[EM] Time of trouble - Premise 2

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Mar 6 14:52:37 PST 2009

--- On Fri, 6/3/09, Michael Allan <mike at zelea.com> wrote:

> 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.

Yes. Clear semi-formal claims
are good.

> 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.)

May claim is based on the
general assumption that
systems that aim at some
ideal state meet also some
counter forces that lead
to erosion. Also the current
political systems fall short
of their ideal goals.

> > 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.

I see risks of dilution with many
systems and many elections. The
situation is a bit like having
several opinion polls organized
by various entities today.

> (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.)

There are also forces in the
other direction.

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

Maybe my approach is simply that
the complex world is likely to
lead to compromise results and
constant need to defend the system
against corrupting forces.

> > ...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.)

Also today many voters decide not
to vote. A democracy and especially
DD like systems need active citizens.
Otherwise we may be back in square

> > (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.)

I'll exaggerate a bit and claim
that those local representatives
are the lowest level of people
with considerable interest in
politics. We can assume very
local town councils. Under this
assumption, if you omit them
there are no active citizens

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

The starting point was very simple.
Just take the local council members
and offer them the ability to
express their opinions at national
level. The idea is that this could
be implementable in practice, and
would represent quite well all
the citizens. It could also
improve in time when local people
with interest in national politics
would become more interested in
the local councils.

(If programming was easier and
less time consuming I'd already
be implementing this :-).)

> > 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. 

It might or might not. It could
also establish a new de facto
party system.

> 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.)

Is there a need to break the
existing structures? Will the new
structure be somehow better?

I agree that there is a possibility
of a full revolution using IT, but
it seems more probable that in real
life the system will adapt one day
some of the proposed new ideas and
build something good or bad out of
them, or will jump in the new train.
I don't want to say that the effort
would not lead to results but I
encourage considering also partial
success and reasons why the reform
might not reach all its noble

As said, something like Wikipedia or
Google domination might happen also
in the area of political opinion
formation. Paper encyclopedias lost
the game and were replaced with the
new tools. But be prepared for

> 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.)

Do you expect that no party like
groupings will be formed by the
representatives in the delegate
cascade system?

(A more dynamic and more fine
grained party structure than the
current monolithic parties could
also be a target.)

> > > 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.

But there are individuals who want
their vote to be the one that will
count. Ideally all would just
express their opinions and they
would be "summed up", but in
practice many individuals and
groups will seek maximum impact.

> > > (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

I thought the purchasing decision
already was an action. In many cases
no formal norms or other actions are
needed (market forces will take care
of the rest).

>   http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2009-February/024194.html
> What form of action would a consumer consensus take? 
> What about a
> cultural consensus?  (You cannot answer.)

I addressed the consumer part
already above. Cultural consensus
works too, although maybe richness
in multiple approaches may be the
target here. Or did you mean norms
set by the culture? Maybe I lost
you somewhere?

> 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.

The new consumer initiatives did
not support 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
> posts.)
> In general, if we wish to discuss the possible consequences
> of such a
> DD, we must be willing to accept it as a premise. 

I sort of assumed above a new
higher level of citizen level
opinion formation thanks to the
new opportunities offered by IT.

> 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.

I agree that "IT-based DD" is
likely to have a role and impact
the society, but a full revolution
or dominance of the new "IT-based
DD" may not be proven yet.

> Meanwhile, we build the IT, and, if it works, we make DD a
> fact. 

Yes, it might work (like Wikipedia).
But it might also fall short of its
highest targets.


> In
> this, however, we have no choice.
> -- 
> Michael Allan
> Toronto, 647-436-4521
> http://zelea.com/
> ----
> Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info


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