Paying a cost to harm others more: Ukraine's nuclear power plants, subtractive asymmetric balancing, and antisocial punishment.
TL;DR: given what we know about competitive (antisocial) behaviour, I recommend taking seriously the threat of Putin deliberately creating a nuclear power plant disaster in Ukraine.
|Too wordy, want a video? I made this one. It's less than |
10 minutes, or 5 minutes if you speed it up 2x.
I'm known mostly for my research in AI, but I only took a degree in AI because I had a competitive advantage there: I am (or was) a really good programmer. My real interest is in natural intelligence. So are two of my four higher-education degrees, and I have a number of scientific papers published in this area. (Including, contrary to what a lot of people think, that one "AI bias" paper...)
|"You are endangering the safety of the |
entire world" may be an exaggeration.
Aside from that Science paper, one of my most-cited natural science papers is titled Explaining antisocial punishment (here's the green open access version.) Antisocial punishment (ASP) is the willingness to pay a cost to damage others who were actually helping you. Like, say, putting your conscripted soldiers in harm's way, or damaging a nuclear reactor knowing that it will contaminate your own population too, but someone else's more.
This willingness to conduct ASP is known to vary by geographic region, as you can see in this figure below from the brilliant 2008 Science article, Antisocial Punishment Across Societies. The first author of that paper is also a coauthor on my paper above, Benedikt Herrmann. Herrmann was motivated to do this study because he didn't believe that Russians would be as willing to enforce good behaviour as economists previously thought. He turned out to be right that enforcement behaviour varies by location. But he was also partly wrong: given a chance, almost everyone will punish those who don't contribute as much to public works projects as the punisher thinks people should. But in fact, people from the former Soviet Union (and the former Ottoman Empire) were way more likely than others to also punish those who gave more, or even the same amount, as they themselves did.
|Fig. 1 from Herrmann & al. (2008). Green is paying to punish those who contribute less to the public good than you do, which is considered altruistic. The other colours are varying degrees of antisocial.|