Technically Exists

Ranked choice voting is worth supporting


Ranked choice voting (RCV) has a lot of supporters in the U.S. voting reform movement. However, the single-winner version, which also goes by the name instant-runoff voting (IRV), does have some detractors, particularly among those who support rated voting methods instead. Most still agree that RCV is an improvement over the single-choice voting method1 used in almost every U.S. election, but a few dispute even this. While I believe that RCV is likely not the best single-winner method, I also believe that it is an improvement over single-choice voting. As such, I think you should support RCV even if you agree with many of the arguments made against it.

The first argument I will address is RCV’s failure of the favorite betrayal criterion. The favorite betrayal criterion requires that a voting method never allows a voter to get a worse result by giving their favorite candidate maximum support. RCV’s failure of this criterion means there are situations in which a strategic voter will “betray” their favorite candidate by ranking them lower than another candidate. In other words, a voter’s favorite candidate may sometimes act as a spoiler that must be ranked lower than a more viable candidate in order to avoid the voter’s least-preferred outcome.

  1. This method is commonly called first-past-the-post voting or plurality voting, but I’m avoiding those terms because it’s generally not obvious what they refer to. 

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STAR voting in an interstate compact


Jameson Quinn lays out a proposal for an interstate compact that links the result of the US presidential election to the national popular vote, similar to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. However, unlike the NPVIC, this compact is designed to support not just plurality voting, but other voting methods as well. Specifically, approval, score, and 3-2-1 are all compatible.1 Two notable methods are missing from this list: instant-runoff voting, supported by FairVote (though under the name ranked choice voting), and STAR voting, supported by The Equal Vote Coalition.

  1. It also works with borda count, but because borda is (at least arguably) worse than plurality, I have chosen to omit it. 

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Should you pursue common or rare achievements?


Recently I’ve been considering what video game achievements are most worth aiming for. Specifically, the question is whether I should go after common achievements or rare achievements. I’d been targeting rare achievements, but it occurred to me that I might be better off going after common ones instead.

One reason to pursue common achievements is that they’re generally lower-hanging fruit. All else equal, the easier an achievement is, the more people will have it. Thus, if you simply want to maximize the number of achievements you have, going after more common achievements seems like the way to go. Occasionally a rare achievement may seem just as easy, but that shouldn’t be your main focus, only a possibility that you pursue as it comes up.

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Why discuss superintelligence?


My site now contains a miscellaneous section with exactly one page, the Superintelligence reference page. I’ve briefly brought up superintelligence in the past, but I’ve never discussed it in detail. However, given that others have already written so much about it, I feel like it makes more sense to collect the resources I think do a good job of explaining it. Therefore, if you have no idea what superintelligence is or why you should care about it, I’d recommend starting with some of the links in the Introductions section before reading on.

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My thoughts on Microsoft acquiring GitHub


Today it was announced that Microsoft is acquiring GitHub. The responses to this event have been mixed, with some people expressing optimism and others fear. I have two lines of thought regarding this subject.

First of all, I don’t expect Microsoft to ruin GitHub. I agree with those who believe that Microsoft genuinely cares about open source. So long as software is a complement to Microsoft’s products, Microsoft is incentivized to support open source software. I was worried when I discovered that Microsoft’s revenue from Windows is dropping since operating systems are an obvious complement of software, but luckily Microsoft seems to be pivoting to cloud services, another complement of software. Therefore, I expect that Microsoft will at least avoid damaging GitHub in any way since it stands to gain from open source.

What does worry me is the larger pattern that this acquisition is a part of. Microsoft has made a lot of acquisitions in the past, and it’s far from the only company to do so. This pattern, along with some other factors, has resulted in a major increase in market power, which means there’s a lot less competition among companies. This leads to a variety of problems, including lower wages, less economic growth, and the phenomenon known as cost disease, among many others. So while I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this acquisition specifically, in context it is part of an extremely harmful pattern that needs to be ended.