Discussion:
The structuring of power and the composition of norms by communicative assent
(too old to reply)
Michael Allan
2009-01-06 19:14:56 UTC
Permalink
I completed a theory outline, and here I'm posting it for the record.
Critique is also welcome. Please point out flaws or ommissions.

The voting mechanism (delegate cascade) is essentially identical to
Abd's "delegable proxy". I describe the nuts and bolts of it. I also
describe its interface to collaborative drafting media for the purpose
of legislative voting, and so forth. Where Abd is primarily concerned
with its application to "free associations" in the private sphere, I
analyze its fit with the broader public sphere, and with society as a
whole.

It is similar to Fred Gohlke's Practical Democracy in its recursive
structure. The main difference is that a delegate cascade is not
elaborated serially, and then frozen; rather it is continuously
regenerated, and remains fluid.

http://zelea.com/project/votorola/d/theory.xht
----------------------------------------------------------------------

THE STRUCTURING OF POWER AND THE COMPOSITION OF NORMS

BY COMMUNICATIVE ASSENT

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Revised from: Michael Allan. 2008. SourceForge.net, project
Votorola, release 0.1.12, file d/theory.xht.
http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=204780&package_id=244575.


CONTENTS
--------

1. Peer-to-Peer Voting and Communicative Assent

Introduces a medium of communicative assent for the purpose of
consensus building. The backbone of the medium is a peer-to-peer
voting mechanism that is open to continuous recasting (delegate
cascade). It differs from the conventional media of *mass* assent
in preserving the deliberative basis of consensus, regardless of
scale.

2. The Communicative Structuring of Power

Explains how the medium may function as a primary electoral
system, one in which candidates for executive office are
nominated by open, cross-party consensus. Defines the ultimate
election of a consensus candidate as an instance of communicative
action by society as a whole. Defines assent as a steering
medium, alongside money and power, and describes how it might
rationalize the relations between lifeworld and system.
Describes how the structure of assent may serve as scaffolding
for the construction of power.

3. The Communicative Composition of Norms

Explains how the medium may be combined with a peer-to-peer
medium of collaborative drafting (recombinant text), in order to
build consensus on the composition of societal norms (laws, plans
and policies). Describes how vote flow and text flow are
interwoven in the composition, such that voters and drafters are
made equal in its authorship. Suggests how a consensus norm
might be actualized by government. Provides an example from a
legislative context, in which the unofficial participation of
assembly members opens a "public bridgehead" into the
legislature.

* Notes and References
* Glossary


1. PEER-TO-PEER VOTING AND COMMUNICATIVE ASSENT
-----------------------------------------------

COMMUNICATIVE ASSENT is the expression of an agreement that arises
from discussion. This section introduces a medium in which
communicative assent is formalized through voting. The voting
mechanism is a delegate cascade that is open to continuous recasting.
In a delegate cascade, a delegate is any participant who both receives
votes (like a candidate), and casts a vote of her own (like a voter).
But when a delegate casts a vote, it carries with it those received.
And so on... Passing from delegate to delegate, the votes flow
together and gather in volume - they cascade - like raindrops down the
branches of a tree.^[1]

FIGURE 1. Cascades in tree form. The current measure of assent
for each participant is the quantity of votes received (circled
number). Vote flow is depicted by arrows, and quantified by
volume. The votes flow together until they pool at bottom, where
they are held by the leading candidates. The red numbers are the
quantities of votes held, and thus removed from circulation.
(Cascades would likely be bushier in practice, with a typical
candidate having 5-20 immediate voters.)

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Every eligible participant has a single vote, and is thus a potential
voter. She may either withold her vote or cast it. She may vote for
anyone. There are no pre-declared candidates. All participants are
eligible to receive votes. All non-participants are also eligible. A
non-participant who receives a vote is thereby made a participant, in
the role of candidate.

Votes are open to recasting. If a voter changes her mind about a
candidate, she is free to withdraw her vote, or to recast it for
another candidate. Voting is intended to remain open indefinitely,
year round, with the votes shifting as new information becomes
available to the participants. The results are never final.

Votes are public. There are no secret ballots. The identities of all
voters are revealed. Anyone may trace the flow of their votes through
the cascade, and thence to the end candidates who hold them.^[2]

Assent for each candidate is measured by the quantity of votes
received (circled numbers in figures 1 and 2). Note that a single
vote may be received by multiple delegates before it is received by
the final candidate. As each delegate or candidate receives the vote,
her measure of assent is incremented. When the vote reaches the final
candidate from whom it can flow no further, it is "held" by that
candidate. So the total of votes held by a candidate (red numbers)
has, in itself, no bearing on the measure of assent; only the total
received (circled numbers).

The typical structure of a delegate cascade is a tree, as shown in
figure 1 (above). It has a single candidate at the root, voters at
the leaves (top), and delegates among the branches in between. The
general structure however is a cyclic graph, as revealed in figure 2.

FIGURE 2. Cyclic cascade. Depicts a cascade that has formed into
a ring structure. It is nearly perfect, but a single voter from
outside has injected a vote. The vote circles until it comes to
rest with a candidate who consequently holds two votes (red
numbers). Nevertheless the assent within the ring is equal, at 6
for each candidate.

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A vote never actually cycles. It flows through every candidate
exactly once, but stops before it would re-encounter a candidate for a
second time. It then remains held where it is. Consequently the
level of assent is equal for all candidates in a cycle. A vote also
stops before it encounters its original caster. Consequently a vote
for oneself has no effect.

FIGURE 3. Tight cycles. The tightest cycle is actually between
two voters (left). A cycle with a single voter (right) is a null
cycle, equivalent to a withheld vote.

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Assent is an expression of agreement. Assent is formalized in the
medium by casting a vote. The vote is cast for the person who best
represents the act agreed to. The object of agreement is always an
act. For example, Juanita may propose to build a sandbox for children
in the neighbourhood park. Samantha may agree to this act, and may
formally express her agreement by voting for Juanita.

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A participant has a single vote for every act that could possibly be
proposed. If Juanita also proposes that Rajiv be appointed as Park
Superintendent, then Samantha could vote for Juanita on that act, too.
The two votes - one to build the sandbox, and one to appoint the
superintendant - would have no formal connection to each other. They
would be cast in separate "elections" so to speak.

Variant acts may be proposed. Variant acts are alternatives to the
originally proposed act. When a variant act is proposed, the
participant does not gain another vote to cast. Instead she gains a
choice of which act to vote for. She may choose either the originally
proposed act, or the variant, or neither (abstaining). Thus Monika
may hear of Juanita's plan, and join Samantha in voting for it (plan
A). She might suggest, at the same time, that the sandbox ought to be
larger than Juanita is proposing (plan B). Samantha might shift her
vote to Monika as a sign of approval for plan B, or she might keep it
with Juanita. She would have a choice. The objects of the choice
(original and variant acts) are called candidates.

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A candidate always has two aspects: an active aspect, and a personal
aspect. The active aspect is the proposed act. The personal aspect
is the person who proposes, or represents, or embodies the act. Thus
the building of the larger sandbox (act) and Monika (person) are one
and the same candidate. We can speak of voting for a larger sandbox,
or of voting for Monika, but the two have the same meaning. The
personal aspect of a candidate is formalized in the medium by a
personal identifier, so one always knows *who* the candidate is for
any vote that was cast. But the active aspect is only formalized
optionally, by a link. Thus Monika may have a Web page that details
the dimensions of her enlarged sandbox. She may formally link her
candidacy to that page in order that people can discover what she is
proposing, without personally asking her. But this is optional.

The separate candidates need not be mutually exclusive. We know that
delegation may enable a single vote to be received by multiple
candidates, thereby expressing agreement to multiple, simultaneous
acts. We expect those acts to be, in some sense, logically compatible
with each other. Thus by continuing to vote for Juanita, even while
proposing a somewhat different sandbox, Monika may be expressing a
hope that Juanita will eventually agree to amend her original plan.
Then, if Samantha were to shift her vote to Monika, she might be
hoping to further that amendment. So, with a single vote, Samantha
could express her assent for both candidates, and her hope of seeing
them work together.

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Assent may build as new participants join in the voting. The votes
are public, so each newcomer can discover who is involved, and what
they have agreed to. The newcomer may join in the ongoing discussion
between a candidate and her voters, and may cast a vote of her own.
She may propose new candidates and invite other participants to join.
And so on. A consensus that originally formed among 2 or 3 people
might therefore grow a little larger. In principle, there might be no
limit to its size. Before going further, however, it is important to
consider how this differs from conventional voting.

FIGURE 4. Mass assent. The same two cascades as in figure 1, but
without any actual delegation. Here each voter has recast for the
consensus candidate who currently holds her vote. As a
consequence, the tree structures have assumed a star pattern,
typical of mass voting media.

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Figure 4 illustrates the case in which the voters avoid delegation and
cast directly for end candidates. Instead of a tree, the result is an
imploded star pattern, typical of mass voting media. There are many
voters, no delegates, and only a few candidates. Mass voting imposes
a limit, not to the scale of assent itself, but to the scale of
discussion. Because the number of candidates is restricted, and the
number of voters is not, there is a point at which discussion between
voters and candidates is no longer possible. That point is the
boundary between communicative assent and mass assent.

As the scale of mass assent increases, newcomers will find it
increasingly difficult to discover exactly what act is being agreed
to. Beyond a small core of initial voters, still in touch with the
candidates, the others will be in the dark. Their participation will
not have enlightened them. They will not be able to ask the
candidates what is at stake, because if the candidates were to
intercommunicate with the voters they would be flooded with questions.
The only source of information will be other forms of mass media, all
of which are inherently one-way channels. With no discussion between
the voters and the candidates, the assent of the voters cannot be
characterized as communicative.^[3]

By contrast, if assent is mediated by a delegate cascade, the newcomer
finds it easier to join. She can discover what is at stake by asking
any of the voters or delegates in the outer branches of the cascade.
She can go shopping among the delegates, using her vote as leverage to
enter discussions, and maybe to gain concessions. She can make
suggestions. She might even solicit votes herself and thus increase
her leverage, and her ability to move deeper in the cascade. It does
not matter to her if a dozen participants are involved, or a
neighbourhood, or a whole city. The discussion is no less lively for
all its extent, and no less inviting to newcomers.

The following sections will explore how such a discussion may lead to
concrete results - how the communicative assent of the participants
may be realized as communicative action by society. For example,
consider this simple scenario:

SCENARIO 1

A group of young people wish to make improvements to their
neighbourhood park. They come up with a plan and begin to promote
it locally. Some of them are in disagreement and propose
alternative plans. They all share access to a medium of
communicative assent. They use it to highlight their differences
and to resolve them one by one. Eventually the whole neighbourhood
agrees on a consensus plan. The City sends a safety inspector to
the site, and trucks in some sand. With a little help, the young
people complete the improvements to the park.^[12]

The improvements might be as simple as adding a new sandbox for
children, or as complex as renovating the athletic facilities. The
number of participants might be a hundred for a small neighbourhood,
or ten thousand for a large one. In any case, once they had reached a
rough consensus, government would be prompted to act. The reasons
*why* are hidden in the underlying details of the scenario. Before
looking at them, it will help to consider how communicative assent may
express itself in mass elections.


2. THE COMMUNICATIVE STRUCTURING OF POWER
-----------------------------------------

This section explains how large scale assent in the public sphere may
be actualized, such that society as a whole becomes engaged in
communicative action. In other words, after people agree to
something, it actually gets done. This depends on the interrelations
between communicative assent and administrative power, particularly in
regard to the election of executive officers and the delegation of
their powers.

Adminstrative power in modern democracies is controlled by electoral
systems. Adding a new medium to the public sphere, while it might not
change these systems, can nevertheless change who is elected through
them. Ordinarilly a candidate of an organized political party is
elected. The path to election is shown in figure 5. The candidate is
first chosen by the party members in a primary election (1), then wins
mass assent from the wider electorate (2), and finally enters office
(3).

FIGURE 5. Electoral relations between the public sphere and the
administrative system. Detailing a transformed citizenship
interchange (2a' from figure 7) as it functions in the election of
public officials. The structural difference from the original
interchange (2a) is a medium of communicative assent (green) that
is added to the public sphere.

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This same election path would be open to candidates from the medium of
communicative assent. That does not make the medium, in itself, a
political party. The medium has no leader, no staff and no members.
It has no proper name, serves no particular interests, and has no
recognized status. Nevertheless it can serve many of the same
functions as a party. A voter who did not wish to support a party
candidate might use the medium to nominate her own candidate. She
could do this simply by casting a vote. Other participants might join
her, casting their own votes, and possibly nominating their own
candidates. If the medium was used in this way, then it would come to
occupy the same political "niche" as the parties, without itself
*being* a party. It would therefore be competitive with the party
system as a whole.

To be truly competitive, however, it must meet two requirements: 1)
sufficient voter turnout in the medium; and 2) faithful carriage of
votes from the medium to the general polls. First of all, its voter
turnout must be high enough to demonstrate the electoral support of
the leading candidates. It need not match the levels of general
turnout, nor even primary turnout, but it ought to be high enough that
the candidates could extrapolate the results, and thus gauge their
support among the wider electorate. Otherwise they might not bother
to register for the general election (step 1 in figure 5).

FIGURE 6. Translation of assent from a communicative to a mass
medium. Each voter first identifies the candidate who holds her
vote at the end of the cascade (red). She then re-casts for the
same candidate in the general election (bottom).

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The second requirement is that the voters must faithfully carry their
votes over to the general polls on election day (step 2). They would
have to translate assent from a communicative medium to a mass medium.
Figure 6 shows what is involved in the translation with respect to a
single winner, plurality election.^[13] Each voter recalls the name
of the candidate who currently holds her vote in the cascade (a name
she knows well enough, or her delegate reminds her), and casts a vote
for that same candidate at the general polling station.

If these requirements are met, then it is possible for a candidate
from the medium of assent to win an election and enter office.
Furthermore, if the turnout in the medium were ever to approach or
exceed the turnout at the general polls, then the process would likely
be irreversible. Communicative elections would become an institute of
the public sphere, and mass elections would become something of a
formality. This much is assumed in the underlying details of the park
improvement scenario:

SCENARIO DETAIL 1.1.

Mae is a community leader in the neighbourhood, and the local
delegate for the Mayor. When she learns of the plans to improve
the park she takes an interest.

Mae speaks to Hal. Hal is the local delegate for the Public
Health Officer. Mae asks Hal to look into the safety issues of
the proposed plan. Hal agrees. He takes the lead in drafting a
set of safety amendments. His amendments attract the votes of
many parents in the neighbourhood. The votes are numerous enough
to ensure that safety concerns are going to feature prominently in
the plan.

The young planners have a question about the delivery of the sand,
so they approach Wen. Wen is a local building contractor, and a
delegate for the Public Works Office. He explains that several
types of sand are available from the City yards. He says that
delivery, however, will depend on budgetary approval. So they add
"sand" to the budget section of their plan.

Later, when it appears that a consensus is likely to form at some
point, Mae requests approval for the plan. She does not speak
directly to City Hall, rather she speaks to her delegate - the
person she is voting for in the Mayoral election. In reply she
receives a signed email from the Comptroller of the Parks
Department, authorizing a preliminary safety inspection of the
site. Mae then forwards the authorization to Hal, who arranges
for the actual inspection. When the safety inspector arrives, Hal
guides her to the site...

In terms of critical theory, the medium of assent is rooted in the
communicative half of society known as the "lifeworld". It transforms
the citizenship interchange relation that exists between the lifeworld
and the other half of society, known as the "system" (figure 7).
Instead of receiving what Habermas characterizes as "mass loyalty"
from the lifeworld, the system receives communicative assent; instead
of responding with political decisions, it responds with action.
Decision making is thus transferred to the lifeworld, and society as a
whole is engaged in communicative action.^[15]

CAPTION: FIGURE 7. Relations between lifeworld and system from
the perspective of the system. In the transformed citizenship
interchange relation (2a'), large scale communicative assent from
the public sphere (A'), is actualized by the administrative system
(P). Thus society as a whole is engaged in communicative action.
Modified from Habermas.^[TCA2.320]

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Communicative action is action that is coordinated by discussion aimed
at mutual understanding or agreement.^[4] Its application to the
structure of power is the topic for the remainder of this section.
The subsequent section (3) will address the composition of norms, such
as laws, plans and policies.

With regard to power, a candidate for executive office may win
election through communicative assent (figure 5). She would then be
placed at the root of a power structure, as shown in figure 8.

FIGURE 8. Structures of assent and assented power. A candidate
is elected to executive office by communicative assent (top). She
thus becomes the root node of a power structure (bottom), which
she proceeds to assemble.

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In the case of a mass election, it ordinarilly stops there. But a
communicative election may extend its effects deeper into the power
structure by influencing the selection of subordinate officers. The
rationale for the selection of subordinates will vary, but the main
qualifications are perhaps competence, compatability and patronage.
All three may be found in abundance among the principal delegates who
voted for the executive. In each case, the measure of qualification
is the number of votes carried by the delegate. Votes are the measure
of *competence* because they qualify the delegate as a second tier
winner - a runner-up in the election - and therefore qualified for the
second tier of offices. Votes are the measure of *compatability*
because their acquisition depends on the delegates working together
for the successful election of the candidate. Finally, votes are the
measure of *patronage*, because it is only by the assent of the
delegates and their voters that the candidate is brought to office;
and the rule of patronage is, "you dance with them that brought you".

FIGURE 9. Assent as scaffolding for the construction of power.
The executive (bottom) is likely to appoint her major voters to
subordinate offices (squares). They in turn are likely to appoint
their own voters. And so on.

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The major voters of an executive candidate are therefore attractive,
in their own right, as candidates for subordinate offices. Any major
voter thus appointed is placed at the commanding node of a power
sub-structure, which she may further extend by her own appointments.
Again, she may look to her own voters for guidance. And so on. The
process is recursive. Assent may therefore serve as scaffolding for
the construction of power, delegate by delegate, as depicted in figure
9.

Once a power structure is assembled, however, the roles are likely to
be reversed. Then it is the structure of power that guides, and
assent that follows. Consider the case of local leadership in
scenario 1.1. The local leader (Mae) holds neither office nor direct
power. But she does have a measure of influence as a minor delegate
in the mayoral election. She demonstrates this when she champions the
park improvement plan, and mediates its approval. The reason for her
success stems partly from the votes she carries. If her request for
official approval had been ignored or rejected off hand, she would
probably have spoken to her delegate. At stake for the delegate would
be Mae's vote and the several hundred others she is carrying from her
neighbours. If the delegate were unhelpful, then Mae could look
elsewhere in the power structure, shifting her vote until she found a
more effective channel of influence. However, she could not shift her
vote with complete freedom. Her own electoral support is based on
influence, and to retain it she must continue to direct her vote into
the power structure (figure 9, left). The general rule is that votes
of assent will be constrained to flow in channels of communication and
influence, all within the existing power structure.

To decide the issue of a *new* power structure, the constraints of the
old one must be lifted, and assent freed to resume its guiding
role.^[16] This would automatically occur as the end of the term
approached, and voters' thoughts inclined to the pending decision.
Their votes would then begin to shift more freely, as illustrated in
the following sequence of diagrams:

FIGURE 10. Stable assent in mid-term. Assent is generally locked
into the power structure of the incumbent executive (bottom), and
rarely shifts outside of it.

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FIGURE 11. A shift of support to a co-delegate. The end of the
term is approaching, and thoughts are inclined to the pending
decision. A principal delegate shifts her vote from the incumbent
to a co-delegate.

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FIGURE 12. The co-delegate declares her candidacy. She withdraws
her vote from the incumbent, and thus declares herself a candidate
for the next term of office. A voter shifts to the rival power
structure, giving it a total of 17 votes to the incumbent's 40.
Eventually, a new structure of assent will emerge, deciding the
issue of the next election, and the structure of power for the
next term.

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3. THE COMMUNICATIVE COMPOSITION OF NORMS
-----------------------------------------

This section explains how communicative assent may be combined with
collaborative drafting in order to build consensus on the composition
of societal norms (laws, plans and policies). It then suggests how
such a consensus might be actualized by government, with an example
from a legislative context.

Ordinarilly, we might expect the collaborative effort to be focused on
a single document to which multiple drafters push their contributions,
as shown in figure 13. Such a centralized pattern of communication is
reminescent of mass assent. Participants are constrained to a small
number of choices (one in this case), with no formal outlet to express
dissent - except perhaps by withdrawing from the process.

FIGURE 13. Typical collaborative drafting. Typical media (such
as Wikis) have a centralized pattern of communication in which
drafters push contributions to a single, central copy of the text.

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On exposure to communicative assent, however, this rigid pattern is
broken apart and dissolves. Voters begin to express their agreement
with the ideas of different drafters, freely shifting their assent
from one to another. The drafters are thus encouraged to express
their ideas more clearly, and each takes to composing a separate
document that embodies her own conception of what the norm should be.
The text therefore diverges into multiple variants that co-exist side
by side, as shown in figure 14.

FIGURE 14. Broken apart and dissolved by communicative assent.
Voters express their assent (arrows) for drafters, each associated
with a variant draft of the proposed text.

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Despite their differences on some issues, the drafters will often be
in agreement on others, and will collaborate by sharing useful bits of
text amongst themselves. Their lines of communication might trace a
criss-cross pattern, with no overall direction, as shown in figure 15.
Because this form of collaboration depends on a "population" of
variants, and the cross-transfer of textual snippets, it is called a
"recombinant text".^[9]

FIGURE 15. Collaboration in a recombinant text. Instead of
pushing to the center (cf. figure 13), authors transfer bits of
text from peer to peer. Their lines of communication trace a
criss-cross pattern, more-or-less at random.

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However, a drafter is not only eligible to receive votes (as a
candidate), she may also cast a vote of her own, and thus share her
votes (as a delegate) with other drafters. Naturally, she will use
these votes as editorial leverage in order to disseminate her ideas as
widely as possible in the population of variant drafts; receiving her
votes will come at the price of receiving her ideas.

But the flow of votes must cascade. Consequently, a few of the drafts
will come to accumulate a preponderance of assent, here and there,
thus expressing a tentative consensus. All of the participants will
be striving to maximize their influence on the flow of text toward
these consensus drafts; while, at the same time, the consensus
drafters will be striving to attract their votes. So the contributory
text that is drawn from the "cloud" of documents will tend to flow
along lines of assent, and deposit itself in a pattern that closely
matches the consensus (and dissensus) of the participants.^[14]

FIGURE 16. Coordinated by drafters and voters, text and assent
cascade together. Both seek consensus (bottom) where consensus
may be found. Where it may not be found, they remain apart in
dissensus (left and right).

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The structure of assent is likely to fluctuate considerably during the
composition of a norm. Unlike in executive elections, it will not
become attached to a power structure. Its only attachment will be to
the evolving content of the text. Consequently, voters will be
shifting their assent here and there, attempting to influence the
course of the composition; while drafters will be shaping the text and
shunting its flow, in order to attract assent. Figures 17 and 18
describe two examples of this interplay.

FIGURE 17. Bridging consensus. A drafter copies the text of two
dissensus documents (X and Y), and crafts a third that she hopes
will bridge them (Z). Two other drafters (A and B) shift their
votes in favour of it. These defections will place pressure on X
and Y, either to open their own drafts to Z's innovations, and
solicit her vote; or to cast their own votes for Z, and thus
complete the bridge.

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FIGURE 18. Shorting consensus. 1. The consensus drafter (X) has
rejected changes proposed by a contributor (T). But a
co-contributor (S) is willing to accept them. 2. T therefore
shifts her vote to the co-contributor. The co-contributor then
withdraws her own vote from X, and thus becomes the new consensus
drafter.

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So shifts of assent (actual and anticipated) *steer* the evolution of
the text, pushing and pulling it into shape. Two social processes
that would otherwise be separate - the building of public consensus,
and the composition of a law, plan or policy - are thus interwoven in
the communicative medium. So detailed and extensive is their
interaction, that it will be impossible to disentangle the roles of
the voters and the drafters; all will be equally authors of the norm.
And if they are numerous enough to prompt action by government
(enforcing the law, executing the plan, or following the policy), then
it will amount to communicative action by society as a whole (figure
7).

For example, consider a legislative process. The medium of assent
might serve as an input to the legislature, feeding in bills from the
public (figure 19). It would thus function as an alternative to
closed-door committees.

FIGURE 19. Legislative relations between the public sphere and
the administrative system. Detailing a transformed citizenship
interchange (2a' from figure 7) as it would function in the
promulgation of laws. The only structural difference from the
original interchange (2a) is a medium of communicative assent
(green) that is added to the public sphere.

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Such a change in legislative relations might be furthered by a
parallel change in electoral relations (figure 5). While the public
was openly voting on bills to put before the assembly, it would also
be openly voting on the seats of the assembly members. Even without
this added influence, any proposed bill that had managed to acquire a
consensus in the public would be sure to attract the attention of law
makers, and the active support of at least some of them. The easiest
way for them to express their support would be to participate, by
casting open votes of their own. Although unofficial, their votes
would nevertheless provide a nucleus of support for an eventual vote
within the assembly - and an immediate, running forecast of its likely
success. This possiblility is illustrated in figure 20:

FIGURE 20. A public bridgehead into a legislature. Members of
the public and the legislative assembly are jointly participating
in the medium of assent. Their combined votes for the bill are
currently divided (53 and 35) between two consensus drafts. A
separate tally of the in-house votes (red) tracks the likelihood
of the bill's passage should it ever be floored. At present, the
house is voting 10 and 6 (left and right), with 6 members
undecided or abstaining. If the left were to gain 2 more votes,
the bill would have a majority in the assembly.

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Before the bill could be floored, the assembly would require an
official version of the text. This might be obtained by freezing the
consensus draft for a period of time. No modifications would be
permitted during this time, but the voters would remain free to shift
their votes. If the consensus nevertheless held, then the assembly
could proceed to ratify the bill. It would then become law. In this
way, law making might be opened to the public without requiring any
structural changes to government. The changes would be entirely in
the public sphere.


NOTES AND REFERENCES
--------------------

[TCA1] Jürgen Habermas. 1981. The Theory of Communicative Action.
Volume 1. Reason and Rationalization of Society. Translated
by Thomas McCarthy, 1984. Beacon Hill, Boston.

[TCA2] Jürgen Habermas. 1981. The Theory of Communicative Action.
Volume 2. Lifeworld and System: a Critique of Functionalist
Reason. Translated by Thomas McCarthy, 1987. Beacon Hill,
Boston.

[1] Recursive transfer of votes is described by Carroll (1884) for
the purpose of constituting an assembly. Rodriguez and
Steinbock (2004) describe a method for more general purposes.
In both of these methods, the votes are alienable.^[5], [7]

Methods with inalienable votes are described by Lomax (2003) for
the purpose of constituting an assembly, and by Allan (2007) for
direct legislative voting. In both of these methods, voting is
continuous and votes are therefore inalienable. Any vote may be
withdrawn or shifted at will. It therefore remains a faithful
expression of the voter's assent, despite the fact of
delegation.^[8], [9]

Another method is Brin and Page's algorithm for ranking Web
pages.^[10]

[2] A secret ballot would be a defence against vote buying, because
it prevents a buyer from verifying compliance. With her vote
hidden, the voter may take the money and vote as she pleases.
So vote buying would be a poor investment.

A continuously recastable vote offers a similar defence.
Although the vote is public and compliance may be verified,
there is no guarantee of *continued* compliance. The voter may
take the money from one side, then shift her vote and take it
from the other.

[3] To emphasize the contrast between the communicative and the
mass, consider C. W. Mills's definitions of "public opinion" and
"mass opinion":

In a *public*, as we may understand the term, (1) virtually
as many people express opinions as receive them. (2) Public
commununications are so organized that there is a chance
immediately and effectively to answer back any opinion
expressed in public. Opinion formed by such discussion
(3) readily finds an outlet in effective action, even
against - if necessary - the prevailing system of authority.
And - (4) authoritative institutions do not penetrate the
public, which is thus more or less autonomous in its
operation.

In a *mass*, (1) far fewer people express opinions than
receive them; for the community of publics becomes an
abstract collection of individuals who receive impressions
from the mass media. (2) The communications that prevail
are so organized that it is difficult or impossible for the
individual to answer back immediately or with any effect.
(3) The realization of opinion in action is controlled by
authorities who organize and control the channels of such
action. (4) The mass has no autonomy from institutions; on
the contrary, agents of authorized institutions penetrate
this mass, reducing any autonomy it may have in the
formation of opinion by discussion.

C. W. Mills. 1956. The Power Elite. New York. p. 303-304.
As quoted in Habermas.^[11]

[4] The basic types of social action are:^[TCA1.85-86]

* Teleological action - an actor attempting to reach a goal

* Strategic action - teleological action in which success
depends on the decisions of others who do not share the
same goal

* Normatively regulated action - an actor fulfilling
expectations common to the group

* Dramaturgical action - an actor self-presenting to an audience

* Communicative action - two or more actors coordinating by
discussion aimed at mutual understanding or agreement

[5] Black analyzes a voting mechanism proposed by Lewis Carroll that
involves multiple levels of delegation [in what sense is
unclear, until I read the original, MCA]. Unlike a delegate
cascade, however, the votes are alienated from the original
casters. The delegates treat them "as if they were their own
private property".^[6]

Lewis Carroll. 1884. The Principles of Parliamentary
Representation. Harrison and Sons. London.

[6] Duncan Black. 1969. Lewis Carroll and the theory of games.
The American Economic Review. 59(2), p. 210.

[7] Rodriguez and Steinbock et al. describe a system of
'dynamically distributed democracy' that involves recursive
delegation. Unlike a delegate cascade, however, the votes are
alienated from the original casters. The intent is to improve
the efficiency of the decision making process by removing voters
from the direct discussions. The system might therefore be
classified as a steering medium that functions as a substitute
for communicative action. Its design and purpose are therefore
different from the medium of communicative assent that is
proposed here.

Marko Antonio Rodriguez, Daniel Joshua Steinbock. 2004. A
social network for societal-scale decision-making systems.
NAACSOS '04. Proceedings of the North American Association for
Computational Social and Organizational Science Conference.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Marko A. Rodriguez, Daniel J. Steinbock. 2006. The anatomy
of a large scale collective decision making system. Los Alamos
National Laboratory Technical Report. LA-UR-06-2139.

Marko A. Rodriguez, Daniel J. Steinbock, Jennifer H. Watkins,
Carlos Gershenson, Johan Bollen, Victor Grey, Brad deGraf.
2007. Smartocracy: social networks for collective decision
making. 40th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System
Sciences (HICSS'07).

[8] Lomax describes a method of constituting an assembly by proxy.
The proxies are continuously reassignable, recursively
transferrable, and typically include voting rights in the
assembly. This method differs from a delegate cascade in its
restrictive purpose. It is not generally applicable to single
winner elections, or to direct voting on laws and other objects
of assent.

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax. 2003. Beyond Politics, an Introduction.
http://web.archive.org/web/20031220012108/www.beyondpolitics.org/Beyond_Politics_Intro.htm

[9] Allan sketches the concept of an "open legislature" in which
multiple variant bills are drafted in a medium of recombinant
text, while being simultaneously exposed to delegate-cascade
voting.

Michael Allan. 2007. Recombinant text. SourceForge.net,
project textbender, release 0.2.2, file d/overview.xht.
http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=134813&package_id=148018.

See also the latest version online:
http://zelea.com/project/textbender/d/overview.xht

[10] Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page. 1998. The anatomy of a
large-scale hypertextual Web search engine. Computer Networks
and ISDN Systems. 30, p. 107-117.

Their PageRank algorithm for ranking Web pages, is based on
links. A link to a page is considered a "vote" for that page.
The algorithm is recursive, allowing the vote to traverse the
target page's own links. PageRank differs from a delegate
cascade in that a single page may directly vote for multiple
pages. Votes consequently multiply or split apart, instead of
cascading together. Votes also diminish in strength (are
"dampened") as they traverse the pages.

[11] Jürgen Habermas. 1962. The Structural Transformation of the
Public Sphere. Translated by Thomas Burger, 1989. MIT Press,
Cambridge, Massachusetts.

[12] The young people in the park improvement scenario might be of
any age. Marcus Pivato has suggested that one characteristic of
recursive delegation (as here) is that positive contributions
are to be expected regardless of the age and abilities of the
contributors. Voting might thus be opened to children, or to
the mentally infirm, with a positive effect on the overall
results.

Marcus Pivato. 2007. Pyramidal democracy.
http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/3965/

[13] Another common type of election is based on party-list
proportional representation. In this type of election, the
voter would translate her vote by recalling the party of the
candidate who currently holds her vote in the cascade, and
casting a vote for that same party at the general polling
station.

The party would calculate its candidate list from the cascade.
It would use an algorithm similar to that of the general
election, typically one based on the highest averages method.
For discussion of how it applies to delegate cascades, see
"Delegate cascade and proportional representation":
http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2008-August/022194.html

Applying it to all cascades would yield a general all-party list
(predicative of the final election results), which could then be
divided by affiliation into a set of specific party lists.

[14] In order to keep the contributory, feeder drafts in sync with
the downstream consensus, text would also have to flow upstream,
in reverse. Diff/merge tools might be useful here. The
upstream drafters would use them to maintain a selective
synchrony, filtering out any incompatible content. (Though they
assent to the consensus, their own draft may express their
preference more accurately.)

Text might be pushed downstream in a "cascade of Wikis", with
the downstream drafters editing the contributions (either
lazilly or eagerly).
http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2008-September/022519.html

Or text might be pulled with the aid of various tools; anything
from recombinant text, to diff/merge, to manual copy and paste.

[15] In the relations between lifeworld and system, communicative
assent appears to function as a "steering medium", alongside
money and power. A "steering medium" is defined by Habermas as
a substitute for communicative reason in its capacity to
coordinate people. "Communicative reason" is a type of
rationality characteristic of free and open discourse, that aims
at a mutual understanding and agreement among participants. It
contrasts with an "instrumental reason" that is characteristic
of administered organizations (but also of engineering, science,
and so forth), that aims at a causal understanding and mastery
of the world.^[TCA1], [TCA2]

In the case of communicate assent, however, the substitution is
purely formal. Behind the formal expression, behind every
accumulation of votes that betokens a consensus, there is an
actual consensus. This is guaranteed by the freedom of the
partipants to withdraw their votes or to shift them as they
please. So the formal expression of assent is a product of
communicative reason, and its steering capacity derives from
that association.

Habermas also characterizes steering media as alienable. This
is not true of formal communicative assent, as defined here.
Although votes are delegable in a cascade (much as power is
delegable in a power structure), they may nevertheless be
withdrawn or shifted by the original caster, with complete
freedom.^[1]

[16] I had originally thought that the formation of deliberate vote
cycles (decision rings) would be useful in guiding power shifts. I
no longer think they are necessary. The idea is summarized in the
following diagrams, the first two of which set the stage.
directed graph

FIGURE 21. Rigid assent in a power structure. Ordinarilly,
assent for an executive office is locked into the power
structure of that office, and cannot shift freely.

Loading Image...

FIGURE 22. Unstable assent in a power vacuum. The
principal delegates signal their readiness for a decision by
withdrawing their votes from the incumbent. But the ensuing
process may be overly sensitive to their initial vote
shifts, making it chaotic. And it might be difficult to
initiate the process if a large minority still supports the
incumbent.

Loading Image...

FIGURE 23. A decision ring. The principal delegates cast
their votes in a massive cycle, and thus catapult ahead of
the incumbent (52 votes to 5).

Loading Image...

FIGURE 24. A delegate backs a candidate. The delegate
exits the ring and casts her vote back into it, lending her
support of one of the remaining candidates. The candidates
in the ring all share the same vote flow (52), and are
therefore equal in assent. But the decision can also be
quantified by the flow of votes *entering* the ring (red),
as distinct from the cyclic flow within it. The sources of
votes for this separate count are restricted to the ring
candidates and their voters. No spoiler (such as the
incumbent) can contribute to the decision, unless first
invited into the ring.

Loading Image...

I no longer see the need of decision rings. I doubt the
problems mentioned in figure 22 could affect the results in a
long running, continuous election. Any delegate who wished to
declare her candidacy could simply withdraw her vote from the
incumbent. Others could eventually decide the issue by shifting
their own votes, or not. [MCA]


GLOSSARY
--------

assent

- an expression of agreement

candidate

- an object of assent

- one who receives a vote

communicative action

- a type of social action that is coordinated by discussion aimed at
mutual understanding or agreement

communicative assent

- the expression of an agreement that arises from discussion

delegate

- a subject and object of assent

- one who is both a candidate and a voter, who both receives and
casts votes

delegate cascade

- a voting mechanism in which received votes are carried along with
cast votes

mass assent

- the expression of agreement that arises through mass voting and
other mass media, in which there are a relatively few candidates,
and little or no communication between voters and candidates

norm

- a standard or pattern of social behaviour; especially one that may
be formalized, such as a law, plan or policy

vote

- a formal unit of assent

voter

- a subject of assent

- one who votes for a candidate


Copyright 2007-2009, Michael Allan. Permission is hereby granted,
free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and
associated documentation files (the "Votorola Software"), to deal in
the Votorola Software without restriction, including without
limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish,
distribute, sublicence, and/or sell copies of the Votorola Software,
and to permit persons to whom the Votorola Software is furnished to do
so, subject to the following conditions: The preceding copyright
notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or
substantial portions of the Votorola Software.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Juho Laatu
2009-01-11 20:35:05 UTC
Permalink
Here's one comment. The topmost thoughts in
my mind when thinking about this approach
is that 1) the principles are good and 2)
making the votes public limits the usability
of the method. Traditionally secret votes
have been a building block of democracies.
Public votes work somewhere but not
everywhere.

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
I completed a theory outline, and here I'm posting it
for the record.
Critique is also welcome. Please point out flaws or
ommissions.
....






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Michael Allan
2009-01-12 01:20:03 UTC
Permalink
... The topmost thoughts in my mind when thinking about this
approach is that 1) the principles are good and 2) making the votes
public limits the usability of the method. Traditionally secret
votes have been a building block of democracies. Public votes work
somewhere but not everywhere.
(1). Re good principles. I've heard it suggested that modern
democracy is the political form that is best suited to
capitalism.^[1][2] If we change it to something with a firmer base in
principles - a more substansive democracy - will it continue to be
friendly to business entrepreneurs? If not, what will happen? Has
anyone explored that scenario? (Any references?)

(2). Re public/private voting. Maybe there are two possibilities:

i) Initial participation by a small group of public "pioneers"
gradually changes attitudes. Open voting comes to be accepted as
a natural form of expression in the public sphere. Participation
levels grow. (There remains a core who will not/cannot vote
openly. We can get empirical data on this.)

ii) A private voting facility (secret ballot) is grafted onto the
public medium. Anyone who is content to participate merely as a
voter (not as a delegate, or legislative drafter, etc.) may vote
without disclosure. So we could extend participation to those
who will not/cannot vote openly. Results verification (and maybe
voter authentication) would be complicated by this, but the
overall function of the medium should be unaffected.


[1] Jürgen Habermas. 1973. Legitimation Crisis. Translated by
Thomas McCarthy, 1975. Beacon Hill, Boston.

[2] John Dunn. 1992. Conclusion. In Democracy: the Unfinished
Journey, 508 BC to AD 1993. Edited by John Dunn. Oxford
University Press.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Juho Laatu
2009-01-12 23:40:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
... The topmost thoughts in my mind when thinking
about this
approach is that 1) the principles are good and 2)
making the votes
public limits the usability of the method.
Traditionally secret
votes have been a building block of democracies.
Public votes work
somewhere but not everywhere.
(1). Re good principles. I've heard it suggested that
modern
democracy is the political form that is best suited to
capitalism.^[1][2] If we change it to something with a
firmer base in
principles - a more substansive democracy - will it
continue to be
friendly to business entrepreneurs? If not, what will
happen? Has
anyone explored that scenario? (Any references?)
I can imagine that in some cases also
dictatorship can be the best option for
capitalism (in the sense of "capital
owners"). Democracy is however probably
more stable in the long run and
therefore better basis for a working
market economy.

Good principles may help market economy
by allowing the citizens to see the
state as "we", and thereby increasing
overall trust in the system, and
thereby enabling smoother (hassle
free) operation of the markets.
Post by Juho Laatu
(2). Re public/private voting. Maybe there are two
i) Initial participation by a small group of public
"pioneers"
gradually changes attitudes. Open voting comes to be
accepted as
a natural form of expression in the public sphere.
Participation
levels grow. (There remains a core who will
not/cannot vote
openly. We can get empirical data on this.)
I'm afraid there will be also a third
category, people that do vote but that
do not dare to vote as they feel.
People may also vote since not voting
could be interpreted as not supporting
the mainstream opinions or as
possibility of having some unwanted
opinions.

Examples of group pressure are working
places where "all others" are believed
to vote certain way. Also in homes it
might be problematic for some members
to have radically different opinions.
Post by Juho Laatu
ii) A private voting facility (secret ballot) is grafted
onto the
public medium. Anyone who is content to participate
merely as a
voter (not as a delegate, or legislative drafter,
etc.) may vote
without disclosure. So we could extend participation
to those
who will not/cannot vote openly. Results verification
(and maybe
voter authentication) would be complicated by this,
but the
overall function of the medium should be unaffected.
There are some (although smaller)
problems also in this case. If someone
casts a secret ballot that may be
interpreted as having something to
hide. This may lead to pressure to
cast a public vote (and that could be
less sincere than the secret one). One
approach would be to keep all the "low
level" votes secret and publish only
the "representative level" votes (it
is however not easy to separate these
two categories).

Juho
Post by Juho Laatu
[1] Jürgen Habermas. 1973. Legitimation Crisis.
Translated by
Thomas McCarthy, 1975. Beacon Hill, Boston.
[2] John Dunn. 1992. Conclusion. In Democracy: the
Unfinished
Journey, 508 BC to AD 1993. Edited by John Dunn.
Oxford
University Press.
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
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Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2009-01-13 11:41:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Juho Laatu
... The topmost thoughts in my mind when thinking
about this
approach is that 1) the principles are good and 2)
making the votes
public limits the usability of the method.
Traditionally secret
votes have been a building block of democracies.
Public votes work
somewhere but not everywhere.
(1). Re good principles. I've heard it suggested that
modern
democracy is the political form that is best suited to
capitalism.^[1][2] If we change it to something with a
firmer base in
principles - a more substansive democracy - will it
continue to be
friendly to business entrepreneurs? If not, what will
happen? Has
anyone explored that scenario? (Any references?)
I can imagine that in some cases also
dictatorship can be the best option for
capitalism (in the sense of "capital
owners"). Democracy is however probably
more stable in the long run and
therefore better basis for a working
market economy.
Good principles may help market economy
by allowing the citizens to see the
state as "we", and thereby increasing
overall trust in the system, and
thereby enabling smoother (hassle
free) operation of the markets.
There would have to be some degree of democracy so the dictatorship
doesn't get lost in things that benefit only himself (and thus risk a
revolt), but if you go by the strict definition of capitalism, there can
also be too much democracy, I think. Since the labor market must remain
a market, people can't be given enough influence that they form
oligopolies of labor (that is, national unions). The other side of that
coin, though, is that nor should producers be given enough influence
that they can form oligopolies or monopolies either. In any case,
dictators usually limit organization of labor before they limit
organization of capital.
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Juho Laatu
(2). Re public/private voting. Maybe there are two
i) Initial participation by a small group of public
"pioneers"
gradually changes attitudes. Open voting comes to be
accepted as
a natural form of expression in the public sphere.
Participation
levels grow. (There remains a core who will
not/cannot vote
openly. We can get empirical data on this.)
I'm afraid there will be also a third
category, people that do vote but that
do not dare to vote as they feel.
People may also vote since not voting
could be interpreted as not supporting
the mainstream opinions or as
possibility of having some unwanted
opinions.
Examples of group pressure are working
places where "all others" are believed
to vote certain way. Also in homes it
might be problematic for some members
to have radically different opinions.
The general problem is that if there's a way of finding out what a
certain person voted, or whether a certain person voted in a particular
way, one can apply pressure to get that person to vote a desired way (to
the one applying the pressure). That can be simple coercion, be it
formal (in "democratic" countries that aren't fully democratic yet),
semi-formal (mob bosses, or "vote this way or you're fired"), or
informal (social pressure). The coercion is "do it my way or something
bad happens" - it can also easily be changed into "do it my way and
something good happens", as with vote buying.

Any sort of voter-reconfigurable proxy democracy has the kind of
feedback that enables coercion or vote-buying. In order to verify that a
certain voter "votes" a certain way, the candidate or party in question
can tell the voter to connect to an allied proxy. The proxy can then
determine whether or not the voter actually connected.

Now, there may seem to be a way around this by having the proxy be
publicly available, so that voters that "subscribe to" a certain proxy
just duplicate the proxy's suggestions when voting. Producing the
required feedback becomes more difficult in that case, but it can still
be done. For instance, if the conspirators assume law X has
near-majority support, they can buy the votes of enough to get a
majority, and then pay them if X does indeed pass; or they can try to
corrupt a proxy instead, since the proxies' positions are publicly
availably.

The problem reaches further. I think we can generalize that it's not
only proxy democracies that has this problem. The problem itself is that
of conflicting goals: in order that the public knows what their
representatives are doing, the representatives' votes should be public.
But the greater the proportion of the people become representatives, the
more votes will be public, and so coercion and vote-buying becomes easier.

By that, one would assume that it'd be a problem in ordinary
representative democracies as well, because the representatives' votes
are known and thus one could use feedback there. I think the difference
is that representatives stay in their position for some time, so any use
of such tricks would also become known and would hurt the representative
in the end. I guess it's also related to that there are few
representatives compared to the people, so each can be checked more
thoroughly.

Ultimately, what we want is for the "representatives" to be effectively
aligned with the wishes of the people, while not being disproportionally
more aligned with the wishes of those who have more power. How to do
that isn't obvious, since the mechanisms don't know about power.
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Juho Laatu
ii) A private voting facility (secret ballot) is grafted
onto the
public medium. Anyone who is content to participate
merely as a
voter (not as a delegate, or legislative drafter,
etc.) may vote
without disclosure. So we could extend participation
to those
who will not/cannot vote openly. Results verification
(and maybe
voter authentication) would be complicated by this,
but the
overall function of the medium should be unaffected.
There are some (although smaller)
problems also in this case. If someone
casts a secret ballot that may be
interpreted as having something to
hide. This may lead to pressure to
cast a public vote (and that could be
less sincere than the secret one). One
approach would be to keep all the "low
level" votes secret and publish only
the "representative level" votes (it
is however not easy to separate these
two categories).
Perhaps each voter could vote twice - once in public and once in secret.
The secret vote either says "defer to public", or something separate, in
which case the secret vote overrules the public. But if so, what's the
point of the public vote in the first place? I suppose it could be used
to measure the degree of pressure people feel exist in the society - if
all vote "defer to public" on their secret ballots, there's none at all,
and if all vote something else on their secret ballots, there's quite a
bit of it and many feel like they have something to hide. The only
information given to the public from the secret ballots would be the
number of "defer to public" versus (different opinion) ballots, and
that's not enough to set up feedback with.
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Juho Laatu
2009-01-13 20:20:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
Any sort of voter-reconfigurable proxy democracy has the
kind of feedback that enables coercion or vote-buying. In
order to verify that a certain voter "votes" a
certain way, the candidate or party in question can tell the
voter to connect to an allied proxy. The proxy can then
determine whether or not the voter actually connected.
Are you saying that it is not possible
to build a proxy system that uses secret
votes?

Most election methods have traps that may
reveal the opinions of individual voters.
A voter-reconfigurable proxy system could
fight these problems e.g. by collecting
atomic changes to sufficiently large
groups of changes to hide changes in the
individual preferences.
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
Now, there may seem to be a way around this by having the
proxy be publicly available, so that voters that
"subscribe to" a certain proxy just duplicate the
proxy's suggestions when voting.
This would be another way to group the
individual changes (delayed until the
next vote).

I assume that you meant that every voter
would vote, possibly copying the opinion
from a proxy. In this model the proxy
would not know how strong she is (unless
that info would be collected when voting).
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
Producing the required
feedback becomes more difficult in that case, but it can
still be done. For instance, if the conspirators assume law
X has near-majority support, they can buy the votes of
enough to get a majority, and then pay them if X does indeed
pass;
How about voters that are certainly not
going to change their opinion but that
are happy to take part in the campaign in
the hope of being paid in case the other
camp wins? Aren't these problems quite
similar also in some more traditional
election methods?
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
or they can try to corrupt a proxy instead, since the
proxies' positions are publicly availably.
Today the opinions of some high level
representatives, e.g. MPs can be bought,
but this problem is probably quite well
in control. In proxy democracy where the
number of proxies is high there would be
a bigger risk of some of them selling
votes. Of course those proxies could lose
support when their voters notice that
their opinions tend to be something else
than what the voters assumed.

It is also possible that the opinions of
the proxies are not known beforehand. If
there are many of them and they change
often then their opinions can not be
easily followed. If the proxies may change
(or sell) their opinion just before the
election there is maybe no point anyway
in officially maintaining the opinions of
the candidates (so information on their
opinions would be available in the
traditional way, for private/voluntary/
campaigning reasons only or could be
guessed based on party affiliations).
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
The problem reaches further. I think we can generalize that
it's not only proxy democracies that has this problem.
The problem itself is that of conflicting goals: in order
that the public knows what their representatives are doing,
the representatives' votes should be public. But the
greater the proportion of the people become representatives,
the more votes will be public, and so coercion and
vote-buying becomes easier.
Yes. The votes need not be public
beforehand though. (In a some forms of
proxy democracy voters may also be able
to vote directly at any time if they
want to be sure what their vote will be.)
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
By that, one would assume that it'd be a problem in
ordinary representative democracies as well, because the
representatives' votes are known and thus one could use
feedback there. I think the difference is that
representatives stay in their position for some time, so any
use of such tricks would also become known and would hurt
the representative in the end. I guess it's also related
to that there are few representatives compared to the
people, so each can be checked more thoroughly.
Yes. Modern technology could also allow
the voters to follow the opinions of all
the numerous proxies / final voters (or
at least those that are happy to publish
their voting behaviour (there could be
also low level proxies that consider
themselves private people and want to
keep their vote secret)).
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
Ultimately, what we want is for the
"representatives" to be effectively aligned with
the wishes of the people, while not being disproportionally
more aligned with the wishes of those who have more power.
How to do that isn't obvious, since the mechanisms
don't know about power.
I note that flexible proxy systems are
in some respects also safer than current
systems with fixed representatives since
those changing proxies are harder to
contact and they are not really part of
the "fixed club of leaders" that may well
have lots of all kind of bindings and
dependences among them.
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
Perhaps each voter could vote twice - once in public and
once in secret. The secret vote either says "defer to
public", or something separate, in which case the
secret vote overrules the public. But if so, what's the
point of the public vote in the first place? I suppose it
could be used to measure the degree of pressure people feel
exist in the society - if all vote "defer to
public" on their secret ballots, there's none at
all, and if all vote something else on their secret ballots,
there's quite a bit of it and many feel like they have
something to hide. The only information given to the public
from the secret ballots would be the number of "defer
to public" versus (different opinion) ballots, and
that's not enough to set up feedback with.
We can say that today the default
democratic system keeps the votes of the
individual voters secret and keeps the
votes of the representatives public. A
proxy system can be seen to mix the
border line between these two groups.

There is usually a requirement that the
voter opinions *must* be kept secret, and
the system makes its best not to allow
voters to reveal how they voted even if
they want to (e.g. vote rejected if it
contains additional markings, voting only
in controlled locations and alone in the
booth). In order to follow this tradition
the lowest level(s) could be kept
strictly secret as before.

There is maybe no as strict requirement
at the high end to keep the votes public.
This is because high level proxies that
want to keep their vote secret could
simply not be trusted by the voters and
they would lose support. Mandatory
openness could however be a requirement
at some level.

How to draw the lines between the
different levels then? One could use e.g.
the number of proxy votes that one holds.
Maybe proxies that hold X votes would be
allowed to reveal their vote if they so
wish. Maybe proxies that hold Y (>X)
votes would not be allowed to keep their
vote secret. As already noted this latter
condition is not as important as the
first one, and it could lead also to
surprises (vote revealed) when the voter
could not anticipate that she would
become a representative of so many voters.

There may also be some hysteresis that
allows some delays so that the proxies
have time to adapt to their new role.
Note that traditional elections typically
have a hysteresis of few years. Proxy
systems could be in a way similar but
just with considerably faster cycles.

- If the proxy system allows only part of
the voters to vote directly, this
property could be combined with the
public/secret vote rules.

- There could also be a fixed number of
top level representatives with different
rules. They could e.g. get (higher)
salary, have a seat in the parliament
building, have fully public votes etc.

- The rules may be different in different
questions/elections.


There are also some additional related
publicity related questions.
- Should the voter-proxy relationship be
public or privately verifiable in some
cases? (or do voters contact their
proxies only as "potential but not
verified voters")
- Shall the number of voters (number of
proxy votes) of each proxy be publicly
known?

At the low levels we should probably not
reveal this information for similar
reasons as in the case of hiding
information on how each person voted.
A simple approach is to use the same
border lines also in these cases.

Juho










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Michael Allan
2009-01-16 12:40:20 UTC
Permalink
Replying to Kristofer Munsterhjelm and Juho Laatu,
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
Ultimately, what we want is for the "representatives" to be
effectively aligned with the wishes of the people, while not being
disproportionally more aligned with the wishes of those who have
more power. How to do that isn't obvious, since the mechanisms
don't know about power.
In the context of executive elections, where the issue is power
itself, the voting mechanism actually does "know about power". It
will be deeply informed by it, assuming the proxy structure and the
power structure are in close alignment, as I predict (see original
post, section 2). I figure we'll be voting for proxies partly
*because* they are plugged into a power structure. So there would be
no separating the cross influences - of votes on power, and power on
votes - the two would likely join as a whole. (At first, I thought
that was definitely a problem. Now I think it might be OK.)

But if the question is influence peddling, I agree that the proxy
structure offers more opportunities to a vote buyer - more than the
periphery of voters anyway (see my other post) - but probably no more
than the status quo. In one sense, there is *less* opportunity than
the status quo, because the candidates and their supporters (proxies)
will have less need of money. The voters will be informed by
peer-to-peer communication and (where the issue is executive office)
by the actual competence of power, so bills for mass advertising
campaigns will be reduced. It might no longer cost millions to get
elected, so there'll be less need for candidates to sell themselves.
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
I note that flexible proxy systems are
in some respects also safer than current
systems with fixed representatives since
those changing proxies are harder to
contact and they are not really part of
the "fixed club of leaders" that may well
have lots of all kind of bindings and
dependences among them.
I think Juho's argument is best supported in the context of normative
voting, where the issue is the on-going construction of a norm, such
as a law, and the typical proxy is also a drafter. In that context,
vote shifts will be guided almost exclusively by the distribution of
text in the population of drafters - attractive text content pulling
in votes - and the anticipation of influencing that distribution -
votes pushing text content. In such a shifting, fluid environment,
it's hard to see where a corrupt (bought) drafter could hold
influence. With no structural supports for her corrupted decisions,
she'd get washed away in the general flow of votes.

It would be different if people were voting for her - not because of
her text content, or her drafting and consensus building skills - but
on the basis of other, irrelevant factors. For example, she might be
a popular Hollywood actress. Her fame would then give her an external
support, and the relative freedom to write anything she liked into her
text (suppose), and still retain a following among her irrational
fans. She could therefore sell that freedom for money, if she was
unscrupulous.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Michael Allan
2009-01-16 12:20:55 UTC
Permalink
The general problem is that if there's a way of finding out what a certain
person voted, or whether a certain person voted in a particular way, one
can apply pressure to get that person to vote a desired way (to the one
applying the pressure). That can be simple coercion, be it formal (in
"democratic" countries that aren't fully democratic yet), semi-formal (mob
bosses, or "vote this way or you're fired"), or informal (social pressure).
The coercion is "do it my way or something bad happens" - it can also
easily be changed into "do it my way and something good happens", as with
vote buying.
If coercion is a problem in this case, then it is strictly a social
problem. If the private sphere of individuals, families, employers,
and so forth, is restricting the public communications of individuals
wrongly, in defiance of the norms, then society itself has a problem
in the relations between its private and public spheres.

It is not a problem for a voting medium that functions exclusively in
the public sphere. The purpose of the medium is to accurately mirror
public opinion, and so it must also mirror the distortions, including
those caused by private coercion. If people cannot *speak* their
minds freely, they ought not to *vote* them either. This connection
between speech and voting is especially crucial to a voting system
that is based on communicative assent, as I propose here. It is
essential that the voters, delegates and candidates all be engaged in
mutual discussion. If the votes were not public, then the discussion
would die out, and voter behaviour would cease to be informed by
communicative reason.

None of the above applies to traditional voting mechanisms, of the
sort normally discussed here in election-methods. Those mechanisms
are not designed for the public sphere. They are designed for the
private sphere, opening a private communication channel from
individuals to the government. Traditionally, the only communications
that become public are those of the reverse channel, in which the
voters are informed via the mass media, as a passive audience.
Any sort of voter-reconfigurable proxy democracy has the kind of feedback
that enables coercion or vote-buying. ...
Re vote buying: Although the vote is public and compliance may easily
be verified by the buyer, there is no guarantee of *continued*
compliance. The voter may take the money from one side, then shift
her vote and take it from the other. Vote buying is likely to be a
poor investment.
... if the conspirators assume law X has near-majority support, they
can buy the votes of enough to get a majority, and then pay them if
X does indeed pass ...
Such a deferred and contingent payment will be unattractive to someone
who is selling her vote for a few dollars. She probably wants the
money right away. If her payment is contingent on subsequent
administrative action by the government - what the buyer really cares
about - then the delay is apt to be too long. In a legislative
context, for example, the assembly must schedule a separate, in-house
vote. The vote buyer must then engineer a massive shift in public
votes, just prior to the in-house vote. But caveat emptor, because of
the:

i) cost of buying votes in vast numbers;

ii) risk of discovery in such a large operation;

iii) likelihood of the assembly ignoring the vote shift, knowing it
to be a momentary artifact.

Crucial to (iii), public vote shifting for/against the proposed bill
will continue non-stop, even after the assembly accepts or rejects it.
So the assembly members will have ample opportunity to learn from the
public's past voting behaviour, and avoid mis-interpreting it. They
will have ample incentive too, because their seats will be the issue
of public voting in separate polls.

For another example, consider an electoral context, where the issue is
an office. The issue depends on the public voters recasting their
votes come election day. Only then can the buyer see the outcome, and
know whether to pay or not. But he cannot tie that outcome back to
the public votes that he bought, because the translation was carried
out by the voter themselves, in secret ballots. The best the buyer
could hope for, once again, is to engineer a massive shift in public
votes just prior to election day, thus attempting to persuade other
voters to go along with it. But the same cost/risk considerations
apply (i and ii).

And caveat voter too, considering the:

iv) embarrassment of being implicated as a vote seller, in a scheme
that was subsequently exposed.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Juho Laatu
2009-01-16 17:09:47 UTC
Permalink
Two observations.

1) Most countries of the world have
decided to base their democratic
processes on secret votes. It would
be difficult to change their current
principles.

2) The biggest problems may not be in
large coercion/buying campaigns and
explicit coercion/buying but in small
scale and voters' own independent
decisions. There may be intentional or
imagined pressure at homes, work and
many types of communities (village,
friends, religious, professional).

Juho
Subject: Re: [EM] The structuring of power and the composition of norms by communicative assent
Date: Friday, 16 January, 2009, 2:20 PM
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
The general problem is that if there's a way of
finding out what a certain
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
person voted, or whether a certain person voted in a
particular way, one
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
can apply pressure to get that person to vote a
desired way (to the one
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
applying the pressure). That can be simple coercion,
be it formal (in
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
"democratic" countries that aren't fully
democratic yet), semi-formal (mob
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
bosses, or "vote this way or you're
fired"), or informal (social pressure).
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
The coercion is "do it my way or something bad
happens" - it can also
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
easily be changed into "do it my way and
something good happens", as with
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
vote buying.
If coercion is a problem in this case, then it is strictly
a social
problem. If the private sphere of individuals, families,
employers,
and so forth, is restricting the public communications of
individuals
wrongly, in defiance of the norms, then society itself has
a problem
in the relations between its private and public spheres.
It is not a problem for a voting medium that functions
exclusively in
the public sphere. The purpose of the medium is to
accurately mirror
public opinion, and so it must also mirror the distortions,
including
those caused by private coercion. If people cannot *speak*
their
minds freely, they ought not to *vote* them either. This
connection
between speech and voting is especially crucial to a voting
system
that is based on communicative assent, as I propose here.
It is
essential that the voters, delegates and candidates all be
engaged in
mutual discussion. If the votes were not public, then the
discussion
would die out, and voter behaviour would cease to be
informed by
communicative reason.
None of the above applies to traditional voting mechanisms,
of the
sort normally discussed here in election-methods. Those
mechanisms
are not designed for the public sphere. They are designed
for the
private sphere, opening a private communication channel
from
individuals to the government. Traditionally, the only
communications
that become public are those of the reverse channel, in
which the
voters are informed via the mass media, as a passive
audience.
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
Any sort of voter-reconfigurable proxy democracy has
the kind of feedback
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
that enables coercion or vote-buying. ...
Re vote buying: Although the vote is public and compliance
may easily
be verified by the buyer, there is no guarantee of
*continued*
compliance. The voter may take the money from one side,
then shift
her vote and take it from the other. Vote buying is likely
to be a
poor investment.
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
... if the conspirators assume law X has near-majority
support, they
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
can buy the votes of enough to get a majority, and
then pay them if
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
X does indeed pass ...
Such a deferred and contingent payment will be unattractive
to someone
who is selling her vote for a few dollars. She probably
wants the
money right away. If her payment is contingent on
subsequent
administrative action by the government - what the buyer
really cares
about - then the delay is apt to be too long. In a
legislative
context, for example, the assembly must schedule a
separate, in-house
vote. The vote buyer must then engineer a massive shift in
public
votes, just prior to the in-house vote. But caveat emptor,
because of
i) cost of buying votes in vast numbers;
ii) risk of discovery in such a large operation;
iii) likelihood of the assembly ignoring the vote shift,
knowing it
to be a momentary artifact.
Crucial to (iii), public vote shifting for/against the
proposed bill
will continue non-stop, even after the assembly accepts or
rejects it.
So the assembly members will have ample opportunity to
learn from the
public's past voting behaviour, and avoid
mis-interpreting it. They
will have ample incentive too, because their seats will be
the issue
of public voting in separate polls.
For another example, consider an electoral context, where
the issue is
an office. The issue depends on the public voters
recasting their
votes come election day. Only then can the buyer see the
outcome, and
know whether to pay or not. But he cannot tie that outcome
back to
the public votes that he bought, because the translation
was carried
out by the voter themselves, in secret ballots. The best
the buyer
could hope for, once again, is to engineer a massive shift
in public
votes just prior to election day, thus attempting to
persuade other
voters to go along with it. But the same cost/risk
considerations
apply (i and ii).
iv) embarrassment of being implicated as a vote seller,
in a scheme
that was subsequently exposed.
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
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Michael Allan
2009-01-17 14:49:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
1) Most countries of the world have
decided to base their democratic
processes on secret votes. It would
be difficult to change their current
principles.
It's true that most of them decided to use *private* voting in the
state's electoral systems. On the other hand, they also decided to
use *public* voting in the legislative assemblies.

(These are not "principles", in any case. Principles are usually not
open to decision. These are "practices".)

I do not suggest that state practices ought to be changed. The
changes I suggest are entirely in the public sphere (among ordinary
people) and leave untouched the practices of voting in state elections
and legislative assemblies. (They will not affect "how" we vote at
state facilities, but they could affect "who and what" we vote for.)

My experience so far is that people are somewhat reluctant to consider
the possibility of voting openly in primary elections. I can't say
whether this stems from the novelty of casting public votes, or an
unfamiliarity with the purpose of primaries, or some other factor - I
lack the data.

Based on this experience, though, I decided to postpone alpha trials
of the medium until after I've added normative voting. People may
have a different reaction to the possibility of drafting and voting on
legislative bills. They can't do *that*, even in private. And the
traditional practice is that legislators vote publicly, so there
shouldn't be any gut reactions against it. I will know more, soon...
Post by Juho Laatu
2) The biggest problems may not be in
large coercion/buying campaigns and
explicit coercion/buying but in small
scale and voters' own independent
decisions. There may be intentional or
imagined pressure at homes, work and
many types of communities (village,
friends, religious, professional).
Yes, it's an important point. But I did answer to it in the post you
quote, which I also quote in this footnote:

http://zelea.com/project/votorola/d/theory.xht#fn-2

The general observation is that private opionion and public opinion
are not equivalents. In the original post (and link above), I propose
a medium for the expression of *public* opinion. I also describe how
it will (as best I can forsee) relate to other media for the
expression of both *private* opinion in party primaries and state
electoral systems, and *public* opinion in state legislatures, city
councils, and so forth. You see a problem in this, but what exactly?

I understand that you are concerned that *some* people cannot
participate in public politics, or cannot participate as honestly as
they would like. You and Kristopher went on to discuss how you might
solve this problem by precluding the possibility of public expression
entirely (as far as votes go), and falling back to a medium of private
expression. But that does not solve the problem of public
participation. It can only contribute to it. If we preclude public
voting, then it's no longer just a fraction of the population that is
intimidated, silenced and excluded from the public sphere - all are
silenced and excluded.

On the other hand, if we facilitate public voting, then we enable the
vast majority of people to participate in the public sphere, to
discuss problems such as this, and to come up with real solutions.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Juho Laatu
2009-01-17 22:56:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
1) Most countries of the world have
decided to base their democratic
processes on secret votes. It would
be difficult to change their current
principles.
It's true that most of them decided to use *private*
voting in the
state's electoral systems. On the other hand, they
also decided to
use *public* voting in the legislative assemblies.
OK. That's why I drafted the version where
"low level" votes are secret and "high
level" votes public.
Post by Michael Allan
(These are not "principles", in any case.
Principles are usually not
open to decision. These are "practices".)
I do not suggest that state practices ought to be changed.
The
changes I suggest are entirely in the public sphere (among
ordinary
people) and leave untouched the practices of voting in
state elections
and legislative assemblies.
What would be a typical case where you
recommend public votes to be used?
Post by Michael Allan
(They will not affect
"how" we vote at
state facilities, but they could affect "who and
what" we vote for.)
My experience so far is that people are somewhat reluctant
to consider
the possibility of voting openly in primary elections. I
can't say
whether this stems from the novelty of casting public
votes, or an
unfamiliarity with the purpose of primaries, or some other
factor - I
lack the data.
Based on this experience, though, I decided to postpone
alpha trials
of the medium until after I've added normative voting.
People may
have a different reaction to the possibility of drafting
and voting on
legislative bills. They can't do *that*, even in
private. And the
traditional practice is that legislators vote publicly, so
there
shouldn't be any gut reactions against it. I will know
more, soon...
Post by Juho Laatu
2) The biggest problems may not be in
large coercion/buying campaigns and
explicit coercion/buying but in small
scale and voters' own independent
decisions. There may be intentional or
imagined pressure at homes, work and
many types of communities (village,
friends, religious, professional).
Yes, it's an important point. But I did answer to it
in the post you
http://zelea.com/project/votorola/d/theory.xht#fn-2
The general observation is that private opionion and public
opinion
are not equivalents. In the original post (and link
above), I propose
a medium for the expression of *public* opinion. I also
describe how
it will (as best I can forsee) relate to other media for
the
expression of both *private* opinion in party primaries and
state
electoral systems, and *public* opinion in state
legislatures, city
councils, and so forth. You see a problem in this, but
what exactly?
I believe the practice/principle of having
secret votes also often implies interest
in allowing people to vote as they
privately think. Difference between public
and private opinions is thus often seen to
mean some sort of unwanted pressure that
makes people vote some other way than they
really would like to vote.
Post by Michael Allan
I understand that you are concerned that *some* people
cannot
participate in public politics, or cannot participate as
honestly as
they would like.
Yes. Or actually I was talked about that
being a common attitude in societies in
general.
Post by Michael Allan
You and Kristopher went on to discuss how
you might
solve this problem by precluding the possibility of public
expression
entirely (as far as votes go), and falling back to a medium
of private
expression.
Yes. Or at least by keeping the lowest
layers secret.
Post by Michael Allan
But that does not solve the problem of public
participation. It can only contribute to it. If we
preclude public
voting, then it's no longer just a fraction of the
population that is
intimidated, silenced and excluded from the public sphere -
all are
silenced and excluded.
I don't see how secret voting would
particularly limit public participation.
Public voting maybe automatically
forces/encourages public participation but
secret votes allow that too. People are
also free to tell how they voted even if
their vote was secret. One limitation is
that the voter can not prove to the
candidate that she voted that she really
voter for her. But that also does not
limit public participation.
Post by Michael Allan
On the other hand, if we facilitate public voting, then we
enable the
vast majority of people to participate in the public
sphere, to
discuss problems such as this, and to come up with real
solutions.
I guess there are also other more
common reasons to why people do not
actively participate in public sphere
(lack of time, lack of interest, risk of
disagreements with others, not knowing
enough, higher interest in some other
areas).

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
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Michael Allan
2009-01-18 16:16:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
What would be a typical case where you
recommend public votes to be used?
Where the voting system is intended to be in the public sphere, and to
serve as the voice of the public - but in that case, there's no
alternative. Public opinion can only be expressed in and through the
public. As far as votes are part of that expression, the votes must
also be public.

Habermas relates this anecdote, from history: ^[2]

The exclusion of the public from the parliamentary deliberations
could no longer be maintained at a time in which "Memory" Woodfall
was able to make the Morning Chronicle into the leading London daily
paper because he could reproduce verbatim sixteen columns of
parliamentary speeches without taking notes in the gallery of the
House of Commons, which was prohibited. A place for journalists in
the gallery was officially provided by the Speaker only in the year
1803; for almost a century they had to gain entry illegally. But
only in the House of Parliament newly constructed after the fire of
1834 were stands for reporters installed - two years after the first
Reform Bill had transformed Parliament, for a long time the target
of critical comment by public opinion, into the very organ of this
opinion.

It subsequently lost that role, as mass democracy took hold. It
wasn't just the publication of the votes that mattered, but the
debates leading up to them. The debates retreated into private
negotiations between the parties, and the votes in the house were
whipped. Parliament became a theatre once again, with lots of critics
and a disinterested audience.
Post by Juho Laatu
I believe the practice/principle of having
secret votes also often implies interest
in allowing people to vote as they
privately think. Difference between public
and private opinions is thus often seen to
mean some sort of unwanted pressure that
makes people vote some other way than they
really would like to vote.
If private and public opinions differ, then which is the manipulated
one? Consider state electoral systems that are based on private
voting. Every 4 years or so, the state must legitimize its authority.
So it takes a poll, sums up the private votes, and presents them as
"public opinion". But despite being expressed *in* public, the
resulting synthetic opinion is not an expression *of* the public.
It's not clear who it belongs to (in its aggregate form), but it seems
closer to mass opinion, as characterized by C. W. Mills: ^[4]

In a public, as we may understand the term, (1) virtually as many
people express opinions as receive them. (2) Public
commununications are so organized that there is a chance immediately
and effectively to answer back any opinion expressed in public.
Opinion formed by such discussion (3) readily finds an outlet in
effective action, even against - if necessary - the prevailing
system of authority. And (4) authoritative institutions do not
penetrate the public, which is thus more or less autonomous in its
operation.

In a mass, (1) far fewer people express opinions than receive them;
for the community of publics becomes an abstract collection of
individuals who receive impressions from the mass media. (2) The
communications that prevail are so organized that it is difficult or
impossible for the individual to answer back immediately or with any
effect. (3) The realization of opinion in action is controlled by
authorities who organize and control the channels of such action.
(4) The mass has no autonomy from institutions; on the contrary,
agents of authorized institutions penetrate this mass, reducing any
autonomy it may have in the formation of opinion by discussion.
Post by Juho Laatu
You and Kristopher went on to discuss how you might solve this
problem [of coersion] by precluding the possibility of public
expression entirely (as far as votes go), and falling back to a
medium of private expression.
Yes. Or at least by keeping the lowest
layers secret.
Even if that design path were a good one, it wouldn't be open to us.
We may certainly *allow* for private voting at the perhipery. Some
people will want it (maybe many), I agree. But we cannot force it on
everyone. We cannot force anything in the public sphere. The most we
can do is *omit* to facilitate. But where we omit, others will come
along to make up the shortfall.
Post by Juho Laatu
I don't see how secret voting would
particularly limit public participation.
Public voting maybe automatically
forces/encourages public participation but
secret votes allow that too. People are
also free to tell how they voted even if
their vote was secret. One limitation is
that the voter can not prove to the
candidate that she voted that she really
voter for her. But that also does not
limit public participation.
It's true, private voting imposes no effective limits. And mass
democracy allows us complete freedom. What's crucial is not what it
imposes, but what it omits to facilitate.

We can make up for some of its shortfalls by adding a voting system to
the public sphere. A well designed voting facility will:

a. reveal the fact of agreement (and disagreement) on issues - what
other people are agreeing to

b. report the quantity of agreement - for and against - in definite
numbers

c. characterize the *quality* of agreement, especially the concrete
options under discussion - exactly what people are agreeing to,
and how the consensus (and dissensus) is distributed

d. open participation to everyone in the community, with no formal
restrictions on age, mental ability, citizenship, etc.

e. help newcomers to join in the discussion by revealing the
existing participants, and showing easy points of entry at the
periphery

f. keep the proximal scale of discussion to a humanly mangageable
size, by organizing it in a tree structure, like the votes

g. promote consensus without forcing it, or limiting it

h. provide assurance of ultimate action - a conduit for consensus
votes to cross into legislative assemblies and general elections
Post by Juho Laatu
I guess there are also other more
common reasons to why people do not
actively participate in public sphere
(lack of time, lack of interest, risk of
disagreements with others, not knowing
enough, higher interest in some other
areas).
True, it's a complex equation. But history's found a couple of
solutions already, so there's probably more out there.


[1] Jürgen Habermas. 1962. The Structural Transformation of the
Public Sphere. Translated by Thomas Burger, 1989. MIT Press,
Cambridge, Massachusetts.

[2] above, p. 61-62.

[3] above, p. 249.

[4] C. W. Mills. 1956. The Power Elite. New York. p. 303-304. As
quoted in Habermas^[3]
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Juho Laatu
2009-01-19 00:09:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
I believe the practice/principle of having
secret votes also often implies interest
in allowing people to vote as they
privately think. Difference between public
and private opinions is thus often seen to
mean some sort of unwanted pressure that
makes people vote some other way than they
really would like to vote.
If private and public opinions differ, then which is the
manipulated
one?
If they deviate it is hard to imagine
that the private opinion would not be
the sincere one.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
You and Kristopher went on to discuss how you
might solve this
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
problem [of coersion] by precluding the
possibility of public
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
expression entirely (as far as votes go), and
falling back to a
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
medium of private expression.
Yes. Or at least by keeping the lowest
layers secret.
Even if that design path were a good one, it wouldn't
be open to us.
We may certainly *allow* for private voting at the
perhipery. Some
people will want it (maybe many), I agree. But we cannot
force it on
everyone.
I think the common practice is to force
privacy on everyone in order to allow
the weakest of the society to keep
their privacy.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
I don't see how secret voting would
particularly limit public participation.
Public voting maybe automatically
forces/encourages public participation but
secret votes allow that too. People are
also free to tell how they voted even if
their vote was secret. One limitation is
that the voter can not prove to the
candidate that she voted that she really
voter for her. But that also does not
limit public participation.
It's true, private voting imposes no effective limits.
And mass
democracy allows us complete freedom. What's crucial
is not what it
imposes, but what it omits to facilitate.
We can make up for some of its shortfalls by adding a
voting system to
It is true that public votes help
implementing some features, but in
most typical ("low level") elections
privacy has been considered to be
essential.

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
a. reveal the fact of agreement (and disagreement) on
issues - what
other people are agreeing to
b. report the quantity of agreement - for and against -
in definite
numbers
c. characterize the *quality* of agreement, especially
the concrete
options under discussion - exactly what people are
agreeing to,
and how the consensus (and dissensus) is distributed
d. open participation to everyone in the community, with
no formal
restrictions on age, mental ability, citizenship, etc.
e. help newcomers to join in the discussion by revealing
the
existing participants, and showing easy points of
entry at the
periphery
f. keep the proximal scale of discussion to a humanly
mangageable
size, by organizing it in a tree structure, like the
votes
g. promote consensus without forcing it, or limiting it
h. provide assurance of ultimate action - a conduit for
consensus
votes to cross into legislative assemblies and general
elections
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Michael Allan
2009-01-19 08:09:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
If private and public opinions differ, then which is the
manipulated one?
If they deviate it is hard to imagine
that the private opinion would not be
the sincere one.
That's because you are thinking of individual opinion. Consider:

* private opinion informed by mass media, and likewise measured by
mass elections with a secret ballot

* public opinion formed in mutual discussion, and likewise measured
by peer-to-peer voting with a public ballot

It makes a difference when people act socially (inter-subjectively)
amongst themselves, rather than alone. When they act alone, they are
apt to be systematically manipulated as objects. Alone they have
subjective truth (personal sincerity), but together they have
communicative reason (mutual understanding or consensus).
Post by Juho Laatu
I think the common practice is to force
privacy on everyone in order to allow
the weakest of the society to keep
their privacy.
That's because you are thinking of an administrative context. Force
is permitted in that context. We can be restrained from choosing our
own voting methods, at the polling station. We can be forced to use
the methods as provided, or to abstain from voting.

The public sphere is different. There, people can choose their own
means of expression. We cannot restrict them to a private voting
method, except by violating the principle of free speech. And if that
didn't stop us, the law would.
Post by Juho Laatu
It is true that public votes help
implementing some features, but in
most typical ("low level") elections
privacy has been considered to be
essential.
Privacy is essential, I agree, but it's insufficient. The secret
ballot *does* work in state elections. I don't mean it any
disrespect. But it will work even better when it's complemented by a
public ballot in cross-party primaries. (That's what I argue,
anyway.)
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2009-01-19 12:24:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
If private and public opinions differ, then which is the
manipulated one?
If they deviate it is hard to imagine
that the private opinion would not be
the sincere one.
* private opinion informed by mass media, and likewise measured by
mass elections with a secret ballot
* public opinion formed in mutual discussion, and likewise measured
by peer-to-peer voting with a public ballot
It makes a difference when people act socially (inter-subjectively)
amongst themselves, rather than alone. When they act alone, they are
apt to be systematically manipulated as objects. Alone they have
subjective truth (personal sincerity), but together they have
communicative reason (mutual understanding or consensus).
Could not these domains work together? To my knowledge, that's what
happens now. People discuss politics and find out what they're going to
vote. Any sort of improvement on the availability of discussion, as well
as of information of representatives' actions will help that domain.
Then, when the voters actually decide to vote, they have privacy. Their
opinions may change based on what they hear or discuss, but at the end,
it's a private decision who they'll give their vote to.
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Michael Allan
2009-01-19 16:28:34 UTC
Permalink
Could not these domains work together? To my knowledge, that's what happens
now. People discuss politics and find out what they're going to vote. Any
sort of improvement on the availability of discussion, as well as of
information of representatives' actions will help that domain. Then, when
the voters actually decide to vote, they have privacy. Their opinions may
change based on what they hear or discuss, but at the end, it's a private
decision who they'll give their vote to.
I was thinking along the same lines, replying to your previous post!
if it is true that distortions (by carrot or by stick, e.g vote-buying or
coercion) degrade the public sphere so that one have to use a secret ballot
in ordinary elections, then the distortions will remain when using a method
that relies on public sphere information (that is, what you call
communicative assent), yet the means of masking that distortion no longer
applies, because it's no longer a private matter of voting, but a public
one of discussion.
Or to phrase it in another way: the distortions of action can be called
corruption, since this is really what happens when you're letting the
distortions govern how you act when you're supposed to be acting either in
accordance to your own opinion, or as an agent of someone else. For obvious
reasons, we don't want corruption, and we would seek to minimize it, but
it's still a problem.
Consider all three types of voting system, the two existing, and the
third proposed:

TABLE 1. SYSTEMATIC CORRUPTION OF VOTERS
------------------------------------------------------------------
Voting System Individual Collective
-------------- ------------------------ ------------------------

State -- manipulation by mass
Electoral propaganda, financed by
campaign contributions,
or by influence peddling

State Party discipline, --
Legislative the whipping system

Vote buying, influence
peddling

Public Primary Social pressure from --
(Electoral and employer, school,
Legislative) church, union, etc. *

Vote buying, influence
peddling

-----------------------------------------------------------------
* family pressure is more nature-like than systematic, so
consider it separately
The secret ballot came into use to protect voters from the distortion.
Presumably the distortion was real and sufficiently severe to need such
measures. If we remove the protection, the distortion will again be
uncovered. It may be a problem with society, or with the method, but it'll
be there, whatever the cause.
That protection will not be removed. No changes to the existing
voting systems are proposed. On the other hand, we cannot extend the
same protection to the public system, not even partially. To enforce
a secret ballot would violate the guarantees of free speech in the
public sphere. Ad hoc, people can make public voting a fact.

We can take any of the corruptions (Table 1), and investigate it in
detail. That's one approach. Another (as suggested in your other
post) is to consider how the two categories of system (state and
public) will interact. There could be a positive synergy between
them, with the corruptions of the state being weakened by the public
system, while those of the public system are filtered out by the
state's secret ballot. I would argue this is generally true, for all
of the corruptions listed in the table.
The vote-buying effort would, of course, be a this-for-that endeavor. I
provide money, you provide the vote - I "buy" your vote. After you've
voted, I got what I bought, and I may buy another vote later.
Alternately, it can be continual: for as long as you, as a proxy, mirror
me, I'll pay you. Stop doing it and I stop paying.
In both cases, the vote is the commodity.
Only the latter case would apply, as the commodity is continuous.
There is a single vote on the table, and the voter can shift it around
or withdraw it, at any time. So the payments must be meted out
continually in nickles and dimes (as you suggest), or deferred. These
types of payment will be less attractive to typical vote sellers.
They won't be banking their returns, but spending them immediately.

In addition to this, and the other factors (i to iv) that weigh
against vote buying, I would add:

v) Vote sellers may be identified by pattern analysis, and simple
record keeping. Once identified and marked with a probability
label, their collective behaviour may be tracked. The tracks
will lead to the vote buyers.
I thought the system would have a deferred direct democracy component, as
others have talked about in previous descriptions of proxy democracy: that
each voter has a vote but can assign it to a proxy...
Yes, it's essentially the same voting mechanism as Abd's delegable
proxy (and others too). But the application differs. It's a primary
system - nominating candidates for the state ballot, and candidate
bills for the state legislature - and so the deferral of action works
not only through the internal proxy structure (relatively fast), but
across voting systems (slow).
... If that's the case,
then though each decision has less value, there are more of them from which
to gather feedback.
I'll grant the part about assembly voting, though I'll note that if an
elected assembly votes, then the composition of that assembly can be done
by using ordinary secret voting, in which case there is no problem.
Yes, the state assembly is elected by the usual methods. The only
change is external, in the addition of a primary that uses public
voting. But it's a cross-party primary, so if the turnout is high
enough, then it would predict the winner of the general poll.

The accuracy of the prediction would be reduced if the primary was
corrupted. Ordinarilly, the secret ballot on election day would
filter out most of the corruption (I suppose), delivering the
corrected result. But a truly massive corruption could overwhelm the
filter, because the prediction would be self-fulfilling, to some
extent.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Juho Laatu
2009-01-19 22:45:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
If private and public opinions differ, then which
is the
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
manipulated one?
If they deviate it is hard to imagine
that the private opinion would not be
the sincere one.
That's because you are thinking of individual opinion.
* private opinion informed by mass media, and likewise
measured by
mass elections with a secret ballot
* public opinion formed in mutual discussion, and
likewise measured
by peer-to-peer voting with a public ballot
It makes a difference when people act socially
(inter-subjectively)
amongst themselves, rather than alone. When they act
alone, they are
apt to be systematically manipulated as objects. Alone
they have
subjective truth (personal sincerity), but together they
have
communicative reason (mutual understanding or consensus).
I see two valid ways to form opinions.
- opinion formation based on mass media
- opinion formation based on mutual discussion

Individuals may use one or both
approaches when forming their private
opinion, and also when forming their
public opinion (public ballot or
other public expression of their
opinion).
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
I think the common practice is to force
privacy on everyone in order to allow
the weakest of the society to keep
their privacy.
That's because you are thinking of an administrative
context. Force
is permitted in that context. We can be restrained from
choosing our
own voting methods, at the polling station. We can be
forced to use
the methods as provided, or to abstain from voting.
The public sphere is different. There, people can choose
their own
means of expression. We cannot restrict them to a private
voting
method, except by violating the principle of free speech.
And if that
didn't stop us, the law would.
I don't see any big conflict. They are
free to speak even if the society does
not provide them with tools to prove
to others how they voted. (And they
can still tell others how they voted.)

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
It is true that public votes help
implementing some features, but in
most typical ("low level") elections
privacy has been considered to be
essential.
Privacy is essential, I agree, but it's insufficient.
The secret
ballot *does* work in state elections. I don't mean it
any
disrespect. But it will work even better when it's
complemented by a
public ballot in cross-party primaries. (That's what I
argue,
anyway.)
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
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Michael Allan
2009-01-21 16:17:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
I see two valid ways to form opinions.
- opinion formation based on mass media
- opinion formation based on mutual discussion
Individuals may use one or both
approaches when forming their private
opinion, and also when forming their
public opinion (public ballot or
other public expression of their
opinion).
That's true, both are valid. But mutual discussion is in short
supply. The vacuum is filled by mass media, giving them too much
leverage as instruments of manipulation. So we need to facilitate
mutual discussion.
Post by Juho Laatu
I don't see any big conflict. They are
free to speak even if the society does
not provide them with tools to prove
to others how they voted. (And they
can still tell others how they voted.)
But can private voting fit in the public sphere? There are at least
two practical problems:

i) Given the protections of free speech, there is no way to
generally enforce a secret ballot. So a competing system that
allows for public voting cannot be excluded. Mutatis mutandis,
that system will win the competition, because at least some
people will prefer to cast their votes openly. The most likely
outcome is that individual voters will have a choice - secret or
open ballot.

ii) Harder to verify the results. Verification based on full
disclosure of all voter data is easier and more transparent.

And one theoretical problem:

iii) The asymettry between private voting and public discussion is
ugly (seems to me), and may lead to unforseen problems. We
could switch to private discussions, but that sits poorly with
the aim of public consensus.

Leaving aside secret/open ballots, the other design features in
support of mutual discussion are:

a) Peer-to-peer voting as a stuctural support for large scale
discussion - keeping it de-centred, so it doesn't collapse to
inaccessible, mass communication.

b) Continuous voting to make the issue more concrete, and to
thematize the discussion. There will always be lots to talk
about because the results are continuously revealed, and never
final.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Juho Laatu
2009-01-21 17:59:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
I see two valid ways to form opinions.
- opinion formation based on mass media
- opinion formation based on mutual discussion
Individuals may use one or both
approaches when forming their private
opinion, and also when forming their
public opinion (public ballot or
other public expression of their
opinion).
That's true, both are valid. But mutual discussion is
in short
supply. The vacuum is filled by mass media, giving them
too much
leverage as instruments of manipulation. So we need to
facilitate
mutual discussion.
Yes, it is good to facilitate mutual
discussion better. My aim with this
discussion is to study if one can
combine that with the good old
privacy / secret vote principles.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
I don't see any big conflict. They are
free to speak even if the society does
not provide them with tools to prove
to others how they voted. (And they
can still tell others how they voted.)
But can private voting fit in the public sphere? There are
at least
i) Given the protections of free speech, there is no way
to
generally enforce a secret ballot. So a competing
system that
allows for public voting cannot be excluded. Mutatis
mutandis,
that system will win the competition, because at
least some
people will prefer to cast their votes openly. The
most likely
outcome is that individual voters will have a choice
- secret or
open ballot.
I see three alternative approaches
(for each individual voter) here.

1) The vote is forced secret. The
voter can tell how she voted
(=freedom of speech). But she can
not prove to the coercer or buyer
how she voted.

2) The voter can choose if her vote
is public or secret. She can also
tell what her secret vote was.

3) The vote is public.

What I mean is that also enforced
secrecy and free speech can be
combined.
Post by Michael Allan
ii) Harder to verify the results. Verification based on
full
disclosure of all voter data is easier and more
transparent.
Yes, secrecy makes verification more
demanding.
Post by Michael Allan
iii) The asymettry between private voting and public
discussion is
ugly (seems to me), and may lead to unforseen
problems. We
could switch to private discussions, but that sits
poorly with
the aim of public consensus.
I think current systems rely on
private voting and public discussion
(although different than the proxy
based discussion). It may be possible
to enrich this with better mutual
discussion / delegable voting rights
without sacrificing secret votes /
privacy.

I don't see the need of a
representative / proxy to know who
her voters exactly are to be crucial.
In some aspect it is better that she
doesn't know (no vote buying,
services to those that voted, no hard
feelings against those that this time
voted someone else etc.).

The (secret) voters on the other hand
will get more power when they can let
several representatives / proxies
understand that they got or may get
the vote :-).
Post by Michael Allan
Leaving aside secret/open ballots, the other design
features in
a) Peer-to-peer voting as a stuctural support for large
scale
discussion - keeping it de-centred, so it doesn't
collapse to
inaccessible, mass communication.
Yes. Having a rich hierarchical
discussion structure is one key
benefit of the proxy structure.
(Also secret voters may participate.
Some of the proxies are low level
and nearby in any case.)
Post by Michael Allan
b) Continuous voting to make the issue more concrete, and
to
thematize the discussion. There will always be lots
to talk
about because the results are continuously revealed,
and never
final.
Yes, continuous talk may improve the
discussion.

This topic has however also the other
side. One reason behind terms of few
years is that this way the
representatives will have some time
to work in peace. Continuous voting
may also make the system more
populist (no tax raises ever since
all those representatives might be
kicked out right away, without the
calming period before the next
elections).

It is possible to have also some
hysteresis in the system. This allows
for example short protests by the
voters and allowing them to still
change their mind before the
representative will be kicked out.
In some systems and at some levels
it however may not matter if the
representatives / proxies change
frequently.

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
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Michael Allan
2009-01-23 15:22:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
Yes, it is good to facilitate mutual
discussion better. My aim with this
discussion is to study if one can
combine that with the good old
privacy / secret vote principles.
The most significant combo (I think) is that of the existing general
electoral systems of the state (private/secret ballot), and the new
primary system of the public sphere (public/open ballot). There's a
synergy between them - both together are better than either would be
alone. Likewise for state legislative voting (closed, inaccessible)
and public voting on norms (open, accessible) - synergy there too. So
we rationalize society's voting systems.
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
But can private voting fit in the public sphere? There are at
least two practical problems: i) Given the protections of free
speech, there is no way to generally enforce a secret ballot....
I see three alternative approaches
(for each individual voter) here.
1) The vote is forced secret. The
voter can tell how she voted
(=freedom of speech). But she can
not prove to the coercer or buyer
how she voted.
2) The voter can choose if her vote
is public or secret. She can also
tell what her secret vote was.
3) The vote is public.
What I mean is that also enforced
secrecy and free speech can be
combined.
Not in the public sphere - neither (1) nor (3) is enforceable - only
(2) is allowed. It is the nature of the public sphere, and part of
the legitimacy it confers on the process. More on that later...
Post by Juho Laatu
I think current systems rely on
private voting and public discussion
(although different than the proxy
based discussion). It may be possible
to enrich this with better mutual
discussion / delegable voting rights
without sacrificing secret votes /
privacy.
Yes, it might be *possible*, but I think it would be difficult in
practice (and not ideal in principle) to do so within a *single*
voting system. The most rational design is separate, special purpose
systems (primary and general) that work together.
Post by Juho Laatu
I don't see the need of a
representative / proxy to know who
her voters exactly are to be crucial.
In some aspect it is better that she
doesn't know (no vote buying,
services to those that voted, no hard
feelings against those that this time
voted someone else etc.).
The (secret) voters on the other hand
will get more power when they can let
several representatives / proxies
understand that they got or may get
the vote :-).
All of this is easier, more natural, if agreement (voter for
candidate/delegate) is *actually* expressed. Then it's more human.
We weren't *built* to deal with the strange paradox of private
expression (collective mass opinion). There's no natural correlate
for it.
Post by Juho Laatu
Yes. Having a rich hierarchical
discussion structure is one key
benefit of the proxy structure.
(Also secret voters may participate.
Some of the proxies are low level
and nearby in any case.)
Yes, and there *will* be secret voters in the public primaries. We
cannot disallow secret ballots, and enforce purity. Nor would it even
be ideal - some allowance for extreme situations is better. But
hopefully there will not be *too* many private voters, as they will
not be able to participate properly (more on this later).
Post by Juho Laatu
Yes, continuous talk may improve the
discussion.
This topic has however also the other
side. One reason behind terms of few
years is that this way the
representatives will have some time
to work in peace. Continuous voting
may also make the system more
populist (no tax raises ever since
all those representatives might be
kicked out right away, without the
calming period before the next
elections).
There is no direct action as a consequence of primary results. The
public cannot *force* anything. All power remains with the
administration, the general electoral systems (non-continuous), and
the legislative assembly (inaccessible to public).

But those systems are *informed* by the public system, and this can
amount to effective control. It sounds paradoxical, because we've
separated control from power, but it's actually the rational thing to
do. In engineering theory, the control/guidance systems and the power
systems are kept well separate from each other, and their designs are
radically different. The pilot in the cockpit does not reach his
hands into the engine turbines, or forcefully move the elevator,
ailerons, and rudder. The cockpit is fitted with low power
instruments and controls, at a safe distance from the engines etc.
Post by Juho Laatu
It is possible to have also some
hysteresis in the system. This allows
for example short protests by the
voters and allowing them to still
change their mind before the
representative will be kicked out.
In some systems and at some levels
it however may not matter if the
representatives / proxies change
frequently.
Hysteresis and other decoupling is provided by the separation of the
two types of voting system - the system of public controls (as it
were) and the system of administrative power.

More in reply to your other message...
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Dave Ketchum
2009-01-24 00:03:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Yes, it is good to facilitate mutual
discussion better. My aim with this
discussion is to study if one can
combine that with the good old
privacy / secret vote principles.
The most significant combo (I think) is that of the existing general
electoral systems of the state (private/secret ballot), and the new
primary system of the public sphere (public/open ballot). There's a
synergy between them - both together are better than either would be
alone. Likewise for state legislative voting (closed, inaccessible)
and public voting on norms (open, accessible) - synergy there too. So
we rationalize society's voting systems.
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
But can private voting fit in the public sphere? There are at
least two practical problems: i) Given the protections of free
speech, there is no way to generally enforce a secret ballot....
I see three alternative approaches
(for each individual voter) here.
1) The vote is forced secret. The
voter can tell how she voted
(=freedom of speech). But she can
not prove to the coercer or buyer
how she voted.
2) The voter can choose if her vote
is public or secret. She can also
tell what her secret vote was.
3) The vote is public.
What I mean is that also enforced
secrecy and free speech can be
combined.
Not in the public sphere - neither (1) nor (3) is enforceable - only
(2) is allowed. It is the nature of the public sphere, and part of
the legitimacy it confers on the process. More on that later...
I get dizzy on public vs private as used here, but have to disagree on some
of the above.

True secret voting - important to protect a voter's vote from being known:
A society can use a ballot box with black and white balls, especially
for deciding whether to accept a new member. There is NO record to protect
or lose as to who voted black.
Lever voting machines can be used in public elections. At least
originally these were as secret, though all kinds of cheating now becomes
possible.
Paper absentee ballots can be handled in a way that, if done
properly, maintains secrecy. The envelope has the voter's name. The
ballot is forbidden to identify the voter in any way, and is void
otherwise. When the envelope is opened the ballot is placed in a stack of
such without looking at content.

Signing petitions is generally non-secret - with this known to the signers.

Speech is only occasionally kept secret - courts and legislatures and
societies choose when they need this.
...
Proxies? There is need for a verifiable record as to how many votes a
proxy can cast.
--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.




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Michael Allan
2009-01-25 18:19:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave Ketchum
Post by Michael Allan
I see three alternative approaches (for each individual voter)
here.
1) The vote is forced secret. The voter can tell how she voted
(=freedom of speech). But she can not prove to the coercer or
buyer how she voted.
2) The voter can choose if her vote is public or secret. She can
also tell what her secret vote was.
3) The vote is public.
What I mean is that also enforced secrecy and free speech can be
combined.
Not in the public sphere - neither (1) nor (3) is enforceable - only
(2) is allowed. It is the nature of the public sphere, and part of
the legitimacy it confers on the process. More on that later...
I get dizzy on public vs private as used here, but have to disagree
on some of the above.
My argument above is a continuation from previous posts. To
reiterate:

By a voting system "of the public sphere", I mean a system situated in
a common space where systematic force is inapplicable. Unlike the
voting systems of the state (general electoral and in-house
legislative), where the state enforces a monopoly system of a
particular design, there is no way to enforce a pattern of design on
the systems of the public sphere (primary voting systems). Competing
designs are allowed, and voters may choose among them.

Just as people are free to speak their minds in the public sphere, so
they are free to propose and build their own voting systems for public
use. This is especially easy, because much of the software is open
source. No authority can *generally* enforce a secret ballot. If
some people happen to dislike the strictly secret ballot of one system
(1), they may build an alternative system (3) that restricts itself to
a public, fully disclosed ballot. And if others prefer no
restrictions at all, they may build yet another system (2) that allows
for *both* secret and public ballots (voter choice). Mutatis
mutandis, the least restrictive of these systems will eventually
acquire a broader level of participation. So I argue - neither type 1
nor 3 is likely to be stable in the face of competition from type 2.
We may therefore assume type 2 voting systems in public sphere.

This is important, because the design of type 1 is quite different
than 2 and 3. We can save effort by forgetting about type 1, and
concentrating our thoughts on 3 (the simplest overall), moving later
to 2 (not much different, so an easy migration).
Post by Dave Ketchum
A society can use a ballot box with black and white balls, especially
for deciding whether to accept a new member. There is NO record to protect
or lose as to who voted black.
Each such voting system is enforced by the private "society" (club,
etc.) that employs it. It is therefore not a system "of the public
sphere". To change voting systems, one must change clubs. (There is
no way to change public spheres, we all share the same one.)
Post by Dave Ketchum
Lever voting machines can be used in public elections. At least
originally these were as secret, though all kinds of cheating now becomes
possible.
Machines could be used... the interface medium is irrelevant to the
argument. A public voting system must be open to all members of the
public, and they must have (in principle, if not in practice) a choice
of alternative systems, with no design restrictions. So the public
(in effect) designs its own voting system.
Post by Dave Ketchum
Paper absentee ballots can be handled in a way that, if done
properly, maintains secrecy. The envelope has the voter's name. The
ballot is forbidden to identify the voter in any way, and is void
otherwise. When the envelope is opened the ballot is placed in a stack of
such without looking at content.
(Again, the interface medium is irrelevant to the argument.)
Post by Dave Ketchum
Signing petitions is generally non-secret - with this known to the signers.
But this (type 3) cannot be generally enforced. General rules are not
possible in the public sphere. It must be allowed that some petitions
be of type 1 and 2 - if that is feasible for a petition.
Post by Dave Ketchum
Speech is only occasionally kept secret - courts and legislatures and
societies choose when they need this.
Secret speech in a public space. OK, but not too much, or the space
is no longer public.

Think of a private speech in Parliament. Weird, but this has become
the norm since the late 1800's or so. The real debates moved to
back-rooms, where the organized parties hammer out their differences
in private. Parliament is now a stage on which these parties speak in
front of the public, and exlusive of it. So Parliament is no longer
an institution *of* the public, but rather of the party and state
administrations - as we all intuitively know.

Likewise, in a broader public voting system, as I propose. If private
voting comes to pre-dominate in such a system, then it is no longer
*of* the public. It becomes an artificial synthesis of private
opinion that speaks *to* the public. It speaks in a voice that
neither the public nor individuals can recognize as their own - the
voice of the mass.
Post by Dave Ketchum
Proxies? There is need for a verifiable record as to how many votes a
proxy can cast.
Like any voter, a proxy (delegate) casts a single vote of her own.
Those of her voters are carried along with it. The method is
described in the first section of the original post. Also here:

http://zelea.com/project/votorola/d/theory.xht
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Dave Ketchum
2009-01-26 02:04:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Dave Ketchum
Post by Michael Allan
I see three alternative approaches (for each individual voter)
here.
1) The vote is forced secret. The voter can tell how she voted
(=freedom of speech). But she can not prove to the coercer or
buyer how she voted.
2) The voter can choose if her vote is public or secret. She can
also tell what her secret vote was.
3) The vote is public.
What I mean is that also enforced secrecy and free speech can be
combined.
Not in the public sphere - neither (1) nor (3) is enforceable - only
(2) is allowed. It is the nature of the public sphere, and part of
the legitimacy it confers on the process. More on that later...
I get dizzy on public vs private as used here, but have to disagree
on some of the above.
As discussed below, need for secrecy/publicity varies on both sides.
Post by Michael Allan
My argument above is a continuation from previous posts. To
By a voting system "of the public sphere", I mean a system situated in
a common space where systematic force is inapplicable. Unlike the
voting systems of the state (general electoral and in-house
legislative), where the state enforces a monopoly system of a
particular design, there is no way to enforce a pattern of design on
the systems of the public sphere (primary voting systems). Competing
designs are allowed, and voters may choose among them.
I do not see voters getting a choice. Whoever has power or authority sets
up the system. Voters, at most, can choose whether to participate and/or
complain.
Post by Michael Allan
Just as people are free to speak their minds in the public sphere, so
they are free to propose and build their own voting systems for public
use. This is especially easy, because much of the software is open
source. No authority can *generally* enforce a secret ballot. If
some people happen to dislike the strictly secret ballot of one system
(1), they may build an alternative system (3) that restricts itself to
a public, fully disclosed ballot. And if others prefer no
restrictions at all, they may build yet another system (2) that allows
for *both* secret and public ballots (voter choice). Mutatis
mutandis, the least restrictive of these systems will eventually
acquire a broader level of participation. So I argue - neither type 1
nor 3 is likely to be stable in the face of competition from type 2.
We may therefore assume type 2 voting systems in public sphere.
This is important, because the design of type 1 is quite different
than 2 and 3. We can save effort by forgetting about type 1, and
concentrating our thoughts on 3 (the simplest overall), moving later
to 2 (not much different, so an easy migration).
I start below with a couple examples of true type 1 secrecy. This has
serious need, though other methods with the ability can be managed with
MUCH care as to details.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Dave Ketchum
A society can use a ballot box with black and white balls, especially
for deciding whether to accept a new member. There is NO record to protect
or lose as to who voted black.
Each such voting system is enforced by the private "society" (club,
etc.) that employs it. It is therefore not a system "of the public
sphere". To change voting systems, one must change clubs. (There is
no way to change public spheres, we all share the same one.)
The society can give up on the secrecy if its members agree that there is
no value in the secrecy (they must have seen need or they would never have
invested the effort).
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Dave Ketchum
Lever voting machines can be used in public elections. At least
originally these were as secret, though all kinds of cheating now becomes
possible.
Machines could be used... the interface medium is irrelevant to the
argument. A public voting system must be open to all members of the
public, and they must have (in principle, if not in practice) a choice
of alternative systems, with no design restrictions. So the public
(in effect) designs its own voting system.
The medium matters. I cited one that offers secrecy. With other media
more attention as to needed details matters.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Dave Ketchum
Paper absentee ballots can be handled in a way that, if done
properly, maintains secrecy. The envelope has the voter's name. The
ballot is forbidden to identify the voter in any way, and is void
otherwise. When the envelope is opened the ballot is placed in a stack of
such without looking at content.
(Again, the interface medium is irrelevant to the argument.)
Post by Dave Ketchum
Signing petitions is generally non-secret - with this known to the signers.
But this (type 3) cannot be generally enforced. General rules are not
possible in the public sphere. It must be allowed that some petitions
be of type 1 and 2 - if that is feasible for a petition.
Post by Dave Ketchum
Speech is only occasionally kept secret - courts and legislatures and
societies choose when they need this.
Secret speech in a public space. OK, but not too much, or the space
is no longer public.
Think of a private speech in Parliament. Weird, but this has become
the norm since the late 1800's or so. The real debates moved to
back-rooms, where the organized parties hammer out their differences
in private. Parliament is now a stage on which these parties speak in
front of the public, and exlusive of it. So Parliament is no longer
an institution *of* the public, but rather of the party and state
administrations - as we all intuitively know.
Likewise, in a broader public voting system, as I propose. If private
voting comes to pre-dominate in such a system, then it is no longer
*of* the public. It becomes an artificial synthesis of private
opinion that speaks *to* the public. It speaks in a voice that
neither the public nor individuals can recognize as their own - the
voice of the mass.
Post by Dave Ketchum
Proxies? There is need for a verifiable record as to how many votes a
proxy can cast.
Like any voter, a proxy (delegate) casts a single vote of her own.
Those of her voters are carried along with it. The method is
http://zelea.com/project/votorola/d/theory.xht
My point was that if the proxy claims to have 14 votes, self plus
permission by 13 voters must be provable.
--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.



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Michael Allan
2009-01-26 22:59:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave Ketchum
By a voting system "of the public sphere", I mean...
I do not see voters getting a choice. Whoever has power or
authority sets up the system. Voters, at most, can choose whether
to participate and/or complain.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_sphere

We're using different definitions. There's no power or authority to
speak of in the public sphere. Consider this analogy with another
another domain in the public sphere - that of the press:

voter = journalist

voting systems = broadcast media + Weblog software

secret ballot = anonymous authorship

Consider enforcing anonymity on all press systems (type 1), such that
journalists can no longer attach their names to news articles. You
see, it is impossible. There is going to be a mix of types, and in
fact it is:

1. Economist, etc.
2. Weblogs, many smaller newspapers, etc.
3. New York Times, etc.

Type 2 predominates, meaning the journalist decides whether to reveal
her identity. In any case, journalists have the choice of where to
post their articles, and are always free to start their own papers,
Weblogs, etc.

Likewise for voting systems in the public sphere. The state cannot
enforce a pure type 1 (secret ballot) system. Voters will choose
which system to vote in, and thus choose their own level and mix of
restrictions. (Aside - it follows that we're building these systems
exclusively for the convenience of voters, and we should expect a
radical departure in designs.)
Post by Dave Ketchum
I start below with a couple examples of true type 1 secrecy. This has
serious need, though other methods with the ability can be managed with
MUCH care as to details.
Agreed, but only for voting systems on the government/administrative
side - as usually discussed in this list. (This thread is mostly not
about those.)
Post by Dave Ketchum
The society [club] can give up on the secrecy if its members agree
that there is no value in the secrecy (they must have seen need or
they would never have invested the effort).
Agreed, but this differs from an individual member having choice of
secret|open for a particular vote, and from a choice of which system
to cast the vote in. These differences distinguish an administrative
voting system (in the club), from the voting systems of the public
sphere (outside the club).
Post by Dave Ketchum
Post by Dave Ketchum
Proxies? There is need for a verifiable record as to how many votes a
proxy can cast.
etc...
My point was that if the proxy claims to have 14 votes, self plus
permission by 13 voters must be provable.
I see... The verification process rests on proving the individual
votes of each voter (including the delegates). Then all the rest -
the flow of 13 additional votes through the delegate, and the overall
flow in the cascade - follows from the individual votes. Does this
answer? Or are you interested in technical details of proving the
individual votes?
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

----
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Dave Ketchum
2009-01-27 01:13:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Dave Ketchum
By a voting system "of the public sphere", I mean...
I do not see voters getting a choice. Whoever has power or
authority sets up the system. Voters, at most, can choose whether
to participate and/or complain.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_sphere
Thanks for this. I did a search on "vot" and am convinced voting is not
one of their topics - and suspect you stretched to tie it in.
Post by Michael Allan
We're using different definitions. There's no power or authority to
speak of in the public sphere. Consider this analogy with another
voter = journalist
voting systems = broadcast media + Weblog software
secret ballot = anonymous authorship
Consider enforcing anonymity on all press systems (type 1), such that
journalists can no longer attach their names to news articles. You
see, it is impossible. There is going to be a mix of types, and in
1. Economist, etc.
2. Weblogs, many smaller newspapers, etc.
3. New York Times, etc.
Type 2 predominates, meaning the journalist decides whether to reveal
her identity. In any case, journalists have the choice of where to
post their articles, and are always free to start their own papers,
Weblogs, etc.
Likewise for voting systems in the public sphere. The state cannot
enforce a pure type 1 (secret ballot) system. Voters will choose
which system to vote in, and thus choose their own level and mix of
restrictions. (Aside - it follows that we're building these systems
exclusively for the convenience of voters, and we should expect a
radical departure in designs.)
I see now you're not offering secrecy. Seems to me it should not be
offered unless whoever is offering is attempting to actually deliver.
Thus, while a voter might assert to having voted as stated, secrecy would
forbid proving this.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Dave Ketchum
I start below with a couple examples of true type 1 secrecy. This has
serious need, though other methods with the ability can be managed with
MUCH care as to details.
Agreed, but only for voting systems on the government/administrative
side - as usually discussed in this list. (This thread is mostly not
about those.)
Post by Dave Ketchum
The society [club] can give up on the secrecy if its members agree
that there is no value in the secrecy (they must have seen need or
they would never have invested the effort).
Agreed, but this differs from an individual member having choice of
secret|open for a particular vote, and from a choice of which system
to cast the vote in. These differences distinguish an administrative
voting system (in the club), from the voting systems of the public
sphere (outside the club).
Again, the voter does not control secrecy. Whoever is controlling the
method of voting should not claim secrecy unless doing their best to
provide as claimed.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Dave Ketchum
Post by Dave Ketchum
Proxies? There is need for a verifiable record as to how many votes a
proxy can cast.
etc...
My point was that if the proxy claims to have 14 votes, self plus
permission by 13 voters must be provable.
I see... The verification process rests on proving the individual
votes of each voter (including the delegates). Then all the rest -
the flow of 13 additional votes through the delegate, and the overall
flow in the cascade - follows from the individual votes. Does this
answer? Or are you interested in technical details of proving the
individual votes?
The proxy claims, and needs to be able to prove, authority to vote as if 14
voters.

Could be the authority includes some direction as to how to vote - my point
is that the proxy could simply be trusted to vote in the permission giver's
interest.
--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.



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Michael Allan
2009-01-27 03:30:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave Ketchum
Post by Michael Allan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_sphere
Thanks for this. I did a search on "vot" and am convinced voting is
not one of their topics - and suspect you stretched to tie it in.
I had to learn new things, and got stretched that way. I learned
about this concept of the public sphere, which is part of theoretical
social science. I'm not an expert on it, but I think it fits with the
voting mechanism. I describe the fit in the original post. Is
anything stretched?
Post by Dave Ketchum
I see now you're not offering secrecy. Seems to me it should not be
offered unless whoever is offering is attempting to actually deliver. Thus,
while a voter might assert to having voted as stated, secrecy would forbid
proving this.
True, I don't offer secrecy, at present - votes are forced to be
openly disclosed. But, as I concede to Juho, we must eventually add
an option for a secret ballot, so giving the voter a choice of
disclosure type (mixed type 2).

If I understand, you are saying Juho's type 2 is no good? So, if a
secret ballot is made available to some voters (who demand it), then
it must be forced on all other voters too? Even on those who demand
open voting?
Post by Dave Ketchum
Again, the voter does not control secrecy. Whoever is controlling the
method of voting should not claim secrecy unless doing their best to
provide as claimed.
Else the voter could be coerced (social pressure) into voting openly,
when she'd rather vote secretly? (This came up earlier, near top of
thread.)
Post by Dave Ketchum
Post by Michael Allan
... The verification process rests on proving the individual votes
of each voter...
The proxy claims, and needs to be able to prove, authority to vote
as if 14 voters.
No such claim. No need for proxy (P) even to be aware she is a proxy.
For example:

(1) The first vote cast, time (t-1):

P > X

(2) Other votes, subsequently cast at time (t):

A > P
B > P
C > Q
D > Q
E > Q
F > X

(3) Results are computed. Although the voting is continuous, the
results are computed in a series of snapshots. So here's a snapshot
at time (t):

(A) (B) (C) (D) (E) (F)
| / | / / /
| / | / / /
|/ |/--- /
(P) (Q) /
| /
| -----------
|/
(X)

(4) Report a summary of these results:

---------------
Candi Votes
-date Received
----- --------
X 4

Q 3

P 2
---------------
at time (t)

X is currently winning. Anyone doubt? Need only verify the
individual votes (1 and 2), as archived at time (t). The results will
follow automatically.
Post by Dave Ketchum
Could be the authority includes some direction as to how to vote - my point
is that the proxy could simply be trusted to vote in the permission giver's
interest.
(Not sure I understand.) P may vote as she pleases. But then again,
A and B may shift their votes. So voters are looking out for their
own interests. If P is a good politician, however, she will try to
help wherever possible. For instance, she will listen to A and B.
She will talk to X on their behalf. So there will be lots of talking.
That's one reason why this type of voting will fit in the public
sphere, which is essentially a space for talking.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

----
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Dave Ketchum
2009-01-27 05:34:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Dave Ketchum
Post by Michael Allan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_sphere
Thanks for this. I did a search on "vot" and am convinced voting is
not one of their topics - and suspect you stretched to tie it in.
I had to learn new things, and got stretched that way. I learned
about this concept of the public sphere, which is part of theoretical
social science. I'm not an expert on it, but I think it fits with the
voting mechanism. I describe the fit in the original post. Is
anything stretched?
Post by Dave Ketchum
I see now you're not offering secrecy. Seems to me it should not be
offered unless whoever is offering is attempting to actually deliver. Thus,
while a voter might assert to having voted as stated, secrecy would forbid
proving this.
True, I don't offer secrecy, at present - votes are forced to be
openly disclosed. But, as I concede to Juho, we must eventually add
an option for a secret ballot, so giving the voter a choice of
disclosure type (mixed type 2).
If I understand, you are saying Juho's type 2 is no good? So, if a
secret ballot is made available to some voters (who demand it), then
it must be forced on all other voters too? Even on those who demand
open voting?
I think the word "secret" should not be used unless secrecy is actually
promised and attempted.

I see little value in what you call open voting, but could understand that
being offered in other elections.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Dave Ketchum
Again, the voter does not control secrecy. Whoever is controlling the
method of voting should not claim secrecy unless doing their best to
provide as claimed.
Else the voter could be coerced (social pressure) into voting openly,
when she'd rather vote secretly? (This came up earlier, near top of
thread.)
Real topic here is whether you MEAN secret when you use the word. And,
yes, a voter could fear open voting so properly needs to know whether
secrecy protection is offered.

Note that, in extremes, knowing some votes can be useful in determining
other votes.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Dave Ketchum
Post by Michael Allan
... The verification process rests on proving the individual votes
of each voter...
The proxy claims, and needs to be able to prove, authority to vote
as if 14 voters.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Proxy voting and delegated voting are procedures for the delegation to
another member of a voting body of that member's power to vote in his
absence. Proxy appointments can be used to form a voting bloc that can
exercise greater influence in deliberations or negotiations. A person so
designated is called a "proxy" and the person designating him is called a
"principal."

You seem to be thinking of something else.
Post by Michael Allan
No such claim. No need for proxy (P) even to be aware she is a proxy.
...
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Dave Ketchum
Could be the authority includes some direction as to how to vote - my point
is that the proxy could simply be trusted to vote in the permission giver's
interest.
...
--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.



----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Michael Allan
2009-01-27 19:25:57 UTC
Permalink
Real topic here is whether you MEAN secret when you use the word...
Scout's honour - when I say 'secret', I mean secret. The vote is
anonymous. The voter's identity is undisclosed. All that good stuff,
just like a traditional secret ballot. 8^)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Proxy voting and delegated voting are procedures for the delegation to
another member of a voting body of that member's power to vote in his
absence. Proxy appointments can be used to form a voting bloc that can
exercise greater influence in deliberations or negotiations. A person so
designated is called a "proxy" and the person designating him is called a
"principal."
You seem to be thinking of something else.
Yes and no. What we're discussing is described in the original post,
at the top of the thread. The terms are defined there. Is anything
unclear there?
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Dave Ketchum
2009-01-27 23:59:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Real topic here is whether you MEAN secret when you use the word...
Scout's honour - when I say 'secret', I mean secret. The vote is
anonymous. The voter's identity is undisclosed. All that good stuff,
just like a traditional secret ballot. 8^)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Proxy voting and delegated voting are procedures for the delegation to
another member of a voting body of that member's power to vote in his
absence. Proxy appointments can be used to form a voting bloc that can
exercise greater influence in deliberations or negotiations. A person so
designated is called a "proxy" and the person designating him is called a
"principal."
You seem to be thinking of something else.
Yes and no. What we're discussing is described in the original post,
at the top of the thread. The terms are defined there. Is anything
unclear there?
When? Anyway:

Proxy is an existing word with an idea - a meaning.

I see that Abd has a new word, DP, for an idea that is similar enough that
a slightly modified label makes distinguishing the ideas doable.

You have a new, DIFFERENT, idea but chose to use an existing word to label
this - NONproductive!
--
***@clarityconnect.com people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
Dave Ketchum 108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY 13827-1708 607-687-5026
Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
If you want peace, work for justice.



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Michael Allan
2009-01-28 02:05:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave Ketchum
Post by Michael Allan
Yes and no. What we're discussing is described in the original post,
at the top of the thread. The terms are defined there. Is anything
unclear there?
Sorry? When was it posted? Jan 6:

http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2009-January/023872.html
Post by Dave Ketchum
Proxy is an existing word with an idea - a meaning.
I see that Abd has a new word, DP, for an idea that is similar enough that
a slightly modified label makes distinguishing the ideas doable.
You have a new, DIFFERENT, idea but chose to use an existing word to label
this - NONproductive!
Well, you haven't read the original post. The word 'proxy' occurs
only where I cite Abd. Please read it, and then share your critique.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Juho Laatu
2009-01-25 08:44:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
I think current systems rely on
private voting and public discussion
(although different than the proxy
based discussion). It may be possible
to enrich this with better mutual
discussion / delegable voting rights
without sacrificing secret votes /
privacy.
Yes, it might be *possible*, but I think it would be
difficult in
practice (and not ideal in principle) to do so within a
*single*
voting system. The most rational design is separate,
special purpose
systems (primary and general) that work together.
I was thinking about public formal
elections (e.g. parliamentary). They
nowadays generally use secret votes.
Doing that same at the very bottom
level of a proxy system would not be
too difficult.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
I don't see the need of a
representative / proxy to know who
her voters exactly are to be crucial.
In some aspect it is better that she
doesn't know (no vote buying,
services to those that voted, no hard
feelings against those that this time
voted someone else etc.).
The (secret) voters on the other hand
will get more power when they can let
several representatives / proxies
understand that they got or may get
the vote :-).
All of this is easier, more natural, if agreement (voter
for
candidate/delegate) is *actually* expressed. Then it's
more human.
We weren't *built* to deal with the strange paradox of
private
expression (collective mass opinion). There's no
natural correlate
for it.
Secret votes could also be seen as an
invention of the human race that relieves
some problems that they have (coercion,
vote buying, fear of revealing too much
of oneself).

Juho









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Michael Allan
2009-01-26 22:07:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
I was thinking about public formal
elections (e.g. parliamentary). They
nowadays generally use secret votes.
Doing that same at the very bottom
level of a proxy system would not be
too difficult.
Sorry, I missed where you said "current systems". So you're talking
about the state/administrative side. OK.
Post by Juho Laatu
All of this is easier, more natural, if...
Secret votes could also be seen as an
invention of the human race that relieves
some problems that they have (coercion,
vote buying, fear of revealing too much
of oneself).
Agreed, not strictly dependent: whether system design is natural, and
whether it's useful.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Michael Allan
2009-01-21 16:54:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
I don't see any big conflict. They are
free to speak even if the society does
not provide them with tools to prove
to others how they voted. (And they
can still tell others how they voted.)
The problem was to design a democracy in which people:

* are free to engage with political issues;

* know this, and are continually reminded of it;

* yet fail to do so.

The design solution was:

a) a single vote, every 4 years or so

b) mass voting for a few pre-selected candidates

c) secret ballot

d) no voting on laws, only on the law makers

Now the problem is to design a substansive democracy, in which
political engagement is a fact. Oddly, the preceding design need not
be altered. It remains essential. All we need is to add a separate,
primary voting system, with these counter-features:

a) continuous results, with shifting votes

b) peer-to-peer voting, with no pre-selected candidates

c) open ballot

d) voting on laws, too
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Juho Laatu
2009-01-21 17:59:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
I don't see any big conflict. They are
free to speak even if the society does
not provide them with tools to prove
to others how they voted. (And they
can still tell others how they voted.)
* are free to engage with political issues;
* know this, and are continually reminded of it;
* yet fail to do so.
a) a single vote, every 4 years or so
b) mass voting for a few pre-selected candidates
Could be also numerous.
Post by Michael Allan
c) secret ballot
d) no voting on laws, only on the law makers
Yes, there are not many direct
democracies. (One justification is
that this work requires expertise.
I don't fully buy this though.
Proxies and modern means of
communication also help.)
Post by Michael Allan
Now the problem is to design a substansive democracy, in
which
political engagement is a fact.
Probably you can not force it, but
you can make participation easier and
nicer.
Post by Michael Allan
Oddly, the preceding
design need not
be altered. It remains essential. All we need is to add a
separate,
primary voting system,
I didn't yet quite understand what
parts of the old system are kept and
what will be replaced with the new
system.
Post by Michael Allan
a) continuous results, with shifting votes
Maybe mostly positive, but also
something negative.
Post by Michael Allan
b) peer-to-peer voting, with no pre-selected candidates
You may need also some approval from
the citizens to become candidates.
(Or alternatively you could allow them
to indicate if they will not accept
the role of a proxy.)
Post by Michael Allan
c) open ballot
What was the reason why you consider
open vote to be a requirement? (or a
"counter-feature")
Post by Michael Allan
d) voting on laws, too
I read this as allowing individual
voters to vote directly too, without
any proxies between them and the
decisions (on laws and on anything).

Quite OK but I have some concerns
on what will happen in the tax
raise questions. It is possible that
the society would spend more than
save.

One could set some limits on the
number of levels. One could e.g.
allow only proxies with n votes to
vote in certain questions. Use of
hysteresis could help making the
role of proxies of different levels
clear (last minute decisions or
alternative direct and proxy votes
would be more complex).

The proxy systems may allow (also
for other reasons) different proxies
or direct voting to be used for
different questions.

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
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Juho Laatu
2009-01-21 18:22:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
c) open ballot
What was the reason why you consider
open vote to be a requirement? (or a
"counter-feature")
I need to clarify my own question.
In the top layers open votes are the
default way of doing things. So the
question is why should also the votes
at the very bottom level be open.

Already at the next level above the
bottom level there is an interest to
know how one's own or potential future
proxy voted, but at the bottom level
there is no such reason.

(Also making the votes of a proxy that
has not volunteered for the job public
is problematic (maybe doesn't even know
herself that she is a proxy).)

Juho









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Michael Allan
2009-01-23 17:01:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
Oddly, the preceding design need not be altered. It remains
essential. All we need is to add a separate, primary voting
system, ...
I didn't yet quite understand what
parts of the old system are kept and
what will be replaced with the new
system.
All is kept, nothing is replaced or altered. There is only the
addition of a new primary system in the public sphere - no formal
connection to government, or to political parties.
Post by Juho Laatu
a) continuous results, with shifting votes
Maybe mostly positive, but also
something negative.
Hopefully the negative parts are corrected in the synergy with the
government's voting systems (?).
Post by Juho Laatu
b) peer-to-peer voting, with no pre-selected candidates
You may need also some approval from
the citizens to become candidates.
(Or alternatively you could allow them
to indicate if they will not accept
the role of a proxy.)
Candidature is a consequence of receiving a vote. There is no formal
effect aside from receiving the vote. It's like you're standing on
the street corner, and somebody says, "Hey, I know you. You're Juho
Laatu. I think you'd make a great City Councillor!"

So the person says, and there is no way to prevent it. And others may
start to agree with him. You cannot stop people from proclaiming you
as a *primary* candidate, and hoping to see your name on the ballot,
come the next general election. (But you are under no obligation to
stand for election, as a *general* candidate.)
Post by Juho Laatu
c) open ballot
What was the reason why you consider
open vote to be a requirement? (or a
"counter-feature")
I read your other post. I understand you are asking about the
necessity of open voting at the periphery, among plain voters.

You've been asking this question from the beginning, and it's been
difficult for me to answer definitively. Now I see there's a big
white space in the theory, where the answer should fit. I don't have
the whole of it covered yet (been thinking about it, the last couple
of days) but here's a sketch of it:

There's difference when we speak in public, with an aim to mutual
understanding or consensus. We are forced to take the view of the
others to whom we are speaking. We are forced to be self-critical in
anticipation of their challenges, to prepare ourselves to reasons for
what we say, to back up the claims we make. There is a theory that
ties these various types of claims to to various types of speech acts,
and it's called formal pragmatics.^[TCA1]

This has been tied to autonomy, rational agency and responsibility, to
the effect that only a public speaker in this social context is an
autonomous individual, a rational and responsible actor.^[1]

A public vote is the formalization of a speech act, and is covered by
these theories. The opinion of a private individual that is expressed
as a public vote has a claim to truth, legitimacy and sincerity that a
private opinion (not so expressed) has not.

There is a connection between communicative reason (in these public
utterances) and the rationalization of modern society. The
rationalization of modern society is its division into specialized
spheres and subsystems - like public sphere, private sphere, economic
system, and administration system - that spin according to their own
internal logics, and interrelate across interfaces. This correlates
with our rationalization of voting systems, splitting them into
separate systems of the public sphere (on one hand) and administrative
system (on other) - each specialized for its place and purpose, and in
communication with the other. So we modernize voting.

There is a connection between human reason (how we moderns think and
speak) and the rationalization of modern society. I do not understand
it well enough, but there's a sense in which the universality of
communicative action (its inclusion of others, and raising of validity
claims) can bind together the fragmented pieces of modern society.
It's the last "glue" that's left to us moderns. Both the
fragmentation and the glue are enhanced by the addition of public
voting. It separates out two voting systems (public and private) that
work better when kept apart (but in communication). It also helps to
separate the public sphere from the other parts of society, while
simultaneously binding it to them. So we make modern society even
more modern - ultra modern.

There is a sense too in which this might further the critical theory
of society. That type of theory is supposed to be both diagnostic of
problems, and to propose remedies, but it tends to be weak on remedies
these days.^[2] And it's traditional in critical theory that the
remedy is in the evil - the spear of modernity must heal the wound of
modernity.^[3]

There is also the consideration that this type of public voting may be
applied to a text that is broadly cultural, and yet has normative
potential. What would it mean, for instance, if people were to begin
voting on utopian visions of society? Is that another way to glue
society together (science, art, politics, etc.) and steer the whole
with a sense of purpose. Nobody has ever thought along these lines,
so far as I know. But there are hints in Segal.^[4]

(If above can be redacted, it would put real flesh on the theory.)
Post by Juho Laatu
d) voting on laws, too
I read this as allowing individual
voters to vote directly too, without
any proxies between them and the
decisions (on laws and on anything).
They can vote directly, but they will usually prefer to vote via the
proxies (delegates). The effect is the same (because votes are
shiftable), but it's easier to vote for/communicate with a delegate.

A home owner hears of a proposed bylaw for property taxes. She knows
nothing else about it, but she knows enough to cast a vote for her tax
accountant. Later, she looks to see where that vote ends up - which
*variant* of the proposed bylaw it has cascaded to. She asks
questions of her tax accountant, and maybe thinks of shifting her
vote, depending on the answers she receives.
Post by Juho Laatu
Quite OK but I have some concerns
on what will happen in the tax
raise questions. It is possible that
the society would spend more than
save.
Mistakes are possible. The pilot may turn the rudder too far. He
will have to notice his mistake, and correct it. This is not easy
with private voting, as private opinion is easily selfish. But it's
hard for public opinion to be selfish - so theory tells us.

Gross errors may be blocked by the control system. Council may pause
for a long time if residents reach consensus on eliminating property
taxes entirely. The Mayor will try to reason with them, explaining
how garbage collection will stop, policing will be hampered, and
protection racketeers will fill the vacuum...

[TCA1] Jürgen Habermas. 1981. The Theory of Communicative Action.
Volume 1. Reason and Rationalization of Society. Translated
by Thomas McCarthy, 1984. Beacon Hill, Boston.

[TCA2] Jürgen Habermas. 1981. The Theory of Communicative Action.
Volume 2. Lifeworld and System: a Critique of Functionalist
Reason. Translated by Thomas McCarthy, 1987. Beacon Hill,
Boston.

[1] Kenneth Baines. 2007. Freedom as autonomy. The Oxford
Handbook of Continental Philosophy. Edited by Brian Leiter and
Michael Rosen. Oxford University Press. p. 578-580.

[2] James Gordon Finlayson. 2007. Political, moral and critical
theory: on the practical philosophy of the Frankfurt School.
The Oxford Handbook of Continental Philosophy. Edited by Brian
Leiter and Michael Rosen. Oxford University Press.

[3] From the Trojan Cypria, and Wagner's Parsifal. Above p. 648.

[4] Howard P. Segal. 2005. Technological Utopianism in American
Culture. Twentieth Anniversary Edition. Syracuse University
Press.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Juho Laatu
2009-01-25 08:46:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
a) continuous results, with shifting votes
Maybe mostly positive, but also
something negative.
Hopefully the negative parts are corrected in the synergy
with the
government's voting systems (?).
You indicated that you would use this
method so that it would not be tied to
the formal decision making process.
That reduces the continuous voting
related problems.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
c) open ballot
What was the reason why you consider
open vote to be a requirement? (or a
"counter-feature")
I read your other post. I understand you are asking about
the
necessity of open voting at the periphery, among plain
voters.
Yes.
Post by Michael Allan
You've been asking this question from the beginning,
and it's been
difficult for me to answer definitively. Now I see
there's a big
white space in the theory, where the answer should fit. I
don't have
the whole of it covered yet (been thinking about it, the
last couple
There's difference when we speak in public, with an aim
to mutual
understanding or consensus. We are forced to take the view
of the
others to whom we are speaking. We are forced to be
self-critical in
anticipation of their challenges, to prepare ourselves to
reasons for
what we say, to back up the claims we make. There is a
theory that
ties these various types of claims to to various types of
speech acts,
and it's called formal pragmatics.^[TCA1]
This has been tied to autonomy, rational agency and
responsibility, to
the effect that only a public speaker in this social
context is an
autonomous individual, a rational and responsible
actor.^[1]
A public vote is the formalization of a speech act, and is
covered by
these theories. The opinion of a private individual that
is expressed
as a public vote has a claim to truth, legitimacy and
sincerity that a
private opinion (not so expressed) has not.
Yes. A public vote is a public claim and
therefore the individual may carefully
consider what she says, and she may
commit to what she says. I wouldn't say
that this opinion is more sincere than
her private thoughts that she might
express in a secret vote.

The public vote is maybe more ""sincere""
in the sense that that opinion will hold
(since doing otherwise would not look nice)
but not more sincere in the sense of
representing her true feelings inside
(maybe e.g. more unstable ones).
Post by Michael Allan
There is a connection between communicative reason (in
these public
utterances) and the rationalization of modern society. The
rationalization of modern society is its division into
specialized
spheres and subsystems - like public sphere, private
sphere, economic
system, and administration system - that spin according to
their own
internal logics, and interrelate across interfaces. This
correlates
with our rationalization of voting systems, splitting them
into
separate systems of the public sphere (on one hand) and
administrative
system (on other) - each specialized for its place and
purpose, and in
communication with the other. So we modernize voting.
There is a connection between human reason (how we moderns
think and
speak) and the rationalization of modern society. I do not
understand
it well enough, but there's a sense in which the
universality of
communicative action (its inclusion of others, and raising
of validity
claims) can bind together the fragmented pieces of modern
society.
It's the last "glue" that's left to us
moderns. Both the
fragmentation and the glue are enhanced by the addition of
public
voting. It separates out two voting systems (public and
private) that
work better when kept apart (but in communication). It
also helps to
separate the public sphere from the other parts of society,
while
simultaneously binding it to them. So we make modern
society even
more modern - ultra modern.
There is a sense too in which this might further the
critical theory
of society. That type of theory is supposed to be both
diagnostic of
problems, and to propose remedies, but it tends to be weak
on remedies
these days.^[2] And it's traditional in critical theory
that the
remedy is in the evil - the spear of modernity must heal
the wound of
modernity.^[3]
There is also the consideration that this type of public
voting may be
applied to a text that is broadly cultural, and yet has
normative
potential. What would it mean, for instance, if people
were to begin
voting on utopian visions of society? Is that another way
to glue
society together (science, art, politics, etc.) and steer
the whole
with a sense of purpose. Nobody has ever thought along
these lines,
so far as I know. But there are hints in Segal.^[4]
(If above can be redacted, it would put real flesh on the
theory.)
I agree that the modern society would
benefit of better deliberative systems
that use public voting/opinions.

In addition I think that also the secret
vote based methods of modern societies
could benefit of corresponding
deliberative/proxy systems. I note that
the (at least partially) secret vote
based systems are likely to be able to
collect opinions from wider set of
citizens, and the expressed opinions may
reflect more the internal feelings of
the voters (as opposed to publicly
expressed commitments that the public
votes/expressions tend to record).

Both public debate and secret vote based
opinion measuring are needed and may be
developed further. Mixtures of these two
are possible and may collect benefits of
both (and some of the problems too).

Juho









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Michael Allan
2009-01-26 21:54:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
Hopefully the negative parts are corrected in the synergy with the
government's voting systems (?).
You indicated that you would use this
method so that it would not be tied to
the formal decision making process.
That reduces the continuous voting
related problems.
Yes, so we're agreed, rationalization is good in that instance. Two
specialized voting systems that intercommunicate (state and public)
can give better results than one system, on its own.
Post by Juho Laatu
The public vote is maybe more ""sincere""
in the sense that that opinion will hold
(since doing otherwise would not look nice)
but not more sincere in the sense of
representing her true feelings inside
(maybe e.g. more unstable ones).
True, rigid opinions are not sincere. And I never considered that a
fear of admitting past mistakes could make public expression
(including votes) more rigid than private - but only in some cases, as
the level of fear varies widely.

On the other hand, I argue that public expression is likely to be more
sincere (also truthful and legitimate), not only because of
*anticipation* of challenges, but also because of actual challenges.
So a vote may be challenged as insincere if it is inconsistent with
other expressions of the voter - "I don't believe you are sincere.
You say one thing, and you do another!" Such challenges are not
possible when the vote is kept private.

Likewise, a vote may be challenged as untruthful if it's for something
manifestly false - e.g. an urban transit plan that defies the laws of
physics - "Don't you realize? You're voting for a plan that assumes
zero gravity!" But this challenge requires a public vote.

Likewise, a vote may be challenged as illegitimate if it's for
something that would contradict an accepted norm - e.g. a vote to
expell all people of a particular skin colour - "Don't you realize?
You're voting to discriminate on the basis of race!" But again, this
challenge requires a public vote.
Post by Juho Laatu
In addition I think that also the secret
vote based methods of modern societies
could benefit of corresponding
deliberative/proxy systems. I note that
the (at least partially) secret vote
based systems are likely to be able to
collect opinions from wider set of
citizens, and the expressed opinions may
reflect more the internal feelings of
the voters (as opposed to publicly
expressed commitments that the public
votes/expressions tend to record).
Agreed, and the mix is beneficial both across system types (as in
rationalization), and within a single system.

In latter case, a mix can sometimes be the *ideal*, I agree. In
general, however, there is no *feasible* alternative to a mix. No
pure method (like secret ballot alone) can be generally enforced
across all public systems, even if the enforcement is restricted to a
subset of voters (such as non-delegates) - ref. discussion w/ Dave
K. - so the pure systems are nothing but a lab curiosity.
Post by Juho Laatu
Both public debate and secret vote based
opinion measuring are needed and may be
developed further. Mixtures of these two
are possible and may collect benefits of
both (and some of the problems too).
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Juho Laatu
2009-01-27 19:29:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Two
specialized voting systems that intercommunicate (state and
public)
can give better results than one system, on its own.
There are both positive and negative factors.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
The public vote is maybe more
""sincere""
Post by Juho Laatu
in the sense that that opinion will hold
(since doing otherwise would not look nice)
but not more sincere in the sense of
representing her true feelings inside
(maybe e.g. more unstable ones).
True, rigid opinions are not sincere. And I never
considered that a
fear of admitting past mistakes could make public
expression
(including votes) more rigid than private - but only in
some cases, as
the level of fear varies widely.
On the other hand, I argue that public expression is likely
to be more
sincere (also truthful and legitimate), not only because of
*anticipation* of challenges, but also because of actual
challenges.
So a vote may be challenged as insincere if it is
inconsistent with
other expressions of the voter - "I don't believe
you are sincere.
You say one thing, and you do another!" Such
challenges are not
possible when the vote is kept private.
But I think people also try to keep
the internals of their head in good
order. They don't voluntarily become
irrational inside. Many believe that
they are almost always right and
consistent, and want to maintain
this belief.
Post by Michael Allan
Likewise, a vote may be challenged as untruthful if
it's for something
manifestly false - e.g. an urban transit plan that defies
the laws of
physics - "Don't you realize? You're voting
for a plan that assumes
zero gravity!" But this challenge requires a public
vote.
Likewise, a vote may be challenged as illegitimate if
it's for
something that would contradict an accepted norm - e.g. a
vote to
expell all people of a particular skin colour -
"Don't you realize?
You're voting to discriminate on the basis of
race!" But again, this
challenge requires a public vote.
Sometimes the pressure of the society
may force the voters to make good
choices. But also the other direction
is possible, e.g. when the dominant
opinion is to discriminate some group
of people.

Not also that it is possible the
people will not vote at all (or vote
as some opinion leaders expect them
to vote) if they fear that this is
a test of their understanding.

Juho









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Michael Allan
2009-01-29 01:59:26 UTC
Permalink
But I think people [a] also try to keep
the internals of their head in good
order. They don't voluntarily become
irrational inside. Many [b] believe that
they are almost always right and
consistent, and want to maintain
this belief.
Agreed, but it can't be understood from just one perspective
(private). Private individuals draw strength from public engagement
(its positive aspects), and this protects them from its negative
aspects. Engagement with others helps them to [a] "keep the internals
of their head in good order", and [b] challenge their own personal
biases and blindnesses. Thus strengthened, they can look out for
themselves. This much is built into people. It's a given.

Given that, it would be ideal if people could use that strength to
look out - not only for themselves - but also for society as whole.
Because modern society is more than the private and public spheres,
and the larger whole can be threatened in ways that people aren't
equipped to deal with. So it would be ideal if we could build the
necessary equipment into society, in the form of institutions. A good
first step (I think) would be to give our voting systems the same
private/public synergy as people have.

Currently, they're too one-sided. They take individual opinion
straight from the private sphere (one way), and they inform it via
mass media in the public sphere (other way). That's not the kind of
dialogue that people are built to handle. It was the best we could
mangage in the past (and a big step forward), but now we can try to do
better.
Sometimes the pressure of the society
may force the voters to make good
choices. But also the other direction
is possible, e.g. when the dominant
opinion is to discriminate some group
of people.
I was at ChangeCamp on the weekend (an un-conference about
governance), here in Toronto. One of the best sessions was "How do we
promote and maintain a sense of personal responsibility?". It gave me
the idea of adding some stories to Votorola's home page. All of these
are concerned with responsibility, and two of them (2 and 4) show how
social pressures (different kinds) can actually contribute to it:
(pardon my writing skills - and pardon the length of this post)

(1) Who to nominate as Mayor? It's a difficult choice, and you need
more information, so you decided to begin close to home, by voting for
a neighbour. She's something of a leader in the local community,
someone you know pretty well, and whose opinion you respect - a good
choice for a delegate. But now you're looking over the latest
results, and considering whether to shift your vote. You can see how
your vote has been carried from delegate to delegate, until it reached
a consensus candidate. But there are several of them, and it's
difficult to choose among them. So you decide to speak with your
neighbour, and ask her, "Why do you think *our* candidate is the best
choice?"

(2) Someone has initiated a proposal to change the Landlord and Tenant
Act, and people are voting on it. You're concerned about the issue,
because you live in an apartment block. But you're unsure how to
vote, so you decided to vote for a friend who works at a real-estate
agency. And now you're with some neighbours and they're shaking their
heads. They say you're voting for the wrong version of the proposal -
one that puts apartment dwellers at a disadvantage. So you call up
your friend and ask, "Are you sure we're voting for the right version
of the proposal?"

(3) You are crossing the local park, when you meet someone who is
carrying a sign. She says she is campaigning to improve the park, and
has a plan. She explains the plan to you, and it sounds pretty good,
so you cast a vote for her from your mobile phone. Later that night,
you're looking over the details on her Web site. You're thinking,
"Maybe there's something I can do, to help."
Not also that it is possible the
people will not vote at all (or vote
as some opinion leaders expect them
to vote) if they fear that this is
a test of their understanding.
(4) *** joining channel #albion ... synced in 0.043 secs

chri. So which draft of the EU constitution are you voting for, Nick?
Or do you have your own draft, like me?

nick. You're kidding me, Christabel. I'm voting against the whole
thing. Brussels can stuff it.

chri. Are you out of your tree? Brussels is opposed to it. If we
don't reach *some* kind of agreement, then we're stuck with
whatever the Eurocrats give us. Nick, you're voting for the
status quo!

...

chri. Look Nicky, you know me, we see eye-to-eye. Why not vote for me
on this one?

nick. Sure Chris... if it matters to you.

chri. You see, I've gathered quite a few votes for my draft. It's no
big deal, I've only made a few changes here and there. But they
listen to me. The drafter I'm voting for (she has a lot of
votes) she's using my changes! And so on, down the line. It's
kind of fun.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Juho Laatu
2009-01-30 21:52:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
But I think people [a] also try to keep
the internals of their head in good
order. They don't voluntarily become
irrational inside. Many [b] believe that
they are almost always right and
consistent, and want to maintain
this belief.
Agreed, but it can't be understood from just one
perspective
(private). Private individuals draw strength from public
engagement
(its positive aspects), and this protects them from its
negative
aspects. Engagement with others helps them to [a]
"keep the internals
of their head in good order", and [b] challenge their
own personal
biases and blindnesses. Thus strengthened, they can look
out for
themselves. This much is built into people. It's a
given.
Yes, the input from the surrounding
society is typically necessary and
often positive.

(I hope the role of public image
doesn't get so strong that people
would start thinking that their
whitened teeth and wide smile are
what they are, more than their
internal thoughts. :-)
Post by Michael Allan
Given that, it would be ideal if people could use that
strength to
look out - not only for themselves - but also for society
as whole.
Because modern society is more than the private and public
spheres,
and the larger whole can be threatened in ways that people
aren't
equipped to deal with. So it would be ideal if we could
build the
necessary equipment into society, in the form of
institutions. A good
first step (I think) would be to give our voting systems
the same
private/public synergy as people have.
I think the democratic political
system already is supposed to have
these features. The systems can
and should be improved though.
Post by Michael Allan
Currently, they're too one-sided. They take individual
opinion
straight from the private sphere (one way), and they inform
it via
mass media in the public sphere (other way). That's
not the kind of
dialogue that people are built to handle. It was the best
we could
mangage in the past (and a big step forward), but now we
can try to do
better.
It is unfortunate that in many
societies people consider the
"institutions of the society" not
to represent "us" and our opinion
but "them" and their needs. Where
that is the case, reform is
clearly needed.

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
Sometimes the pressure of the society
may force the voters to make good
choices. But also the other direction
is possible, e.g. when the dominant
opinion is to discriminate some group
of people.
I was at ChangeCamp on the weekend (an un-conference about
governance), here in Toronto. One of the best sessions was
"How do we
promote and maintain a sense of personal
responsibility?". It gave me
the idea of adding some stories to Votorola's home
page. All of these
are concerned with responsibility, and two of them (2 and
4) show how
social pressures (different kinds) can actually contribute
(pardon my writing skills - and pardon the length of this
post)
(1) Who to nominate as Mayor? It's a difficult choice,
and you need
more information, so you decided to begin close to home, by
voting for
a neighbour. She's something of a leader in the local
community,
someone you know pretty well, and whose opinion you respect
- a good
choice for a delegate. But now you're looking over the
latest
results, and considering whether to shift your vote. You
can see how
your vote has been carried from delegate to delegate, until
it reached
a consensus candidate. But there are several of them, and
it's
difficult to choose among them. So you decide to speak
with your
neighbour, and ask her, "Why do you think *our*
candidate is the best
choice?"
(2) Someone has initiated a proposal to change the Landlord
and Tenant
Act, and people are voting on it. You're concerned
about the issue,
because you live in an apartment block. But you're
unsure how to
vote, so you decided to vote for a friend who works at a
real-estate
agency. And now you're with some neighbours and
they're shaking their
heads. They say you're voting for the wrong version of
the proposal -
one that puts apartment dwellers at a disadvantage. So you
call up
your friend and ask, "Are you sure we're voting
for the right version
of the proposal?"
(3) You are crossing the local park, when you meet someone
who is
carrying a sign. She says she is campaigning to improve
the park, and
has a plan. She explains the plan to you, and it sounds
pretty good,
so you cast a vote for her from your mobile phone. Later
that night,
you're looking over the details on her Web site.
You're thinking,
"Maybe there's something I can do, to help."
Not also that it is possible the
people will not vote at all (or vote
as some opinion leaders expect them
to vote) if they fear that this is
a test of their understanding.
(4) *** joining channel #albion ... synced in 0.043 secs
chri. So which draft of the EU constitution are you voting
for, Nick?
Or do you have your own draft, like me?
nick. You're kidding me, Christabel. I'm voting
against the whole
thing. Brussels can stuff it.
chri. Are you out of your tree? Brussels is opposed to it.
If we
don't reach *some* kind of agreement, then
we're stuck with
whatever the Eurocrats give us. Nick, you're
voting for the
status quo!
...
chri. Look Nicky, you know me, we see eye-to-eye. Why not
vote for me
on this one?
nick. Sure Chris... if it matters to you.
chri. You see, I've gathered quite a few votes for my
draft. It's no
big deal, I've only made a few changes here and
there. But they
listen to me. The drafter I'm voting for (she
has a lot of
votes) she's using my changes! And so on, down
the line. It's
kind of fun.
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
----
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http://electorama.com/em for list info
----
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Michael Allan
2009-01-31 01:15:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
(I hope the role of public image
doesn't get so strong that people
would start thinking that their
whitened teeth and wide smile are
what they are, more than their
internal thoughts. :-)
All of us shaking hands and kissing babies. :)
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

----
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Juho Laatu
2009-01-31 06:46:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
(I hope the role of public image
doesn't get so strong that people
would start thinking that their
whitened teeth and wide smile are
what they are, more than their
internal thoughts. :-)
All of us shaking hands and kissing babies. :)
Yes, usually that comes from the heart,
which is just a sign of health. :-)

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
----
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http://electorama.com/em for list info
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Michael Allan
2009-02-01 05:12:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
(I hope the role of public image
doesn't get so strong that people
would start thinking that their
whitened teeth and wide smile are
what they are, more than their
internal thoughts. :-)
All of us shaking hands and kissing babies. :)
Yes, usually that comes from the heart,
which is just a sign of health. :-)
I guess we're just bantering. If we were being serious, I'd say the
necessity of the "whitened teeth and wide smile" dates from the advent
of TV in politics. (Wasn't it Richard Nixon who first learned about
that, back in the 60's or 70's?) So the systematic of image making is
more on the side of mass media and mass voting - a problem in the
status quo. And granted all is not problematic there, much is healthy
too. I respect our arrangements.

The problematic I would like to discuss, without quite knowing how, or
with whom, is more on the social side. The proposed voting method
itself has no systematic flaws, none we've been able to uncover to
date (and maybe we need to wait for empirical data). But I can easily
forsee social problems that may be released as an indirect consequence
of it.

We have tensions in our societies that are held in a frozen suspension
by our political arrangements, not least by our voting methods. Some
in this list who may ordinarilly be comfortable with discussing the
social side of voting, may nevertheless be uncomfortable with
discussing these particular tensions. Like Madison or Jefferson, who
feared an unmoderated, unrestrained democracy, they might rather keep
a lid on such issues. Yet, although it is simple enough to moderate
and restrain discussion here in the list, it may no longer be possible
to keep a lid on these issues in reality.

The main axis of tension is probably the gross disparity in wealth,
freedom and other goods that extends both locally (inter-class) and
globally (inter-national). What will happen when that disparity is
thematized in formal voting and discussion, and floated in political
action? Locally, will people continue to accept the degree of
inequality that our economic system seems to require, in order to keep
on functioning and producing goods? And globally, if we open
democracy to all the world's people, are we also prepared to open our
borders to them?
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

----
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Juho Laatu
2009-02-02 00:08:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
(I hope the role of public image
doesn't get so strong that people
would start thinking that their
whitened teeth and wide smile are
what they are, more than their
internal thoughts. :-)
All of us shaking hands and kissing babies. :)
Yes, usually that comes from the heart,
which is just a sign of health. :-)
I guess we're just bantering.
Yes.

(I had also some interest in confirming
that by default the sincere preferences
of people can be said to be a key driver
behind their external behaviour.
Politicians may use an external mask
intentionally. Also citizens without any
such public position often have a mask
on. But hopefully their life is not too
much bound by that mask (and internal
thoughts not forced to reflect the image
given by the mask).)
Post by Michael Allan
If we were being
serious, I'd say the
necessity of the "whitened teeth and wide smile"
dates from the advent
of TV in politics. (Wasn't it Richard Nixon who first
learned about
that, back in the 60's or 70's?) So the systematic
of image making is
more on the side of mass media and mass voting - a problem
in the
status quo. And granted all is not problematic there, much
is healthy
too. I respect our arrangements.
The problematic I would like to discuss, without quite
knowing how, or
with whom, is more on the social side. The proposed voting
method
itself has no systematic flaws, none we've been able to
uncover to
date (and maybe we need to wait for empirical data). But I
can easily
forsee social problems that may be released as an indirect
consequence
of it.
We have tensions in our societies that are held in a frozen
suspension
by our political arrangements, not least by our voting
methods.
I tend to think that all systems easily
get frozen spots for various reasons.
No set of rules is perfect enough to
keep the system viable and flexible
forever. One has to monitor and take
care and make also small improvements
to the system to keep it fresh and to
respond to changes in the environment.
There will be also many attempts to go
around, twist, change and forget the
rules. Better watch out and keep one's
mind and discussions open.
Post by Michael Allan
Some
in this list who may ordinarilly be comfortable with
discussing the
social side of voting, may nevertheless be uncomfortable
with
discussing these particular tensions. Like Madison or
Jefferson, who
feared an unmoderated, unrestrained democracy, they might
rather keep
a lid on such issues. Yet, although it is simple enough to
moderate
and restrain discussion here in the list, it may no longer
be possible
to keep a lid on these issues in reality.
I guess there is a balance between total
freedom and control of the society as a
whole.

One could characterize large part of the
features of our societies as an evolution
story from the "laws of jungle" towards
systems that we consider to give better
results to us as a society and as
individuals. The democratic societies
even try to allow all the members of the
society to decide the best direction of
evolution themselves. Such systems require
freedom and discipline/control/rules to be
in good balance.
Post by Michael Allan
The main axis of tension is probably the gross disparity in
wealth,
freedom and other goods that extends both locally
(inter-class) and
globally (inter-national).
Yes, this is one of the key problems. Too
large gaps tend to lead e.g. to revolutions
and also various other forms of violence.
Post by Michael Allan
What will happen when that
disparity is
thematized in formal voting and discussion, and floated in
political
action? Locally, will people continue to accept the degree
of
inequality that our economic system seems to require, in
order to keep
on functioning and producing goods?
I'm not sure that inequality would be a
requirement. Full equality in terms of
wealth and power is impossible to achieve,
but we can approximate that at some
agreed/suitable level (e.g. by balancing
the differences a bit where needed) - and
still keep the natural competitive forces
alive as the forward driving force in the
society (and its economy).

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
And globally, if we
open
democracy to all the world's people, are we also
prepared to open our
borders to them?
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
----
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Michael Allan
2009-02-02 01:46:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
I'm not sure that inequality would be a
requirement. Full equality in terms of
wealth and power is impossible to achieve,
but we can approximate that at some
agreed/suitable level (e.g. by balancing
the differences a bit where needed) - and
still keep the natural competitive forces
alive as the forward driving force in the
society (and its economy).
So the realm of possiblity may contain mechanisms to correct the gross
inequalities of opportunity etc. that divide class from class, and
nation from nation. You and I can discuss this possiblity in abstract
terms, like "cultured gentleman".^[1] But what is the path from
possiblity to actuality? And what are the danger points along the
way?

1. A voting system is instituted in the public sphere, thus lifting
the lid of the pot.

People are free to express themselves on issues of gross
disparity, to be heard, and to build consensus. The inter-class
and inter-national tensions that were formerly suppressed and
suspended are thus thematized in discussion and floated for
political action. What shall the action be? Everyone is
talking, voting...

2. Stuff happens.

3. Eventually reason prevails. The dwellers in the favelas and the
peasents in the villages (despite long suppressed bitterness and
anger) enter into a more-or-less rational discussion with the
weathly entrepreneurs and landowners.

4. A promising "disparity correction" mechanism is discovered, and
talked about.

5. A rough consensus emerges that, yes, this is the very mechanism
we want.

6. Political action follows. The mechanism is emplaced.

7. It fails.

8. Stuff happens.

Steps 2 and 8 are problematic. What kind of stuff can happen?


[1] In Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy, in the
chapter on Aristotle's Politics, the last few paragraphs frame a
broad context for discussing the extremes of democracy, reaction
and counter-reaction.

http://books.google.ca/books?id=Ey94E3sOMA0C&pg=PA187#PPA187,M1

That's p. 187, which contains the text "Aristotle's fundamental
assumptions... the rise of industrialism... Both for good and
evil, therefore, the day of the cultured gentleman is past."
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

----
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Juho Laatu
2009-02-02 23:22:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
I'm not sure that inequality would be a
requirement. Full equality in terms of
wealth and power is impossible to achieve,
but we can approximate that at some
agreed/suitable level (e.g. by balancing
the differences a bit where needed) - and
still keep the natural competitive forces
alive as the forward driving force in the
society (and its economy).
So the realm of possiblity may contain mechanisms to
correct the gross
inequalities of opportunity etc. that divide class from
class, and
nation from nation. You and I can discuss this possiblity
in abstract
terms, like "cultured gentleman".^[1] But what is
the path from
possiblity to actuality?
Many mechanisms are already in place (both
in "public sphere" and more officially).
In many ways we are already in phases 7
and 8 (see below).
Post by Michael Allan
And what are the danger points
along the
way?
1. A voting system is instituted in the public sphere,
thus lifting
the lid of the pot.
People are free to express themselves on issues of
gross
disparity, to be heard, and to build consensus. The
inter-class
Some societies have clear classes
(inherited or culturally separate), but
there are also lesser deviations, and
there are differences between individuals
of otherwise homogeneous groups.
Post by Michael Allan
and inter-national tensions that were formerly
suppressed and
suspended
Or simply in worse position, maybe due to
recent changes, and maybe without any
suppression.
Post by Michael Allan
are thus thematized in discussion and
floated for
political action.
Or the society as a whole decides to
discuss and then act for the benefit
of all.
Post by Michael Allan
What shall the action be? Everyone
is
talking, voting...
2. Stuff happens.
To me the most interesting part here
might be the formation of widely
shared concepts and understanding.
Post by Michael Allan
3. Eventually reason prevails. The dwellers in the
favelas and the
peasents in the villages (despite long suppressed
bitterness and
anger)
No need to be suppressed nor angry. Some
may be but better results could be
achieved if everyone just understands how
the system might benefit better all its
members.
Post by Michael Allan
enter into a more-or-less rational discussion
with the
weathly entrepreneurs and landowners.
Maybe all should discuss more. In most
democratic societies all have had the
opportunity for a long time now.
Involvement and understanding of all
segments of the society is needed. Also
the rich and powerful may have lost
touch and may also benefit of the new
ideas.
Post by Michael Allan
4. A promising "disparity correction" mechanism
is discovered, and
talked about.
Or old ones used as they are, or they are
balanced in order to respond better to
the needs.
Post by Michael Allan
5. A rough consensus emerges that, yes, this is the very
mechanism
we want.
6. Political action follows. The mechanism is emplaced.
7. It fails.
Continuously - at least there is the risk
of continuous erosion.
Post by Michael Allan
8. Stuff happens.
Hopefully already in step 7 and earlier.
I'd like to see a system that includes
both practical implementation and
theoretical consensus targets above the
practical level. This makes it easier to
adjust the system on the fly (without
going from one disaster to decision,
frozen positions and next disaster).
Politics are too often just bottom level
tug-of-war type activities where
decisions are made based on who is
strongest at this very moment.
Post by Michael Allan
Steps 2 and 8 are problematic. What kind of stuff can
happen?
I tried to emphasize the need to generate
consensus models that allow high level
principles to be implemented and adjusted
using some practical mechanisms. That'd
be better than revolutions and the
tug-of-war game.
Post by Michael Allan
[1] In Bertrand Russell's History of Western
Philosophy, in the
chapter on Aristotle's Politics, the last few
paragraphs frame a
broad context for discussing the extremes of democracy,
reaction
and counter-reaction.
http://books.google.ca/books?id=Ey94E3sOMA0C&pg=PA187#PPA187,M1
That's p. 187, which contains the text
"Aristotle's fundamental
assumptions... the rise of industrialism... Both for
good and
evil, therefore, the day of the cultured gentleman is
past."
Yes, quite interesting section.

- I always appreciate the courage to say
that the highest achievements / acme are
not here, now or in the future.

- Democracy in Athens was a democracy of
the top level of the society. That
allowed a stronger "cultured gentlemen"
approach than the modern approach that
serves all and where the highest decision
making and consumption potential is quite
low in the society (=> "populism" in both
politics and consumption).

- With the "strength of the masses" the
modern (post 18th century) society with
high number of rich and independent
consumers (= commercial decision makers,
often with less political interest) (I
mean, what the society in rich countries
is now after the turmoil of industrial
revolution and related extreme capitalism
and socialism) is just a bit more complex
to control than the old and simpler
"cultured gentlemen" approach. One must
take a positive approach and trust that
we find good ways forward.

- From [EM] point of view the new society
may also need richer forms of
participation. The public sphere may be
used. But also the very traditional
political decision making system needs
new better approaches. I expect the
combination of useful mechanisms (voting,
discussion, administration,...) and
better consensus based models of the
world to work best.

- When writing the book Russell (probably)
didn't see yet the collision of the human
society and the limits of the global
resources. That's another challenge that
impacts the evolution of the (culture of
the) society in addition to the ones that
Russell lists, maybe the biggest recent
one (?).

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
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Michael Allan
2009-02-03 08:29:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
3. Eventually reason prevails. The dwellers in the favelas and
the peasents in the villages (despite long suppressed bitterness
and anger)
No need to be suppressed nor angry. Some
may be but better results could be
achieved if everyone just understands how
the system might benefit better all its
members.
You premise an ideal. To see the danger, we must premise facts and
probabilities. The crucial probability is a popular direct democracy
(DD). Here is a "proof" of it, in summary of the original post and
thread ("The Structuring of Power"):
http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2009-January/thread.html#23872

Where:

DD = direct democracy
FS = free speech
IT = Internet/information technology
PD = public sphere decision-making
RD = representative (modern) democracy

FS is a constitutional fact. IT is a technical fact. From the
original post (section 1), it follows that PD is probable:

(a) FS + IT ~= PD

PD is a formalization of speech. It is separate from power, and is
not a "democracy", nor any other kind of "-cracy". But PD is also a
primary electoral/legislative mechanism, and RD is a constitutional
fact. From the original post, (sections 2 and 3), it follows that DD
is probable:

(b) PD + RD ~= DD

Note: this is an *effective* DD. The qualification is necessary
because the public sphere cannot (by its nature) hold power. Although
it can express decisions, it cannot take action on them. Only the
private sphere (individuals and families) and the admininstrative
systems (of government, business, etc.) have the necessary power
(force and threat of force) to act. Nevertheless, the effect is
largely DD - effectively the public sphere will force action. It will
begin to do so in the near future, and it will do so deliberately
(such is its nature).
Post by Juho Laatu
- With the "strength of the masses" the
modern (post 18th century) society with
high number of rich and independent
consumers (= commercial decision makers,
often with less political interest) (I
mean, what the society in rich countries
is now after the turmoil of industrial
revolution and related extreme capitalism
and socialism) is just a bit more complex
to control than the old and simpler
"cultured gentlemen" approach. One must
take a positive approach and trust that
we find good ways forward.
Better to be skeptical. Better to take a negative outlook and to
venture forward with eyes wide open. Accepting the probability of DD,
what are the dangers ahead? What bad things can happen?

1. Class strife. The majority of the world's people are
economically marginalized, and will use their votes to (i) attack
the wealthy, entrepreunerial and middle classes and the economic
infrastructure that supports them; while those classes (ii) will
attack back.

2. Instability in quasi-democracies. Introduction of PD in
quasi-democracies (like Russia) will threaten the authorities,
resulting in (i) the imposition of open tyranny (to suppress FS);
or (ii) the retreat of authority, a power vacuum, and civil
strife to fill it.

3. International war. Direct democacies are aggressive and
unpredictable. They will fighten skittish non-democracies (like
China) and ultimately provoke an international war.

(others? please add your own)

Mitigating factors:

A. Slow adoption of PD to underprivledged classes owning to
inaccessiblity of IT. So eqn (a) is dampened and delayed.

B. Unelected upper assemblies can block action in defiance of the
public and their elected counterparts. So, at least in some
states, eqn (b) is dampened and delayed.

(others? please add your own)
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Juho Laatu
2009-02-04 20:58:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
3. Eventually reason prevails. The dwellers in
the favelas and
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
the peasents in the villages (despite long
suppressed bitterness
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
and anger)
No need to be suppressed nor angry. Some
may be but better results could be
achieved if everyone just understands how
the system might benefit better all its
members.
You premise an ideal. To see the danger, we must premise
facts and
probabilities. The crucial probability is a popular direct
democracy
(DD). Here is a "proof" of it, in summary of the
original post and
http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2009-January/thread.html#23872
DD = direct democracy
FS = free speech
IT = Internet/information technology
PD = public sphere decision-making
RD = representative (modern) democracy
FS is a constitutional fact. IT is a technical fact. From
the
(a) FS + IT ~= PD
Some new (temporary) definitions:
PC = public sphere communication
PO = public sphere opinion-formation

In this framework one could say that
FS + IT ~= PC

But it is not yet guaranteed that
PC => PO
and
PO => PD
Post by Michael Allan
PD is a formalization of speech. It is separate from
power, and is
not a "democracy", nor any other kind of
"-cracy". But PD is also a
primary electoral/legislative mechanism, and RD is a
constitutional
fact. From the original post, (sections 2 and 3), it
follows that DD
(b) PD + RD ~= DD
Note: this is an *effective* DD. The qualification is
necessary
because the public sphere cannot (by its nature) hold
power. Although
it can express decisions, it cannot take action on them.
DD and RD are often defined as two
alternatives. Here DD (= *effective* DD)
seems to refer to a RD that works as if
it was a DD (= *actual* DD) because of
the impact of PD.

One possible problem with the equation
above is that PD may remain as a
"discussion club" that the RD politicians
may ignore at the same level as they
ignore media and poll opinions.

If PD is tied more tightly to the
formal/actual decision making process (RD)
(to make it stronger than a "discussion
club") then it becomes part of RD, or maybe
an *actual* DD. In that case PD is no more
separated from the power (and the dynamics
will change accordingly) (I'll skip further
speculation on this).
Post by Michael Allan
Only the
private sphere (individuals and families) and the
admininstrative
systems (of government, business, etc.) have the necessary
power
(force and threat of force) to act. Nevertheless, the
effect is
largely DD - effectively the public sphere will force
action. It will
begin to do so in the near future, and it will do so
deliberately
(such is its nature).
In a way public discussion, media and private
discussions do set the opinions and they do
force action, but the chain of consequences
may be so long and complex that it is not
possible to master it. The decisions may get
corrupted and unrecognizable on the way. RD
and *actual* DD have clear procedures for
decision making but informal discussions may
be interpreted in various ways, and PD may
have alternative competing branches, and as a
result people (e.g. RD representatives) may
justify many different decisions/conclusions
based on the non-uniform non-agreed input.

It is thus also easy to find ways around the
potentially unwanted PD input and the
situation may remain much the same as today
(with FS, free media, influencing via parties
and other organizations and movements).
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
- With the "strength of the masses" the
modern (post 18th century) society with
high number of rich and independent
consumers (= commercial decision makers,
often with less political interest) (I
mean, what the society in rich countries
is now after the turmoil of industrial
revolution and related extreme capitalism
and socialism) is just a bit more complex
to control than the old and simpler
"cultured gentlemen" approach. One must
take a positive approach and trust that
we find good ways forward.
Better to be skeptical. Better to take a negative outlook
and to
venture forward with eyes wide open. Accepting the
probability of DD,
what are the dangers ahead? What bad things can happen?
The problem that I referred to above
consisted mostly of the complexity of a
"widely democratized" society that has large
number of different opinions coming from
(rather rich and independent) people with
different needs, education, culture, and
level of interest in decision making. That
is no more a club of "cultured gentlemen"
(as Russell maybe saw it).
Post by Michael Allan
1. Class strife. The majority of the world's people
are
economically marginalized, and will use their votes to
(i) attack
the wealthy, entrepreunerial and middle classes and
the economic
infrastructure that supports them; while those classes
(ii) will
attack back.
That already took to some extent place as a
consequence of the industrial revolution and
its uncontrolled side effects. There sure
will be again some turbulence when/if the
differences grow and when those people who
don't like the system have sufficient power.
Maybe the conflict between Muslim
fundamentalists and the USA is one part of
this set-up.
Post by Michael Allan
2. Instability in quasi-democracies. Introduction of PD
in
quasi-democracies (like Russia) will threaten the
authorities,
resulting in (i) the imposition of open tyranny (to
suppress FS);
This happens in many places. (Also the most
developed countries may have some (voluntary
or semi-forced) limitations.)

IT can not be controlled easily and is
likely to offer some relief by destroying
some attempts to limit FS.
Post by Michael Allan
or (ii) the retreat of authority, a power vacuum, and
civil
strife to fill it.
Certainly there will be this kind of cases.
Maybe we will learn something from them and
can avoid their worst forms and worst
consequences later on.
Post by Michael Allan
3. International war. Direct democacies are aggressive
and
unpredictable. They will fighten skittish
non-democracies (like
China) and ultimately provoke an international war.
*Actual* and *effective* DDs may make populist
decisions. On the other hand also RDs may make
strange decisions in isolation from the public
opinion, after representatives taking more
power than they should, after some levels of
coup or other misuse of powerful positions,
and even against the will of the people.
Representatives may also be efficient in
creating propaganda and logic to justify
their (violent or other non-acceptable) acts.
(This happens all the time in the "civilized
world".)

Since both approaches have risks I must
conclude that it may be more important to
maintain the societies sound with the help
of education, good morale, direct contacts
between decision makers and regular
citizens, good laws and judges,
representatives that are good examples to
all, citizens that don't let the quality of
the society go down (by at least behaving
themselves right) etc.

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
(others? please add your own)
A. Slow adoption of PD to underprivledged classes owning
to
inaccessiblity of IT. So eqn (a) is dampened and
delayed.
B. Unelected upper assemblies can block action in
defiance of the
public and their elected counterparts. So, at least
in some
states, eqn (b) is dampened and delayed.
(others? please add your own)
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
----
Election-Methods mailing list - see
http://electorama.com/em for list info
----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Michael Allan
2009-02-05 13:54:56 UTC
Permalink
(In this sub-thread 'Premise', we discuss the probability of DD. In
the parent thread, we discuss the danger of it.)

(Reiterating the premise) Where:

DD = direct democracy
FS = free speech
IT = Internet/information technology
PD = public sphere decision-making
RD = representative (modern) democracy

FS is a constitutional fact. IT is a technical fact.
From the original post (section 1), it follows that
PD is probable:

(a) FS + IT ~= PD
Post by Juho Laatu
PC = public sphere communication
PO = public sphere opinion-formation
In this framework one could say that
FS + IT ~= PC
But it is not yet guaranteed that
PC => PO
But IT includes a voting mechanism.^[1] So assent in PC (agreement
expressed in public) may take the form of a vote. And the summation
of all such votes is formal PO.

Considering only this much, PO is similar to the expression of opinion
in state-run elections. The difference, of course, is it's all done
in public. Example:

I am in discussion with a group (PC). One of the group informs us
of a recently proposed bill (B) that would rewrite the state's
inheritance taxes. She feels strongly about B. As she speaks, I
find myself nodding in agreement with her. I think she's right. So
I take out my mobile phone (IT), and I cast a vote for her (formal
agreement). I trace the vote, and see how it cascades (along with
hers) to some particular consensus draft (B1). I note that B1 is
leading with 30% of the votes, and growing.

That's PO.
Post by Juho Laatu
and
PO => PD
How to distinguish "opinion" from "decision"? (Thinking out loud.) I
guess a decision must be deliberate, in all the senses of that word.
What else must it be? For contrast, consider decision making in
state-run elections:

0700. I wake up. I realize that it's election day. Today, we the
public will decide the issue.

1500. I vote at the polling station.

2000. I turn on my radio. I'm wondering, "What exactly did we the
public decide, today?"

That can't properly be called a "public decision". It's definitely a
decision because it decided an issue. But anything that's blind and
deaf to itself cannot be a public. (Mind, the electorate is not
completely senseless, as it has polsters for feelers.)

There's nothing blind or deaf about PO, of course. The voting is
public, and the results are continuously expressed. The quality of
information goes beyond what's available to the electorate, per se.

I can see clearly: today, B1 has exactly 30% of all votes. I can
trace every one of those votes to an actual person who expressed her
support for B1, exactly as I did. And those people too can see the
same information. We're all aware of *who* we are (collectively),
and *what* we are engaged in doing, even as we proceed to do it.

But if PO is actually to decide an issue (and thus be PD), where is
the issue it decides? Of course, it hasn't happened yet. The
decision must always precede the action. So maybe the only
requirement here is that of intent. It will help if the voter
believes that eqn (b) will generally hold.

Maybe even that is unnecessary. As long as PO is understood as an
*ought* expression (we think the issue *ought* to be resolved thus)
then that will be sufficient to elevate PO to PD. The "ought" implies
an underlying normative basis of decision making by popular assent.
But RD is a fact, and RD rests on just such a norm, which we call
democracy.

Six months later, turnout for B is approaching the level of a
general election. Among its consensus drafts, B2 has climbed to
30%, but B1 has passed 50%. Everyone is talking about it.

In a democratic society, that's a legitimate expression of the public
will. What's more, everyone knows it. That's PD.

(Reiterating the premise, continued)

RD is a constitutional fact. From the original post,
(sections 2 and 3), it follows that DD is probable:

(b) PD + RD ~= DD
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
Note: this is an *effective* DD. The qualification is necessary
because the public sphere cannot (by its nature) hold power.
Although it can express decisions, it cannot take action on them.
DD and RD are often defined as two
alternatives. Here DD (= *effective* DD)
seems to refer to a RD that works as if
it was a DD (= *actual* DD) because of
the impact of PD.
Yes, I say "direct democracy" only because of similar effects. I'm
wrong to use that term. Maybe let DD stand, instead, for "decoupled
democracy". What matters is the relation between the people and
government. In a direct democracy, the people *are* the government,
and they hold direct power. Not so in this DD.

The equivalent relation in DD is this: PD from the people (as a
public) is answered by action from the government. The two agents
(people and government) are separate.

(There are non-political relations of PD too, with other parts of
society, and with culture. But we don't have a theory for those,
yet.)
Post by Juho Laatu
One possible problem with the equation
above is that PD may remain as a
"discussion club" that the RD politicians
may ignore at the same level as they
ignore media and poll opinions.
So government does not act on PD, but ignores it. But this is
impossible in RD. PD translates too easily to electoral support in
RD. For example:

Curious to see what my MP is contributing to the bill (B), I trace
her vote. I'm surprised to learn that she's voting for B6, a null
draft of the bill, meaning she's opposed to the whole thing. I put
a filter on the poll results for B, restricting it to my own own
riding. But the results are the same - over 50% of her constituents
are voting in support of B1. And I am one of them.

So I switch over to the poll for my MP's own seat in Parliament.
Sure enough, she's not doing so well there. She's behind two
rivals, both of whom have been gaining in votes lately. (I look to
see how they're voting for B. Sure enough, they're both voting for
B1.) I shift my vote over to one of them. (Maybe my MP is intent
on retiring, and does not wish to be re-elected?)
Post by Juho Laatu
If PD is tied more tightly to the
formal/actual decision making process (RD)
(to make it stronger than a "discussion
club") then it becomes part of RD, or maybe
an *actual* DD. In that case PD is no more
separated from the power (and the dynamics
will change accordingly) (I'll skip further
speculation on this).
I'll first try to separate the parts, and define them clearly.
Otherwise the structure of the whole is lost, and it's difficult to
talk about function. (Afterwards, anyone can argue that the parts are
not actually separate, and I will reply.) We have:

i) public that discusses and expresses decisions (PD)

ii) government that wields power and acts

You say that when (i) and (ii) are aligned, then the public has
exercised power. But it only seems so. There is only a similar
*effect* to what one might expect if the public could actually hold
power - acting by force and threat of force - as a government does, or
as an individual does.

PD is entirely de-coupled from power - in both time and space - and
likewise de-coupled from action. First, the public expresses PD,
tentatively at first - a weak or young consensus. Action follows at a
later time, conditionally. Meanwhile there is a dialogue between the
public decider and the government actor, in which PD is likely to
shift, e.g. in response to the bureaucratic realities of what can
actually be done. At no point will PD be able to force the machinery
of the bureaucracy, and dictate the timing or form of action. Only
the government can do that. So the public holds no power, in any real
sense.

It is true that PD becomes associated with RD. But I wouldn't say it
becomes a structural part of RD, any more than RD becomes a part of
it. I would first emphasize the logical separation of the two systems
as being a more rational way to look at the whole. I think it is also
a more efficient and more feasible way to build it - PD as the
"control system", and RD as the "power system".
Post by Juho Laatu
In a way public discussion, media and private
discussions do set the opinions and they do
force action, but the chain of consequences
may be so long and complex that it is not
possible to master it. The decisions may get
corrupted and unrecognizable on the way. RD
and *actual* DD have clear procedures for
decision making but informal discussions may
be interpreted in various ways, and PD may
have alternative competing branches, and as a
result people (e.g. RD representatives) may
justify many different decisions/conclusions
based on the non-uniform non-agreed input.
Informal public opinion is not decision, then. Its effects are too
convoluted to speak clearly of. Agreed. It's like a control system
in a pilotless craft, drifting now with the wind, and now with the
bias of the engines.

Where there is no PD on a particular issue, we can expect no action in
response. Public votes may be split in a stable, 3-way consensus, for
instance. RD will have to muddle along, directionless on that
particular issue. So society reverts to the old way of doing things.
(That's probably good.)
Post by Juho Laatu
It is thus also easy to find ways around the
potentially unwanted PD input and the
situation may remain much the same as today
(with FS, free media, influencing via parties
and other organizations and movements).
But why would elected officials generally wish to oppose PD?

And how could they block action? They could block for a single
term, but likely at the cost of their careers.

(An un-elected upper assembly could block for longer - say for a
couple of decades - depending on its turn-over rate. Likewise the
un-elected judiciary, such as the supreme courts. These would
mitigate the dangers of DD, just as they mitigate the dangers of
democracy, in general.)
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
... Accepting the probability of DD, what are the dangers ahead?
What bad things can happen?
The problem that I referred to above consisted mostly of the
complexity of a "widely democratized" society...
(will reply shortly, in separate post)

[1] On the voting mechanism, see section 1 of original post. Or:
http://zelea.com/project/votorola/d/theory.xht#medium
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Juho Laatu
2009-02-05 17:01:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
(In this sub-thread 'Premise', we discuss the
probability of DD. In
the parent thread, we discuss the danger of it.)
DD = direct democracy
FS = free speech
IT = Internet/information technology
PD = public sphere decision-making
RD = representative (modern) democracy
FS is a constitutional fact. IT is a technical fact.
From the original post (section 1), it follows that
(a) FS + IT ~= PD
Post by Juho Laatu
PC = public sphere communication
PO = public sphere opinion-formation
In this framework one could say that
FS + IT ~= PC
But it is not yet guaranteed that
PC => PO
But IT includes a voting mechanism.^[1] So assent in PC
(agreement
expressed in public) may take the form of a vote. And the
summation
of all such votes is formal PO.
Considering only this much, PO is similar to the expression
of opinion
in state-run elections. The difference, of course, is
it's all done
I am in discussion with a group (PC). One of the group
informs us
of a recently proposed bill (B) that would rewrite the
state's
inheritance taxes. She feels strongly about B. As she
speaks, I
find myself nodding in agreement with her. I think
she's right. So
I take out my mobile phone (IT), and I cast a vote for
her (formal
agreement). I trace the vote, and see how it cascades
(along with
hers) to some particular consensus draft (B1). I note
that B1 is
leading with 30% of the votes, and growing.
That's PO.
Let me take another example, election
method discussion lists. People there
do have voting machines available, and
many of them have similar opinions on
many central questions, but where is
the consensus (or majority decisions).
Sometimes I also get the feeling that
those people that take part in the
joint opinion building discussions are
actually people who are more
interested in disagreeing with all
(except with their own opinion) than
agreeing with them ;-).

What I mean is that the tools may be
available but that may not necessarily
lead to optimal use of those tools.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
and
PO => PD
How to distinguish "opinion" from
"decision"? (Thinking out loud.)
I was thinking that opinion formation
may still be vague and there may be
many opinions while decisions are
clear and there is only on decision.
Post by Michael Allan
I
guess a decision must be deliberate, in all the senses of
that word.
What else must it be? For contrast, consider decision
making in
0700. I wake up. I realize that it's election day.
Today, we the
public will decide the issue.
1500. I vote at the polling station.
2000. I turn on my radio. I'm wondering, "What
exactly did we the
public decide, today?"
That can't properly be called a "public
decision". It's definitely a
decision because it decided an issue.
It sounded to me like a proper decision
but not in the public sphere like the
decisions discussed above.
Post by Michael Allan
But anything
that's blind and
deaf to itself cannot be a public. (Mind, the electorate
is not
completely senseless, as it has polsters for feelers.)
There's nothing blind or deaf about PO, of course. The
voting is
public, and the results are continuously expressed. The
quality of
information goes beyond what's available to the
electorate, per se.
I can see clearly: today, B1 has exactly 30% of all
votes. I can
trace every one of those votes to an actual person who
expressed her
support for B1, exactly as I did. And those people too
can see the
same information. We're all aware of *who* we are
(collectively),
and *what* we are engaged in doing, even as we proceed to
do it.
But if PO is actually to decide an issue (and thus be PD),
where is
the issue it decides?
My intention was that PO does not yet
cover any clear decision making but
all can interpret the results of the
discussion as they wish.
Post by Michael Allan
Of course, it hasn't happened
yet. The
decision must always precede the action. So maybe the only
requirement here is that of intent. It will help if the
voter
believes that eqn (b) will generally hold.
Maybe even that is unnecessary. As long as PO is
understood as an
*ought* expression (we think the issue *ought* to be
resolved thus)
then that will be sufficient to elevate PO to PD. The
"ought" implies
an underlying normative basis of decision making by popular
assent.
This is important. Are the decisions made
by PD official, unique (no competing
processes) and respected by all. If they
are then they are part of the formal
decision making process, and maybe not in
the public sphere any more but official
mandated tools of the government. This
means that their nature will be different
than in the free discussion fora.
Post by Michael Allan
But RD is a fact, and RD rests on just such a norm, which
we call
democracy.
Six months later, turnout for B is approaching the level
of a
general election. Among its consensus drafts, B2 has
climbed to
30%, but B1 has passed 50%. Everyone is talking about
it.
In a democratic society, that's a legitimate expression
of the public
will. What's more, everyone knows it. That's PD.
(Reiterating the premise, continued)
RD is a constitutional fact. From the original post,
(b) PD + RD ~= DD
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
Note: this is an *effective* DD. The
qualification is necessary
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
because the public sphere cannot (by its nature)
hold power.
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
Although it can express decisions, it cannot take
action on them.
Post by Juho Laatu
DD and RD are often defined as two
alternatives. Here DD (= *effective* DD)
seems to refer to a RD that works as if
it was a DD (= *actual* DD) because of
the impact of PD.
Yes, I say "direct democracy" only because of
similar effects. I'm
wrong to use that term. Maybe let DD stand, instead, for
"decoupled
democracy". What matters is the relation between the
people and
government. In a direct democracy, the people *are* the
government,
and they hold direct power. Not so in this DD.
The equivalent relation in DD is this: PD from the people
(as a
public) is answered by action from the government. The two
agents
(people and government) are separate.
The interesting question to me is if we
have one official PD process or if PD
consists of various free and separate
activities and processes built by the
citizens.
Post by Michael Allan
(There are non-political relations of PD too, with other
parts of
society, and with culture. But we don't have a theory
for those,
yet.)
Post by Juho Laatu
One possible problem with the equation
above is that PD may remain as a
"discussion club" that the RD politicians
may ignore at the same level as they
ignore media and poll opinions.
So government does not act on PD, but ignores it. But this
is
impossible in RD. PD translates too easily to electoral
support in
RD.
Curious to see what my MP is contributing to the bill
(B), I trace
her vote. I'm surprised to learn that she's
voting for B6, a null
draft of the bill, meaning she's opposed to the whole
thing. I put
a filter on the poll results for B, restricting it to my
own own
riding. But the results are the same - over 50% of her
constituents
are voting in support of B1. And I am one of them.
So I switch over to the poll for my MP's own seat in
Parliament.
Sure enough, she's not doing so well there.
She's behind two
rivals, both of whom have been gaining in votes lately.
(I look to
see how they're voting for B. Sure enough,
they're both voting for
B1.) I shift my vote over to one of them. (Maybe my MP
is intent
on retiring, and does not wish to be re-elected?)
Post by Juho Laatu
If PD is tied more tightly to the
formal/actual decision making process (RD)
(to make it stronger than a "discussion
club") then it becomes part of RD, or maybe
an *actual* DD. In that case PD is no more
separated from the power (and the dynamics
will change accordingly) (I'll skip further
speculation on this).
I'll first try to separate the parts, and define them
clearly.
Otherwise the structure of the whole is lost, and it's
difficult to
talk about function. (Afterwards, anyone can argue that
the parts are
i) public that discusses and expresses decisions (PD)
ii) government that wields power and acts
You say that when (i) and (ii) are aligned, then the public
has
exercised power. But it only seems so. There is only a
similar
*effect* to what one might expect if the public could
actually hold
power - acting by force and threat of force - as a
government does, or
as an individual does.
PD is entirely de-coupled from power - in both time and
space - and
likewise de-coupled from action. First, the public
expresses PD,
tentatively at first - a weak or young consensus. Action
follows at a
later time, conditionally. Meanwhile there is a dialogue
between the
public decider and the government actor, in which PD is
likely to
shift, e.g. in response to the bureaucratic realities of
what can
actually be done. At no point will PD be able to force the
machinery
of the bureaucracy, and dictate the timing or form of
action. Only
the government can do that. So the public holds no power,
in any real
sense.
It is true that PD becomes associated with RD. But I
wouldn't say it
becomes a structural part of RD, any more than RD becomes a
part of
it. I would first emphasize the logical separation of the
two systems
as being a more rational way to look at the whole. I think
it is also
a more efficient and more feasible way to build it - PD as
the
"control system", and RD as the "power
system".
Ok, now I'm convinced that you assume
that there is one official or recognized
PD process that the RD representatives
listen to. Even though these processes
have no decision power on the matters
of each others the decisions obviously
easily flow from PD to RD. One way to
characterize this type of PD is that it
is an official and continuous opinion
polling organization.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
In a way public discussion, media and private
discussions do set the opinions and they do
force action, but the chain of consequences
may be so long and complex that it is not
possible to master it. The decisions may get
corrupted and unrecognizable on the way. RD
and *actual* DD have clear procedures for
decision making but informal discussions may
be interpreted in various ways, and PD may
have alternative competing branches, and as a
result people (e.g. RD representatives) may
justify many different decisions/conclusions
based on the non-uniform non-agreed input.
Informal public opinion is not decision, then. Its effects
are too
convoluted to speak clearly of. Agreed. It's like a
control system
in a pilotless craft, drifting now with the wind, and now
with the
bias of the engines.
Where there is no PD on a particular issue, we can expect
no action in
response. Public votes may be split in a stable, 3-way
consensus, for
instance. RD will have to muddle along, directionless on
that
particular issue. So society reverts to the old way of
doing things.
(That's probably good.)
Post by Juho Laatu
It is thus also easy to find ways around the
potentially unwanted PD input and the
situation may remain much the same as today
(with FS, free media, influencing via parties
and other organizations and movements).
But why would elected officials generally wish to oppose
PD?
My assumption was that there could
be many PD processes, their opinions
could be weak, they could be
challenged, stamped as non-expert
opinions etc. You seem to assume that
there is one single official PD
process. In this case it is not as
easy to avoid taking into account the
messages emerging from the process.
(The elected officials have generally
no interest to "oppose PD" but they
have strong interest to promote their
own viewpoints, often against some
opinions expressed in the PD processes.)
Post by Michael Allan
And how could they block action? They could block for a
single
term, but likely at the cost of their careers.
RD representatives often make unwanted
decisions like tax raises but somehow
they manage to explain these to the
voters before the next election, or
alternatively the voters forget, or
they understand the politicians
although their opinion was different.
Post by Michael Allan
(An un-elected upper assembly could block for longer - say
for a
couple of decades - depending on its turn-over rate.
Likewise the
un-elected judiciary, such as the supreme courts. These
would
mitigate the dangers of DD, just as they mitigate the
dangers of
democracy, in general.)
RD is by definition indirect and
therefore "mitigated" decision making.
Upper bodies may add one layer of
indirectness (and delegation of
responsibility) to this process.


What I learned at this round is that
you see the PD to consist of one single
official or de facto recognized process.
In this case the opinion formation may
be clear and the messages heard by the
RD representatives. The process may not
be a free public sphere process any more
but if it is well managed it may
represent in many aspects the true
feelings of the people quite well
(~= "official continuous polls").

In some aspects the process gets closer
to an election process with hysteresis.
The opinions can be expressed continuously
but the RD seats will be reallocated only
maybe once in few years.

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
... Accepting the probability of DD, what are the
dangers ahead?
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
What bad things can happen?
The problem that I referred to above consisted mostly
of the
Post by Juho Laatu
complexity of a "widely democratized"
society...
(will reply shortly, in separate post)
[1] On the voting mechanism, see section 1 of original
http://zelea.com/project/votorola/d/theory.xht#medium
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
----
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----
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Michael Allan
2009-02-07 16:16:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
Let me take another example, election
method discussion lists. People there
do have voting machines available, and
many of them have similar opinions on
many central questions, but where is
the consensus (or majority decisions).
Sometimes I also get the feeling that
those people that take part in the
joint opinion building discussions are
actually people who are more
interested in disagreeing with all
(except with their own opinion) than
agreeing with them ;-).
(I'm trying to get away from all that...)
Post by Juho Laatu
What I mean is that the tools may be
available but that may not necessarily
lead to optimal use of those tools.
Here you say there's FS and IT, with no PO. But really, there is no
IT. For example:

1. Someone posts the question, "What voting method ought Helsinki to
use in Council elections?"

2. All kinds of opinions are expressed, left and right. Many people
from Helsinki join the list.

3. Voting commences using the available IT, but there are problems:

a) Authentication of voters as real people, not bots

b) Restriction of vote to residents of Helsinki

c) Enforcement of a single vote per resident, no sock puppets

d) Allowance to propose options at issue, and not just to vote on
them

e) Possibility of consensus, despite the proliferation of minor
variations (a hundred Condorcet methods) that fragment the
results

f) Assurance of action on the issue, by Helsinki Council

There's no IT that does all that, yet. When there is, I think that
consenus will build, even in the face of dissent. (more on this
below)
Post by Juho Laatu
I was thinking that opinion formation
may still be vague and there may be
many opinions while decisions are
clear and there is only on decision.
Only PD must be decisive, because only it must be actionable. So
maybe the criterion that distinguishes it from PO is the singularity
of a stable consensus (however defined):

PO in stable consensus ~= PD
Post by Juho Laatu
... For contrast, consider decision making in state-run
elections...
It sounded to me like a proper decision
but not in the public sphere like the
decisions discussed above.
I agree, traditional general elections are decisive.
Post by Juho Laatu
My intention was that PO does not yet
cover any clear decision making but
all can interpret the results of the
discussion as they wish.
I am thinking that PO is nevertheless expressed in formal votes,
mediated by IT. (I do not consider informal opinion, whether public
or private, except as a precursor of PO.) Votes are numerically
precise. If the voters are a quorum (however defined), then the
result is PO, and it is clear in a numerical sense. But it won't
necessarilly be PD. If it's a 3-way split, or unstable and shifting,
then the issue is unclear. Then it's not PD.
Post by Juho Laatu
This is important. Are the decisions made
by PD official, unique (no competing
processes) and respected by all. If they
are then they are part of the formal
decision making process, and maybe not in
the public sphere any more but official
mandated tools of the government. This
means that their nature will be different
than in the free discussion fora.
(interesting... picked up at end)
Post by Juho Laatu
The interesting question to me is if we
have one official PD process or if PD
consists of various free and separate
activities and processes built by the
citizens.
I think both - the former from the latter. The institution of PD is a
natural monopoly. Helsinki may have two competing pollservers, for
example, both launched as citizen initiatives. But that situation is
unstable; only one is likely to survive. Mutatis mutandis, the voting
system with the most participants is the most attractive.
Post by Juho Laatu
... PD as the "control system", and RD
as the "power system".
Ok, now I'm convinced that you assume
that there is one official or recognized
PD process that the RD representatives
listen to. Even though these processes
have no decision power on the matters
of each others the decisions obviously
easily flow from PD to RD. One way to
characterize this type of PD is that it
is an official and continuous opinion
polling organization.
(maybe... picked up at end)
Post by Juho Laatu
(The elected officials have generally
no interest to "oppose PD" but they
have strong interest to promote their
own viewpoints, often against some
opinions expressed in the PD processes.)
Ordinary cascade voting can help with that kind of tension. The
official legislator can express it by participating in the PD, as a
voter. She can broadly assent to the public consensus, while
simultaneously dissenting on any number of details, all with a single
vote. So the tension is both contained and expressed in the
structure. For diagrams and refs, see this post:

http://groups.dowire.org/r/post/2IbPilDgy4CLnyMHbSjPLB

Thus she can say, I agree with you, but please consider making the
following changes. The drafter she is voting for (most likely a
citizen) will then decide whether to accept her recommendations. And
so on, up to the consensus drafter. Or the legislator may think of
shifting her vote to another drafter. There will be many, all part of
the consensus cascade. So if the legislator's views are acceptable to
the public, they will eventually be heeded. If not, she may continue
to express them.
Post by Juho Laatu
And how could they block action? They could block for a single
term, but likely at the cost of their careers.
RD representatives often make unwanted
decisions like tax raises but somehow
they manage to explain these to the
voters before the next election, or
alternatively the voters forget, or
they understand the politicians
although their opinion was different.
PO does not forget, however. Votes that shift today do not
automatically shift back tomorrow. So if an MP disappoints her voters
today, she must do something about it tomorrow, or the votes will stay
away. Where did they go? To rivals. The rivals will not forget the
reason, and will not allow the voters to forget.
Post by Juho Laatu
RD is by definition indirect and
therefore "mitigated" decision making.
It's something... but RD is on a short leash. It must either shift
PD, as with arguments (barking), or follow its lead. And it must do
so within a few years, at most. Else PD will replace RD at the next
general election.
Post by Juho Laatu
Upper bodies may add one layer of
indirectness (and delegation of
responsibility) to this process.
The judiciary too. These bodies are on a longer leash. They are much
better at mitigating the danger. It takes decades to move them. They
can stand against the public, if need be. Nothing else can.
Post by Juho Laatu
What I learned at this round is that
you see the PD to consist of one single
official or de facto recognized process.
In this case the opinion formation may
be clear and the messages heard by the
RD representatives. The process may not
be a free public sphere process any more
but if it is well managed it may
represent in many aspects the true
feelings of the people quite well
(~= "official continuous polls").
No longer of the public sphere? That makes me think that the
institution of PD might have a history like that of Parliament.
Parliament was once situated in the public sphere and opposed to the
government (King and ministers). Then, in the latter half of the
1800's, it effectively became an institution of the government. Mind,
it wasn't so much captured by government, as goverenment was captured
by it. But it definitely left the public sphere.^[1]

At issue is eqn (a), and the long-term existence of PD:

(a) FS + IT ~= PD (public sphere decision-making)

I'm wondering how government could capture the institution of FS + IT.
I'm thinking it would be difficult, almost as difficult as capturing
the press, especially because of the way the IT is likely to be
distributed. Briefly, see just the diagrams here:

http://zelea.com/project/votorola/a/design.xht

Consider Paris, for example. The pollserver (IT) for the 20th
arrondissement is administered by a local graduate student. She,
along with a dozen neighbourhood registrars, and various other unpaid
"un-officials" were elected to their posts by their fellow residents.
Together they keep the IT running, and help to maintain the trust
network that underpins the voter list. FS is well guarded in France,
so PD is being freely produced on a range of issues, including the the
makeup of the arrondissement Council, the nomination of the Mayor, and
local members of the National Assembly. Likewise, there is an
independent pollserver in each of the other 19 arrondissements, and so
on, right across the country - thousands of them. Can such an
institution be uprooted from the public sphere?


[1] Jürgen Habermas. 1962. The Structural Transformation of the
Public Sphere. Translated by Thomas Burger, 1989. MIT Press,
Cambridge, Massachusetts.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

----
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Juho Laatu
2009-02-07 20:00:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Let me take another example, election
method discussion lists. People there
do have voting machines available, and
many of them have similar opinions on
many central questions, but where is
the consensus (or majority decisions).
Sometimes I also get the feeling that
those people that take part in the
joint opinion building discussions are
actually people who are more
interested in disagreeing with all
(except with their own opinion) than
agreeing with them ;-).
(I'm trying to get away from all that...)
Post by Juho Laatu
What I mean is that the tools may be
available but that may not necessarily
lead to optimal use of those tools.
Here you say there's FS and IT, with no PO. But
really, there is no
1. Someone posts the question, "What voting method
ought Helsinki to
use in Council elections?"
2. All kinds of opinions are expressed, left and right.
Many people
from Helsinki join the list.
This could maybe already be called PO
(public sphere opinion-formation) where
people form opinions, but that does not
necessarily lead to formation of one
unified opinion (=> PD, public sphere
decision-making).
Post by Michael Allan
3. Voting commences using the available IT, but there are
a) Authentication of voters as real people, not bots
b) Restriction of vote to residents of Helsinki
c) Enforcement of a single vote per resident, no sock
puppets
d) Allowance to propose options at issue, and not just
to vote on
them
e) Possibility of consensus, despite the proliferation
of minor
variations (a hundred Condorcet methods) that
fragment the
results
f) Assurance of action on the issue, by Helsinki
Council
There's no IT that does all that, yet. When there is,
I think that
consenus will build, even in the face of dissent. (more on
this
below)
The communication part of IT is there.
There are also voting machines available
in the internet but obviously this
community has no agreement on which one
to use or whether to use its own (the
members are skilled enough to build one).
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
I was thinking that opinion formation
may still be vague and there may be
many opinions while decisions are
clear and there is only on decision.
Only PD must be decisive, because only it must be
actionable. So
maybe the criterion that distinguishes it from PO is the
singularity
PO in stable consensus ~= PD
Yes. One should have an agreement on
which process is the one that is used
to determine the consensus opinion.
If there is an agreement then that
opinion will be respected as the
consensus opinion.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
... For contrast, consider decision making in
state-run
Post by Juho Laatu
elections...
It sounded to me like a proper decision
but not in the public sphere like the
decisions discussed above.
I agree, traditional general elections are decisive.
Post by Juho Laatu
My intention was that PO does not yet
cover any clear decision making but
all can interpret the results of the
discussion as they wish.
I am thinking that PO is nevertheless expressed in formal
votes,
mediated by IT. (I do not consider informal opinion,
whether public
or private, except as a precursor of PO.)
My thinking was that anything above
(public sphere) random chatting and
below forming one (society wide)
unified opinion is PO.
Post by Michael Allan
Votes are
numerically
precise. If the voters are a quorum (however defined),
then the
result is PO, and it is clear in a numerical sense. But it
won't
necessarilly be PD. If it's a 3-way split, or unstable
and shifting,
then the issue is unclear. Then it's not PD.
Or if there are multiple competing
opinion formation camps.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
This is important. Are the decisions made
by PD official, unique (no competing
processes) and respected by all. If they
are then they are part of the formal
decision making process, and maybe not in
the public sphere any more but official
mandated tools of the government. This
means that their nature will be different
than in the free discussion fora.
(interesting... picked up at end)
Post by Juho Laatu
The interesting question to me is if we
have one official PD process or if PD
consists of various free and separate
activities and processes built by the
citizens.
I think both - the former from the latter. The institution
of PD is a
natural monopoly. Helsinki may have two competing
pollservers, for
example, both launched as citizen initiatives. But that
situation is
unstable; only one is likely to survive.
It could also be that different "parties"
would concentrate around their favourite
system and claim it to be the leading
one, or at least the one that is correct.
Post by Michael Allan
Mutatis mutandis,
the voting
system with the most participants is the most attractive.
Post by Juho Laatu
... PD as the "control system", and RD
as the "power system".
Ok, now I'm convinced that you assume
that there is one official or recognized
PD process that the RD representatives
listen to. Even though these processes
have no decision power on the matters
of each others the decisions obviously
easily flow from PD to RD. One way to
characterize this type of PD is that it
is an official and continuous opinion
polling organization.
(maybe... picked up at end)
Post by Juho Laatu
(The elected officials have generally
no interest to "oppose PD" but they
have strong interest to promote their
own viewpoints, often against some
opinions expressed in the PD processes.)
Ordinary cascade voting can help with that kind of tension.
The
official legislator can express it by participating in the
PD, as a
voter.
Assuming that there is one agreed PD
process to participate (and that she
wants to influence this way this time).
Post by Michael Allan
She can broadly assent to the public consensus,
while
simultaneously dissenting on any number of details, all
with a single
vote. So the tension is both contained and expressed in
the
http://groups.dowire.org/r/post/2IbPilDgy4CLnyMHbSjPLB
Thus she can say, I agree with you, but please consider
making the
following changes. The drafter she is voting for (most
likely a
citizen) will then decide whether to accept her
recommendations. And
so on, up to the consensus drafter. Or the legislator may
think of
shifting her vote to another drafter. There will be many,
all part of
the consensus cascade. So if the legislator's views
are acceptable to
the public, they will eventually be heeded. If not, she
may continue
to express them.
Post by Juho Laatu
And how could they block action? They could
block for a single
Post by Juho Laatu
term, but likely at the cost of their careers.
RD representatives often make unwanted
decisions like tax raises but somehow
they manage to explain these to the
voters before the next election, or
alternatively the voters forget, or
they understand the politicians
although their opinion was different.
PO does not forget, however. Votes that shift today do not
automatically shift back tomorrow. So if an MP disappoints
her voters
today, she must do something about it tomorrow, or the
votes will stay
away. Where did they go? To rivals. The rivals will not
forget the
reason, and will not allow the voters to forget.
Post by Juho Laatu
RD is by definition indirect and
therefore "mitigated" decision making.
It's something... but RD is on a short leash. It must
either shift
PD, as with arguments (barking), or follow its lead. And
it must do
so within a few years, at most. Else PD will replace RD at
the next
general election.
Post by Juho Laatu
Upper bodies may add one layer of
indirectness (and delegation of
responsibility) to this process.
The judiciary too. These bodies are on a longer leash.
They are much
better at mitigating the danger. It takes decades to move
them. They
can stand against the public, if need be. Nothing else
can.
Post by Juho Laatu
What I learned at this round is that
you see the PD to consist of one single
official or de facto recognized process.
In this case the opinion formation may
be clear and the messages heard by the
RD representatives. The process may not
be a free public sphere process any more
but if it is well managed it may
represent in many aspects the true
feelings of the people quite well
(~= "official continuous polls").
No longer of the public sphere? That makes me think that
the
institution of PD might have a history like that of
Parliament.
Parliament was once situated in the public sphere and
opposed to the
government (King and ministers). Then, in the latter half
of the
1800's, it effectively became an institution of the
government. Mind,
it wasn't so much captured by government, as
goverenment was captured
by it. But it definitely left the public sphere.^[1]
(a) FS + IT ~= PD (public sphere decision-making)
I'm wondering how government could capture the
institution of FS + IT.
Yes, FS (free speech) and IT
(internet/information technology)
are "free".
Post by Michael Allan
I'm thinking it would be difficult, almost as difficult
as capturing
the press, especially because of the way the IT is likely
to be
http://zelea.com/project/votorola/a/design.xht
Consider Paris, for example. The pollserver (IT) for the
20th
arrondissement is administered by a local graduate student.
She,
along with a dozen neighbourhood registrars, and various
other unpaid
"un-officials" were elected to their posts by
their fellow residents.
Together they keep the IT running, and help to maintain the
trust
network that underpins the voter list. FS is well guarded
in France,
so PD is being freely produced on a range of issues,
including the the
makeup of the arrondissement Council, the nomination of the
Mayor, and
local members of the National Assembly. Likewise, there is
an
independent pollserver in each of the other 19
arrondissements, and so
on, right across the country - thousands of them. Can such
an
institution be uprooted from the public sphere?
Citizens can maintain such systems in a
FS+IT society if they are sufficiently
active and persistent. That is at least
PO. PD might require a recognized
position as the de facto opinion former
(in my interpretation of it).

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
[1] Jürgen Habermas. 1962. The Structural Transformation
of the
Public Sphere. Translated by Thomas Burger, 1989. MIT
Press,
Cambridge, Massachusetts.
--
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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Michael Allan
2009-02-11 09:53:48 UTC
Permalink
The claim is that a direct democracy is probable. Based on Juho
Laatu's comments, I restate the argument in an expanded form. If it
stands, then we can accept it as a premise, and discuss the potential
danger of it.

What follows is a condensed summary of the original post and
discussion thread, "The structuring of power and the composition of
norms by communicative assent":
http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2009-January/thread.html#23872

Term Meaning
------- -----------------------------------------------------------
A Administrative action, either of:
A(n) - enforcement of a norm;
A(o) - placement of an official.

DD Direct democracy.
FS Free speech.

IT Internet/information technology that:
IT(a) - authenticates voters as real people (no robots);
IT(c) - affords a consensus that neither suppresses dissent,
nor is unnecessarily fragmented by it;
IT(p) - allows voters to openly propose the issue and options,
not just to vote on them;
IT(r) - restricts votes to those affected by the issue, such as
local residents;
IT(s) - enforces a single vote per person (no sock puppets).

OP Public opinion, either of:
OP(i) - informal public communication;
OP(f) - formal public vote.

OR Private opinion, either of:
OR(i) - informal private belief or communication;
OR(f) - formal private vote.

PD Public decision, on either of:
PD(n) - enforcement of a norm;
PD(o) - placement of an official.

RD Representative democracy.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

FS is a constitutional fact. FS allows for OP(i), and OP(i) is an
everyday fact:

(a.1) FS -> OP(i)

But several projects are developing IT ^[1]. The technology is
probably feasible. So people will use it to formalize OP(i) as votes:

(a.2) OP(i) + IT -> OP(f)

But the resulting OP(f) is generally visible. Other people can see
it, and are prompted to form private opinions of their own - OR(i) -
either in assent or dissent of the issue. Furthermore, some of these
opinions will be published and formalized as votes. So OR(i) and
OP(f) will be locked in a positive feedback loop:

(a.3) OP(f) -> OR(i) -> OP(f)

But IT(c) ensures that any OP(f) dissensus that is not grounded in a
social reality will be unstable. It will therefore fall toward
consensus. So we can expect consensus. Any consensus that attracts a
quorum of voters (however defined), and that holds stable, is PD by
definition.

(a.4) OP(f) + IT(c) -> OP(f,consensus) = PD

On the one hand, the IT may be configured to support primary
elections, and thus to to nominate cross-party candidates for office:

(a.5) OP(f) + IT(c) -> PD(o)

On the other hand, IT(p) allows issues to be raised without
restriction. So PD may focus on norms (laws, plans and policies) too:

(a.6) OP(f) + IT(c,p) -> PD(n)

To summarize (a.1) to (a.6): IT makes PD probable:

(a) FS + IT -> PD

RD is a constitutional fact. OR(i) is a psychological fact. At the
regular occurence of general elections, OR(i) is formally expressed in
secret voting. The administration then acts to place the winning
candidates in office. This process is a fact:

(b.1) RD + OR(i) -> OR(f) -> A(o)

But note the alignment of OR(i) and OP(f) in eqn (a.3). Furthermore,
from (a.3), allow a rough parity between the levels of primary and
general turnout. It then follows from (a.5) that OR(i) is generally
aligned with PD(o). So (b.1) reduces to:

(b.2) RD + PD(o) -> A(o)

In other words, the general elections of RD will actualize the primary
elections of PD(o). Thus officials will be emplaced - A(o) - by
public decision.

Now consider norms. First, consider the situation when PD(n) is
framed as a legislative bill. It will then be of interest to a member
of the RD legislature. The member will be particularly interested in
the level of support for the bill among her own constituents, as
revealed by IT(a,r,s). Considering that her re-election bid will
depend (b.2) on her successful performance in the ongoing primary
elections, she will align her assembly vote with the particular PD(n)
of her constituents. The same consideration applies to the other
members. The upshot is that the legislature will promulgate the
general PD(n) as a statutory law:

(b.3) RD + PD(n) + A(o) -> A(n)

Likewise for the other types of norm (n). So, when PD(n = policy) is
expressed, the elected executives will act to follow that policy.
When PD(n = plan) is expressed, they will act to implement that plan.
From (b.1) to (b.3), it follows that both the placement of officials
and the enforcement of societal norms will be aligned with public
decisions:

(b.4) PD + RD -> A(o) + A(n)

But PD is a decision of the people. By definition, when A(o) and A(n)
are aligned with PD, society functions as DD. So (b.4) reduces to:

(b) PD + RD -> DD

QED. We can further reduce (a) and (b): to

(c) RD + FS + IT -> DD

Given that RD and FS are constitutional facts, the immediate cause of
DD is the introduction of IT.

This DD is unlike the direct democracy of classical Athens. The
people are not, in this case, part of the government. Nevertheless
they proceed to make decisions as though they were (a), and the
government chooses to act in compliance with them (b.3). The people
are powerless to enforce this compliance, and so time is allowed for
both sides to engage in dialogue and negotiation. But the people do
have the power to replace the government at the next general election,
and their ability to make deliberate use of that power is enhanced
(b.2).
Post by Michael Allan
1. Someone posts the question, "What voting method ought
Helsinki to use in Council elections?"
2. All kinds of opinions are expressed, left and right. Many
people from Helsinki join the list.
This could maybe already be called PO
(public sphere opinion-formation) where
people form opinions, but that does not
necessarily lead to formation of one
unified opinion (=> PD, public sphere
decision-making).
In terms of the revised notation, this is OP(i).
My thinking was that anything above
(public sphere) random chatting and
below forming one (society wide)
unified opinion is PO.
I've tried to clarify the different types of opinion. Random chatting
is OP(i), and random voting is OP(f). When OP(f) gels in consensus,
then it is PD.

OP(i) .. -> OP(f) .. -> PD
The communication part of IT is there.
There are also voting machines available
in the internet but obviously this
community has no agreement on which one
to use or whether to use its own (the
members are skilled enough to build one).
The argument requires voting IT. The rest is given, in fact.

However, the voting IT must be IT(a,c,p,r,s). None of the voting
methods that are typically discussed in election-methods can do IT(c),
for instance, except Abd's delegable proxy.

It might not be worthwhile for a mailing list to start voting on
issues. It is not a city or sovereign state. Its power is limited to
issues of technical administration. The important issues of election
methods are decided by cities and sovereign states.

To build the necessary IT requires no prior agreement. As a rule of
thumb, an open source developer can expect no help until he has users.
He codes the beta, solo. (Myself, I'm close to beta with Votorola, a
matter of months.) Private business firms can move faster, at least
initially, because they can purchase labour.
Or if there are multiple competing
opinion formation camps.
Post by Michael Allan
... The institution of PD is a natural monopoly...
It could also be that different "parties"
would concentrate around their favourite
system and claim it to be the leading
one, or at least the one that is correct.
Or different companies will push their own brands, and consumers will
camp out in them. But (i) such divisions are unlikely to be stable,
as they reduce value to the voters, and those voters have the power to
act in their own interests. One by one, they can move to whichever
system that has the largest pool of votes. They will tend, therefore,
to support a single system.

Moreover (ii) IT can bridge multiple systems by pooling the results.
All it takes is a communication standard, and two system developers
that agree to adopt it. The separate votes are then pooled, the
voters are brought closer to a quorum, and the prospect of action (A).
Other systems will want to join the standard, or risk alienating their
voters. In the end, all systems must join the standard. Thus joined,
they will effectively be a single system.
Citizens can maintain such systems in a
FS+IT society if they are sufficiently
active and persistent. That is at least
PO. PD might require a recognized
position as the de facto opinion former
(in my interpretation of it).
Yes, it depends on the IT being a technical monopoly. I agree.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
What I learned at this round is that
you see the PD to consist of one single
official or de facto recognized process.
In this case the opinion formation may
be clear and the messages heard by the
RD representatives. The process may not
be a free public sphere process any more
but if it is well managed it may
represent in many aspects the true
feelings of the people quite well
(~= "official continuous polls").
No longer of the public sphere? That makes me think that the
institution of PD might have a history like that of Parliament.
Parliament was once situated in the public sphere ...
[I was wrong. Parliament was never in the public sphere. It only had
a relation with the public, a relation that has since been lost.]

The idea of capturing PD is interesting. The support IT does have an
administrative component, so it would be a natural capture for
government, or for a business firm (administrators par excellence).
If captured, PD either is, or isn't deliberately hampered. If it
isn't, then there is no effect - nothing to discuss.

If PD *is* deliberately hampered, then the captor must have accepted
the premise of probable DD, and be acting in response to the perceived
danger of it - either in protection of its own narrow interests, or of
the broader interests of society. Furthermore, the mode of capture
may itself pose a danger. So maybe we can discuss this in the parent
thread, later - it probably has no bearing on the premise.


[1] For an overview of projects currently developing the IT, see:
http://zelea.com/project/votorola/compare.xht
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Juho Laatu
2009-02-11 22:41:47 UTC
Permalink
First some general comments.

Still the biggest question to me is how
to create a system that is dominant
(determines the de facto unquestioned
public opinion) and at the same time
remains in close contact and attracts
spontaneous participation of the
citizens and is out of the control of
the parties or people with some party
like agenda. Maybe the most promising
viewpoint is to see the system as a new
"Google" or "Wikipedia" that grows
quickly so large that it is not easy to
control it or question its status. This
case is a bit different of course. One
would need wide participation (to avoid
being just the voice of some
"extremists"), one could need country
specific systems or registrations,
decisions on what elections will be
arranged or are important, Wikipedia
like strong rules that keep the system
healthy etc. This is not an impossible
task but taking into account the role
of politics in the societies one can be
sure that this is not straight forward
task either.

See more detailed inside the mail and
some more generic again at the end.
Post by Michael Allan
The claim is that a direct democracy is probable. Based on
Juho
Laatu's comments, I restate the argument in an expanded
form. If it
stands, then we can accept it as a premise, and discuss the
potential
danger of it.
What follows is a condensed summary of the original post
and
discussion thread, "The structuring of power and the
composition of
http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2009-January/thread.html#23872
Term Meaning
-------
-----------------------------------------------------------
A(n) - enforcement of a norm;
A(o) - placement of an official.
DD Direct democracy.
FS Free speech.
IT(a) - authenticates voters as real people (no
robots);
IT(c) - affords a consensus that neither suppresses
dissent,
nor is unnecessarily fragmented by it;
IT(p) - allows voters to openly propose the issue and
options,
not just to vote on them;
IT(r) - restricts votes to those affected by the
issue, such as
local residents;
IT(s) - enforces a single vote per person (no sock
puppets).
IT seems to refer to voting/polling
specific IT. If so then it could be
called also VT.
Post by Michael Allan
OP(i) - informal public communication;
OP(f) - formal public vote.
OR(i) - informal private belief or communication;
OR(f) - formal private vote.
PD(n) - enforcement of a norm;
PD(o) - placement of an official.
RD Representative democracy.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
FS is a constitutional fact. FS allows for OP(i), and
OP(i) is an
(a.1) FS -> OP(i)
I read "A -> B" as "if A is widespread
then also B is or will be widespread".
This could cover also cases "B is
likely to be widespread" and "B can be
widespread".
Post by Michael Allan
But several projects are developing IT ^[1]. The
technology is
probably feasible. So people will use it to formalize
(a.2) OP(i) + IT -> OP(f)
Or "-> OR(f)". I mean that votes could
be secret too. I assume in these terms
the "publicity" vs. "privacy" refers to
the secrecy of the ballot, not to the
unofficial vs. official nature of the
vote. Maybe you intended otherwise.
Post by Michael Allan
But the resulting OP(f) is generally visible. Other people
can see
it, and are prompted to form private opinions of their own
- OR(i) -
either in assent or dissent of the issue. Furthermore,
some of these
opinions will be published and formalized as votes. So
OR(i) and
(a.3) OP(f) -> OR(i) -> OP(f)
But IT(c) ensures that any OP(f) dissensus that is not
grounded in a
social reality will be unstable. It will therefore fall
toward
consensus. So we can expect consensus.
If we have IT(c) (and the other
conditions).
Post by Michael Allan
Any consensus that
attracts a
quorum of voters (however defined), and that holds stable,
is PD by
definition.
(a.4) OP(f) + IT(c) -> OP(f,consensus) = PD
You didn't include the quorum
requirement in the equation. One could
add additional requirements like
IT(u,t), IT that is used and trusted
widely, to derive PD.
Post by Michael Allan
On the one hand, the IT may be configured to support
primary
elections, and thus to to nominate cross-party candidates
I guess these nominations could be
unofficial.
Post by Michael Allan
(a.5) OP(f) + IT(c) -> PD(o)
On the other hand, IT(p) allows issues to be raised without
restriction. So PD may focus on norms (laws, plans and
(a.6) OP(f) + IT(c,p) -> PD(n)
Before this statement the claims seemed
to be able to cover both official and
unofficial votes (=> PD could be
official too). Here IT(p) seems to
refer to cases where regular citizens
have more power than they have in a
typical RD.
Post by Michael Allan
(a) FS + IT -> PD
It seems you assumed IT(c,p,u,t,...),
and PD(o,n) as the result. One can
interpret "->" also so that there is a
tendency to go in this direction but
not that the end result would be
guaranteed or probable. All the
conditions and equations were maybe not
100% strict, and many smaller conditions
may also be missing.
Post by Michael Allan
RD is a constitutional fact. OR(i) is a psychological
fact. At the
regular occurence of general elections, OR(i) is formally
expressed in
secret voting. The administration then acts to place the
winning
(b.1) RD + OR(i) -> OR(f) -> A(o)
This seems to assume that OR(f) always
refers to the official elections (and
not to the unofficial IT stuff).
Post by Michael Allan
But note the alignment of OR(i) and OP(f) in eqn (a.3).
Furthermore,
from (a.3), allow a rough parity between the levels of
primary and
general turnout. It then follows from (a.5) that OR(i) is
generally
aligned with PD(o).
Maybe it is safer to say that the IT
generates such tendencies.
Post by Michael Allan
(b.2) RD + PD(o) -> A(o)
In other words, the general elections of RD will actualize
the primary
elections of PD(o). Thus officials will be emplaced - A(o)
- by
public decision.
This equation is confusing. In (b.1) you
assumed that OR(f) -> A(o). Does this
mean that RD + OR(i) -> PD(o) -> OR(f)
-> A(o)? In this formulation PD(o) has
only indirect power via OR(f) to
determine A(o). The equation works both
with and without PD(o).
Post by Michael Allan
Now consider norms. First, consider the situation when
PD(n) is
framed as a legislative bill. It will then be of interest
to a member
of the RD legislature. The member will be particularly
interested in
the level of support for the bill among her own
constituents, as
revealed by IT(a,r,s). Considering that her re-election
bid will
depend (b.2) on her successful performance in the ongoing
primary
elections,
Official primary elections of the party
or something less formal?
Post by Michael Allan
she will align her assembly vote with the
particular PD(n)
of her constituents. The same consideration applies to the
other
members. The upshot is that the legislature will
promulgate the
Note that often politicians tend to
follow opinion polls quite closely
already now. (In some parties they
need to follow also the views of the
party members.)
Post by Michael Allan
(b.3) RD + PD(n) + A(o) -> A(n)
Likewise for the other types of norm (n). So, when PD(n =
policy) is
expressed, the elected executives will act to follow that
policy.
When PD(n = plan) is expressed, they will act to implement
that plan.
From (b.1) to (b.3), it follows that both the placement
of officials
and the enforcement of societal norms will be aligned with
public
(b.4) PD + RD -> A(o) + A(n)
But PD is a decision of the people. By definition, when
A(o) and A(n)
are aligned with PD, society functions as DD. So (b.4)
(b) PD + RD -> DD
QED.
I think you proved the tendency (or
possible chain of consequences or
existence of the path) but not the
necessity of this to happen or that
it will happen in full strength.

DD seems to be still defined as RD
that acts as if it was a true DD.

Note that a true supporter and loyal
member of some current democratic system
could claim that the system already
implements PD + RD -> DD (with the help
of polls, media, party memberships, open
discussion, free organisations,
elections, politicians that listen to
the opinions). The question is then how
strong the arrows ("->") are in each case.
Post by Michael Allan
We can further reduce (a) and (b): to
(c) RD + FS + IT -> DD
Given that RD and FS are constitutional facts, the
immediate cause of
DD is the introduction of IT.
IT could be said to have potential to
strengthen the DD properties of the RD.
Post by Michael Allan
This DD is unlike the direct democracy of classical Athens.
(In Athens the decision makers were an
elite, which pushes the system a bit
closer to a RD. Switzerland has some
"bottom level DD orientation".)
Post by Michael Allan
The
people are not, in this case, part of the government.
Nevertheless
they proceed to make decisions as though they were (a), and
the
government chooses to act in compliance with them (b.3).
The people
are powerless to enforce this compliance, and so time is
allowed for
both sides to engage in dialogue and negotiation. But the
people do
have the power to replace the government at the next
general election,
and their ability to make deliberate use of that power is
enhanced
(b.2).
I read this as an interest and
possibility to use IT to strengthen
the "DD chain".
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Michael Allan
1. Someone posts the question, "What
voting method ought
Post by Michael Allan
Helsinki to use in Council elections?"
2. All kinds of opinions are expressed, left
and right. Many
Post by Michael Allan
people from Helsinki join the list.
This could maybe already be called PO
(public sphere opinion-formation) where
people form opinions, but that does not
necessarily lead to formation of one
unified opinion (=> PD, public sphere
decision-making).
In terms of the revised notation, this is OP(i).
My thinking was that anything above
(public sphere) random chatting and
below forming one (society wide)
unified opinion is PO.
I've tried to clarify the different types of opinion.
Random chatting
is OP(i), and random voting is OP(f). When OP(f) gels in
consensus,
then it is PD.
OP(i) .. -> OP(f) .. -> PD
The communication part of IT is there.
There are also voting machines available
in the internet but obviously this
community has no agreement on which one
to use or whether to use its own (the
members are skilled enough to build one).
The argument requires voting IT. The rest is given, in
fact.
However, the voting IT must be IT(a,c,p,r,s). None of the
voting
methods that are typically discussed in election-methods
can do IT(c),
for instance, except Abd's delegable proxy.
It might not be worthwhile for a mailing list to start
voting on
issues. It is not a city or sovereign state. Its power is
limited to
issues of technical administration. The important issues
of election
methods are decided by cities and sovereign states.
Are you saying that they should not
even try? Who should then try?
Post by Michael Allan
To build the necessary IT requires no prior agreement. As
a rule of
thumb, an open source developer can expect no help until he
has users.
He codes the beta, solo. (Myself, I'm close to beta
with Votorola, a
matter of months.) Private business firms can move faster,
at least
initially, because they can purchase labour.
Success depends heavily on the quality
of the software and the robustness of
the concept in general.
Post by Michael Allan
Or if there are multiple competing
opinion formation camps.
Post by Michael Allan
... The institution of PD is a natural
monopoly...
It could also be that different "parties"
would concentrate around their favourite
system and claim it to be the leading
one, or at least the one that is correct.
Or different companies will push their own brands, and
consumers will
camp out in them. But (i) such divisions are unlikely to
be stable,
as they reduce value to the voters, and those voters have
the power to
act in their own interests. One by one, they can move to
whichever
system that has the largest pool of votes. They will tend,
therefore,
to support a single system.
Why would one system among the others
emerge as the stable system? (In the
beginning of this mail I referred to
the Google and Wikipedia phenomena as
potential patterns to follow.)
Post by Michael Allan
Moreover (ii) IT can bridge multiple systems by pooling the
results.
All it takes is a communication standard, and two system
developers
that agree to adopt it. The separate votes are then
pooled, the
voters are brought closer to a quorum, and the prospect of
action (A).
Other systems will want to join the standard, or risk
alienating their
voters. In the end, all systems must join the standard.
Thus joined,
they will effectively be a single system.
Citizens can maintain such systems in a
FS+IT society if they are sufficiently
active and persistent. That is at least
PO. PD might require a recognized
position as the de facto opinion former
(in my interpretation of it).
Yes, it depends on the IT being a technical monopoly. I
agree.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
What I learned at this round is that
you see the PD to consist of one single
official or de facto recognized process.
In this case the opinion formation may
be clear and the messages heard by the
RD representatives. The process may not
be a free public sphere process any more
but if it is well managed it may
represent in many aspects the true
feelings of the people quite well
(~= "official continuous polls").
No longer of the public sphere? That makes me
think that the
Post by Michael Allan
institution of PD might have a history like that
of Parliament.
Post by Michael Allan
Parliament was once situated in the public sphere
...
[I was wrong. Parliament was never in the public sphere.
It only had
a relation with the public, a relation that has since been
lost.]
The idea of capturing PD is interesting. The support IT
does have an
administrative component, so it would be a natural capture
for
government, or for a business firm (administrators par
excellence).
If captured, PD either is, or isn't deliberately
hampered. If it
isn't, then there is no effect - nothing to discuss.
I referred to Wikipedia like strong
rules above. Maybe current information
technology allows this type of free wide
scale voluntary activities to escape the
traditional control points of the old
rule.
Post by Michael Allan
If PD *is* deliberately hampered, then the captor must have
accepted
the premise of probable DD, and be acting in response to
the perceived
danger of it - either in protection of its own narrow
interests, or of
the broader interests of society.
I must note here that the original fine
principles of democracy and its further
enhancements are still valid but somehow
politicians and others have found ways
to play the game in a somewhat less ideal
way than originally (idealistically)
intended. I'm sure that there will be
similar tendencies also in the future.
The new system must be planned well to
avoid this type of pitfalls as
efficiently as possible.
Post by Michael Allan
Furthermore, the mode of
capture
may itself pose a danger. So maybe we can discuss this in
the parent
thread, later - it probably has no bearing on the premise.
I mentioned the possibility of the chain
towards DD being weaker than certain and
automatic. The inevitable corruption
and/or inclusion of various interests,
less than perfect understanding and
monitoring etc. is another potential
factor that may weaken the system.

At this point I might also mention one
more topic that I consider important.
That is the role of the chairman and
opinion formation in the system. One
can not trust IT(p,c) to be a sufficient
mechanism to keep the discussion focused
and lead to selection of the best
formulations of the questions and
modelling of the society and topics in
question. Better new mechanisms are
needed also on that sector.

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
[1] For an overview of projects currently developing the
http://zelea.com/project/votorola/compare.xht
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
----
Election-Methods mailing list - see
http://electorama.com/em for list info
----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Michael Allan
2009-02-15 22:31:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
Still the biggest question to me is how
to create a system that is dominant
(determines the de facto unquestioned
public opinion) and at the same time
remains in close contact and attracts
spontaneous participation of the
citizens and is out of the control of
the parties or people with some party
like agenda. Maybe the most promising
viewpoint is to see the system as a new
"Google" or "Wikipedia" that grows
quickly so large that it is not easy to
control it or question its status. This
case is a bit different of course. One
would need wide participation (to avoid
being just the voice of some
"extremists"), one could need country
specific systems or registrations,
decisions on what elections will be
arranged or are important, Wikipedia
like strong rules that keep the system
healthy etc. This is not an impossible
task but taking into account the role
of politics in the societies one can be
sure that this is not straight forward
task either.
This raises some interesting points of technical design and strategy.
See further below.
Post by Juho Laatu
IT seems to refer to voting/polling
specific IT. If so then it could be
called also VT.
VT would be better, yes.
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
(a.1) FS -> OP(i)
I read "A -> B" as "if A is widespread
then also B is or will be widespread".
This could cover also cases "B is
likely to be widespread"...
Yes, it's a causal operator. So the relation "A -> B" means "if A
then B". (It ought to be quantified with a probability, but we have
no numbers.)
Post by Juho Laatu
... and "B can be widespread".
As in "if B then A"? Or "if B then probably A"? No, it's not a
dependency operator. We allow that both of these are complete and
true statements:

A -> B

C -> B

So B can have multiple independent causes, or generation paths. There
is perhaps B, on some path, without A preceding. But there is neither
A nor C, on any path, without B following.
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
(a.2) OP(i) + IT -> OP(f)
Or "-> OR(f)". I mean that votes could
be secret too...
If the IT allows, then an individual voter might opt to express secret
OR(f) instead of public OP(f). I believe the IT will allow this - I
believe it ought to, as you and Kristopher convinced me earlier - as a
kind of safety valve. It does not appear in our model, yet.

But the crucial thing for this particular class of IT is OP(f). There
must be plenty of it. Otherwise the technical/useability challenges
of IT(a,c,p,r,s) may be too great. (Of course, we allow other classes
of IT, and other paths to DD.)
Post by Juho Laatu
... I assume in these terms
the "publicity" vs. "privacy" refers to
the secrecy of the ballot, not to the
unofficial vs. official nature of the
vote...
Correct. OP(f) and OR(f) are votes in general. Where they are cast
depends on the context of the eqn's.

But in our model, so far, all terms OP(f) are in context of IT
primaries, and all OR(f) in context of RD general elections - we don't
model the privacy option of IT, nor the public votes in the RD
assembly.
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
But IT(c) ensures that any OP(f) dissensus that is not grounded in
a social reality will be unstable. It will therefore fall toward
consensus. So we can expect consensus.
If we have IT(c) (and the other
conditions).
Overall, we must have all IT, which is to say IT(a,c,p,r,s). But
IT(c) is especially crucial to (a.4) and (a.5).
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
Any consensus that attracts a quorum of voters (however defined),
and that holds stable, is PD by definition.
(a.4) OP(f) + IT(c) -> OP(f,consensus) = PD
You didn't include the quorum
requirement in the equation. One could
add additional requirements like
IT(u,t), IT that is used and trusted
widely, to derive PD.
But (u,t) are non-technical, and cannot be part of IT per se. They
would have to be separate terms. Something like this:

used widely = OP(f,quorum)

trust -> OP(f,quorum)

So:

(a.4)' OP(f) + IT(c) + trust -> OP(f,consensus,quorum) = PD

But:

(a.4.1) IT(a,r,s) -> trust

Therefore:

(a.4.2) OP(f) + IT(c,a,r,s) -> OP(f,consensus,quorum) = PD

However, a quorum depends on more than trust. There are many
variables on the input side, perhaps too many to model. And the
dynamic is rather complicated, as in the feedback loop of a.3.

Tacking to another approach: A quorum of OR(f) is a fact in RD. This
is our reference. So primary turnout for OP(f) must approach the
level of general elections. Here are some strong mechanisms:

i) Precedent: the fact of a quorum for the sake of RD sets an
example, and people will know they're expected to follow it, for
the sake of DD.

ii) Herding: feedback loop of a.3.

iii) Corraling: argument of natural monopoly for IT, hinging on
probability that all splits of the electorate are unstable, so
there'll be a single system. (see further below)

iv) Novelty: people can't ordinarilly vote on norms, so it's not
unreasonable to expect an especially high turnout in OP(f) for
norms - primary candidate bills for the RD assembly, etc. - in
anticipation of eventual A(n).

v) Synergy: investment of time in (iv) generates the competence to
also vote OP(f) for offices - primary candidate members for the
RD assembly, etc. - and the incentive to so. People will know
(from b.3) that A(n) depends on A(o).

Are these mechanisms improbable? Are there any strong reverse
mechanisms, or blocks, that would be likely to prevent a quorum?
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
On the one hand, the IT may be configured to support primary
I guess these nominations could be
unofficial.
In the sense of non-party? They might have to be:

(I). Organized parties cannot endorse PD(o), if they wish to survive.
Although a party might announce that the IT is henceforth its official
primary, and thus PD(o) its official endorsement, there would be
nothing to prevent another party from doing the same. In that event,
there would be no distinguishing the two. It follows that a party
must oppose PD(o) in principle, or cease to exist. (Is this true?)
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
(a.5) OP(f) + IT(c) -> PD(o)
On the other hand, IT(p) allows issues to be raised without
restriction. So PD may focus on norms (laws, plans and
(a.6) OP(f) + IT(c,p) -> PD(n)
Before this statement the claims seemed
to be able to cover both official and
unofficial votes (=> PD could be
official too). Here IT(p) seems to
refer to cases where regular citizens
have more power than they have in a
typical RD.
If I understand, yes. The status quo affords a rough equivalent to
PD(o) in the party primaries. Also, PD(o) is cross-party, so it's
similar to general elections. So PD(o) is conceptually familiar.

Primary *normative* voting is less familiar. For most citizens, a
facility to nominate legislation, and it vote up, is going to be a
novelty (iv above).
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
(a) FS + IT -> PD
It seems you assumed IT(c,p,u,t,...),
and PD(o,n) as the result.
Yes, (a) is the reduction of a.1 to a.6, leaving out the details.
It's asserted as true, all the same. (It's the same eqn from previous
posts.)
Post by Juho Laatu
... One can
interpret "->" also so that there is a
tendency to go in this direction but
not that the end result would be
guaranteed or probable. All the
conditions and equations were maybe not
100% strict, and many smaller conditions
may also be missing.
"Probable" is intended. You may counter by saying "improbable". We
then compare reasons. The overall argument is probable DD.
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
(b.1) RD + OR(i) -> OR(f) -> A(o)
This seems to assume that OR(f) always
refers to the official elections (and
not to the unofficial IT stuff).
Here (b.1) it is official - state general elections.

I did not make IT's provision for secret votes explicit. I judged it
as not on the critical causal path - we can have DD with or without
it. (But it's better with, I agree. This essayist also agrees:

http://rebooting.personaldemocracy.com/node/60

(see 4, Nyms)
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
But note the alignment of OR(i) and OP(f) in eqn (a.3).
Furthermore, from (a.3), allow a rough parity between the levels
of primary and general turnout. It then follows from (a.5) that
OR(i) is generally aligned with PD(o).
Maybe it is safer to say that the IT
generates such tendencies.
Clarifying: From a.3 and a.5:

(b.1.1) OR(i) ~= OP(f) = PD(o)

It's chicken or egg. There's an interdependency between the private
and the public, and it's made explicit at one point in the argument
(a.3), but that's really only a gesture at a relation that's almost
ubiquitous. It's really too complicated to model.

Suffice to say, any probability of a gross distortion/skewing in the
public votes will invalidate the argument between b.1 and b.2, if not
before.
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
(b.2) RD + PD(o) -> A(o)
This equation is confusing. In (b.1) you
assumed that OR(f) -> A(o). Does this
mean that RD + OR(i) -> PD(o) -> OR(f)
-> A(o)? In this formulation PD(o) has
only indirect power via OR(f) to
determine A(o). The equation works both
with and without PD(o).
RD + OR(i) -> PD(o) ... [not]

Not true. RD does not cause PD(o), and OR(i) alone is insufficient.
Clarifying: This is already a fact:

(b.1) RD + OR(i) -> OR(f) -> A(o)

Now we must get PD(o) onto the left hand side. But from b.1 and b.1.1
(further above) it follows:

(b.1.2) RD + PD(o) -> OR(f) -> A(o)

Which simplifies to:

(b.2) RD + PD(o) -> A(o)
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
...The member will be particularly interested in the level of
support for the bill among her own constituents, as revealed by
IT(a,r,s). Considering that her re-election bid will depend (b.2)
on her successful performance in the ongoing primary elections,
Official primary elections of the party
or something less formal?
Non-party, equally formal, and potentially more effective. Take the
simplest case. In the last election, the member had won the primary
PD(o), and therefore she won the general election too (b.2). That's
how she became a member. In this case, she needs PD(o) more than she
needs a party.

(II). The other cases (party endorsed members) can be dismissed as a
temporary disequilibrium. Once a given seat is filled by public
"endorsement" in primary PD(o), then, provided that constituency
retains a quorum from election to election, that seat will henceforth
filled by PD(o). But, from (II), all parties must oppose PD(o).
Therefore a ratchet effect will eventually clear the assembly of all
party endorsed members. (Is this true?)
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
(b) PD + RD -> DD
QED.
I think you proved the tendency (or
possible chain of consequences or
existence of the path) but not the
necessity of this to happen or that
it will happen in full strength.
I should not have used the term "proof". The argument is only the
outline of a theory - a hypothesis - stripped down to its causal
skeleton. It can only be proven by subsequent facts. But if we allow
the devil's advocate to attack the argument in advance, at any
juncture, and thus to discredit it, and if he gives up, then we may
take it that he accepts the argument as plausible.

More importantly, the formal argument makes it easier to separate the
practical questions (how does it work?) from the moral (is it good?).
Those two tend to get confused. I raised this point in a related
discussion, the other day:

http://metagovernment.org/pipermail/start_metagovernment.org/2009-February/001186.html
Post by Juho Laatu
DD seems to be still defined as RD
that acts as if it was a true DD.
In this latest version of the argument, I take the action as the
proof. If society is *actually* steered by the people, then it is
actually DD - but perhaps not formally so. By the same token, if it
is formally steered by the people, then it is formally DD - but
perhaps not actually so.

(c) RD + FS + IT -> DD

There is some formal DD. The structural part is present in IT. If
(c) is true, then IT is an institution of governance. The functional
part - the relation RD + IT is not formalized. (Nor was the relation
RD + party-system formalized, at first. Only later did it form,
sporadically, in proportional assemblies.)
Post by Juho Laatu
Note that a true supporter and loyal
member of some current democratic system
could claim that the system already
implements PD + RD -> DD (with the help
of polls, media, party memberships, open
discussion, free organisations,
elections, politicians that listen to
the opinions). The question is then how
strong the arrows ("->") are in each case.
RD + FS -> DD [not]

Not true. Product DD is not a fact. Any attempt to show it by
argument would die around eqn a.6. The people of RD do not propose
the laws under which they live, nor do they have a vote in them.
Likewise for the plans and policies of RD. But no need for argument,
when DD is asserted as a fact of the status quo. Here are two rough
empirical measures of DD:

(1) Initiative. Given these:

N' potential law, conceived in the mind of a single person - but not
yet expressed

C' potential (max) consensus on the topic of N' - but not yet formed

We must arrive at:

C actual consensus formed on the topic of N'

N actual law, promulgated as a statute

For a typical person capable of N', how likely is N? Will the person
even bother to express N'? Or, at what point will she give up? How
large, at that point, will be the actual consensus (C) of her
discouraged co-supporters?

One measure is mean C/C'. For RD, it is probably close to zero. For
DD, it should be near to 1. (In this measure, there is no need for
actual N. Even a less likely N' with a small C' will suffice.)

(2) Review. For each law that exists in the statute books of the
state, what is the level of consensus among the people? Likewise for
each plan that is executed by the state? Likewise for each policy
that is followed?

One measure is n(c)/n, where n(c) is the number of consensus norms,
and n is the total number of norms. For RD, the quantity is unknown.
It is certainly close to zero. For a mature DD, it should be close to
1.
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
We can further reduce (a) and (b): to
(c) RD + FS + IT -> DD
Given that RD and FS are constitutional facts, the
immediate cause of
DD is the introduction of IT.
IT could be said to have potential to
strengthen the DD properties of the RD.
Or to strengthen its democratic properties. RD and DD are different,
except they share D. This DD includes a formal RD (as before), and an
actual DD. Does it include an actual RD?

One designer of RD was James Madison. One of his design constraints
was to ensure that the new state's debts, incurred during the War of
Independence, would be repayed to the lenders (mostly landowners, like
himself). In this case, RD had to ensure that anullment of these
debts (the popular action) was unlikely^[1].
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
... But the people do have the power to replace the government at
the next general election, and their ability to make deliberate
use of that power is enhanced (b.2).
I read this as an interest and
possibility to use IT to strengthen
the "DD chain".
Yes, or more graphically, to steer RD - like with bit, reins, and
stirrup. Without them, the horse goes where it pleases, and it's all
the rider can do to hold on.
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
It might not be worthwhile for a mailing list to start voting on
issues. It is not a city or sovereign state. Its power is
limited to issues of technical administration. The important
issues of election methods are decided by cities and sovereign
states.
Are you saying that they should not
even try? Who should then try?
Who should raise the issue, and vote on it? I guess it depends on the
action (A), and the actor.

A1. Enforce a voting method for Helsinki's general elections.

actor = City of Helsinki (say), then:

voters = People of Helsinki

A2. Enforce a voting method for the chess club.

actor = Chess club, then:

voters = Members

The ideal method for A1 and A2 may differ. Not to say that abstract
questions - ideal voting method for *all* chess clubs the world over -
cannot be raised, and voted by a body of experts. That could be
useful.

On the other hand, Helsinki has its own voting experts. We can expect
them to be prominent delegates in the consensus - assuming
IT(c=delegate cascade) - and thus to inject their expertise with
considerable weight. Simultaneously, they may come to the list,
asking advice of their colleagues, and initiating discussion here. So
the list would participate in a natural way, doing what it does best.
Post by Juho Laatu
Why would one system among the others
emerge as the stable system? (In the
beginning of this mail I referred to
the Google and Wikipedia phenomena as
potential patterns to follow.)
Why a particular one, and not another? Google is maybe not an
example. A search engine (Web scraper) isn't a natural monopoly. Two
big engines are possible, I would think.

Wikipedia is an example. Two wikipedias are not possible, except in
brief disequilibria. I don't know if the success of Wikipedia offers
any practical lessons... I don't know who the competitors were. But
it's a vastly different domain - encyclopedia vs. voting system.

Most of the current crop of competitors for the voting IT are actually
business firms (at least 4), and not volunteer outfits (only 2). So:

(III). Assume a business firm, like Google, wins the IT toss. It
then monetizes the user interface with advertisements, in an attempt
to recoup its capital investment, and turn a profit. The users
respond to this by voting up a consensus resolution: "No more ads,
please". How could the firm respond?
Post by Juho Laatu
I referred to Wikipedia like strong
rules above. Maybe current information
technology allows this type of free wide
scale voluntary activities to escape the
traditional control points of the old
rule.
I think so. I think (III) is only the tip of the iceberg. I think
the users will drive the system (IT) toward an ideal design, and
nothing will get in their way. Not even Google. Imagine:

1. Fact of monopoly is, IT(GoogleVotes)

2. PD(n) demands A(n) = IT(JoeVotes)

Now what is Google to do?
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
If PD *is* deliberately hampered, then the captor must have
accepted
the premise of probable DD, and be acting in response to
the perceived
danger of it - either in protection of its own narrow
interests, or of
the broader interests of society.
I must note here that the original fine
principles of democracy and its further
enhancements are still valid but somehow
politicians and others have found ways
to play the game in a somewhat less ideal
way than originally (idealistically)
intended. I'm sure that there will be
similar tendencies also in the future.
The new system must be planned well to
avoid this type of pitfalls as
efficiently as possible.
Hopefully, the system can adapt to unforseen bumps. There's a
three-way tension, and any designer's time is going to be divided by
these priorities:

1. Design well.

2. Deploy fast.

3. Look ahead.

I don't worry so much about 1 and 2 - it's the usual professional
race, and we all just run it - it's what we do. And I don't worry
about 3 in the sense of running into a blind alley - a bad design
pocket. We'll just turn around, and race off in another direction. I
think the only things that can go wrong are non-systemic externalities
- the "troubles" of the parent thread.
Post by Juho Laatu
I mentioned the possibility of the chain
towards DD being weaker than certain and
automatic. The inevitable corruption
and/or inclusion of various interests,
less than perfect understanding and
monitoring etc. is another potential
factor that may weaken the system.
At this point I might also mention one
more topic that I consider important.
That is the role of the chairman and
opinion formation in the system. One
can not trust IT(p,c) to be a sufficient
mechanism to keep the discussion focused
and lead to selection of the best
formulations of the questions and
modelling of the society and topics in
question. Better new mechanisms are
needed also on that sector.
Here you diverge from the ideal? IT(p,c) is rather strong. It says,
to paraphrase it:

IT(p) Anyone can raise a new issue (class of candidates), or an
option of that issue (instance of candidate)

IT(c) If society has the potential of consensus on the issue, then
actual consensus will be expressed - without suppression of
dissent

On the surface, these should suffice. We desire a power-free system -
in sociological theory, an ideal speech situation - with no intrusions
of power. To the extent the chairman had sytematic power (force or
threat of force), the resulting consensus might be an artifact of that
power.

On the other hand, if the chairman is external to the voting IT, and
does not intrude any power, then it is OK. So the chairman may
convene a discussion roundtable on the issue. He may enforce all
kinds of rules during that discussion. That discussion need not, in
itself, be an ideal speech situation. It can be anything, provided:
a) people are free to leave the table; and b) their access to the IT
(the ideal) is not restricted. (This would be an example, I suppose,
of what the essayist Mark Murphy has called an "ecosystem", of which
the IT and its components would be a part. Another term for that
ecosystem is just the "public sphere".)


[1] I think this is from John Dunn's "Democracy", which traces the
history of the word, and its changing meaning.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Juho Laatu
2009-02-22 13:26:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
I read "A -> B" as "if A is widespread
then also B is or will be widespread".
This could cover also cases "B is
likely to be widespread"...
Yes, it's a causal operator. So the relation "A
-> B" means "if A
then B". (It ought to be quantified with a
probability, but we have
no numbers.)
Post by Juho Laatu
... and "B can be widespread".
As in "if B then A"? Or "if B then probably
A"?
I was thinking about causal relationships
like "if with_probability_x A then
with_probability_x B" or
"...at_least_close_to_probability_x B".
Post by Michael Allan
If the IT allows, then an individual voter might opt to
express secret
OR(f) instead of public OP(f). I believe the IT will allow
this - I
believe it ought to, as you and Kristopher convinced me
earlier - as a
kind of safety valve. It does not appear in our model,
yet.
But the crucial thing for this particular class of IT is
OP(f). There
must be plenty of it. Otherwise the technical/useability
challenges
of IT(a,c,p,r,s) may be too great. (Of course, we allow
other classes
of IT, and other paths to DD.)
In many cases it is sufficient if
regular people at the bottom of the
delegation hierarchy are allowed to
cast a secret ballot.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
Any consensus that attracts a quorum of voters
(however defined),
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
and that holds stable, is PD by definition.
(a.4) OP(f) + IT(c) -> OP(f,consensus) =
PD
Post by Juho Laatu
You didn't include the quorum
requirement in the equation. One could
add additional requirements like
IT(u,t), IT that is used and trusted
widely, to derive PD.
But (u,t) are non-technical, and cannot be part of IT per
se.
Yes, they are not technical. But they
refer to some particular IT service
that is widely used and trusted - i.e.
one that has sufficient basis to claim
that a consensus has been reached.
Post by Michael Allan
They
used widely = OP(f,quorum)
trust -> OP(f,quorum)
There may be several IT systems and
trust in one of them may not yet
mean quorum at society level.
Having several IT candidates may be
a sufficient reason in general not
to achieve quorum in any of them.
You could either make the numerous
alternative IT systems visible or
assume that there will be one
dominant IT system.
Post by Michael Allan
Tacking to another approach: A quorum of OR(f) is a fact in
RD. This
is our reference. So primary turnout for OP(f) must
approach the
level of general elections. Here are some strong
i) Precedent: the fact of a quorum for the sake of RD
sets an
example, and people will know they're expected to
follow it, for
the sake of DD.
ii) Herding: feedback loop of a.3.
iii) Corraling: argument of natural monopoly for IT,
hinging on
probability that all splits of the electorate are
unstable, so
there'll be a single system. (see further below)
iv) Novelty: people can't ordinarilly vote on norms,
so it's not
unreasonable to expect an especially high turnout in
OP(f) for
norms - primary candidate bills for the RD assembly,
etc. - in
anticipation of eventual A(n).
v) Synergy: investment of time in (iv) generates the
competence to
also vote OP(f) for offices - primary candidate
members for the
RD assembly, etc. - and the incentive to so. People
will know
(from b.3) that A(n) depends on A(o).
Are these mechanisms improbable? Are there any strong
reverse
mechanisms, or blocks, that would be likely to prevent a
quorum?
- Having too many too uninteresting
elections

- Having several competing IT systems

- The opposite of novelty, getting
bored with the system

- Involvement of party and other
plotting

- Fights between individuals (e.g. on
whose proposal will be voted on)

- Unclarity and fights on the results
achieved with th IT systems

- Low quality of proposals and
discussions

- Fears related to presenting one's
opinion in a public vote

- Complexity of the system

- Lack of time (maybe people use their
time and IT technology for other uses
like playing games and voting in
reality TV programs)

- Lack of expertise (in many areas the
regular people are not experts and do
not want to start studying the topic
/ proposed norm)
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
On the one hand, the IT may be configured to
support primary
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
elections, and thus to to nominate cross-party
candidates for
Post by Juho Laatu
I guess these nominations could be
unofficial.
(I). Organized parties cannot endorse PD(o), if they wish
to survive.
Although a party might announce that the IT is henceforth
its official
primary, and thus PD(o) its official endorsement, there
would be
nothing to prevent another party from doing the same. In
that event,
there would be no distinguishing the two. It follows that
a party
must oppose PD(o) in principle, or cease to exist. (Is
this true?)
I was thinking of informal opinion
polls whose results may or may not
be followed later. The results of
party level or society level
primaries would thus not be binding
but there could be other candidates
too than "primary winners".

Parties may still support the IT
system and PD(o) and just work to
promote their own candidates within
that system (i.e. they need not
cease to exist).
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
... One can
interpret "->" also so that there is a
tendency to go in this direction but
not that the end result would be
guaranteed or probable. All the
conditions and equations were maybe not
100% strict, and many smaller conditions
may also be missing.
"Probable" is intended. You may counter by
saying "improbable". We
then compare reasons. The overall argument is probable DD.
The chain of arrows is long, each
step may not be 100% solid logical
consequence, and corruption may
sneak in at all the steps.
Therefore also the end result (DD)
may be just approximate or just a
tendency (that the available IT
technology supports but does not
guarantee and does not make
perfect).


So, I agree that IT (in general)
has some tendency to make the
society more DD like. It is also
possible that people get
disappointed after trying to push
the society in that direction for
a while. But that doesn't mean
that the potential would not
exist.
Post by Michael Allan
Therefore a ratchet effect will eventually clear the
assembly of all
party endorsed members. (Is this true?)
Not quite. The old system (RD) and
party nominations there may lose
some importance but parties may
still endorse some candidates (in
the IT process) and make their
supporters vote for those
candidates. Maybe they'll arrange
a party primary before the IT
primary.
Post by Michael Allan
More importantly, the formal argument makes it easier to
separate the
practical questions (how does it work?) from the moral (is
it good?).
Those two tend to get confused.
Yes, this separation is useful
since it gives the discussion
a better structure.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Note that a true supporter and loyal
member of some current democratic system
could claim that the system already
implements PD + RD -> DD (with the help
of polls, media, party memberships, open
discussion, free organisations,
elections, politicians that listen to
the opinions). The question is then how
strong the arrows ("->") are in each
case.
RD + FS -> DD [not]
Not true. Product DD is not a fact. Any attempt to show
it by
argument would die around eqn a.6. The people of RD do not
propose
the laws under which they live, nor do they have a vote in
them.
But they may influence,
potentially decisively.
Post by Michael Allan
Likewise for the plans and policies of RD. But no need for
argument,
when DD is asserted as a fact of the status quo. Here are
two rough
N' potential law, conceived in the mind of a single
person - but not
yet expressed
C' potential (max) consensus on the topic of N' -
but not yet formed
C actual consensus formed on the topic of N'
N actual law, promulgated as a statute
For a typical person capable of N', how likely is N?
Will the person
even bother to express N'? Or, at what point will she
give up? How
large, at that point, will be the actual consensus (C) of
her
discouraged co-supporters?
One measure is mean C/C'. For RD, it is probably close
to zero. For
DD, it should be near to 1.
What makes the ability of one
of the millions of citizens to
influence so strong in the IT
system? I'm sure there will be
competition also in the new
system, just like there are
problems in the old system to
make the politicians approve
what one individual proposes
to some of them.
Post by Michael Allan
(2) Review. For each law that exists in the statute books
of the
state, what is the level of consensus among the people?
Likewise for
each plan that is executed by the state? Likewise for each
policy
that is followed?
One measure is n(c)/n, where n(c) is the number of
consensus norms,
and n is the total number of norms. For RD, the quantity
is unknown.
It is certainly close to zero. For a mature DD, it should
be close to
1.
In a RD the quantity may be very
different in different societies,
and may also depend heavily on
when and how you ask.

In some societies people may think
that the norms have been agreed
jointly and are worth defending
them and in other societies people
may feel that they were set by
others to support interests that
are not their interests.

I note that one reason why countries
have decided to use RD instead of
DD (in its regular meaning) is that
in some cases the representatives
may know better what norms are good
than regular people. DD may also
mean more populism.
Post by Michael Allan
(III). Assume a business firm, like Google, wins the IT
toss. It
then monetizes the user interface with advertisements, in
an attempt
to recoup its capital investment, and turn a profit. The
users
"No more ads,
please". How could the firm respond?
Difficult to say. They might say that
voters can not decide on behalf of
private companies. If Google would
not follow the advice it could lose
popularity. If voters would try to
influence the internal matters of
several enterprises that could lead
to thinking that it is not right to
try to influence independent companies
(or e.g. decisions of private people)
using public IT systems.

Public IT systems could make campaigns
against companies with unwanted
behaviour more efficient than they are
today since distribution of the idea
would be more efficient.
Post by Michael Allan
1. Fact of monopoly is, IT(GoogleVotes)
2. PD(n) demands A(n) = IT(JoeVotes)
Now what is Google to do?
Don't know. Users love Google today.
If Google plays its cards right people
might love them also in the future.
Post by Michael Allan
Hopefully, the system can adapt to unforseen bumps.
There's a
three-way tension, and any designer's time is going to
be divided by
1. Design well.
2. Deploy fast.
3. Look ahead.
I don't worry so much about 1 and 2 - it's the
usual professional
race, and we all just run it - it's what we do. And I
don't worry
about 3 in the sense of running into a blind alley - a bad
design
pocket.
The best way to see is to try and see.
There will be bumps. As long as there
is politics there will be conflicting
interests etc.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
I mentioned the possibility of the chain
towards DD being weaker than certain and
automatic. The inevitable corruption
and/or inclusion of various interests,
less than perfect understanding and
monitoring etc. is another potential
factor that may weaken the system.
At this point I might also mention one
more topic that I consider important.
That is the role of the chairman and
opinion formation in the system. One
can not trust IT(p,c) to be a sufficient
mechanism to keep the discussion focused
and lead to selection of the best
formulations of the questions and
modelling of the society and topics in
question. Better new mechanisms are
needed also on that sector.
Here you diverge from the ideal? IT(p,c) is rather strong.
It says,
IT(p) Anyone can raise a new issue (class of candidates),
or an
option of that issue (instance of candidate)
IT(c) If society has the potential of consensus on the
issue, then
actual consensus will be expressed - without
suppression of
dissent
One problem with IT(p,C) is that there
may be millions of issues to decide. In
this situation the chairman or whoever has
the control may influence on which issues
reach the consensus forming level, or to
keep people in the sate of confusion.

One way to keep the issue space nice and
small would be to focus on voting on issues
that already are on the table in the RD
entities (e.g. seats to fill, law proposals
to approve). But this doesn't cover the (p)
part.

Maybe there should be a special mechanism
that would raise the status of individual
initiatives that are interesting to many so
that eventually they reach also the
attention of those voters that do not
follow all the hundreds of initiatives.
Also in this case the final initiative that
makes the issue popular could come from the
media, chairman, party etc. instead of the
individual that made the initial proposal.

We can compare the new system also to the
current system with free speech, polls,
letters to the editor, discussion lists in
the Internet etc. It is not too easy to say
what the crucial new thing that makes the
difference is. Maybe the emergence of a
global (or nationally) dominant easy to use
and well organized IT system would make a
difference?

Juho








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Michael Allan
2009-03-03 23:09:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
There may be several IT systems and
trust in one of them may not yet
mean quorum at society level.
Having several IT candidates may be
a sufficient reason in general not
to achieve quorum in any of them.
You could either make the numerous
alternative IT systems visible or
assume that there will be one
dominant IT system.
(So you still think? But this is just one item in your list - see
below.)
Post by Juho Laatu
... Are there any strong reverse mechanisms, or blocks, that
would be likely to prevent a quorum?
- Having too many too uninteresting
elections
- Having several competing IT systems
- The opposite of novelty, getting
bored with the system
- Involvement of party and other
plotting
- Fights between individuals (e.g. on
whose proposal will be voted on)
- Unclarity and fights on the results
achieved with th IT systems
- Low quality of proposals and
discussions
- Fears related to presenting one's
opinion in a public vote
- Complexity of the system
- Lack of time (maybe people use their
time and IT technology for other uses
like playing games and voting in
reality TV programs)
- Lack of expertise (in many areas the
regular people are not experts and do
not want to start studying the topic
/ proposed norm)
None of these seems a *probable* block. Do you disagree? Which seems
probable?
Post by Juho Laatu
(I). Organized parties cannot endorse PD(o), if they wish to
survive. Although a party might announce that the IT is
henceforth its official primary, and thus PD(o) its official
endorsement, there would be nothing to prevent another party from
doing the same. In that event, there would be no distinguishing
the two. It follows that a party must oppose PD(o) in principle,
or cease to exist. (Is this true?)
I was thinking of informal opinion
polls whose results may or may not
be followed later. The results of
party level or society level
primaries would thus not be binding
but there could be other candidates
too than "primary winners".
Parties may still support the IT
system and PD(o) and just work to
promote their own candidates within
that system (i.e. they need not
cease to exist).
Assume single winner. When you say "their own candidates", you imply
the party has a primary, the membership reaches a decision, and the
party endorses a particular candidate.

Meanwhile, there's a continuous cross-party primary going on. We
already premise PD(o), in the question. So we have a cross-party
primary with a quorum of voters. Any decisive victory in the primary
will carry over into the general election - the winner being elected
to office.

You say the party is not opposed to PD(o). So its members must be
simultaneously voting in the cross-party primary. They are obedient
to the party (at least initially), and they vote for the candidate
that was officially endorsed. Between the time of that endorsement,
and the general election, one of two things will happen. The endorsed
candidate will either rise or fall in the subsequent voting.

No matter which, but consider: the party members are voting *twice*,
in two primaries (party and cross-party). It will be natural for them
to wish to economize, and to reduce this to a single vote, in a single
primary. If we follow this line of reasoning, which the fact of PD(o)
opens up, then I believe we'll have to conclude that party primaries
are in danger of extinction. What would happen then, to the parties?
Post by Juho Laatu
... One can interpret "->" ...
"Probable" is intended. You may counter by saying "improbable".
We then compare reasons. The overall argument is probable DD.
The chain of arrows is long, each
step may not be 100% solid logical
consequence, and corruption may
sneak in at all the steps.
Therefore also the end result (DD)
may be just approximate or just a
tendency (that the available IT
technology supports but does not
guarantee and does not make
perfect).
So, I agree that IT (in general)
has some tendency to make the
society more DD like. It is also
possible that people get
disappointed after trying to push
the society in that direction for
a while. But that doesn't mean
that the potential would not
exist.
Agreed. It needs to be better grounded. Hopefully we code the IT,
and get some facts.
Post by Juho Laatu
One measure is mean C/C'. For RD, it is probably close to zero.
For DD, it should be near to 1.
What makes the ability of one
of the millions of citizens to
influence so strong in the IT
system? I'm sure there will be
competition also in the new
system, just like there are
problems in the old system to
make the politicians approve
what one individual proposes
to some of them.
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.
Post by Juho Laatu
(2) Review. For each law that exists in the statute books of the
state, what is the level of consensus among the people? Likewise
for each plan that is executed by the state? Likewise for each
policy that is followed?
One measure is n(c)/n, where n(c) is the number of consensus
norms, and n is the total number of norms. For RD, the quantity
is unknown. It is certainly close to zero. For a mature DD, it
should be close to 1.
In a RD the quantity may be very
different in different societies,
and may also depend heavily on
when and how you ask.
In some societies people may think
that the norms have been agreed
jointly and are worth defending
them and in other societies people
may feel that they were set by
others to support interests that
are not their interests.
In other words, acceptance of positive law, as being legitimate, would
skew the measure and make RD look like DD. So we might worry the
measure is unfair to DD.

However, measurement would amount to a full review of the law, because
we can only obtain n(c) by employing the voting IT, and turning it on
the existing law. Once thematized in this process of review, the law
would lose its mantra of fact, and be judged as just another proposal
(status quo) among a variety of alternative revisions. The value n(c)
would slowly emerge from the voting process. So I think it would be
fair to DD.
Post by Juho Laatu
I note that one reason why countries
have decided to use RD instead of
DD (in its regular meaning) is that
in some cases the representatives
may know better what norms are good
than regular people. DD may also
mean more populism.
(This would come under the topic of possible dangers, given DD.)
Post by Juho Laatu
(III). Assume a business firm, like Google, wins the IT toss. It
then monetizes the user interface with advertisements, in an
attempt to recoup its capital investment, and turn a profit. The
users respond to this by voting up a consensus resolution: "No
more ads, please". How could the firm respond?
Difficult to say. They might say that
voters can not decide on behalf of
private companies. If Google would
not follow the advice it could lose
popularity. If voters would try to
influence the internal matters of
several enterprises that could lead
to thinking that it is not right to
try to influence independent companies
(or e.g. decisions of private people)
using public IT systems.
The latter point can be agreed for practical reasons. The public
decisions of the voters (PD) can easily be ignored, when the voters
have no power to act. In the case of DD, they crucially act in the RD
general elections - OR(f) in eqn b.1. Because of this, the PD that
matters to the politician is that of her *consituents*. (She can
safely ignore all other PD.)

In the case of Google, the equivalent power to act is the ability of
the voters to deliberately *stop* using Google's voting IT, and switch
to another. The IT itself gives them the ability to coordinate. (And
this is an ability that Google's competitors will be keen to
facilitate, wherever possible.) So the PD that matters to a business
firm is the PD of its *customers*. (It can safely ignore all other
PD.)

(More on the scenario, here:

GoogleVotes monopoly vs. JoeVotes ecosystem
http://metagovernment.org/pipermail/start_metagovernment.org/2009-February/thread.html#1189
Post by Juho Laatu
Public IT systems could make campaigns
against companies with unwanted
behaviour more efficient than they are
today since distribution of the idea
would be more efficient.
(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?)
Post by Juho Laatu
Here you diverge from the ideal? IT(p,c) is rather strong. It
IT(p) Anyone can raise a new issue (class of candidates), or an
option of that issue (instance of candidate)
IT(c) If society has the potential of consensus on the issue,
then actual consensus will be expressed - without suppression of
dissent
One problem with IT(p,C) is that there
may be millions of issues to decide. In
this situation the chairman or whoever has
the control may influence on which issues
reach the consensus forming level, or to
keep people in the sate of confusion.
One way to keep the issue space nice and
small would be to focus on voting on issues
that already are on the table in the RD
entities (e.g. seats to fill, law proposals
to approve). But this doesn't cover the (p)
part.
Maybe there should be a special mechanism
that would raise the status of individual
initiatives that are interesting to many so
that eventually they reach also the
attention of those voters that do not
follow all the hundreds of initiatives.
Also in this case the final initiative that
makes the issue popular could come from the
media, chairman, party etc. instead of the
individual that made the initial proposal.
Assume IT(c=delegate cascade), and there are no such problems.
Ideally, people can delegate their initial votes with zero effort -
automating them. So there can be an automatic quorum. This is OK.

If a consensus is possible, it will be hammered out by a relatively
few voters and delegates, those who are most interested or most expert
in the topic. If a consensus emerges, it will be news. As such, it
will mobilize the interest of a much wider set of voters and
delegates, and thus attract their scrutiny. If it nevertheless holds,
it will then become even more newsworthy, and attract even more
attention. And so on... So consensus can form naturally and
independent of authority - a purely unforced consensus. The voting IT
and the public sphere are sufficient for vetting and publicizing the
issues. Mediation by authorities is probably not needed.
Post by Juho Laatu
We can compare the new system also to the
current system with free speech, polls,
letters to the editor, discussion lists in
the Internet etc. It is not too easy to say
what the crucial new thing that makes the
difference is. Maybe the emergence of a
global (or nationally) dominant easy to use
and well organized IT system would make a
difference?
I think the crucial thing is the public awareness (and self-awareness)
that comes of formal assent. Everything hinges on the voting method.
If we give people a method that's as natural and ubiquitous as
speaking, then, like speech, it is a social medium. But the running
sum of individual votes in this medium amounts to a willfully
sustained and self-moderated consensus (or dissensus). In other
words, it amounts to the deliberate voice of a people.

(I don't know if a people ever raised such a voice, before. I don't
know if it spoke for good or ill.)
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2009-01-23 17:03:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
d) voting on laws, too
I read this as allowing individual
voters to vote directly too, without
any proxies between them and the
decisions (on laws and on anything).
Quite OK but I have some concerns
on what will happen in the tax
raise questions. It is possible that
the society would spend more than
save.
One could set some limits on the
number of levels. One could e.g.
allow only proxies with n votes to
vote in certain questions. Use of
hysteresis could help making the
role of proxies of different levels
clear (last minute decisions or
alternative direct and proxy votes
would be more complex).
The proxy systems may allow (also
for other reasons) different proxies
or direct voting to be used for
different questions.
Some idea of what this would lead to can be gathered from states with
initiative and referendum, where the citizenry can force a referendum or
the passing of a law. It seems to work in the United States states that
have them, and also in Switzerland, though the circumstances there are
more complex.

On the other hand, one could argue that the signature requirements to
start the referendum process constitutes a form of hysteresis: because
starting the process requires some effort, the system won't oscillate
wildly.

The real trick is to find the balance between something that oscillates
and something that doesn't respond at all - and that's not a problem
that's particular to politics, but appears in various guises in all
kinds of systems involving feedback. Set the PID controller wrong and
it's off to hunting land...
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Juho Laatu
2009-01-25 08:49:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Kristofer Munsterhjelm
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
d) voting on laws, too
I read this as allowing individual
voters to vote directly too, without
any proxies between them and the
decisions (on laws and on anything).
Quite OK but I have some concerns
on what will happen in the tax
raise questions. It is possible that
the society would spend more than
save.
One could set some limits on the
number of levels. One could e.g.
allow only proxies with n votes to
vote in certain questions. Use of
hysteresis could help making the
role of proxies of different levels
clear (last minute decisions or
alternative direct and proxy votes
would be more complex).
The proxy systems may allow (also
for other reasons) different proxies
or direct voting to be used for
different questions.
Some idea of what this would lead to can be gathered from
states with initiative and referendum, where the citizenry
can force a referendum or the passing of a law. It seems to
work in the United States states that have them, and also in
Switzerland, though the circumstances there are more
complex.
On the other hand, one could argue that the signature
requirements to start the referendum process constitutes a
form of hysteresis: because starting the process requires
some effort, the system won't oscillate wildly.
The real trick is to find the balance between something
that oscillates and something that doesn't respond at
all - and that's not a problem that's particular to
politics, but appears in various guises in all kinds of
systems involving feedback. Set the PID controller wrong and
it's off to hunting land...
Yes, that's the target, to find a balance
where the problems don't destroy the
benefits of the system. That could mean
balancing between representative and
direct democracy, speed of changes,
conditions on when to allow direct
decisions, complexity etc.

Juho









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Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2009-01-18 20:15:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
The general problem is that if there's a way of finding out what a certain
person voted, or whether a certain person voted in a particular way, one
can apply pressure to get that person to vote a desired way (to the one
applying the pressure). That can be simple coercion, be it formal (in
"democratic" countries that aren't fully democratic yet), semi-formal (mob
bosses, or "vote this way or you're fired"), or informal (social pressure).
The coercion is "do it my way or something bad happens" - it can also
easily be changed into "do it my way and something good happens", as with
vote buying.
If coercion is a problem in this case, then it is strictly a social
problem. If the private sphere of individuals, families, employers,
and so forth, is restricting the public communications of individuals
wrongly, in defiance of the norms, then society itself has a problem
in the relations between its private and public spheres.
It is not a problem for a voting medium that functions exclusively in
the public sphere. The purpose of the medium is to accurately mirror
public opinion, and so it must also mirror the distortions, including
those caused by private coercion. If people cannot *speak* their
minds freely, they ought not to *vote* them either. This connection
between speech and voting is especially crucial to a voting system
that is based on communicative assent, as I propose here. It is
essential that the voters, delegates and candidates all be engaged in
mutual discussion. If the votes were not public, then the discussion
would die out, and voter behaviour would cease to be informed by
communicative reason.
You may put it that way, but I think that goes the other direction as
well: if it is true that distortions (by carrot or by stick, e.g
vote-buying or coercion) degrade the public sphere so that one have to
use a secret ballot in ordinary elections, then the distortions will
remain when using a method that relies on public sphere information
(that is, what you call communicative assent), yet the means of masking
that distortion no longer applies, because it's no longer a private
matter of voting, but a public one of discussion.

Or to phrase it in another way: the distortions of action can be called
corruption, since this is really what happens when you're letting the
distortions govern how you act when you're supposed to be acting either
in accordance to your own opinion, or as an agent of someone else. For
obvious reasons, we don't want corruption, and we would seek to minimize
it, but it's still a problem.

The secret ballot came into use to protect voters from the distortion.
Presumably the distortion was real and sufficiently severe to need such
measures. If we remove the protection, the distortion will again be
uncovered. It may be a problem with society, or with the method, but
it'll be there, whatever the cause.
Post by Michael Allan
None of the above applies to traditional voting mechanisms, of the
sort normally discussed here in election-methods. Those mechanisms
are not designed for the public sphere. They are designed for the
private sphere, opening a private communication channel from
individuals to the government. Traditionally, the only communications
that become public are those of the reverse channel, in which the
voters are informed via the mass media, as a passive audience.
Any sort of voter-reconfigurable proxy democracy has the kind of feedback
that enables coercion or vote-buying. ...
Re vote buying: Although the vote is public and compliance may easily
be verified by the buyer, there is no guarantee of *continued*
compliance. The voter may take the money from one side, then shift
her vote and take it from the other. Vote buying is likely to be a
poor investment.
The vote-buying effort would, of course, be a this-for-that endeavor. I
provide money, you provide the vote - I "buy" your vote. After you've
voted, I got what I bought, and I may buy another vote later.

Alternately, it can be continual: for as long as you, as a proxy, mirror
me, I'll pay you. Stop doing it and I stop paying.

In both cases, the vote is the commodity.
Post by Michael Allan
... if the conspirators assume law X has near-majority support, they
can buy the votes of enough to get a majority, and then pay them if
X does indeed pass ...
Such a deferred and contingent payment will be unattractive to someone
who is selling her vote for a few dollars. She probably wants the
money right away. If her payment is contingent on subsequent
administrative action by the government - what the buyer really cares
about - then the delay is apt to be too long. In a legislative
context, for example, the assembly must schedule a separate, in-house
vote. The vote buyer must then engineer a massive shift in public
votes, just prior to the in-house vote. But caveat emptor, because of
i) cost of buying votes in vast numbers;
ii) risk of discovery in such a large operation;
iii) likelihood of the assembly ignoring the vote shift, knowing it
to be a momentary artifact.
Crucial to (iii), public vote shifting for/against the proposed bill
will continue non-stop, even after the assembly accepts or rejects it.
So the assembly members will have ample opportunity to learn from the
public's past voting behaviour, and avoid mis-interpreting it. They
will have ample incentive too, because their seats will be the issue
of public voting in separate polls.
I thought the system would have a deferred direct democracy component,
as others have talked about in previous descriptions of proxy democracy:
that each voter has a vote but can assign it to a proxy. If that's the
case, then though each decision has less value, there are more of them
from which to gather feedback.

I'll grant the part about assembly voting, though I'll note that if an
elected assembly votes, then the composition of that assembly can be
done by using ordinary secret voting, in which case there is no problem.
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Juho Laatu
2009-03-04 20:20:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
... Are there any strong reverse
mechanisms, or blocks, that
Post by Juho Laatu
would be likely to prevent a quorum?
- Having too many too uninteresting
elections
- Having several competing IT systems
- The opposite of novelty, getting
bored with the system
- Involvement of party and other
plotting
- Fights between individuals (e.g. on
whose proposal will be voted on)
- Unclarity and fights on the results
achieved with th IT systems
- Low quality of proposals and
discussions
- Fears related to presenting one's
opinion in a public vote
- Complexity of the system
- Lack of time (maybe people use their
time and IT technology for other
uses
Post by Juho Laatu
like playing games and voting in
reality TV programs)
- Lack of expertise (in many areas the
regular people are not experts and
do
Post by Juho Laatu
not want to start studying the topic
/ proposed norm)
None of these seems a *probable* block. Do you
disagree? Which seems
probable?
Several cents might make a dollar.
There are many small problems that
together may make the system fall
short of the planned ideal state.

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. 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.

(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.)
Post by Michael Allan
Assume single winner. When you say "their own
candidates", you imply
the party has a primary, the membership reaches a decision,
and the
party endorses a particular candidate.
Meanwhile, there's a continuous cross-party primary going
on. We
already premise PD(o), in the question. So we have a
cross-party
primary with a quorum of voters. Any decisive victory
in the primary
will carry over into the general election - the winner
being elected
to office.
You say the party is not opposed to PD(o). So its
members must be
simultaneously voting in the cross-party primary.
They are obedient
to the party (at least initially), and they vote for the
candidate
that was officially endorsed. Between the time of
that endorsement,
and the general election, one of two things will
happen. The endorsed
candidate will either rise or fall in the subsequent
voting.
No matter which, but consider: the party members are voting
*twice*,
in two primaries (party and cross-party). It will be
natural for them
to wish to economize, and to reduce this to a single vote,
in a single
primary. If we follow this line of reasoning, which
the fact of PD(o)
opens up, then I believe we'll have to conclude that party
primaries
are in danger of extinction. What would happen then,
to the parties?
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".

It is not necessary that all party
supporters vote in the party primary,
as long as the party can somehow
nominate its candidate in some
credible way.

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.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
What makes the ability of one
of the millions of citizens to
influence so strong in the IT
system? I'm sure there will be
competition also in the new
system, just like there are
problems in the old system to
make the politicians approve
what one individual proposes
to some of them.
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.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Public IT systems could make campaigns
against companies with unwanted
behaviour more efficient than they are
today since distribution of the idea
would be more efficient.
(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.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
We can compare the new system also to the
current system with free speech, polls,
letters to the editor, discussion lists in
the Internet etc. It is not too easy to say
what the crucial new thing that makes the
difference is. Maybe the emergence of a
global (or nationally) dominant easy to use
and well organized IT system would make a
difference?
I think the crucial thing is the public awareness (and
self-awareness)
that comes of formal assent. Everything hinges on the
voting method.
If we give people a method that's as natural and ubiquitous
as
speaking, then, like speech, it is a social medium.
But the running
sum of individual votes in this medium amounts to a
willfully
sustained and self-moderated consensus (or
dissensus). In other
words, it amounts to the deliberate voice of a people.
I agree that a "free" polling system
that makes use of new capabilities of
the IT would refresh the political and
media space. That system will have very
similar problems in how to make the
voice of the citizens heard as the
current systems have, but the new IT
may help us a bit to bet a new fresher
start on the centuries old questions.

One reason why this kind of new
initiatives are needed is that the
world is getting more global, and the
voice of one individual is getting
smaller at the same speed. Global
processes need global (or national)
balancing voices from the people to
maintain a good balance of different
forces. In a village decisions are
often easy to make (not always). In
big communities we need more formal
methods, or more IT assisted methods
to make the society work well enough.



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).

Juho







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Michael Allan
2009-03-06 18:28:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Juho Laatu
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.)
Post by Juho Laatu
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?
Post by Juho Laatu
...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.)
Post by Juho Laatu
(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.
Post by Juho Laatu
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
Post by Juho Laatu
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.)
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
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.
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
(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

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.)

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.
Post by Juho Laatu
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. 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
http://zelea.com/

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Juho Laatu
2009-03-06 22:52:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
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.
Post by Michael Allan
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.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
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.
Post by Michael Allan
(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.
Post by Michael Allan
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.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
...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
one.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
(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
left.
Post by Michael Allan
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 :-).)
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
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. 
Yes.
Post by Michael Allan
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.
Post by Michael Allan
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
targets.

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
compromises.
Post by Michael Allan
However, this hinges on accepting - at least for sake of
the argument
  (c)  RD + FS + IT  ->  DD
Post by Juho Laatu
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.)
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
I think the crucial thing is visibility of
assent.  In RD, a
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
typical person's assent - agreement to one course
of action, over
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
another - is not visible to other people. 
The IT would make it
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
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.
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
(This is a big topic.  What are the effects
of PD in non-political
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
spheres, such as in the economy, and in
culture?  Translated into
Post by Juho Laatu
Post by Michael Allan
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
  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).
Post by Michael Allan
  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?
Post by Michael Allan
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. => ??
Post by Michael Allan
Post by Juho Laatu
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.
Post by Michael Allan
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.
Post by Michael Allan
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.

Juho
Post by Michael Allan
In
this, however, we have no choice.
--
Michael Allan
Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/
----
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----
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Michael Allan
2009-03-09 01:37:11 UTC
Permalink
[My] 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.
Which brings to mind the itenarary of our discussion:

1. Premise an IT-based DD

2. Discuss its potential consequences

Ideals are the theme of (1), particularly in its design and purpose.
The falling-short of those ideals (and worse) is the theme of (2).
But it's hard for us to reach (2). It's too counter-factual, at this
stage.
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.
Opinion polls are, in many ways, the polar opposites of OP(f) and PD.
They certainly cannot *do* PD - no quorum, no stable consensus, no
public expression, no grassroots initiative. From that perspective,
they are lame. (Their role in RD is to provide feedback on the
effectiveness of propaganda. Parties use them, and business firms
too.)
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.
If you still feel that (1) is unlikely, but wish to discover a reason
for your doubt, then another possible approach is:

1. Premise a DD based on voting IT

1b. Show how it may fail, after the fact

This would also bring us closer to (2), which is where I think the
real failures are likely to occur.

I feel the greatest danger is in the extremity of success. RD has no
defense against DD, because it pretends to be DD. (A trick it learnt
from Robespierre, of all people.) So I worry it will either a) leave
off pretending, or b) collapse, in some mysterious way. Also, the
world has non-RD states. How will they figure in?
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
one.
Square one has a turnout of roughly 50%. Either 50% is the most we
can expect for DD, or we can expect more. No worries, in either case.
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
left.
You exaggerate more than a bit! One could exaggerate in other
directions, and characterize the "considerable interest" of those
local representatives in other terms.

Quite without exaggeration, they have an overriding interest in being
re-elected. Most of their efforts are bent toward that goal. In
this, they are quite unrepresentative.
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.
Looking at it from a distance, I expect it can only win acceptance if
it helps the politicians or parties in their goals of being
re-elected. As the system itself does not change the mechanism of
re-election, it can only afford a better level of control over it.
That usually boils down to manipulating the electorate. (That's not
your intention, but it may follow.)
(If programming was easier and
less time consuming I'd already
be implementing this :-).)
You might find someone who's working on a similar idea, and throw your
efforts into helping them. There's always more needed than technical
programming (as I think you pointed out, in your original post).
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.
I say that it does establish a kind of party system. Moreover, it
will certainly be a super-party system. It will cut across the
boundaries of the traditional parties, because it will include their
nominees. They'll all be included as candidates in the PD(o) primary,
whether they wish to or not. (Rights of free speech allow for this.)

Maybe it's inaccurate to say that the IT primary swallows the parties
whole. It cherry-picks the best parts of them - gobbling up the
delegates and candidates, and siphoning off the members - but leaves
all the rest behind.
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?
There is no need. Neither IT(c=delegate cascade) nor PD(o) requires
the destruction of the party system. If it survives, then I'd be
curious as to how - that's all.

Will it be better? Nobody knows. That's question (2), and it may be
too early to answer.
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
targets.
Que será será. I have no commercial interests, and no axes to grind.
If I'm impatient to know what the future holds, it's only because I'd
rather see it coming, a little in advance - I have a hunch it'll be
better if we all see it coming. (It's like a curve in the road.)
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
compromises.
Again I have argued that such domination is logically impossible. The
voting IT cannot be controlled by a monopoly. They would have to
subvert it, so it was no longer capable of PD. In that case, I'm not
sure what it would be a monopoly of, but it wouldn't be a monopoly of
the IT.
Do you expect that no party like
groupings will be formed by the
representatives in the delegate
cascade system?
No, just as you say, I expect many of them.
(A more dynamic and more fine
grained party structure than the
current monolithic parties could
also be a target.)
That follows, because the cascade is effectively a party system.
Every delegate is a party leader with her own membership of voters.
In a city the size of mine, there might be 100,000 delegates in the
mayoral primary. That means 100,000 parties, most of them tiny
sub-parties, all reflected in the shifting hierarchy of the cascade.
I expect it will out-party anything we've seen before. (But these are
not parties in the modern sense. One could argue they are the
un-doing of the modern parties, and a reversion to ther grass-roots
predecessors.)

That's just for one poll, in one city. It's still unclear how all the
polls might interrelate - e.g. one poll for the Mayor, one for the
Councillor of Ward 20, and one for the bylaw proposed by the Ward's
residents. Each of the three has about 2,000 delegates in a single
Ward, and often a delegate in one poll will be a delegate in another.
Beyond this fact (which the IT will express), there is no formal
connection between the "parties" of one poll, and those of another.
Maybe there is a role here for the traditional parties. (I cannot see
it, yet.)
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.
Sally is my local hero. I vote for her in the mayoral election. But
that's not enough impact for me. So, I'm talking with a neighbour
across the backyard fence, and I say to him, "Hey, why are you voting
for so-and-so? Why don't you vote for Sally?" He is impressed with
my arguments, so he pulls out his cell phone and he votes for Sally.
He does this by voting for me. (There's plenty of scope for impact.
I can have as much as I want.)
You reach a rather uninteresting conclusion.  You seem to not to
  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).
You only go part way. All you get is the status quo on steroids. ;)

PD(product) is qualitatively unlike the status quo. It's more
proactive. The consumers of brand X say, "Do A(X)," where A(X) is
something that affects X. If the equation holds, then the producer
must do A(X). If A(X) is infeasible, the producer may explain this,
and attempt to negotiate a compromise. (Meanwhile, the competitors
are looking on gleefully, and meddling wherever possible.)

(Note: We do not here claim that equation PD -> A holds generally. We
merely assume it, for sake of the question: "What's the
producer/consumer equivalent of DD?")
... 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?
PD(culture) is a much bigger topic, because culture is so broad. The
list of cultural domains is a long one - including art, religion,
science and engineering - and the effects of PD will depend upon the
particular domain. Note however, we are not considering
political/administrative actions on the topic of culture - that comes
under PD(norm) - but rather pure cultural actions, by actors in the
domain.

PD(culture) -> A(culture)

The only cultural domain I have so far considered is a rather narrow
one: PD(utopian vision). The premise is that society collaborates on
the composition of a work of art, expressing a utopian vision of the
future. A tentative consensus is reached on this vision. What then
follows?
I sort of assumed above a new
higher level of citizen level
opinion formation thanks to the
new opportunities offered by IT.
(Sort of, maybe... We demand a full confession, and a signature! ;)
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.
I guess the proof must be in the building of it.

(The term "revolution" cannot have its political meaning here, as
there is no seizure of power. RD is replaced by DD, but the outward
form of RD remains. Moreover, the ideals of RD are more fully
realized. So it cannot be a revolution. The necessary revolutions
occured centuries ago, in England, America and France.)
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521
http://zelea.com/

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Juho Laatu
2009-03-09 19:29:52 UTC
Permalink
  1.  Premise an IT-based DD
  2.  Discuss its potential consequences
Ideals are the theme of (1), particularly in its design and
purpose.
The falling-short of those ideals (and worse) is the theme
of (2).
Post by Juho Laatu
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.
If you still feel that (1) is unlikely, but wish to
discover a reason
  1.  Premise a DD based on voting IT
  1b. Show how it may fail, after the fact
My thinking has been that there
is a tendency towards 1 (thanks
to the new IT). A full-blown
revolution that meets all the
ideal targets is less probable.

The reason is that I haven't
yet seen revolutions or renewals
that would meet all their ideal
targets. Politics is also a game
with many strong ambitions and
interests, which makes it likely
that there are people with
interest to stay in power, to
resist change, and to change to
resist.
This would also bring us closer to (2), which is where I
think the
real failures are likely to occur.
You can count many of my concerns
to belong also in 2.
I feel the greatest danger is in the extremity of
success.  RD has no
defense against DD, because it pretends to be DD. 
(A trick it learnt
from Robespierre, of all people.)
Yes, this is a true risk. But
legacy and fixed patterns in the
minds of people are strong.
So I worry it will
either a) leave
off pretending, or b) collapse, in some mysterious
way. 
Also "c) renewal to the extent
necessary to stay in power" is
possible.
Also, the
world has non-RD states.  How will they figure in?
I see the battle of reaching some
kind of democracy/RD in most cases
as a separate (more fundamental)
fight. Mostly the show stoppers
are very basic stuff like guns and
strong position of the current
non-RD leaders. (One could expect
also stronger support from the
current RDs.)
Quite without exaggeration, they have an overriding
interest in being
re-elected.  Most of their efforts are bent toward
that goal.  In
this, they are quite unrepresentative.
I think any system with
continuity in representation has
this kind of tendencies among the
representatives. Electing fresh
random representatives would
avoid this problem.
Post by Juho Laatu
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.
Looking at it from a distance, I expect it can only win
acceptance if
it helps the politicians or parties in their goals of
being
re-elected. 
It offers the low level
politicians (i.e. people that
can be said to be almost
regular citizens) more power.
As the system itself does not change the
mechanism of
re-election, it can only afford a better level of control
over it.
That usually boils down to manipulating the
electorate.  (That's not
your intention, but it may follow.)
Yes, manipulation of the
electorate remains. Allocating
more power at the local level may
reduce the level and success rate
of manipulation..
It will cut
across the
boundaries of the traditional parties
Later I also asked if there is
a need to break the existing
structures. Actually I think
that most current democracies
(the most stable ones) would
benefit of a more flexible
an fine-grained ideological
structure.
The only cultural domain I have so far considered is a
rather narrow
one: PD(utopian vision).  The premise is that society
collaborates on
the composition of a work of art, expressing a utopian
vision of the
future.  A tentative consensus is reached on this
vision.  What then
follows?
This sounds like the "research
segment" of the "culture". Maybe
this segment resembles strongly
political decision making but
with many possible theories and
with no concrete actions yet
(except research itself).

Btw, I'd like politics to evolve
in a direction where one would
make more statements about the
planned direction in the future.
This would be somewhere between
research and political decisions.
This could make the political
system more flexible/dynamic in
the same way as flexibility in
the party/section structure
would. This would be an attempt
to the master long term
developments better than the
current systems do.
(The term "revolution" cannot have its political meaning
here, as
there is no seizure of power.  RD is replaced by DD,
but the outward
form of RD remains.  Moreover, the ideals of RD are
more fully
realized.  So it cannot be a revolution.  The
necessary revolutions
occured centuries ago, in England, America and France.)
If democracy is defined as a
system where people can make the
change when they seriously so
want, then democracies do not
need revolutions any more.

(except if one fancies leading and
ruling and revolutionary elite
groups like in fascism, communism
and other ideologies that consider
themselves to be "morally above
the others")

Juho








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