The Living Thing / Notebooks :


the original karma system

Usefulness: 🔧
Novelty: 💡
Uncertainty: 🤪 🤪 🤪
Incompleteness: 🚧 🚧 🚧

Prestige/dominance, as seen in cooperation and leveraged in reputation systems.

Kevin Simler in Minimum Viable Superorganism, casts the problem of cooperation outside the family unit as the setting up of a “prestige economy”, with some nice phrases to support his case. It’s missing things you’d need for a comprehensive account of human cooperation (altruistic punishment, generalised reciprocity etc) but has some excellent phrases and is a workable first-order approximation/perspective. c&c the effectiveness of reputation systems as motivation.

🚧 To mention: prestige versus dominance.

Another oddball framing from Scott Alexander, Financial Incentives Are Weaker Than Social Incentives But Very Important Anyway. He is referring to (Duflo and Banerjee 2019). A lot of his concern might be compactly summarised by the X is Yer than Z problem.


Becker, Mark W., Reem Alzahabi, and Christopher J. Hopwood. 2012. “Media Multitasking Is Associated with Symptoms of Depression and Social Anxiety.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 16 (2): 132–35.

Cheng, Joey T., Jessica L. Tracy, and Joseph Henrich. 2010. “Pride, Personality, and the Evolutionary Foundations of Human Social Status.” Evolution and Human Behavior 31 (5): 334–47.

Duflo, Esther, and Abhijit Banerjee. 2019. “Opinion | Economic Incentives Don’t Always Do What We Want Them To.” The New York Times: Opinion, October 26, 2019.

Henrich, Joseph, and Francisco J. Gil-White. 2001. “The Evolution of Prestige: Freely Conferred Deference as a Mechanism for Enhancing the Benefits of Cultural Transmission.” Evolution and Human Behavior 22 (3): 165–96.

Lin, Liu yi, Jaime E. Sidani, Ariel Shensa, Ana Radovic, Elizabeth Miller, Jason B. Colditz, Beth L. Hoffman, Leila M. Giles, and Brian A. Primack. 2016. “Association Between Social Media Use and Depression Among U.S. Young Adults.” Depression and Anxiety 33 (4): 323–31.

Maner, Jon K. 2017. “Dominance and Prestige: A Tale of Two Hierarchies.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 26 (6): 526–31.

Primack, Brian A., Ariel Shensa, César G. Escobar-Viera, Erica L. Barrett, Jaime E. Sidani, Jason B. Colditz, and A. Everette James. 2017. “Use of Multiple Social Media Platforms and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety: A Nationally-Representative Study Among U.S. Young Adults.” Computers in Human Behavior 69 (April): 1–9.

Simler, Kevin, and Robin Hanson. 2018. The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life. 1 edition. New York: Oxford University Press.

Tracy, Jessica L., and Richard W. Robins. 2007. “Emerging Insights into the Nature and Function of Pride.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 16 (3): 147–50.

Tracy, Jessica L., Azim F. Shariff, and Joey T. Cheng. 2010. “A Naturalist’s View of Pride.” Emotion Review 2 (2): 163–77.