[EM] Time of trouble - Premise 2

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Fri Mar 6 10:28:15 PST 2009

Juho Laatu wrote:
> Several cents might make a dollar.
> There are many small problems that
> together may make the system fall
> short of the planned ideal state.

Or that together, might not.

In arguing that DD is probable, we brought in many factors.  But we
also detailed how they interrelate, and how they build up to the
predicted outcome.  So we made it easy to refute the conclusion.

If your counter-argument also depends on a complex of many factors,
then you must build up a chain of reasoning.  (I look into your list
of factors, and none of them seems to have structural strength.  They
may build to a sand castle.  See below.)

> One can also claim that this has
> happened with the current systems.
> If I have to pick some of the
> listed problems, maybe having
> several competing IT systems would
> make them all short of being THE
> voice of the people...

(It's good that you brought this up, earlier.  It led me to think more
clearly about how a monopoly of the voting IT would behave.  But...)

(A) A split of voting IT cannot block a quorum.  (I repeat my reasons,
from before.)  The IT users can only remain outside a quorum if they
deliberately *decide* to so remain.  The IT is a decision-making
system.  They are not likely to decide against joining with other
sub-quorums (in other IT) to make a full quorum.

The trick here is that a sub-quorum is - within the scope of its own
particular IT - a full quorum.  As such the IT itself is dependent on
PD, and the users will rule it.  If they decide that their particular
IT ought to intercommunicate with another, and pool the votes, then so
be it - this will happen.

(B) Another reason is that the voting IT is a natural monopoly (like a
telephone system), and so multiple competing systems are highly
unstable.  They will naturally fall into a single monopoly.  (The
voters will vote with their feet, for this monopoly - in other words,
for a quorum.)

Arguments A and B are strong.  We can go into them in more detail,
but where do you see weaknesses?

> ...People may
> also easily get bored and lose
> interest if there are too many
> elections and debates and problems
> when compared to the true achieved
> benefits and clear outcomes.

We also touched on this one.  The voter needn't worry about the "many
elections and debates and problems" that are at stake.  If she wishes,
she may worry about *some* of them, or she may worry about *none*.
Even if she worries about none, and expends zero effort, she may
nevertheless participate and contribute to a quorum.  She does this by
delegation, as explained in my previous post.  (Again, we can look
into this, if you think it a weak argument.  I believe it is strong.)
> (In another mail I drafted one
> system that makes use of the
> existing town/city councils.
> That is interesting from such
> point of view that when doing
> so we will make use of a group
> of citizens that is interested
> in politics and is happy to
> openly present their opinions
> and is one step closer to the
> regular people one step more
> difficult to "buy" than the
> national level politicians.)

I know.  But there you are concerned with e-government, and the domain
of administration.  I am concerned with e-democracy, and the domain of
the public sphere.  These two are necessarily opposed, like night and
day.  (Theory is, there's already too much of the former, and it
interferes with the latter.)

But if you can post a design sketch, later, I may be able to help with
technical details.

> There may be three elections. First
> the party primary, then the IT based
> unofficial opinion formation, and
> finally the actual election.
> People often need advice on how to
> vote (or support of their friends
> and affiliation group). Their "own"
> party could be the home base they
> are looking for. People may like
> to vote for "our candidate".

You don't see it, perhaps, but IT(c=delegate cascade) is effectively a
party system.  It functions as a kind of sub-party system, in which
every delegate is a party leader, with her own membership.  It also
functions as a super-party system, in that it cuts across the
boundaries of the traditional parties.  For both of these reasons, the
IT can swallow the traditional party system, alive and whole.  (Not
sure how long it can live, once swallowed.)

However, this hinges on accepting - at least for sake of the argument
- the basic premise:

  (c)  RD + FS + IT  ->  DD

> My point is that it may not be
> possible to get rid of party like
> opinion forming entities that to
> some extent can claim to represent
> people with similar views on the
> society. Whatever the system and
> number of voting rounds, they will
> influence in spots that are most
> relevant to them. In the future it
> could be e.g. the IT elections.

(It's all there.  The delegate cascade is a mechanism for interest
 formation and representation.  Next to it, the party system appears
 to be primitive and clumsy.)
> > I think the crucial thing is visibility of assent.  In RD, a
> > typical person's assent - agreement to one course of action, over
> > another - is not visible to other people.  The IT would make it
> > visible.
> Yes, we can always improve the
> visibility, openness etc. There
> will however always be lots of
> competition on whose voice will
> be heard and followed, and there
> are no easy ways to make oneself
> heard by all.

To be heard by all would be unnatural and undesireable.  Just as the
individual speaks, "I agree," and her voice is heard by the addressee,
and a few others in the vicinity, so she votes, and her vote becomes
visible to the candidate, and to a few others who have an interest.
This level of visibility is sufficient.  It provides a seed.  What
grows from that seed is not a quality of assent (like its visibility),
but rather a quantity - one voter attracts another, and the quantity
of votes increases.

Nor is there any need for individual broadcasters.  Society does not
care about one individual's assent/dissent.  Society cares about
consensus/dissensus.  It's only for the summation of votes, that we
need a wider visibility.

> > (This is a big topic.  What are the effects of PD in non-political
> > spheres, such as in the economy, and in culture?  Translated into
> > these spheres, what are the equivalents of DD?)
> The effects may be quite similar
> in both cases. The decisions are
> informal and they could as well be
> either "candidate x is best" or
> "the behaviour of company x is
> unethical". People may follow
> these recommendations in official
> elections or in their purchasing
> decisions. As already noted, some
> limits could be set on forming
> opinions on private citizens.

You reach a rather uninteresting conclusion.  You seem to not to
consider the consequent action:

  PD -> A


What form of action would a consumer consensus take?  What about a
cultural consensus?  (You cannot answer.)

You cannot answer, because you are unwilling to premise A.  Of course,
there is no precendent for A, nor even for PD.  Neither PD(consumer)
nor PD(culture) nor PD(anything) has ever been a fact.  Unwilling to
premise something novel, you naturally arrive at an uninteresting
answer - the status quo.

> My topmost thought after this round
> of opinion exchange is that the top
> benefit of the new possible systems
> when compared to the old ones is the
> ability to collect the opinions more
> efficiently using IT. That will not
> make party like structures disappear
> but may change their nature (to
> respect the true opinions of the
> citizens more).

Making parties disappear - if indeed they will - is only one possible
consequence of an IT-based DD.  I don't know if it's an important
consequence (except maybe to Fred Gohlke ;).  This thread is supposed
to be concerned with the dangerous consequences - those that might do
harm to people.  (I've been forgetting this, in my last couple of

In general, if we wish to discuss the possible consequences of such a
DD, we must be willing to accept it as a premise.  We posed an
argument for IT-based DD, and it has not been refuted.  But neither
has it been accepted as a basis for further discussion.  In this, we
have a choice.

Meanwhile, we build the IT, and, if it works, we make DD a fact.  In
this, however, we have no choice.

Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521

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