Increased freedom means decreased consensus -- the Israelis have a joke that there are more opinions than citizens -- we are just at a time, somewhat analogous to the introduction of the Gutenberg press, where such opinions are exponentially more shareable, thus allowing isolated realities to form, and stick.   

       Read Neal Stephenson's latest for a good exposition of how useless the Internet has made us at judging a common reality -- not his best book by any means, but interesting intellectual discussions on the subject, with some ideas as to how lack of trust will impact society going forward.   

       As to the validity or usefulness of the goal: it's been a while since Dawkins wrote The Selfish Gene. MB is probably a better judge of how close that is to describing reality, but ultimately starting with the first speck of "living" matter, we are selfish entities, and any drive towards a common good, sentient as it may be with us, or mechanical as it may be with insects, ultimately comes out of evolutionary benefits of such altruism, always already at a tenuous balance point.
theircompetitor, Oct 23 2019

       //any drive towards a common good, sentient as it may be with us, or mechanical as it may be with insects, ultimately comes out of evolutionary benefits of such altruism//   

       It's a while since I read Dawkins, but I don't think he said that humans were inevitably the handmaidens of selfish genes. We are sentient, and therefore have an additional layer that can be used to act unselfishly, even when it disadvantages our genes. Of course our hardware has been produced by the selfish process of evolution, but we are not completely bound by it. For instance, we sometimes feel the need to preserve other species, even when they are of no plausible direct or indirect benefit to us.   

       Almost any example of human altruism can be explained (sometimes with a little bit of mental gymnastics) by the selfish gene theory; but that doesn't mean that that explanation is always correct.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 23 2019

       no, not necessarily, but likely.   

       I think our desire to preserve this or that species is just a reflection of our own fear of death, of somehow cementing the "now".   

       Ultimately, the planet, and the universe, can't give a fuck.
theircompetitor, Oct 23 2019

       Concise, pithy, and accurate as ever, [tc} ...   

       How about "Four legs good, two legs bad" ... ?
8th of 7, Oct 23 2019

       Four? Or six?
theircompetitor, Oct 23 2019

       //Ultimately, the planet, and the universe, can't give a fuck.// Yes, of course. But my point was that altruistic behaviour towards species that can't benefit us, is probably an example of human thought overriding selfish human genes.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 23 2019

       //We are sentient, and therefore have an additional layer that can be used to act unselfishly//   

       Human thought governed by instincts molded by ''selfish genes" (aka the principles of evolution & 'survival of the fittest').   

       Altruism is merely the end expression of instincts for the preservation of the genes by proxy through other organisms (relatives & others of the same or similar species) carrying the gene.   

       //with a little bit of mental gymnastics//   

       No mental gymnastics required, you just have to remember that the 'gene' being selfish isn't the organism it resides in.   

       The genes selfishness is macro rather than micro, individual organisms don't matter to it, hence the 'programming' that can occasionally result in less than optimal outcomes for individual members of a species (aka altruism).   

       In complex organisms & brains it's bound to get a little confused or some accidental 'cross wiring' occur sometimes as well.
Skewed, Oct 23 2019

       //Human thought [is] governed by instincts molded by ''selfish genes"//   

       Well, yes and no. Selfish genes have built the hardware, which has a strong influence on how the software runs. But it does not dictate _exactly_ how the software runs. To pick a random example, there are plenty of people who believe in "karma" in the popular sense. That belief might lead them to do something good for an unrelated human or for another species. Now, you can argue that belief in "karma" is an evolutionary adaptation to help us win status and breeding rights. But not everyone believes in "karma" in the same way, and many of the things people do for "karma" are only likely to gain respect in light of very modern attitudes to, for instance, saving the environment. In other words, the way that belief in "karma" manifests is determined not (or not entirely) by our hardware, but also by our thought processes.   

       I'm pretty sure (and I'm buggered if I'm going to re-read all his books) that even Dawkins believed that human thought has the ability to win out over selfish genes in many cases.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 23 2019


       To some degree your confusing software for the result of running said software. What we think of as thought isn't the software any more than the image on my screen right now is. Software is also something of a misnomer in this case, it's really all as hardwired as the brain you call hardware.   

       Besides that.. //In complex organisms & brains it's bound to get a little confused or some accidental 'cross wiring' occur sometimes as well//
Skewed, Oct 23 2019

       Well, OK, but my point stands - human thought is capable of going beyond selfish genes.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 23 2019

       In some ways it doesn’t matter whether it’s a product of selfish genes, ones own genetic disposition, or ones life experiences. Each one of us has our own set of moral beliefs, which guide our actions. I believe we share the vast majority of those (acknowledging some outliers). I think it would be beneficial to collect data across a wide range of people to identify those things that we share and particularly the scope of disagreement.
Frankx, Oct 23 2019

       I think not. We share very little. Example: the ease with which the Japanese committed the most appalling inhuman acts when they invaded places like China. Even babies were bayoneted for sport and fun, yet do Japanese not respect children's lives? People can say one thing and act out another. There is no consensus as to what "good" means. There is no definition of "good". When the Comanche Indians were skinning their victims alive, they thought this was something good.
xenzag, Oct 23 2019

       No need if we can just get them to keep binging on Netflix shows
theircompetitor, Oct 26 2019

       A balance is needed but active is better than passive.
wjt, Oct 27 2019


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