Author Topic: E-Democracy  (Read 77687 times)

Jasper

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #315 on: July 24, 2010, 04:33:40 am »
I'm interested in the underlying beliefs in the different sides.  CU seems to think that citizens can make the best legislative decision for themselves, and opposition seems to think that e-democracy isn't feasible because popular whim falls short of sensible governance.

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #316 on: July 24, 2010, 04:52:02 am »
Maybe we should look to history to decide that question.

Captain Utopia

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #317 on: July 24, 2010, 06:31:42 am »
Why don't you summarize a situation in statements about forces and motivations and I'll evaluate those? But YES, I will evaluate based upon historical evidence (ie shit that's already happened) because no one, even you, can evaluate rationally based upon anything else. Bayesian reasoning requires priors to calculate a resultant, and those priors are not pulled out of thin air. Otherwise the chance of them actually correlating to reality is a coin toss, zero knowledge and zero ability to anticipate reality.

And don't tell me you can do away with priors when predicting reality, because that will be an outright lie.

Okay, thanks - let's run with RWHN's concern about fluidity - voters changing their minds too frequently, as with in his experience in Maine with a referendum one year which spawns another the next designed to cancel it out.  And let's start with his example - a population takes a law off the books regarding headlights and windscreen washers, an accident results and they then seek to re-implement it as soon as possible.

I think that example is entirely plausible under an e-democracy system.  The main question I'm trying to answer is how many times will similar problems crop up in a population over time - does the frequency stay high, does it increase or decrease significantly?

Does an incident, such as that, provide any motivation to consider future issues more carefully?
  If so, is the level of that motivation proportional to the disaster/observed problem?

Do the actors in such a population have a motivation to avoid the fluidity problem, with legislation swinging from one extreme to the next?
  If so, does that motivation marginalise partisanship or increase it?

Would the implementation of such a system increase or decrease the quantity of political/civic discussion in a population?
  Would the quality be affected, if so, how?

Over time, would participation in such a system increase or decrease the amount of responsibility an individual felt about the power of their vote?
  If it's increased, does that make an individual more or less likely to change their mind when confronted with convincing evidence?

AFK

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #318 on: July 24, 2010, 12:43:31 pm »
So, calling your congressman is too antiquated?

Compared with having a direct impact on events from your phone or computer, yes, definitely.

Funny story.  So we have an alcohol enforcement officer here in my community.  A big chunk of his salary was coming from the state office of substance abuse.  they announced that funding was shriveling like a prune.  We discovered we weren't going to have enough money to pay for the officer.  We contacted our state senator, told her the story.  Through the magic of the legislation process, she found a pot of money to funnel to the police department so that work could continue.  Want to take a guess at how long all that took? 

I not saying that all old is bad and all new is good.  Certainly, I expect the kind of interaction you describe happens all the time.

So why do you want to turn it on its ear?  The problem isn't the system.  The problem is the people using, or not using, the system.  Your socialogical experiment may or may not change the mindset of some people, but at what cost?  That's why I say, and will stand firm on this, your eneregy is much better spent designing programs and initiatives to mobilize people.  To get them to be more engaged.  You are making a huge assumption that just because it is online and people get to vote more often, tht this is somehow going to make them more active.  And then I really think you are copping out by putting in this proxy idea.  So that the people who don't want to to vote just give up their vote to someone else.  The corruption issues aside, that would tend to breed more apathy.  Plus, I can just see people scalping their votes.  More corruption.
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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #319 on: July 24, 2010, 12:48:11 pm »
My interpretation of this is he is essentially taking the referendum process, or citizens initiative process that exists in most states, and putting it on speed.  So instead of putting questions and proposals on ballots every November.  They go up at will whenever some group decides a law needs to be changed, added, or repealed. 

So if pd.com was the community:  I want to repeal the 50-post rule.  I post something that says so.  The majority agrees and then it is passed.  2 months later, you decide that is bullshit and want to put it back.  You post something, and we go through it again.  Wash, rinse, repeat....CU, feel free to correct me where I am off but that is how I'm reading what you are selling. 

Yes - that's about it.

But how many times would something like that have to happen before we, as a group, start wanting to find a way more thoroughly explore issues before deciding upon them?  How long before it becomes obvious to all of the participants.

It's a game-design issue -- you're free to implement a freedom, if there is an oppositional factor which will limit the scope for abuse.


Again.  IN a small internet community that may work.  But when you are talking about the entire population of New York City, or the entire population of New York State, or the entire population of the USA, it becomes a whole different animal.  The kind of consensus you are imagining would be very, very difficult, if not impossible, with a group that large.  Tragedy of the Commons.  There wouldn't be sufficient impetus for wanting to change the system.  Especially if the policy changes are going their way. 
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AFK

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #320 on: July 24, 2010, 12:53:14 pm »
Please see my last response to RWHN for a more complete examination of this issue.  To summarise - the question is not whether taking a populations training-wheels off with regards its own destiny will change that population, but what will change and how.  While I anticipate a lot of scraped knees, I think it is improbable that we won't learn something.  I think we will learn how to better ride the bicycle of rationality.  The hyper-connectivity our networks now provide is something entirely new to our species.  It has already changed how we interact with each other.  It will continue to do so.

In this environment history is not the best indicator of future performance.

The way you are summarizing this it just sounds like your interest in this model is as a sociological experiment.  Any thought and deliberation that goes into a new way to do policy should be more measured and considered for the impacts it is likely to have on the citizenry.  Not an attitude of "well some people will get screwed, but that's okay because it's new and cool and it might work it's way out."  That's bullshit. 

I really think you are showing your lack of experience here.  Not only with a public policy system you have never been a part of, but with the actual people this will impact and those it will leave behind.  Maybe this would work in the Canadian system you are more familiar with.  Perhaps you should take this to Reality Check and see how that works out. 
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Cain

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #321 on: July 24, 2010, 01:18:33 pm »
There is a very basic problem with all of this, which is expecting people to act rationally in a society which punishes and sidelines those who do it.

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #322 on: July 24, 2010, 01:53:12 pm »
I'm interested in the underlying beliefs in the different sides.  CU seems to think that citizens can make the best legislative decision for themselves, and opposition seems to think that e-democracy isn't feasible because popular whim falls short of sensible governance.

Societies and communities are very complex.  They have very complex issues.  Sometimes an issue has a simple solution.  Kids in neighborhood A have nothing to do after school.  There is an empty lot in neighborhood A.  Let's build a playground.  Done.  Though, even there, I would argue there are layers that not every citizen is going to be able to understand.  Such as all the regulations around property, zoning, traffic flow around the location, etc.  But then there are the really complex issues.  Medical marijuana.  As someone who is involved both in public policy and substance abuse prevention, I can attest at just how complex this issue is for those of us with the education, background, and knowledge.  I can't begin to imagine how your average citizen could give an informed opinion on this issue.  And it's all the more reason you don't want a structure in place where initiatives can come up for vote at will.  I would argue the average citizen wouldn't have enough time to do the proper research into the issue to give an educated opinion.  Certainly, that is an issue we have currently.  But I think it is better to have a predictable, yearly time frame compared to a haphazard process where an issue may come up 2 months from now, 2 years from now, or 2 weeks from now. 

I also think that there has to be some level of expertise present when it comes to making policy.  Again, because of the complexity of issues and how they entwine with other issues and laws.  So it's not only that it wouldn't be sensible, I think on balance it would be less informed. 
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Jasper

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #323 on: July 24, 2010, 03:49:20 pm »
So why don't we have more focus on representatives who are above all else, knowledgeable and up-to-date on things, rather than reps who, above all else, adhere to a nebulous political faction?

Captain Utopia

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #324 on: July 24, 2010, 04:21:08 pm »
Funny story.  So we have an alcohol enforcement officer here in my community.  A big chunk of his salary was coming from the state office of substance abuse.  they announced that funding was shriveling like a prune.  We discovered we weren't going to have enough money to pay for the officer.  We contacted our state senator, told her the story.  Through the magic of the legislation process, she found a pot of money to funnel to the police department so that work could continue.  Want to take a guess at how long all that took? 

I not saying that all old is bad and all new is good.  Certainly, I expect the kind of interaction you describe happens all the time.

So why do you want to turn it on its ear?

I don't.  Two paragraphs later I explain why I think it would be awesome that people with connections could still use them, while bringing some of that utility to a wider audience.


The problem isn't the system.  The problem is the people using, or not using, the system.  Your socialogical experiment may or may not change the mindset of some people, but at what cost?

Please see my last response to Kai.


That's why I say, and will stand firm on this, your eneregy is much better spent designing programs and initiatives to mobilize people.  To get them to be more engaged. 

The current system is designed to limit decision making privileges to monied external forces while creating a pleasant illusion of control for the electorate.  The current system is designed to extract the maximum amount of milk from a docile herd.

Without fundamental changes to that equation, nothing will change.

Programs and initiatives within a rigged game may score minor victories, but those concessions are meaningless to the bigger picture and the larger trends, neither of which the people have any say in.


You are making a huge assumption that just because it is online and people get to vote more often, tht this is somehow going to make them more active.

Why is that a huge assumption, and not just obvious?


And then I really think you are copping out by putting in this proxy idea.  So that the people who don't want to to vote just give up their vote to someone else.

That is a misrepresentation.  Proxy-voting would work in two distinct ways - either you proxy your entire vote, or you identify specific types of issues for which you think an acquaintance in your social network or a known leader could make a better decision than yourself.

It would be rare to proxy your entire vote, even children playing with the system would be unlikely to proxy their vote to their parents for very long.


The corruption issues aside, that would tend to breed more apathy.  Plus, I can just see people scalping their votes.  More corruption.

Take Health Care reform.  In 2009, $1.4 billion was spent in lobbying.  So let's see roughly what the average bribe would be if you instead spent that money trying to convince half the population of the US to sell their vote.

  $1,400,000,000 / (307,006,550 / 2) = $9.12

Nine dollars and twelve cents.  For every person who would demand $20, you'd need to find two willing to accept $5.  But since every vote is equal, once word got out that some people were getting $20, it'd become a sellers market.  Anyone who accepted less would increase the pot for the remainder.

Open Secrets pegs the total amount spent on lobbying in 2009 as $3.49 billion -- healthcare was an extraordinary single chunk of that.  So for regular day-to-day voting issues, the pot would be much smaller.  In fact, this is how much an average American could expect to make in bribes in such a system:

  $3,490,000,000 / 307,006,550 = $11.37

Do you really believe that corruption would be a big issue?


Would having smaller issues to vote upon increase or decrease the motivation to corrupt the system?

Would having smaller issues to vote upon increase or decrease the number of people who hold that motivation?

Even if selling your vote was made legal - improbable, but I'll grant possible - could such an enterprise be pulled off without it becoming public knowledge?
  Would selling your vote be stigma neutral?


Anyway, I've answered a lot of your questions - can you have a go with these?

Captain Utopia

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #325 on: July 24, 2010, 04:32:30 pm »
There is a very basic problem with all of this, which is expecting people to act rationally in a society which punishes and sidelines those who do it.

Sure - but I don't expect society to remain static.  I expect society would be changed by such a system.  The question is how, and I'm trying to use the motivations of the stakeholders to determine which outcome is most likely.


So why don't we have more focus on representatives who are above all else, knowledgeable and up-to-date on things, rather than reps who, above all else, adhere to a nebulous political faction?

That would be great, but how do you do that in a rigged game, and when the population is so detached from the political process that they don't care enough about the difference.

Is Alan Grayson awesome?  Hell yes!  Is he one of the most knowledgeable representatives in congress, or is his value in the zingers he delivers and the causes he supports?  Err...

Cain

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #326 on: July 24, 2010, 06:02:44 pm »
So why don't we have more focus on representatives who are above all else, knowledgeable and up-to-date on things, rather than reps who, above all else, adhere to a nebulous political faction?

Technocrats tend to be, above and beyond the average person, intensely political and rather prone to secrecy.

Which in fact describes the status quo rather nicely (Voltaire's Bastards is an excellent book on this topic)

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #327 on: July 24, 2010, 06:21:48 pm »
What about a mixture?  Technocrats who must work with community types?  The problem seems more intractable the more I think about it.

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #328 on: July 24, 2010, 06:32:39 pm »
Why don't you summarize a situation in statements about forces and motivations and I'll evaluate those? But YES, I will evaluate based upon historical evidence (ie shit that's already happened) because no one, even you, can evaluate rationally based upon anything else. Bayesian reasoning requires priors to calculate a resultant, and those priors are not pulled out of thin air. Otherwise the chance of them actually correlating to reality is a coin toss, zero knowledge and zero ability to anticipate reality.

And don't tell me you can do away with priors when predicting reality, because that will be an outright lie.

Okay, thanks - let's run with RWHN's concern about fluidity - voters changing their minds too frequently, as with in his experience in Maine with a referendum one year which spawns another the next designed to cancel it out.  And let's start with his example - a population takes a law off the books regarding headlights and windscreen washers, an accident results and they then seek to re-implement it as soon as possible.

First, what informs you that people would seek to reimplement it as soon as possible? What historical precedent is there for people rationally correcting a mistake given the opportunity? How often, how regularly, do people correct simple mistakes given the opportunity. I think you will find that the answer is "not often". Under such a system as e-democracy the lack of participation would be as low as it is now, and you have no evidence to show people would actually participate more AND show more informed decisions. When we look around the Internet, the same issues of tribalism and irrationality are just as definite as they are outside the internet.

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I think that example is entirely plausible under an e-democracy system.  The main question I'm trying to answer is how many times will similar problems crop up in a population over time - does the frequency stay high, does it increase or decrease significantly?

Given the propensity of humans to make quick irrational decisions based upon minimal evidence, this frequency will stay high.

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Does an incident, such as that, provide any motivation to consider future issues more carefully?

This assumes humans will actually learn from mistakes on a higher proportion than they fail to learn from their mistakes.
 
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If so, is the level of that motivation proportional to the disaster/observed problem?

The level of motivation is proportional to the observed problem, but, that does not mean people would make informed rational decisions instead of irrational instantaneous decisions made in panic.

Quote
Do the actors in such a population have a motivation to avoid the fluidity problem, with legislation swinging from one extreme to the next?
  If so, does that motivation marginalise partisanship or increase it?

Quote
Would the implementation of such a system increase or decrease the quantity of political/civic discussion in a population?
  Would the quality be affected, if so, how?

Yes, to the former and no to the latter. The quality of discussion would be the same as always. People do not "get smarter" just because of a new software system.

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Over time, would participation in such a system increase or decrease the amount of responsibility an individual felt about the power of their vote?

Everyone votes for the president. You tell me how powerful that makes the average individual feel.
 
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If it's increased, does that make an individual more or less likely to change their mind when confronted with convincing evidence?

It won't be increased. In fact, the level of power may be greatly DECREASED, because every vote can be easily overrided by two others. Look at what happened in California with Prop 8.
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Captain Utopia

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Re: E-Democracy
« Reply #329 on: July 24, 2010, 08:32:43 pm »
Why don't you summarize a situation in statements about forces and motivations and I'll evaluate those? But YES, I will evaluate based upon historical evidence (ie shit that's already happened) because no one, even you, can evaluate rationally based upon anything else. Bayesian reasoning requires priors to calculate a resultant, and those priors are not pulled out of thin air. Otherwise the chance of them actually correlating to reality is a coin toss, zero knowledge and zero ability to anticipate reality.

And don't tell me you can do away with priors when predicting reality, because that will be an outright lie.

Okay, thanks - let's run with RWHN's concern about fluidity - voters changing their minds too frequently, as with in his experience in Maine with a referendum one year which spawns another the next designed to cancel it out.  And let's start with his example - a population takes a law off the books regarding headlights and windscreen washers, an accident results and they then seek to re-implement it as soon as possible.

First, what informs you that people would seek to reimplement it as soon as possible? What historical precedent is there for people rationally correcting a mistake given the opportunity? How often, how regularly, do people correct simple mistakes given the opportunity. I think you will find that the answer is "not often".

It was RWHN's example, not mine.  I don't think he was stressing rationality as being behind the rapid switches.

I'm glad we were able to come to an agreement on the outcome of the fluidity issue.