virus: Ruling and Power

Duane Daniel Hewitt (
Mon, 11 Sep 1995 08:22:11 -0600 (MDT)

On Mon, 28 Aug 1995, Twirlip of Greymist wrote:

> Because "Neither rule" ignores the question "Why not, if I can get away
> with it?"

Good point. There is no contradiction with this attitude being a valid
evolutionary strategy. However, you have to trust your estimate of the
likelihood of ruling successfully because as a ruler you automatically
become a target to outsiders as well as those who thirst for power under
your rule.

> If I somehow have 100x the power of the entire human race is
> Virus telling me I shouldn't push the race around?

If you have this much power then it would be gratifying that Virus would
remain your religion of choice. :-)

> I'm sure you'd like
> to be able to, given that situation, but if I'm rational, how? Why not
> use power if one has it?

If you were this powerful then why would you bother to "push around"
humanity? You could operate on the assumption that if you don't push
humanity around then a being 100x more powerful than you would not bother
to push you around. You could operate on the assumption that you will be
treated in the manner that you treat others. (The Golden Rule sneaks into

> 1) I consider my survival to be good. (Observed fact.)
> 2) There is no a priori reason I can't do whatever I want, to whomever I
> want. (Un[dis]provable or observable?)

As above "Do unto others ..."

> 3) In the absence of other information, other intelligences are probably
> somewhat like me. (Assumption.) Therefore, they also feel they can do
> whatever they want.

They may assume, however, that they may have to rationally justify their
actions. If an individual or race regularly practices genocide because
they "feel" like it and the other races did not pose any threat to them
then an alliance is likely to form to destroy or control them.

> 4) Cautiously, I can assume they're as well armed as I am. (Assumption.)

Very cautiously, you could assume that there is someone much better armed
than you who may call for a justification of your actions.

> Supporting evidence: how large predators interact in the wild (property
> delineations, ritualized aggression) and the success of Tit-for-tat in
> game theory. Other conclusions: defending armies can make sense,
> because you want to band together to scare off the agressor; if you
> don't, you may get mowed down anyway. Attacking armies do not make
> sense, because any individual in that army runs a good risk of being
> killed for something that shouldn't be worth that much to him. Being
> the highly visible leader of such an army makes even less sense.

Good points. However, differences in technology may make tremendous
differences in the advantages of attacking and defending armies. This is
why the European empires spanned the globe in the 19th century.

Duane Hewitt