Anders Sandberg, on AI versus social norm enforcemant:
We are subject to norm enforcement from friends and strangers all the time. What is new is the application of media and automation. They scale up the stakes and add the possibility of automated enforcement […] . Automated enforcement makes the panopticon effect far stronger: instead of suspecting a possibility of being observed it is a near certainty. So the net effect is stronger, more pervasive norm enforcement…
…of norms that can be observed and accurately assessed. Jaywalking is transparent in a way being rude or selfish often isn’t. We may end up in a situation where we carefully obey some norms, not because they are the most important but because they can be monitored.
I think Anders is approaching Goodhardts law.
Marit Ayin, a principle in Jewish law and moral philosophy, has come up in conversation recently several times. Contexts: setting workplace norms, a complementary concept to gaslighting. Most recently related to dan l’kaf zechus (“judge your fellow favorably”) which sounds rather like a Postel’s Law for ethics.
When I do something that looks wrong, even if I have a perfectly good and innocent explanation, the damage is done. …If I enter a non-kosher restaurant to use the facilities, while I have not broken any law of keeping kosher, I have bridged the divide between kosher and not kosher, and invite others to do the same. But there’s a deeper reason not to do something that just looks wrong, even if it isn’t wrong, and even if no one is looking. And that is because not only can such activity affect others, it can affect us too. Actors know that when you play a character, you can sometimes become that character. The self we project to others can sometimes be absorbed into our own identity. And so by looking like you are doing something wrong, you may come to actually do it.
This is a useful concept (if not a precept). Not that this is a precept for my life, as such, but I do need to discuss this concept from time to time. In particular, I think this gets at an element of conspicuous morality that is it is best not to dismiss as “mere” virtue signalling.