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Many powerful systems have a ratchet: there is a way they can go in one direction, but not the other.


Regulations and laws ratchet: they become more numerous over time, naturally:

There is a fundamental problem with regulators. If a regulator agrees to change a rule and something bad happens, they could easily lose their career. Whereas if they change a rule and something good happens, they don't even get a reward. So, it's very asymmetric. It's then very easy to understand why regulators resist changing the rules. It's because there's a big punishment on one side and no reward on the other. How would any rational person behave in such a scenario?” (musk)


See The evolution of cooperation

Cooperation, once established on the basis of reciprocity, can protect itself from invasion by less cooperative strategies. Thus, the gear wheels of social evolution have a ratchet.

A small group of 'nice' players can survive in a group of defectors. The more of them there are, the more it pays to be nice, so the system ratchets its way toward cooperation.


In societies without strong government, religion allows enforcing norms that fix Coordination Problems, or reduce free riding. This might make societies with religion more effective, which could select for religiosity (group selection).

The definition of good

See Defining good to maximise good behaviour

Scott suggests one method might be to define 'above average goodness' as the standard of who is a good person.

This should have a ratcheting effect: if someone does good to move above the 'average' line, the 'average level of good' itself also raises. This drops previously good people below the line, causing them to move the average up as they improve their behaviour further, etc.

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Last modified 2020-01-14 周二 13:10. Contact