[EM] D2MAC can be much more efficient than Range Voting

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Wed Mar 7 22:25:11 PST 2007

At 04:58 PM 3/7/2007, Michael Poole wrote:
>Randomness is not identical to noise.  Stochastic computing methods
>use randomness to get "good" results (according to the method's
>definition of good) -- in many cases, much faster than naive methods
>reach comparable results.

Gad, this is irritating. I gave examples of where randomness is 
useful as described, and "noise" is, quite clearly, not identical to 
"random." However, random number generators can use electrical noise 
as a seed, because some kinds of noise are random. Others aren't. 
Technically, noise means an undesired "signal," though the term 
"signal to noise ratio" is used. If my radio receiver is hissing at 
me because of thermal electrons, that hissing is pure noise, if it is 
garbled because of other radio signals interfering with the one I'm 
trying to receive, that is also noise.

I'm using noise to mean data that is used by an election method that 
is not related to the goal of the election method, it is not designed 
to produce good results. If you want to distribute property by 
lottery, then the random number generation used is not noise, but it 
may come from a "noise source." However, if you want to maximize 
collective wealth by rewarding successful enterprise, using lotteries 
can be noise. Depends on what you are trying to do.

So when I'm claiming that using random distribution of "victory" in 
an election method is introducing "noise," I am claiming that, in 
general, random distribution does not further the underlying goals of 
election methods, which is not to "distribute victory fairly" so that 
every neuron feels that it has "won" a fair number of times. Uh, 
every person, that is.

Imagine programming your computer so that every analysis element in 
it gets its fair share of 'victory.' Do you think this would improve 
results? Depends on what you want, doesn't it?

Poole writes as if I have denied the existence of stochastic methods, 
as if using random numbers can never be a process for improving 
efficiency. That's what is irritating, because I never claimed that, 
nor do I believe it.

> > How evenly benefit is to be spread is a choice. How is this 
> choice to be made?
>This is closely related to the question I asked but that you did not
>answer: How do you define the proper outcome of an election?

If you need to know it, the voters deliberate the question and vote 
on the questions that arise in the process. That is one solution. 
Another is that you have a dictator who defines it. You could define 
it as being proper if the outcome meets some "election criterion," 
such as the Majority Criterion. Problem is that I don't think that 
satisfying the Majority Criterion is the reason we hold elections. We 
hold elections because we imagine that we have a better society 
because of it, and it is the better society we desire, not the 
Majority Criterion as such.

The Majority Criterion *looks* like something that would be desirable 
in a good society. It turns out that this is inaccurate. It's *often* 
true, but it is also true, apparently, that satisfying the Criterion 
can be suboptimal, even seriously suboptimal, and that all members of 
society would agree as to this.

That, by the way, is another way of defining the goal of elections. 
If everyone agrees that outcome A is better than outcome B, after the 
fact, and particularly after there is time for consequences to 
unravel, then we would say that the goal of the election is to select 
outcome A.

Or we could simply define outcome A by majority rule. However, I 
think that most of us would agree that supermajority definition would 
be much more desirable, if attainable. And I do think that it is possible.

Without deliberation, many people would consider the Majority 
Criterion as highly desirable. But show them real-world examples 
where the Criterion *should* fail -- they would agree that it failed 
-- their opinion would change. It would change because the Criterion 
was not their goal, it was what they understood as a mark of the 
goal, a measure of the goal.

>You have written a great many paragraphs here that only repeat the
>same assertion that I questioned: namely, that elections using
>stochastic methods or history introduce noise.  I thought I was rather
>clear in saying that you have not defined "noise" in this context.

And I thought that I've been reasonably clear in defining it. It's 
actually quite simple. Noise is a signal that is unrelated to the 
goal. If you want to "fairly distribute victory," then whatever 
randomness you use, if you do it that way, is not noise. But if your 
goal is, for example, to estimate the pennies in a jar, randomly 
distributing "victory" -- i.e., which individual's guess is used -- 
would be. The general deviation of the results would be far greater 
than by amalgamating and using the amalgamated result. Simple 
averaging might be the best method, but I certainly would not claim 
that there is no superior method. Discarding outliers might, for 
example, improve accuracy. To really know, one would need to experiment.

> > Now, in such a situation, you could imagine that there is a mushroom
> > "faction" and a pepperoni faction and a tomato faction. In reality
> > these are not factions, they are simply *votes* or individual
> > preferences.
>Do you have a better word for groups whose votes are equivalent under
>the election system?

"Faction" implies more than being one who voted with another. It 
implies a much stronger association. But you could use the word 
technically to simply refer to a group who voted in an election identically.

The error would be in assuming that therefore these voters would vote 
identically in another election. Even if the same question were 
asked, they might vote differently.

My comment assumed, I'd have thought, that "faction" *was* a usable 
term -- after all, I used it -- but that there was a discrimination 
to be made, because of other meanings of the term.

This is getting tedious and I really don't have time for it. I've got 
two small children who have to go off to preschool at a fixed time in 
the morning....

Mr. Poole has not convinced me, and apparently I have not convinced 
him. I can speak for myself and state that my goal is not to convince 
anyone, but to examine issues, expose what I know about it (and thus 
likewise what I do not know), and to benefit from the response of 
others, as well as to develop information and analysis useful for 
social action.

I'm not here for the pure theoretical love of election methods. I'm 
here because I was sent here by people who thought it might be 
useful. Presumably both for me and for certain others.

With the organizational concept, with political implications, that 
I'm promoting, I'm not seeking to convince everyone, nor even a 
majority. I'm looking for a few people who understand the concepts, 
and I've been finding them here and there. That's what's needed now. 
Later, much further down the road, there will be more general 
outreach. I consider that my work here has been successful, and I 
want to thank all that have contributed to this success. In some 
cases this includes "critics." And in another sense, it includes 
*all* critics, even the "idiots."

Sometimes explaining things -- or attempting to explain things -- to 
an "idiot" is an efficient way to get clear about it, whether or not 
the "idiot" ever gets it.

We all have our roles to play.

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