fredag 30 september 2016

Some not-quite-mainstream voices about the perils of electing Donald Trump

In yesterday's blog post, I offered (links to) some very good reasons why it would be a bad idea to elect Donald Trump US president in November. My sources were highly mainstream, and probably already familiar to many of my readers and all US presidential election zealots. Today I offer links to thoughts about the frightening possibility of a Trump presidency by three highly intelligent and wise thinkers who are less mainstream. They belong not to the usual circle of politicians, political pundits and journalists, but rather to the kind of loosely knit math/physics/CS/AI/futurology community that I consider myself to be part of. In my opinion, all three raise interesting points that deserve further spread:
  • Eliezer Yudkowsky (who is heavily quoted in my latest book as well as here on this blog) has a short and somewhat unpolished but nevertheless very interesting piece in which he tells us about an experience that left him "with a suddenly increased respect for any administration that gets to the end of 4 years without nuclear weapons being used", and why a Trump administration may turn out less competent than most others in this respect.

  • Scott Alexander, in a rather longer text which however is well worth the effort of reading, focuses mostly on possible societal consequences of a Trump presidency less extreme than global nuclear war. He writes very clearly from a kind of conservative viewpoint that I have much respect for (despite not being much of a fan of most other political positions with that label).

  • Scott Aaronson (whose book Quantum Computing since Democritus is one of the best I've read this year) has a very substance-rich blog post about Trump which dates back to June but which is just as important and interesting now as it was then. After an overwhelmingly convincing 10-item list of reasons why a Trump presidency can be expected to wreak havoc on American society and the rest of the world, he urges us to try to understand the social psychology behind Trump's rise in popularity:
      There’s one crucial point on which I dissent from the consensus of my liberal friends. Namely, my friends and colleagues constantly describe the rise of Trump as "incomprehensible" - or at best, as comprehensible only in terms of the US being full of racist, xenophobic redneck scumbags who were driven to shrieking rage by a black guy being elected president. Which - OK, that’s one aspect of it, but it’s as if any attempt to dig deeper, to understand the roots of Trump’s appeal, if only to figure out how to defeat him, risks "someone mistaking you for the enemy."
    This is followed by some well considered thoughts on this social psychology problem, and then finally a discussion on some concrete proposals for what we can do to minimize the probability that Trump wins the election.

1 kommentar:

  1. The following passage in Scott Aaronson's piece may look a bit puzzling to those who do not know his background:

    "I see little indication that Trump himself, or most of his supporters [are anti-Semite]. I can’t say that they’ve said or done anything to threaten me personally.

    Meanwhile, many of the social-justice types who are Trump’s ideological opposites did try to destroy my life - and not because I hurt anyone, tried to hurt anyone, or said anything false, but just because I went slightly outside their Overton Window while trying to foster empathy and dialogue and articulate something true. And having spent a year and a half reading their shaming attacks, on Twitter, Tumblr, Metafilter, etc., I’m well-aware that many of them will try again to destroy me if they ever see an opportunity."

    For the relevant background, see Scott Alexander's blog post named Untitled.