The chapter starts by talking about Baboons because obviously, Schneier loves to use examples to justify his point and to explain it to all types of readers. So basically Baboons prefer going hunting alone because if they hunt together they might forget their main prey and they get crazed about each other and attack each other .  That is where the comparison rises,  with people we cooperate with the ones we haven’t even met unlike baboons because of certain reasons like societal pressures or even because we choose group interest over self interests. Then Schneier talks about how people have barely changed over time. The reason for that is the disconnect between the speed of cultural evolution and genetic evolution We usually weight short term and long term costs and benefits differently, one of the techniques is called the hyperbolic discounting rate basically that means how we prefer lower payoffs sooner than higher payoff later or another example is that we won’t buy a piece of clothing when it is originally 49 dollars but we would when it is 49 dollars after discount.

Then he wrote about how humans have become more cooperative, at the same time we evolved strategies for dealing with defectors. For example the taxes system, he then quotes ” If men were angels, no govt would be necessary” he generally means that is no protection and safety would be required anymore because angels don’t go where there are not supposed to go. We wouldn’t need the police, army, or even the military because angels might have disputes but always make peaceful decisions as angels never cheat. But the truth of life is that we aren’t really angels. Hence life is tough and expensive for us, have you ever thought why certain things cost so much? It is because of the after tremors for example why groceries expensive, because things are shoplifted so to balance or compromise that out or why are plane tickets expensive because people try to blow them up, mainly things are expensive because of the measures being taken for its security is basically a tax on the honest. He then says that we are trustworthy towards strangers because of the realistic constraints of the society we live in and they are many factors that affect that. In today’s world,  Society is protected by defectors not by making them disappear but by keeping their successes down to a manageable rate as it’s obvious that it’s easier for a smaller community to deal with theft.

Then he introduced a new theory the Dunbar theory. It is basically the cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships  And then we come back to the main component which is trust, it needs a function of scaling using codification of rules, laws, norms is how we develop it. Reputational pressure is another trust mechanism, Institutions and technology have always helped it to grow. Security systems are the final way we induce trust today. Compliance is not as good as actual trustworthiness but it’s good enough, as both the concepts elicit trust.It might help it to grow but technology also increases social complexity. When we face a situation where we have to decide between cooperating and following the group norm or defect and follow some competing norm, we have to weigh the costs and benefits, for this, we can use the societal dilemmas which captures the tension between group and competing interest. It’s in society’s collective best interest to ensure widespread cooperation. One of the game theories we discuss is the prisoner’s dilemma.

Sometimes choosing self-interest can lead to the worst consequences also and by keeping group interest forward it can be a  win-win situation provided all the members trust each other. He then introduces us to the term externality from economics which means a cost or a benefit caused by a producer that is not financially incurred or received by that producer but dependent on someone else. In our society, defection always doesn’t imply that is immoral but it just implies that you prefer competing interests ahead of the group interest. One of the major trust mechanisms is reputation and the other is punishment. But sometimes, societal dilemmas are not always symmetrical, sometimes it can be a non-zero-sum game in which the wins and losses don’t add up to zero so they are the outcome if u lose or and worse outcomes if you lose big.

The other theory is a free-rider problem in which a person receives the benefit of those who act in the group interest without having to act themselves basically they enjoy the benefits of everyone else cooperation without themselves cooperating For example, like a single person in the community who doesn’t pay taxes but still uses all public institutions available like the police or the fire dept.

Schneier just wants to convey, when it comes to dilemmas, there is no logical solution to them, especially the prisoner theory as there is no trust they end up defecting each other and suffering, you can never analyze which type of cooperation makes more sense than the other. At the end of the day, it’s just a dilemma and a super narrow concept in daily life, we don’t feel that the merchant is cheating you at checkout, do you? We usually don’t think through the dilemma at all in real life.  And when it comes to game theories, we don’t solve them according to the parameters of the game, we eventually modify them to eliminate the dilemma itself. Hence this is the reason cooperation is still not so easy and rare natural world and for humans to develop it.Trust is contextual and dilemmas are just subjective risk trade-offs. There exist some societal pressures which reduce the scope of defection in these ways like

1.Pressures that increase the actual or perceived difficulty of defecting

2.Pressures that raise the consequences of defecting

3.Pressures that limit the damage caused by the defection that happens

4.Pressures that increase the benefit of cooperating

5.Pressures that lower the cost of cooperating

6.Pressures that reduce the actual or expected benefits of defecting

By this, you can reduce the frequency of defecting highly He then explained different types of pressures:-

1.Moral pressures- works best in small groups, our morals can affect our interactions with strangers on the other side of the planet buts the end of the day we work best with the people we know well, usually operated before, after of during a defect.

2.Reputational pressure -works well in small and medium-sized groups, if we are not at least somewhat familiar with other people we are not going to be know-how reputed they are, the better we know them better we know how their reputation is, operates after the defection.

3.Institutional pressure- works best in large-sized groups, it doesn’t make sense in small groups usually you are unlikely to call the police if your friend stole your school bag, usually operated during the defection.

Sometimes Security systems act as a societal pressure at a variety of scales. It can be close up and personal or global like a system to detect international money laundering or anything in between these two extremes. Just like moral pressures, they are operated before, after, or during a defection.

To conclude,  Societal pressures are like antibodies, T cells, and B cells which defend society as a whole against internal threats without being concerned about any particular harm to individual members of the group which overall does make the immune system stronger. The main reasons our societal pressure systems are failing because of the scale of the number of people being involved is usually neglected. Many things are taken into consideration during a defection like nature traits or tendencies, or natural defense, most of the systems working after the defection result in a deterrence effect.
Schneier then talks about each pressure in more detail. First off is Moral pressures, he starts by talking about voting and how his vote has never changed or affected the outcome which technically means that democracy doesn’t care, reaching to a point that voting is a social dilemma, sure it counts but it just doesn’t matter. But also if everyone had the same attitude then democracy wouldn’t work. He uses the example of how caring about the welfare of tour fellow citizen is an example of moral pressure, just to increase the voter turnout, society sometimes directly appeals to a person’s moral.  But talking about morality, it is a super complex concept,  usually, it means a person’s individual values so the word moral means good and immoral means bad.  But he refers to them as innate or cultural guidelines that inform people’s decision-making processes as they evaluate certain situations, they include certain factors like conscious or unconscious processes, gut feelings, or even explicit rules and internal reward mechanisms. Morals are just a mechanism designed to engage people’s sense of right and wrong for example, voting is right and to murder someone is wrong. He talks about how Morals can affect social dilemmas in many ways, anticipating our moral feelings which arise during or after a defection can incentivize to cooperate or lead to a deterrent effect. Morals are the only societal pressure that makes people “want to” behave in a group interest, the rest of them are “have to”.

He then references Jonathan Haidt who proposed five fundamental systems that underline human morality  which are

1.Harm / care systems

2.Fairness / reciprocity systems

3.Ingroup / loyalty systems

4.Authority/group systems

5.Purity/sanctity systems

Schneier then uses examples of a slogan  ‘don’t mess with Texas’, it is used to prevent littering and reinforces the group identity of Texans both as people who don’t leave messes and who are not to be messed with, he loves how clever the slogan is.

Schneir loves exploring new theories and introducing them to us, but this one is an old traditional one, the Bad apple effect found by  Andrew Colman, which suggests that any large group is likely to contain bad apples who will defect at the expense of the group interest and inspire others to do likewise. Morals can be influenced by a powerful ruler or a class, it can be used to manipulate people into doing certain things like voting or to stop littering, it is said that a person is more inclined to cooperate if he feels empathy with the other people in the group. Morality is grounded in the face to face interactions and works best at close range like with friends family etc. or in immediate situations or stress.The reasons Moral pressure fails are:-

1.People vary in their individual behaviors

2.Morals often conflict

3.Morals often overreach

4.Morals can be manipulated

5.Morals scale badly

My favorite quote I came across was this “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic “- Joseph Stalin.He concluded by saying that morals are societal pressure that works when no one is watching.

The second type in which he goes in-depth is Reputational pressures which are more commonly known as Peer pressure.He describes it as a race between the ability to deceive and the ability to detect deception, we take our reputations very seriously, and spend a lot of time working on them and maintaining them. Sometimes to the extent of even defending them to the point of death because that is what attracts someone to trust or cooperate with you, your reputation.  So we try our best to keep it clean, cover up all the blemishes, and sometimes fake it completely. He then justified why we remember negative information about someone more vividly than the positive information, it is because we need to know who is more likely to defect us trust us. Gossip was a mechanism to know about someone’s reputation. He believes that Contrition and forgiveness are two very important things, when you defect you should apologize or make amends or if someone does that to you forgive them and continue cooperating with them. One of the ways humans use to scale reputation is to generalize based on group membership like one particular color or race isn’t trustworthy. For example, In the 17th century, being a quaker meant being in the general community, hence trustworthy. His opinion is that it is a pretty lousy and stereotypical way of judging anyone and I second that.The golden rule is that it isn’t enough to want to cooperate, you should also know how to.  Talking about commerce,

Branding is a smart way to make on the reputational scale,  it isn’t always about quality but about sameness /similarity, how one relates to it. For example, not all McDonalds promise you the best food but they promise you consistency and uniformity in all other McDonald’s stores too, even advertising is used to persuade consumers to associate certain things with a particular reputation. And the final way to make a reputation is to trust the system as a whole, instead of trusting one judge, trust the whole system of the executives and the judiciary, it is easier and better in the long term.

Reputation isn’t an effective societal pressure unless it has consequences which are rewarding the cooperators and punishing the defectors. The common thread of rewards is basically participation and the common thread of punishment is a shame, the social emotion. Talking about punishments, the most severe punishment was banishment, but now some punishments are less severe, we might not break all ties and bonds but we might stop trusting them enough or maybe choose a stranger over them when it comes to a sensitive issue.  Reputation not only encourages cooperation but also marginalizes defectors to the point where there ends up being fewer of them to deal withAnd again the reason even reputation pressure fails is that the groups are too big. Or are but technology can help it to grow He concludes by saying that it works best in groups of people who know each other.

I agree with what Schneier says but sometimes it is confusing because the only time I am thinking about certain things is because of reading the book but I would never think about those things in real life. I really enjoy the use of examples and how he continues building onto them with the use of different references, he not only talks about positive impacts but also negative impacts and justifies them.  Schneier loves to justify points using the theory of relativity and comparing all activities in the olden era to today’s world. The main social and ethical issues are Trust and Cooperation which are being juggled by Schneier in the whole book.

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