Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Utilitarianism, prioritarianism and other varieties of consequentialism.
rehoot
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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by rehoot » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:11 pm

Akeron wrote: Psychopathy is not just about emotions. It's also possible for people to be emotionally different, but not anti-social. The problem is when people let their emotions get out of control by believing it's OK to force others to endure them.

The thread also only looks at extreme examples of psychopathy, and society gets away with this tremendously. It tolerates bullying, mocking, and teasing, labeling the victim as psychopathic when acting out after provoked.
The first paragraph in the quote above makes several claims. I would agree that people can be emotionally different and not anti-social, and that problem can be caused when people "let their emotions get out of control."

The last part of the first paragraph in the quote is a claim that the cause of the problems stems from a belief about forcing other people to do things. The second paragraph makes another claim that the cause of the problem stems from people being provoked. These things might be associated with problems, but they are not diagnostic of psychopathy.

Psychopathy is a clinical diagnosis made by psychologists, although the media might stretch the meaning of the word. The main components of psychopathy are a lack of empathy for others and lack of self control characterized by impulsive acts that harm others. You can read a bit about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy. Other studies have proposed a more detailed view: Antisocial Behavior, Impulsive Thrill-Seeking, Interpersonal Manipulation, and Cold Affect.

When the signs of psychopathy are not extreme in young people, the diagnosis might be conduct disorder, meaning that psychopathy is relative extreme by definition.

What you described are examples of real events that do happen, but the explanation of the causes describe something different than the characteristics that uniquely identify true psychopaths. That is not to say that psychopaths do not react when they feel slighted (they do) but others might react strongly in a similar situation without being psychopaths. The psychopath is much more likely to go on a killing rampage because of the combination of attributes that characterize psychopaths.

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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Brian Tomasik » Sat Mar 31, 2012 3:10 am

Akeron wrote: Are you saying elite psychopaths should be able to abuse the populace at will?
Sorry, I wasn't very clear. :) I was responding to the statement that "The real problem in such an instance is the victim is being tortured by psychopaths, but because psychopaths aren't acting out strongly enough, society doesn't care." I was suggesting that society empirically does seem to care when people are victimized by psychopaths. In order to weaken my claim, I suggested that this is at least true when the victims are well off, to avert criticism that, in fact, many people don't care too much when gang members kill each other, or when poor women are raped. Of course, I think we should care about those victims as well, and society certainly professes to do so, but in practice, the distribution of social resources and media attention suggest otherwise.

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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Akeron » Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:10 pm

Alan Dawrst wrote:Sorry, I wasn't very clear. :) I was responding to the statement that "The real problem in such an instance is the victim is being tortured by psychopaths, but because psychopaths aren't acting out strongly enough, society doesn't care." I was suggesting that society empirically does seem to care when people are victimized by psychopaths. In order to weaken my claim, I suggested that this is at least true when the victims are well off, to avert criticism that, in fact, many people don't care too much when gang members kill each other, or when poor women are raped. Of course, I think we should care about those victims as well, and society certainly professes to do so, but in practice, the distribution of social resources and media attention suggest otherwise.
OK, but you're not suggesting a solution. How can society prevent psychopaths targeting non-elites?

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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Akeron » Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:13 pm

rehoot wrote:What you described are examples of real events that do happen, but the explanation of the causes describe something different than the characteristics that uniquely identify true psychopaths. That is not to say that psychopaths do not react when they feel slighted (they do) but others might react strongly in a similar situation without being psychopaths. The psychopath is much more likely to go on a killing rampage because of the combination of attributes that characterize psychopaths.
Right, I agree.

The problem is we shouldn't need professionals defining what's "anti-social". We're all members of society.

In turn, psychopaths provoking victims into appearing psychopathic becomes a problem.

Unless we put psychologists in charge of everything (which is very dissociating), I don't see how psychology helps.

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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Akeron » Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:34 pm

I feel like you guys are dodging the question now out of awkwardness.

When it comes to public policy, keeping your mouth shut is coercive because you're expecting people to uphold a social contract they don't necessarily understand.

Not cool.

kwai4749
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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by kwai4749 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:49 am

That makes me feel totally awkward.

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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Brian Tomasik » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:24 am

kwai4749 wrote:That makes me feel totally awkward.
Wow, spambots have gotten to the point of saying they feel awkward in the right contexts. Of course, they don't actually feel awkward (and probably won't for several more decades).

I often wonder what the purpose is of these posts that don't try to link to another website. Is the plan to make a few legitimate-seeming posts first before trying to sell something? For example, some forums require that a user make X posts before s/he can share any hyperlinks. Another possibility is that the spambot wants you to send it an email so that it can spam your email address? I have no idea, really.

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Arepo
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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Arepo » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:36 am

I've wondered the same, but I've never seen a repeat visit from a spambot (under the same account name). Occasionally they post more than once, but they're always in quick succession.
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Hedonic Treader
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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Hedonic Treader » Sun May 20, 2012 9:02 am

George Dvorsky has several interesting blog posts on sociopathy and its future:

http://www.sentientdevelopments.com/201 ... -less.html
http://www.sentientdevelopments.com/201 ... opath.html
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Arepo
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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Arepo » Tue May 22, 2012 1:22 pm

Alan Dawrst wrote:I often wonder what the purpose is of these posts that don't try to link to another website. Is the plan to make a few legitimate-seeming posts first before trying to sell something? For example, some forums require that a user make X posts before s/he can share any hyperlinks. Another possibility is that the spambot wants you to send it an email so that it can spam your email address? I have no idea, really.
Hey, has it edited in those links since you wrote that comment? If so...
"These were my only good shoes."
"You ought to have put on an old pair, if you wished to go a-diving," said Professor Graham, who had not studied moral philosophy in vain.

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Brian Tomasik
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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Brian Tomasik » Wed May 23, 2012 7:21 am

I came across the song "Little Piece of Heaven" (lyrics), which is one of a plenitude of utterly disgusting songs. (I don't recommend watching the video.)

I know there's a lot of discussion about whether violence in entertainment leads to violence in real life, with arguments going both ways. Still, I find it sort of odd that authorities don't even think twice about people listening to these kinds of things, while at the same time we regard it as thoroughly tragic (and even traumatic) when they happen in real life. Ted Bundy is often regarded as essentially evil incarnate. Are people really that good at separating make-believe from the real world?

Related -- "Wanted: a sensible explanation of why parents don't want kids exposed to sex but violence is okay":
Working at a national video game retailer I had to deal with this all the time.

"Ma'am, I'm required to let you know that this game is rated M for mature for violence, blood and gore, alcohol, drug use, simulated gambling-"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah."
"- and partial nudity."
"WHAT?!"
"Partial nudity."
"OH HELL NO!"

My explaining to them that "partial nudity" means girls in bikinis typically didn't change their minds. They didn't want their sweet innocent snookums exposed to a tit: Pulverized whores are OK, as long as they're clothed.

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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Brian Tomasik » Wed May 23, 2012 7:26 am

Arepo wrote: Hey, has it edited in those links since you wrote that comment?
Why yes it has! pwned.

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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Brian Tomasik » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:39 am

A sickening story:
A 16-year-old girl was buried alive by relatives in southeastern Turkey in a gruesome honor killing carried out because she reportedly befriended boys, the Anatolia news agency reported Thursday. [...]

A subsequent postmortem examination revealed that M.M. had a significant amount of soil in her lungs and stomach, indicating that she was buried alive and conscious, forensic experts told the news agency. “The autopsy result is blood-curdling. According to our findings, the girl – who had no bruises on her body and no sign of narcotics or poison in her blood – was alive and fully conscious when she was buried,” one anonymous expert said. [...]

Police had found the body of the girl using an anonymous tip saying that M.M. had been killed based on a decision by a family council and buried under the chicken pen, daily Milliyet reported. [...]

Family councils consist of family elders; honor killings are usually decided by such groups.
I find it remarkable how different cultures/subcultures within the same species (humans) can have such different dynamics for responding to internal conflicts. If this had happened to, say, the daughter of Jimmy Carter, the response would have been a world apart. (Setting aside the fact that what the girl did wasn't even wrong.) Perhaps some of these differences are genetic, but probably many are cultural and developmental.

"Emergence of a Peaceful Culture in Wild Baboons":
Primates exhibit a wide range of behaviors, not just among species but also among populations and even individuals. Yet the nature versus nurture debate still rages, particularly when it comes to understanding the roots of aggression. While bonobos are famous for using sex to resolve disputes, aggression is far more common in most primate species—again humans included. Our closest relative, the chimpanzee, has a reputation for being among the most belligerent, with rhesus monkeys and baboons not far behind. [...]

Primatologists characterize these behavioral differences as “cultural” traits, since they arise independent of genetic or environmental factors and are not only shared by a population (though not necessarily a species) but are also passed on to succeeding generations. [...]

In his book A Primate's Memoir, Sapolsky studied the activities and lifestyle of the Forest Troop to explore the relationship between stress and disease. In typical baboon fashion, the males behaved badly, angling either to assume or maintain dominance with higher ranking males or engaging in bloody battles with lower ranking males, which often tried to overthrow the top baboon by striking tentative alliances with fellow underlings. Females were often harassed and attacked. Internecine feuds were routine. Through a heartbreaking twist of fate, the most aggressive males in the Forest Troop were wiped out. The males, which had taken to foraging in an open garbage pit adjacent to a tourist lodge, had contracted bovine tuberculosis, and most died between 1983 and 1986. Their deaths drastically changed the gender composition of the troop, more than doubling the ratio of females to males, and by 1986 troop behavior had changed considerably as well; males were significantly less aggressive.

After the deaths, Sapolsky stopped observing the Forest Troop until 1993. Surprisingly, even though no adult males from the 1983–1986 period remained in the Forest Troop in 1993 (males migrate after puberty), the new males exhibited the less aggressive behavior of their predecessors. Around this time, Sapolsky and Share also began observing another troop, called the Talek Troop. The Talek Troop, along with the pre-TB Forest Troop, served as controls for comparing the behavior of the post-1993 Forest Troop. The authors found that while in some respects male to male dominance behaviors and patterns of aggression were similar in both the Forest and control troops, there were differences that significantly reduced stress for low ranking males, which were far better tolerated by dominant males than were their counterparts in the control troops. The males in the Forest Troop also displayed more grooming behavior, an activity that's decidedly less stressful than fighting. Analyzing blood samples from the different troops, Sapolsky and Share found that the Forest Troop males lacked the distinctive physiological markers of stress, such as elevated levels of stress-induced hormones, seen in the control troops.

In light of these observations, the authors investigated various models that might explain how the Forest Troop preserved this (relatively) peaceful lifestyle, complete with underlying physiological changes. One model suggests that nonhuman primates acquire cultural traits through observation. Young chimps may learn how to crack nuts with stones by watching their elders, for example. In this case, the young baboon transplants might learn that it pays to be nice by watching the interactions of older males in their new troop. Or it could be that proximity to such behavior increases the likelihood that the new males will adopt the behavior. Yet another explanation could be that males in troops with such a high proportion of females become less aggressive because they don't need to fight as much for female attention and are perhaps rewarded for good behavior. But it could be that the females had a more direct impact: new male transfers in the Forest Troop were far better received by resident females than new males in the other troops.

Sapolsky and Share conclude that the method of transmission is likely either one or a combination of these models, though teasing out the mechanisms for such complex behaviors will require future study. But if aggressive behavior in baboons does have a cultural rather than a biological foundation, perhaps there's hope for us as well.

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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Brian Tomasik » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:18 pm

"'Sociopathic' animal killer to be released on probation":
Bourque pleaded guilty in October to killing or injuring an animal, causing unnecessary suffering and pain to an animal and possessing a knife and was arrested earlier this year. [...]

While living in residence last March, she told another student she had disembowelled and dismembered cats in the Prince George area and that she fantasized about getting a gun and shooting a homeless person. [...]

Police also found video clips depicting her killing and hanging the family dog.

"She narrated part of the video as she eviscerated the dog," MacLean said.

Another video depicted Bourque torturing the family's cat.

"It is clear the animals would have suffered significantly prior to their deaths."

The Crown stayed separate charges of possession of child pornography. Several psychologists have interviewed Bourque, who shows no remorse or insight into her crimes and nature.

"While intelligent and articulate," MacLean said. "She had a preoccupation for causing pain."

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Hedonic Treader
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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Hedonic Treader » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:19 am

"'Sociopathic' animal killer to be released on probation"
Thanks for sharing. As gruesome as the descriptions are, the social and legal responses actually look good. That is makes media headlines also is a good sign - it means people care and it happens only rarely. "Three pigs tortured for meat production!" is not something you will see in the headlines.
"The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it... Knife and pain are two words in surgery that must forever be associated in the consciousness of the patient."

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Hedonic Treader
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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Hedonic Treader » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:26 pm

Luckily, dolorium is quite an abstract concept that may not trigger ordinary sadistic or violent impulses. At the very least, it is improbable that large quantities trigger them linearly stronger than smaller quantities. For instance, sexual sadism probably requires personal attention space with the typical display of pain, fear, disgust etc. It is relatively unlikely that a particularly powerful post-singularity sexual sadist would multiply the number of their victims with something like 10^6, while it is entirely realistic that a particularly powerful utilitarian would do the same for pleasure.
"The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it... Knife and pain are two words in surgery that must forever be associated in the consciousness of the patient."

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Hedonic Treader
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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Hedonic Treader » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:14 am

It could become fashionable for a subset of individuals in a world in which people don't have the power to monitor and stop each other's actions. The story The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect depicts such a world: Humans cannot hurt each other without consent, and they can't die at all, but non-humans are fair game and each human gets enormous resources to create whatever they want. The story describes how factory farms vanish but many new planets with wild animals come into being, and some humans sometimes torture animals as a part of entertainment (the story mostly depicts consensual violence between humans).

I think it would look different if people could interfere with each other. So we have laws against animal cruelty, even though they are far from perfect. And all of that could go out the window if self-modification technologies allow people to switch off empathy, which is already relatively weak. If there turns out to be some good reason to do that, this could do a lot of additional harm.

I think for most current people, neither hedonium nor dolorium would be on the wish list for a post-Singularity world. There would probably be some hell worlds, but most of them would not be optimized to create absolute maximum suffering. There would probably be aesthetic or narrative elements that decrease efficiency considerably. OTOH, I would predict the same for the pleasure side. There would be paradises but not many hedonium clusters.
"The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it... Knife and pain are two words in surgery that must forever be associated in the consciousness of the patient."

- Dr. Alfred Velpeau (1839), French surgeon

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Brian Tomasik
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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Brian Tomasik » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:27 am

Hedonic Treader wrote: but non-humans are fair game and each human gets enormous resources to create whatever they want. The story describes how factory farms vanish but many new planets with wild animals come into being
No way! :) I had no idea there was already a novel depicting my concern about this possibility.

In practice, I assume most sentient simulations would arise from industrial or scientific applications, but hobbyists could run them too.
Hedonic Treader wrote: allow people to switch off empathy, which is already relatively weak. If there turns out to be some good reason to do that, this could do a lot of additional harm.
If empathy is an accident in which predictive brain regions bleed over into self-feeling brain regions, then it might indeed be adaptive to eliminate empathy. In most cases, empathy drags you down. For example, few predators feel empathy for their prey. The main case in which empathy might be useful is when interacting with peers who have similar power as you do, so that you can establish trusting relationships. Empathy for those weaker than you is an unfortunate side-effect as far as survival is concerned.
Hedonic Treader wrote: OTOH, I would predict the same for the pleasure side. There would be paradises but not many hedonium clusters.
Yes, 'tis sad.

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Hedonic Treader
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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Hedonic Treader » Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:15 am

Brian Tomasik wrote:No way! :) I had no idea there was already a novel depicting my concern about this possibility.
I thought the same. :)

But it's not the central focus of the story, it's just mentioned as an aside. It briefly brushes the ethics of factory farming and hunting, but not of allowing wild animals to eat each other. Then again, the story is a bit older. Speciesism in the ethical core of a foom AI is mentioned explicitly, as are unintended consequences. What I dislike is the subtext of the Experience Machine rejection ("it's not real"), and the reader is expected to believe that for some reason, intelligent characters with god-like powers don't manage to break the hedonic treadmill in 600 years, or come up with the motivation to do so, even though some of them are bored and unhappy.
The main case in which empathy might be useful is when interacting with peers who have similar power as you do, so that you can establish trusting relationships. Empathy for those weaker than you is an unfortunate side-effect as far as survival is concerned.
I think reciprocal altruism and credible signaling are strong causes, but I suspect the original main cause was kin selection. Even the way some of my friends treat their cute pets falls into the "nursing fixed action pattern" category. The hypothesis that empathy bleeds over from predictive faculties also seems plausible; that part probably doesn't have a big future.

I think the big question from here is, will empathy be self-maintaining because we cognitively feel empathy with the potential victims of imagined future non-empathy? In addition, of course, to the question whether it will have an ongoing function that is positively selected. (I could imagine that, in an era of brain simulations that can copy themselves, empathy with other me-copies could be a form of quasi-altruism for egoists)
"The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it... Knife and pain are two words in surgery that must forever be associated in the consciousness of the patient."

- Dr. Alfred Velpeau (1839), French surgeon

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Brian Tomasik
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Re: Preventing Antisocial Personality Disorder

Post by Brian Tomasik » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:17 pm

Hedonic Treader wrote: Speciesism in the ethical core of a foom AI is mentioned explicitly, as are unintended consequences.
What are those consequences in the story? You said factory farms vanish.
Hedonic Treader wrote: I could imagine that, in an era of brain simulations that can copy themselves, empathy with other me-copies could be a form of quasi-altruism for egoists
Yeah, but it'll still be only a small degree of altruism, similar to kin altruism or at best tribe altruism. It won't help vast numbers of weak, suffering minds who stand at the mercy of a few powerful ones.

Aside: This is another great discussion, Hedonic Treader! It's rare to find someone who has so many insights as you do about the the futurism of happiness and suffering.

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