Sysopism

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Sysopism is a blanket term for the general belief that strict hierarchy is the only power structure that an Internet forum, e.g. a large public wiki, can follow. It is based on the same assumptions as fascism, theocracy and absolute monarchy, the identical civics applied in the real world.

control fantasy[edit]

In its extreme form, "Friendly AI", it actually advocates that artificial intelligence be raised to godhood, and act literally as a "sysop" for the entire biosphere. This theory was originated by Eleizer Yudkowsky who actually renamed his AI "Friendly" from "Sysop". The Singularity Institute attempts to promote exactly this ideology.

The less extreme form of sysopism is seen in usurper behaviour in large public wikis. Such behaviours as sysop vigilantiism, sysop vandalism, etc., are thought to be symptoms of sysopism, a directly opposed ideology to any form of anarchism, which emphasize decentralisation and personal responsibility rather than trust in any god-like authority figures, e.g. a GodKing. Vile mailing lists and other echo chamber behaviour like spun threat invention are symptoms of the constant conflict of interest these people find themselves in.

To the true believer in sysopism, the solution to this is always more technological escalation, making more of a carceral state, and training or teaching people to behave predictably: perhaps ultimately incorporating their "skills" into an "AI". Which would be exactly the one Yudkowsky seeks. These believers would seem to be control freaks and have serious God's Eye View problems in their strange ideology. These were of course exactly the subject-object problems that plagued other such totalitarian movements, e.g. Nazism and Stalinism, which likewise made claims about some inevitable "march of history" in which they triumphed.

real politics[edit]

These Platonist or Hegelian views contrast sharply with the typical attitudes taken by participants in real politics in any kind of democracy:

Because sysops are only in control of an epistemic community rather than a real one, and are not seen to be physically violent to people who are expressing themselves, some believe that these trends in control seeking behaviour are not very serious. Possibly, just symptoms of damaged personality.

However, the rise in Internet activism and use of blog and wiki net media by political party or civil society or social economy or developing nation activists, suggests strongly that the power of sysops can become immensely oppressive in a great many cases.

When confronted with real political issues, the typical sysop applies labels freely, like "trolling", "vandalism", decides to challenge certain claims not others, and often is simply expressing biases based on his or her own politics. Few have political virtues. In an extremely diverse forum like Wikipedia, this leads to Wikipedia factions formed in self defense, some of which contest sysop power directly. Recyclopedia:factions are more pro-active and intended to aid in dispute resolution without over-simplifying political disputes or overly trusting one clique to define them or define a response to them under threat of technological escalation.

dangers[edit]

It seems inevitable that those pursuing some form of bourgeois revolution, Islamic revolution, proletarian revolution or even more moderate goals like simple ability for developing nation readers to access and complete and culturally unbiased archive of knowledge, will come into violent conflict with those who exercise direct control over, e.g. the GFDL corpus. In any such conflict, it seems quite likely that sysopism will be exterminated, as it is not an overt political movement, but simply a bunch of very stupid people who are very far in over their heads as far as real politics is concerned.

References[edit]