Meditations on Moloch - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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By Oxymandias
#14837717
http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/me ... on-moloch/

This essay is a bit hard to describe. It talks about a large variety of subjects from politics to economics to philosophy to even AI and singularity. However it's tied together in such a way to make it feel like a strong and cohesive whole.

I am very interested in all your thoughts and simply how you would react to such an essay. I await your responses.
#14838441
@Rugoz

I don't trust my English enough to describe. Furthermore quite frankly it's a bit too long of an essay to describe in my opinion as well.

Just read it when you have the time.
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By MB.
#14838887
I will say that I find the uncritical assumption that we should all be advancing AI and automation at an unprecedented pace seems questionable to me. To what end has always been a question I have never seen adequately answered. People like Ray Kurzweil and other so-called "post-human futurists" including Elon Musk who has an entire sub-division developing mind-machine interfaces, never seem to explain why their acceleration agenda is desirable. I'm never going to buy a "virtual reality" device and I'm never going to "merge my mind with a computer" so I cannot understand the desirability of these things.



Professor Ferguson has also recently been very critical of the utopianism of the tech industry, which, he argues, was never likely to succeed since the end result was inevitably to give an unprecedented amount of power to those who control the networks that underly the industry.



Moloch has been presented in film and literature for some time now. Since the OP essay starts with a quote from Howl, I think it's reasonable to post the James Franco interpretation here (actaully a really good movie in its own right).



There's also the famous scene from Metropolis of the workers being fed into the maw of Moloch to power the industrial society. The notion of humanity being sacrificed to the machine god has long historical roots, starting in during the early 19th century industrial revolution, probably peeking in the First World War, and today is even reflected in the mythos of the Warhammer 40,000 universe amongst other pop culture references.

The basic question is of course why are we so keen to turn over our agency to the machines, whose logic is clearly derived from Mammonism (greed).

Probably the greatest speech against Moloch is made by Charlie Chaplin the Great Dictator where he rails against the "Machine Men"

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By Hong Wu
#14838956
I think that "Moloch", besides being the Christian devil, is here the need for societies to industrialized or be destroyed by those that do. Yet if they industrialized their population growth shrinks and they can disappear. The Muslims have somewhat avoided this but they are miserably like the rags in the Malthusian chapter; devoid of art or grace, they fight each other quite a bit.

The answer I think is related to Julius Evola's "Ride the Tiger", sooner or later the people who work the most and reproduce the least must die out, those who can do useful things must reject working themselves to death. Existing outlooks will disappear as only those with different opinions are surviving. Expectations about life would need to radically change. The alternative is chaos and "boom and bust cycles".

Liberal globalism sometimes presents itself as a solution but it is not really sustainable like the traditional world arguably was because there just aren't enough resources for endless consumerism and some groups will still be reproducing somewhere, both inevitably and neccessarily; at it's best liberal globalism is a diversion or a stalling for time.
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By MB.
#14838959
Man Hong Wu, your belief system is a mess. what mishmash of fascist doctrine (Evola), neo-Nazi 4chan conspiracies (so called anti-globalism), American islamophobia, a Wikipedia level reading of preclassical economics and so on. What you just wrote was so revealing about your biases I don't think it's unreasonable to use a Jordan peterson ism to explain to you what you need to do.
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By Hong Wu
#14838965
MB. wrote:Man Hong Wu, your belief system is a mess. what mishmash of fascist doctrine (Evola), neo-Nazi 4chan conspiracies (so called anti-globalism), American islamophobia, a Wikipedia level reading of preclassical economics and so on. What you just wrote was so revealing about your biases I don't think it's unreasonable to use a Jordan peterson ism to explain to you what you need to do.

Well my friend, I am fairly happy, successful, thinking about going back to law and my internet haters/followers never attempt to go into specifics with me. This does not reduce my confidence, I have been right too consistently to be phased by non-arguments even the slightest bit. What you call a mess and a mishmash I call thinking outside of the box. Maybe you should try it instead of wallowing in the apparent safety of mainstream ideology. You can't have freedom without occasional solitude, intellectual or otherwise, we are not great enough for that. I'm happy with my choice, if you are happy with yours and still write things like this then you must have some kind of chip on your shoulder and I do hope you can figure out what it is and shed it, thereby finding a more real kind of happiness.
#14839990
@MB.

But I don't think that's the author's argument is for super intelligence AI or singularity but before I have to explain Moloch and what the author's saying.

Moloch isn't the Christian devil or greed. Moloch is the personification of a series of forces that the author described underlying a number of complex systems ranging from the biological to the social, in that these systems are subjected to incentives set by competition for resources that supersedes anything like humanistic values. In many of these systems, individual elements are perversely incentivized to act in their own best interests, but to the detriment of the fitness of the system as a whole; the author submits as examples things like cancer and Congressional corruption.

These forces are balanced out to an extent by three things:

1. Occasional boons of excess resources allowing us to live at a level above brutal subsistence

1. Physical limitations on just how much a system can be exploited before it breaks down

3. Utility maximization making systems as a whole more efficient.

But even more than all this, Alexander argues that coordination — control by an “unincentivized incentivizer” with a god’s-eye view — is the one thing that can prevent a complex system from sliding into degenerate chaos. Moloch is the embodiment of that degeneracy and chaos, but he’s also a fact of life that we have to deal with, as he’s currently useful to us. We sacrifice the things we hold the dearest — our values — and in exchange, we gain power.

But the author ends on a note that it is possible for us to create a means by which we can effectively kill Moloch, by installing an unincentivized controller. I’m not sure whether he’s advocating for an artificial intelligence or something similar, but it does strike me as consistent with his themes.

If anyone didn't read the essay yet, then this is what you're missing on.
By Buzz62
#14841099
Oxymandias wrote:@Buzz62

As the author points out Moloch is not just one thing but several things. Or is your argument that all those things can be incapsulated into the broad concept of greed?

Exactly.
Well done Oxymandias.

I often find that if I trust my instincts, they rarely fail me.
Moloch is the embodiment, if you will, of GREED.

Those who seek to obscure this simple conclusion, do so in order to confuse. Likely not on purpose, but the results are the same.
Greed is not just a concept. It is real and does exist. Greed will drive people to do horrid things. Self destructive things. It always starts off looking sensible, yet always seems to result in tragedy.

Greed laughs at us. It uses us. And when it surfaces within us and begins whispering its filth in our ears, we know, deep down, that what we are considering, is wrong. Yet we go ahead with our greedy little plans anyway.

Its an unfortunate part of every living being on Earth. It makes us our own worst enemies.
Not identifying it and facing it directly, only serves it's purpose.
By Buzz62
#14841309
Oxymandias wrote:@Buzz62

Well, can you describe what you mean by greed?

The oil of the Middle East must be the property of the west. That way, a few western companies will make enormous sums of money, and make the west prosperous.

Greed.
#14841332
That isn't Moloch, it isn't even an aspect of it but rather a result of it. Capitalism is one of the Molochlic forces that creates incentive systems that encourages greed.

The author refers to this force as Mamon. Other forces include Azathoth evolution (which he refers to as the all-powerful idiot), Cthulhu memetics, and Ares war.

There is another force often added by the community behind the authors blog which is Shub-Niggarath hedonism.
By Buzz62
#14841374
"You cannot serve both God and mammon."
Azathoth, the blind Gawd of Chaos, and the ultimate result of mammon.
Cthulhu - the Gawd sleeping in the deep, but will rise again. The annoying recurrence of mammon, even though we "feel" it is a bad thing.
Shub-Niggarath - the black goat Gawdess of the woods who's hedonism produces thousands of offspring. Over population and the casting aside of love, for lust and celebration, if you will, of mammon.

What Is Mammon?
What single force do we know of that embodies all of these?
Greed.
#14841542
I think you misunderstood me. Azathoth, Shub-Niggarath, Cthulhu, and Mamon aren't gods but names and representations of those forces. They aren't the forces themselves.

In order for these forces to be encapsulated by greed they must have consciousness or at least have a an Ego but if they did have a consciousness they would sease to be forces of nature. Furthermore, many of these forces cannot have consciousness.

Azathoth represents evolution. Evolution is random and often times has no rational motive or any motive at all for that matter when it comes to changing organisms. It can be both extremely destructive and extremely helpful. Yet one thing is certain, that evolution is incomprehensible in both its methods and its nature.

Therefore evolution is represented by Azathoth, an Elder God in Cthulhu Mythology. Azathoth is the most powerful god in the Cthulhu Mythos capable of destroying the entire universe at a mere whim yet it is also the dumbest and most stupid god of them all unable to even think.

Capitalism is represented by Mamon as capitalism is a system that incentivizes greedy and selfish actions and a system that, once implemented, is nearly impossible to remove in its entirety. Note that Mammon isn't greed but a system that encourages greed. This fits well with the essay's theme of forces of nature that encompass our societies. Therefore Mammon isn't greed but produces greed.

Memes are represented by Cthulhu, the god who will continue to rise and sleep again and again for all eternity. Memes have similar properties. Memes are social constructs that spread either intentionally or accidentally throughout a population and shape their common consciousnesses even potentially reaching legitimacy and being held up as the "truth". And once they die, they rise up from the ashes like a phoenix and dominate our societies once again.

Memes can be rumors, propaganda, false news, and internet memes but they certainly aren't greed. Memetics are a force of nature, something beyond the comprehensibility of our minds. Forces of nature cannot be simply greed.

Now hedonism isn't greed despite being protrayed as such. That itself is a meme. Hedonism is not overconsumption of something (Gluttony) either. Hedonism is the practice of doing whatever is pleasurable to the individual and doing only that. Maximizing pleasure and minimizing suffering. This of course can lead to self destructive behavior that can hurts everyone and lead to an unproductive and amoral society. Shub-Niggarath did not have many offspring because it was greedy but because it simply felt good. This became disastrous as eventually she bore thousands of horrific monsters ugly enough to cause an Elder God to go mad.

These things aren't Mammon. They are their own forces of nature. Moloch is just a collection of these forces of nature.
By Buzz62
#14841580
In nature?
Dude let's be clear. Azathoth and the rest of these things, exist within us.
Not at the center of the the galaxy, not at the bottom of the sea. But in you and me. Forces that push and pull in a balance that forms our sense of morality.
Making up wild stories that portray these things with monsters of unimaginable powers is...comic book stuff.
Its just a story.

Greed is most certainly not a product of Capitalism. That's back-assed-wards.
Nor was it Capitalism that destroyed the Soviet Union. It was also simple Greed, but that's another discussion.
#14841637
@Buzz62

You once again, misunderstood me.

The author isn't claiming that evolution, memes, capitalism, and hedonism are monsters or whatever. He simply using fictional beings as symbols meant to create a personification of these forces with the goal of creating a specific image in our minds.

If its hard for you to understand that then forget Azathoth, Cthulhu, Mammon, and Shub-Niggarath. The forces the author is talking about, the forces that both dominate our societies and are nearly impossible together rid of, are evolution, capitalism, memes, and hedonism. Unless you can prove that these four forces are all greed and therefore prove that Moloch is greed you have no argument.

The first capitalists were certainly not a bunch of rich people who wanted more stuff. They wouldn't need money for that. The first capitalists were probably some traders who wanted to trade more efficiently. Capitalism is simply an economic system that uses money. Only after capitalism evolved did it begin to inventivize greed.

To clarify, I am not saying that capitalism created greed or that greed never existed before capitalism. I am saying that capitalism encourages selfish and greedy actions. This important to understand so we can know what the authors message is.
#14841638
"Dude let's be clear. Azathoth and the rest of these things, exist within us.
Not at the center of the the galaxy, not at the bottom of the sea. But in you and me. Forces that push and pull in a balance that forms our sense of morality."

Yeah that's the authors intention. You are right and I agree.

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