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joined 2022 September 05 04:13:17 UTC


User ID: 435



4 followers   follows 1 user   joined 2022 September 05 04:13:17 UTC


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User ID: 435

Again, though, I'm not sure who the self-professed liberals in the audience are supposed to be rooting for on the show.

Half of the Protags are trying to gin up social pressure against the sentient nuclear bomb with acute narcissism that is Homelander as if that'll keep him from killing everyone, the other half are trying to kill or hurt him but have been utterly inept at following through.

The stakes have been raised to the point where there should be no other priority but stopping Homelander, yet our main characters are still being given minor side plots to resolve as if this were an RPG and they're putting off the final boss battle both because they're underleveled and want to finish up the optional content before finishing the game.

If it is propaganda, then they're seemingly not clear on who is supposed to be the glorious hero of the revolution. Who is the Mao/Che Guevera/Vladimir Lenin of the story here?

Yep. I fell for a few girls who had classic red flags (grew up without father. Claimed to be molested when younger. And/or were on various psych meds, for instance) and I BENT OVER BACKWARDS to be accommodating.

My efforts were not recognized or appreciated or reciprocated, and ultimately the relationships failed in EXACTLY THE WAY you would expect given the stereotypes. Total waste of time and effort to achieve a predictable result.

Eventually you get sick of ignoring your gut and taking a chance on the hope that you found a diamond in the rough.

As far as I know, the ex who dumped me prior to our wedding hasn't found another long term partner in the 3 years since.

Suggests it wasn't a me problem.

are we sure this whole thing isn't some not-so-veiled critique of left-wing activism?

It could be. Not even hard to read it that way.

Hughie keeps trying to do things "the right way" and he ultimately got completely duped by Neumanns "empathetic liberal" shtick using skills she learned from Stan Edgar himself. Hughie comes back around to Butcher's "kill 'em all" mentality as the only workable solution.

Homelander is objectively a threat to human civilization, and they are just dicking around "fixing" minor side problems while he ticks ever closer to a mental breakdown.

Like they're more concerned with earning brownie points than ending the threat.

If they had literally just let Soldier Boy do his thing it would have been ended. Whatever else was wrong with the guy, he wasn't one for half-measures and DEFINITELY didn't want to leave unfinished business. HIS WHOLE DEAL when he returned from captivity was to immediately follow up on old grudges.

Homelander is a problem that activism cannot solve. Unless they come up with a much more creative solution than the comics do, somebody will have to fight dirty and finish him. There will be (already is) collateral damage.

Every day he continues to exist is demonstrating the protag's uselessness.

So yeah, I find it amusing how this show basically makes liberals out to be ineffective hypocrites, whilst the liberals watching the show fixate on the surface level jokes.

The amusing irony, to me, is that the more blatantly bad and stupid they make the red tribe look, the more incompetent and feckless the protags look.

They even lampshade it in Episode 1 of Se4. "How have you guys gotten WORSE at your jobs?"

Starlight is supposedly one of the more effective do-gooders but she can't even make a dent in Homelander's popularity, can't do any material damage to Vought, and can't even shift political outcomes in her side's favor.

If homelander's fanbase is as weak-willed and dumb as the show wants to portray them, then the protags should be able to outsmart them and possibly manipulate them to their ends. But nah.

And the only guy who seems to be somewhat effective is Butcher, who is about as problematic as can be even if his heart is seemingly in the right place.

I am not even sure who a liberal viewer is supposed to root for.

Multiple reasons. At least partially because of stuff like this:


A 70 year old man can date a 24 year old.


A 50 year old can date a 25 year old.


A 66 year old can marry a 33 year old and pop out two kids with her.

Literally any heterosexual male aged 20-80 can try to compete for the same pool of desireable 18-30 year old females.

And social norms aren't pressuring against this. No, this isn't limited to celebrities, those are just the ones that get attention.

Every single 20-something woman taken off the market by an older man is one less available for the young men. Which by definition will decrease their chances of finding one.

Stats bear out that women are significantly more likely to be dating or married to a "much" older man than a man is a much older woman.

And young men can see these headlines and realize what it means for them.

Then of course there's my point that women are using corporations as a substitute for husbands

So men have to compete with megacorps, too.

If you're living in a city the number of male suitors is going to be large as well.

So it seems likely that the males are going to be in a state of hypercompetition until they get lucky enough to pull an eligible woman. And many, many won't get so lucky.

And the harder the males compete, the less worthwhile the actual reward is, which will lead some to "drop out."

The stats on males without relationships seem to bear this out.


But not my point. I can filter my dates by going on them, even if the ratio of crazy/not crazy is unfavorable.

I'm asking for a quantification of how many women out there are actually likely to pass the filter.

And, to really drive the point home, are there enough of them for most guys who want marriage and kids to have them, or do we have to acknowledge that the pie is too small for them all to get a slice, and thus we're actually in a state of heavy competition for a limited resource?

It would be very helpful if you could quantify this risk, though, because as mentioned the consequences for misreading her are severe.

How heavily must a guy filter?


There's not nearly enough pressure on women on the apps to just HURRY UP AND PICK SOMEONE or go look elsewhere. The ones who stick around, even if they're not crazy, are basically grazing like herd animals, wandering from one patch of grass to another and eschewing any real decision.

Your complaints can also apply to guys, mind. If a guy has been on the apps for a long time, gone on dates, and is still swiping, there's gotta be something about him that is keeping him from successfully entering a relationship.

But yeah, seems like getting 'lucky' on the apps is just that. Luck. You have to manage to catch a lady who is inexperienced and naively entering the arena, hasn't been picked up by a Chad, hasn't been scared off by the waves of creeps, and hasn't gotten mild PTSD from a series of bad outcomes.

And most guys are lowkey aware of this, so they're all on the lookout for the fresh faces to jump on ASAP before they're spoiled. Which ultimately worsens the "overwhelming wave of creeps" issue.

Hell of a collective action problem to solve. Not that the appmakers want anyone to solve it.

They're all just risk factors that should be considered.

You want to make the case that guys should marry and have kids, show them the odds they're facing.

I believe the graph, but there's still those managing to do achieve something like the traditional life trajectory.

My younger brother got married last year, and is expecting a kid in about a month. He doesn't own a home yet but he has got everything else going for him.

I've run numbers in the aggregate. I'm not standing by them as anything other than a starting point:

About 40% are obese. We've already thinned things out (heh) significantly right there. Maybe Ozempic will save the day.

19% are single moms in the U.S. and Canada. Although I imagine that changes drastically based on race, because I wouldn't have believed that number on first glance.

Around 5-7% are LGBT... although that's much higher for Gen Z women.

Somewhere around 25-27% have had mental illness diagnoses (not counting the severity). Might be 30%+ for the 18-35 year olds that we're talking about)

Around 28% have had 5 or more sex partners. 5 is an arbitrary cutoff, and I CATEGORICALLY DO NOT BELIEVE THE NUMBERS on this type of survey, but again, not an encouraging sign. Difficult to find hard data on how many have been strippers, or prostitutes, or sugar babies, or had Onlyfans pages.

If you want more reliable data take a look at STD rates by gender. Or don't. Its not a fun read. (This one IS hugely disparate based on race, to be fair).

And finally, drumroll please, somewhere around 40% of young women are left/democrat leaning. That's before you examine unmarried women specifically. Something close to 70% of single women are probably on the left, politically. Go ahead young man, take a swim in that pond, I'm sure it'll be fine. “Plenty of fish in the sea,” but barely any that are safe to eat.

So we're likely looking at a scarily small % of single women who are relatively chaste, mentally stable, straight, and politically 'moderate', AND also not grossly overweight. And this is what any guy trying to intentionally date and find a relationship is encountering.

And that's before we get into a guy trying to find a match in looks or intelligence.

And as I said in a different comment, women just aren't bringing much to the table to counter the risks, when divorce is still prevalent and doesn't favor the males.

I haven't done the analysis to figure out how these various stats interact (i.e. obviously there will be crossover, so you can't just treat all of these like independent factors), but my gut feeling is it won't help.

And keep in mind, almost by definition the most marriageable ones will get picked up early and removed from the pool and stay out of the pool (people capable of maintaining stable relationships tend to stay in stable relationships. Surprise!). So selection effects would suggest that you're far more likely to encounter the dregs when you're actively searching.

And what makes it particularly bleak is running the numbers on the number of single males in the U.S., and consider how they're ALL chasing the same pool of women, almost regardless of the guy's age. A 50 year old can still have a fling with a 25 year old.

I would guess that what is actually GEOGRAPHICALLY AVAILABLE to a given man will vary too. SF may be a particularly unique circumstance compared to anywhere else. But the type of male you're competing against will also probably be top 1% too.

So yeah, MY read on the situation inevitably leads to the blackpill.

I want people to get married and have kids, but I feel like I can't, in good faith, tell guys to just bite the bullet and marry someone as quickly as possible when there's a veritable minefield out there.

As someone with no technical background, the 'obvious' play seems to be hooking up models with different specialty training and abilities to each other in a way that they can talk to each other natively and without too much latency. Each model can be a different 'lobe' of an overall more intelligent brain.

Which is of course somewhat similar to how the human cognitive system works.

Maybe ChatGPT is the 'narrative' module that coordinates everything. "Oh, you're asking for solutions to a complex math problem, better send that over to the higher maths module. I'll let you know what answer it produces." or "Ah this question pertains to reading an X-ray and rendering medical opinions, better shoot that over to the model trained on millions of patient records and actual doctors giving feedback."

I dunno, really seems like they haven't picked all the low hanging fruit just yet.

I'm begging the people who push this line (which is true on its face) to actually run some calculations and estimate for the class how many actually marriageable women are available in the pool.

How many are single, heterosexual, haven't had kids already, are not grossly overweight, are not riddled with mental disorders, don't have a huge bodycount or any Onlyfans, and are actually interested in having and raising kids in a committed, monogamous relationship.

Otherwise you're basically telling guys to go bobbing for apples in a tub full of acid.

I've recently (in the last year, I think) started to get a sinking feeling that there's been pretty significant shift in the payoff matrix for marriage or even long-term relationships. A combination of men needing to work harder than ever to actually attract a decent mate, and conversely women having to do less and less to be considered 'marriage material'.

In a sense, EVERY woman in the dating scene is just a milder version of Natasha Aponte where they can make all the interested men jump through hoops to compete for her attention while she sits back and judges their performance. And isn't even obligated to pick one at the end. Far as I can tell that lady is still single.

So it becomes pretty reasonable for a guy to look at all the effort and money he'd have to spend to locate a mate and outcompete the other males in the population for her attention, compare that to what he's getting if wins (that is, a companion he can hopefully have regular sex with but who won't cook, clean, may not even give him kids, and will be generally insufferable to deal with half the time) and decide he should just focus on grinding out more wealth for himself and try again later when his relative status improves.

The girlfriends that I've had (including the one I actually proposed to, and then got dumped by prior to the wedding), in retrospect, brought virtually NOTHING to the table that I couldn't have gotten with a male roommate. They weren't good cooks, generally didn't contribute much to household upkeep (despite contributing plenty to the mess), spent copious amounts of time on insta/tiktok/netflix, and had the emotional regulation ability of a teenager at best. The girls I've dated in recent years are not much better, where the one thing they could actually sell themselves with (willingness to bear and raise kids!) seems to be the last thing on their mind.

So getting a GF means you can have sex, yes. But we've all heard the stories of bedrooms going dead after you've tied the knot.

Yeah, if you find a decent one it will contribute a lot to financial stability, that's a strong benefit. But if she ever divorces you it will be the most financially crippling event that could happen short of a chronic gambling addiction.

So on balance a male roommate could still win out.

I'm half considering making that a qualifying question I ask of women I date. "What do you have to offer that I couldn't get from some random guy I met through Craiglist."

I think most women want to be married with kid(s) eventually, but invisibly, imperceptibly, their opportunity for accomplishing this passes them by, and they either have to settle for a man they otherwise wouldn't have if they knew what the deal actually was in their youth, or they go it alone.

Ties into my point that corporate jobs are a substitute for a husband for a woman in her 20's. And there are very few warnings being given to women that "hey, if you put off family formation until your late twenties or even thirties, you are making it SUBSANTIALLY harder on yourself to ever achieve it."

So the current zeitgeist is leading to an outcome where women 'unknowingly' burn their most important years in ways that aren't conducive to their long term happiness.

AND YET, people are still getting married and holding on to (seemingly) happy marriages, kids and all.

But why is this a problem? Why should anyone care except for the sexless males themselves?

Kinda proves too much. Almost everyone has some aspect of their life they're dissatisfied with, and would be possible to improve their contentment with life or enjoyment of life if they could coordinate with OTHER people enough to address that area. Or at least coordinate enough to mitigate whatever particular behavior was leading to to the negative outcome. Why should anyone care about grinding unhappiness in anyone but themselves? Why should anyone look around and see if there are potential ways to move towards a better space on the payoff matrix with a little coordination?

We could go the route of extreme atomisation where every person is solely responsible for their own hedonic state but that seems likely to result in everyone sabotaging themselves and others in ways they can't identify without having a bare minimum amount of empathy or at least realizing "hey, this thing that is making me unhappy is also making these other people unhappy, is it possible we could do something about it?

But a society where nobody puts ANY stake in their fellow citizen's wellbeing is (probably) going to be far worse off than one where people are at least willing to communicate their dissatisfaction and others are willing to hear and consider their complaints.

Some problems are mostly intractable, serious mental illness and hardcore drug addiction are often treatment resistant. So the solutions will involve, putting it bluntly, working around the sufferers and not with them so much, to get them in safe housing with consistent supervision where they are less dangerous to others and themselves, and they aren't spitting off externalities just by their existence.

But I do think that the 'problem' of socially inept, sexless, loveless, despairing males can be wrangled with and improved with the cooperation of said males. If only people would give a fuck.

I'm in a position where I'm not sexless and generally don't have trouble interacting with women, but have had an absolute bear of a time finding a woman both worthy of and willing to reciprocate true commitment, so I do count myself among the ranks of the unhappily single. And the more I grasp the severity and nature of the problem, the more I realize that those poor unfortunate souls who haven't made it past first base (if that) are stuck in a loop that is approximately equal parts their own ineptitude but also the forces of social consensus have them in a spiral where each day that passes without finding love makes them appear less worthy of it, and renders their crusade to find a partner ever more hopeless, which saps their motivation to even try to escape.

And, on the flip side, the alpha males who are aware of their advantages in the sexual marketplace are often spitting off externalities of their own, leaving behind broken hearts and 'ruined' women who will end up lonely and unhappy. Because those men, as you say, DO NOT really care about others' wellbeing and thus act in a way that ignores any second order effects they may be causing on other people. I won't go so far as to say they're 'defecting' from social norms, because those social norms were eroded before they arrived, but they are not doing anything to improve the norms.

Over the years, I have watched with intense frustration as many generally intelligent, put-together, 'eligible' women who could have formed a loving family with the right guy get entangled with those sociopathic type of men that are extremely good at getting what they want out of the opposite sex and giving very little in return, and thus these ladies end up with a kid, with STDs, with regrettable tattoos, and/or possibly a warped idea of what relationships should look like. Or at best sucks up a few years of her life where she has the best odds of finding a long-term partner and 'wasting' them on a selfish fling.

And I feel some measure of 'responsibility' for failing to step in and avert these inevitable outcomes. Not a LOT of responsibility, mind, but I feel like I do have some stake in the outcome, realizing how every female ruined by an 'alpha' now shrinks the pool that is available to the good guys who actually 'deserve' the affection.

So basically, I see many, many hapless males who genuinely crave affection, companionship, and yes, sex, and are literally 'unable' to acquire it under current social circumstances (and worse have no available resources to learn how to GIT GUD and maybe have a shot), and I see many hapless females who genuinely crave affection, companionship, and yes, sex who fall for the wrong type of guy and are unable to secure his long-term support after he plays with them (and worse the trauma or regret they experience makes it harder for them to form secure attachments in the future) and they're all OBVIOUSLY unhappy with their decisions and the way their lives have played out.

And I think, SURELY, if only we could get these two groups to interact under the right conditions, we could achieve MUTUAL GAIN FROM TRADE or something. If only someone(s) would put in the work to organize such an exchange.

And "if not me, then whom?"

That is perhaps the question worth asking. Who will take the hard steps necessary to make the collective marginally better off if they are only worried about their own internal state?

The US took over that role. China could take that role, they have a much bigger maritime industry than the US does. They're the biggest trading nation, they're naturally interested in controlling sea lanes and trade routes.

They're not a particularly good candidate because they have a harder time projecting power, especially into the Atlantic.

And their demographic problems are even worse and more advanced than the West's... and that's just what they admit. I have no doubt the CCP could attempt some crazy political solutions. But as I mentioned elsewhere in here that still requires 20+ years to raise the children of that new baby boom to the age where they can become productive.

Highly religious groups have high fertility, this is pretty straightforward!

Yes, the Amish, having entirely rejected modern cultural, technological, and economic norms are doing fine here.

But the majority of us are living with the standard set of such norms and have to navigate the system where others hold these norms or similar versions.

I don't think there's a policy prescription I've yet seen which would manage to bring modern society's fertility levels up to that of the devoutly religious without also impacting their material conditions in a way that lowers standard of living.

Now, that tradeoff may be worthwhile, but good luck selling it.

If the US pulls back, other powers will replace America in setting rules and norms. That's why the US isn't pulling back.

But that's why the demographic issue is concerning. Maintaining the order when you have intense economic strain due to aging population at below replacement level unable to produce the necessary output to maintain the country's economy at the level necessary to field an effective naval force. Ukraine's demographics are impacting its ability to field an effective military and they will probably never recover.

The U.S.' military capacity is not immune from this.

Like, this is the point. Historically this scenario is rather unprecedented. Other scenarios where human population decreased in a rapid fashion usually indicate economic collapse.

I've yet to see ANY example from history where human population went on a steep decline without economic fallout attached.

The U.S., if it is suffering economic strain from such a decline, could be rendered unable to intervene if conflicts start breaking out around the globe, and such demonstrated failure would only encourage further defection.. The limits of U.S. hegemony are already on display since the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

And if the U.S. itself is self-sufficient for food, energy, and manufacturing, surely the motivation to keep spending time and effort maintaining the order will sink, too.

And I'm trying not to catastrophize here, but I keep asking for some reasonable solution that has demonstrated success in the past, and nobody has actually provided one.

So my priors would suggest that we have gotten used to being in an era of prosperity that is anomalous in the historical record, and the effort needed to maintain this prosperity could easily outstrip our capacity without some drastic intervention. Such as AGI.

That being said...people don't genuinely expect ASI to be omnipotent, right?

From reading (almost) the entire sequences on Lesswrong back in the day, its less 'omnipotent' but more 'as far above humans as humans are above ants.' There are hard limits on 'intelligence' if we simply look at stuff like the Landauer limit, but the conceit sees to be that once we have an AGI that is capable of recursive self-improvement, it'll go FOOM and start iterating asymptotically close to those limits, and it will start reaching out into the local arm of the galaxy to meet its energy needs.

It's not like it would be too hard to imagine, if the stories about John Von Neumann are accurate, then maximum human intelligence is already quite powerful on its own, and there's no reason to think that human brains are the most efficient design possible. If we can 'merely' simulate 500 Von Neumanns and put them to the task of improving our AI systems, we'd expect they'd make 'rapid' progress, no?

Put a different way, I expect that the hard/soft science divide will continue to exist the same way that I can still beat AlphaZero at chess if you put me up a queen in the endgame.

Its a good analogy, but imagine if AlphaZero, whose sole goal was 'win at chess,' was given the ability to act, beyond the chessboard. Maybe it offers you untold riches if you just resign or sacrificed the queen. Maybe it threatens you or your family with retribution. Maybe it acquires a gun and shoots you.

I do worry that humans are too focused on the 'chessboard' when a true superintelligence would be focused on a much, much larger space of possible moves.

One thing that worries me is that a superintelligence might be much better at foreseeing third or fourth order effects of given actions, which would allow it to make plans that will eventually result in outcomes it desires but without alerting humans to the outcome because it is only in the interaction of these various effects that its intended goal comes about.

So, even if I'm putting my foot in my mouth and the definitive breakthrough in aging research will be published tomorrow, anyone telling you that a drug is less than 10 years out is almost certainly wrong.

Certainly, I'm more focused on the 'escape velocity' argument, where an advance that gets us another ten years of healthy life on average makes it that much more likely that we'll be alive for the next advance that gives us 20 cumulative additional years of life, which makes it more likely we'll be around when the REALLY good stuff is discovered. I haven't seen any 'straight lines' of progress on extending lifespan that suggest this is inevitable, though, whereas I CAN see these with AI and demographics, as stated.

An interesting tactic I could see working is trying to expand dogs' lives, because NOBODY will object to this project, and if it works it should, in theory, get a lot of funding and produce insights that are in fact useful for human lifespan. So perhaps we see immortal dogs before immortal mice?

I am not surprised there'd be a grifter problem, because it is really easy to 'wow' people with scientific-sounding gobbledygook, sell them on promises of life extension via [miracle substance], and get rich all while knowing they won't know they've been had until literal decades later when they are still aging as usual. I also somewhat hate that cosmetic surgery and other tech (like hair dye) is effective enough that someone can absolutely make the claim that they're aging slower than 'natural' but in reality they just cover up the visible effects of aging.

Finally, on this point:

Things that seemed inevitable can reverse themselves fairly easily, and I'd agree with /u/2rafa that we haven't seriously tried to reverse the trend.

This is a bit different because the while we can't necessarily know the upper limit on the earth's carrying capacity for humans... we sure as hell know that its possible to for the human population go to zero. Its safe to say that population growth will reverse because eventually we hit a limit. But I don't see any inbuilt reason why population decline need reverse anytime soon.

And Zeihan's strong argument is that even if we start pumping out kids today, it'll be 20 or so years before this new baby boom can even begin to be productive, so we're still in for a period of strain during that time where we lose productive members of society to retirement and death, and are spending tons of money on raising the next generation, meaning the actual productive generations have to provide support for both their parents and their own kids and may not be able to invest in other productive uses of capital. Which would imply a period of stagnation at least.

That is, we can't instantly replace a declining population of working-age adults merely by having more kids now since kids take time to grow and become productive. So a lot of the suck is already 'baked in' at this point, where a reversal in the trend doesn't prevent the actual problem from arising.

Most people are having children

Yeah, but then you have the % of those that are out of wedlock, or whose parents ultimately divorced, and the median age when they have that first child is pretty damn high which is suggesting that family formation is struggling in some ways.

I might believe we could solve the birth rate issue in aggregate by paying women to pump out kids, but that would have some foreseeable second-order effects that might be problematic on their own.

I think the birthrate issue is multidimensional, since I believe the evidence that people WANT to have kids, but can't ignore that so many are delaying the decision or are finding themselves unable to achieve it, I am finding myself confused (except, not really) as to why revealed preferences are so different from stated preferences on this issue.

Right, although this gets into the fact that we'll get AGI one way or another because various parties will keep racing to achieve it because of the massive advantage it confers on the person who 'controls' it.

It'd be a very unlikely case where one party gets an AGI that allows it nigh-complete control of a given region of the globe, and yet it could prevent some other nation from pushing ahead to a full-on dangerous superintelligence.

Deglobalization is to some degree inevitable- it's already occuring and even accelerating in many contexts, and macro trends suggest further- and as things deglobalize, producers and investments will shift. Investment flows go first where it will be safe, then where it will grow, and the regions that are relatively safely will get injections to grow further. The industries that support hi-technology development will be disrupted, not just destroyed, and then they will relocate.

Zeihan specifically singles out Ohio as a location where tons of investment is flowing and will continue to flow, including building up the capacity to make advanced chips.

And damn, if you are a high-tech company worried about deglobalization impacting your ability to manufacture or receive high-end chips, sticking your manufacturing base DEEP in the American heartland (where it still has access to river networks to allow export of the finished product) is about the safest possible bet you could make. Regardless of what happens, if any foreign power wanted to invade you they'd have to come onto the American mainland, which is a nonstarter. Can't even fire missiles at it from the ocean.

And in Ohio you've at least got guaranteed access to locally-sourced food and energy.

So I can see there being a version of the future that gets destabilized by war, famine, or disease, but after some adjustment (which may take a couple decades) manufacturing returns close to previous trendlines and we STILL manage to achieve AGI this century.

But is he actually right? The man was predicting 'collapse of China in 5 years' for about the last 20 years. He's been predicting 'America number 1 as the rest of the world collapses' for ages. And that's not the world we're seeing. His core thesis wasn't just wrong, it was the opposite of what actually happened. It's not 'America retreats inwards in splendid isolation as everyone else fights, world sea trade collapses along with China', it's 'American relative power is diminishing as China, Russia, Iran work together to pressure and undermine the US world order, which America bitterly defends'.

I read his most recent book and I find that he seems to be directionally right about most issues. The slow death of German manufacturing/industry, for example

In fact, part of his thesis in the book is that American power does recede because the U.S. stops being very concerned about what happens beyond its borders and immediate sphere of influence.

And I have yet to find a good counterargument to his primary thrust, which I read as follows:

  1. The current world of prosperity is completely dependent on cheap international shipping.
  2. International shipping is dependent on the U.S. enforcing freedom of navigation from the top down.
  3. Absent this, ships will be targeted by pirates and nation states, and countries that control choke points will extort heavy tolls for passage. I.e. exactly what the Houthis are doing with a shoestring budget.
  4. The current demographic/birthrate decline will leave most countries in an economic lurch, where they will be "forced" to pillage their neighbors if they want to maintain independence. We're seeing flareups related to this already.
  5. The U.S. is self-sufficient enough that it will have minimal interest in getting entangled in every place where their intervention will be required, especially if their own demographics have declined and they're facing economic strain. Why spend all that money to maintain a global order that doesn't benefit the U.S. much and other countries aren't actually helping maintain?

All of this seems very straightforward and 'baked in' at this point.

So all it would take is the U.S. to be unable or unwilling to keep the sea routes safe for international trade to break down the systems that allow advanced economies to exist in countries without local energy or raw materials or capital reserves. If the giant cargo ships can't safely travel then EVERYTHING gets more expensive.

Affirmative action for parents in the workforce and education. Glamourize parenthood. Return to traditional marriage, encourage devout religion. Anything but these measly subsidies.

I have yet to see evidence that this actually works under our current technological and economic regime.

And I am not sure how you'd convince all the women who currently enjoy massive privileges to live their lives free of any real 'obligations' to accept having 3 kids each to bring things back on track, when they can simply vote for a regime that will support them regardless.

Simply put, I find Zeihan's thesis more compelling even if he gets the timing wrong, than I do the alternate thesis that somehow this massive overhang of elderly people who cannot produce value but consume huge portions of it via medical care and such when the working age-population is continually shrinking will NOT cause some serious strain.

Right, but all AI development right now is predicated on the ready availability of high-end computer chips.

And there's currently a bare handful of companies in the world that design such chips, and functionally only one that manufactures them.

And the existence of that one company is predicated both on NOT being invaded by outside powers, and on there being a stable global trade order that can supply them with all of the extremely delicate inputs they need to create the chips.

This is the most advanced manufacturing capacity the human race currently has, and thus it is also particularly fragile.

These chips are at the very tip-top of a VERY tall infrastructure pyramid. If any of those earlier inputs is disrupted then these chips cannot be produced, at least not at scale.

In short, Taiwan cannot produce chips if there isn't a steady supply of food, energy, and refined materials supplied to them by the rest of the world. If Taiwan can't produce chips due to a breakdown in global trade, it is unclear who could step in fill their shoes.

One of the 'hedges' against AI job loss I inadvertently made over the past several years was becoming a self-defense instructor, which is almost entirely dependent on being physically dexterous in the real world.

Naively, I'd imagine it will be a longer time before there's robots that are able to teach and demonstrate martial arts techniques, especially when teaching them requires physically interacting with and throwing other humans around, because a human needs to learn from an instructor that is analogous enough to a human that they can easily imitate their motions.

So yeah, I've noticed the massive differential between how effectively current AIs and LLMs manipulate bits vs. atoms. The big one being the fact that full self-driving cars are still struggling to navigate a vehicle around in the real world, which is a skill many humans develop by age 18.

But this seems like one of those obstacles that will seem insurmountable until suddenly it is not.

I think my own personal bellwether on this issue is when Autonomous Formula 1 cars start beating human drivers, I'll notice, and worry.

The current state, however:




I do think that AI proponents seem... premature to crow how powerful their creations are when they aren't very good at making things actually happen in the real world.

I wonder to what extent this is hung upon the weird social expectations around nudity and sex thanks to sex-positivity supplanting prudish abstinence as a norm.

That is, the 'progressive' teachings would suggest that children/teens should not feel shame about their bodies, should feel comfortable talking about and, perhaps engaging in sexual activities (else what are these books about?), and should really view sex as a wonderful and 'positive' thing, and taboos around sex and nudity are just social constructs which one can reject as oppressive. So by all logic the mere act of taking and view nudes shouldn't be some taboo, shameful, or criminal, absent some real harm to a real person.

But surprise, this crashes into the biological reality that males are just hornier than females in general. A cishet guy will literally never say "no" if a young, decently attractive woman wants to show off her body to him. But I'd say most young, decently attractive women are not going to send out nude pics to guys on request, and of course will shame and criticize unworthy men who make the request.

So the equilibrium is not one where females are generous with their nude pics and it just becomes a normalized and expected thing that guys will jerk off to their female friends behind closed doors to photos she took and transmitted on her own, and all of this is considered a positive expression of sexuality.

The equilibrium appears to be that women can send nudes at their discretion, and feel empowered and appreciated by demonstrating their 'freedom' from social stigma, but guys, oh ho ho, are still hamstrung because said women mostly choose to NOT send nudes out and still retain the ability to throw shame at men who express an interest in or request nudes without some explicit or implicit invitation.

And if a guy actually accepts the logic of "nudes are no big deal and sexual desire is natural and good" I don't know how he'd conclude that generating fake nudes could possibly be some massive social violation. So he's now double hamstrung. If women aren't sending him nudes already, he'd be taking on a massive risk by suggesting or requesting it. On the extreme end, he might instantly be labelled an 'incel' with all the condemnation that implies. And if he decides "nah, I won't bother an actual woman with my sexual desires" and generates fake nudes of girls he finds attractive, as we see this gets him labelled a pathetic creep at best, or an actual criminal at worst. And he'll get called an incel anyway.

I know, I know, I'm glossing over the full array of social dynamics at work in such a situation. The main thrust of my point here is that at least with a prudish abstinence cultural standard, it is both shameful to take nudes AND to stay in possession of them, and shame is doled out in approximately equal shares to all involved parties. It may not be an optimal outcome but I dare say it would produce a healthier equlibrium overall.