At their best, human relationships are mutual self-actualization optimization processes. One major obstacle I’ve found to thinking of interactions this way is that people are concerned about manipulation. This post [link broken, and I don’t remember what the post said :-(] addresses the issue well enough that I’ll link to it instead of trying to reproduce it.
Despite the fact that I find concerns about manipulation largely incoherent, I’ve found it useful to explicitly clarify to other people that I am open to all methods of influence being used on me.
I might be aware of what you’re doing and I might not. I very much want to be aware of the forces that are influencing my decisions and behavior. I like it when people tell me how they’re manipulating me: I’m a big fan of open communication and meta-discussion both during and after actual discussions, and I’ve found increased self-knowledge to be very broadly useful.
I can also learn a lot about how other people are influencing my behavior just by paying attention, particularly if they’re actively experimenting [another broken link]—explicitly telling me is just a bonus.
And the primary reason I care about knowing myself is that it’s instrumentally useful. I agree with Francis Bacon’s perspective, “Your true self can be known only by systematic experimentation, and controlled only by being known.” So when I’m someone influences me to achieve my goals without my knowledge, that’s a positive outcome too.
So, to help clear up issues of consent and ethics, I’m defining Draco’s Rules, by analogy with Crocker’s Rules.
Declaring yourself to be operating by “Draco’s Rules” means that other people are allowed to optimize their messages for influencing you, not for transmitting information, or being nice to you. Draco’s Rules means that you have accepted full responsibility for the security holes of your own mind – you will never complain that you are being “manipulated”. Anyone is allowed to lie to you to push you in the direction of achieving your CEV and claim to be doing you a favor. (Which, in point of fact, they would be. One of the big problems with this culture is that everyone’s afraid to take full responsibility for their potential to shape the behavior of those around them, or think they have to dance around it.) Two people using Draco’s Rules should be able to expose all exploitable vulnerabilities in the minimum amount of time, without unnecessary explanation or negotiation of permission. Obviously don’t declare yourself to be operating by Draco’s Rules unless you have that kind of mental discipline.
“Draco’s Rules” are named after Draco from Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.
To clarify, I am operating by Draco’s Rules.
I reserve the right to object when people don’t manipulate me skillfully enough, or I find out that they’re trying to get me to act against my own best interest.