Re: virus: Attn: Long Post Pt. 1 (was: Virian council)

Eric Boyd (
Sun, 27 Jun 1999 17:56:06 -0400


I am stunned by the length of your post -- certainly the longest email I've ever read!

I have several major comments.

Major point #1:
A few days ago David introduced me to Nomic -- a game which basically "simulates" politics. I *highly* recommend that you check it out, if you haven't, as it provides the prefect test bed for your ideas here.

I am even seriously thinking that we Virians should start up a game of Nomic, based on a minimal rule set, in order to create a future political system that could be implemented. We even have a list
("virus-game") which could be used for the purpose.

Nomic FAQ

The rules of Garden Nomic: (just an example)

The rules of Pumpkin Patch Nomic (another example)

There are lots of games of nomic out there with an evolved rule set -- perhaps it would be instructive for you to read them to see what *has* evolved. Most begin with democratic rule sets, but there are Imperial versions.

Major Point #2:
You seem to think that the final 'stable' point in the evolutation of the political system will necessairly be the best point. In fact, it isn't -- it is, instead, the Evolutationary Stable Strategy (ESS). A common example of how this isn't the best point is the hawk/dove analysis, in which it's clear a-priori that an all dove population is best, but (of course) such a strategy is not stable, in that there is vast benefit for any single hawk which emerges. So what's results is a mixture of hawk and dove strategies in the population, with the exact balance dependent on the prizes attached to each outcome. In a rational world, a political system such as you describe would hopefully emerge with the 'best' solution, but in practice, I suspect we will find it ends up at the ESS.

Major Point #3:
I know you address this (and said it's a major problem), but I just want to point out again that motivated special interest groups can and will claim massive amounts of control. Much effort was spent in constructing the US gov. to avoid the 'tyranny of the majority', and, what with voter apathy, these same rules now help to safe guard against vocal special interests. As I see it, much of the time spent on your proposed system would be spent continuously shooting down these special interest groups -- e.g. citizens of the state actually have to seriously go out of their way to prevent the vocal 20% (or whatever) from enacting terrible laws. It would be a huge waste of time -- at least with a representative gov. we don't have to spend our time voting against such silly things.

In a worse way, though, the system really does need a mechanism to prevent an actual tryanny of the majority -- and this mechanism has itself to be immune to such a tryanny. (i.e. the system *has* to be limited in certain ways)

Major Point #4:
I don't know if you were around when I advanced something like this about a year ago, but you've clearly thought about it a little more than I did. However, I have one idea that might be helpful.

It was this: this many people are too busy or too apathetic to participate in politics on the kind of scale that would be needed here
(and since if *everybody* participated, totally, the volume of changes
would be too great to manage),
it makes sense to have some kind of system whereby individual can 'give' their vote to another (at least temporairly). While this might begin with giving your vote to a close friend whos opinions you agree with, it could *end* with 'professional politicians', who spend all of their time working at politics, and have literally thousands of votes given to them. The advantage of this system over the representation we have now would be that

(a) you can always vote your own vote if you want
(b) you can change who represents you at any time (rather than every
four years...)
(c) you still have the right (responsibility?) to propose legislation,
if you so desire.

I don't know whether you'd see parties emerge, but I do suspect you'd see that a dynamic (ever changing) group of individuals would control the government -- and since every vote is given voluntairy, there is no chance that this group does not represent the people. (e.g. if people thought that the group was behaving incorrectly, votes would be "ungiven" and their power would quicklly collapse)

It would be quite possible to make these 'professional politicians' have a salary, if that was needed -- simply institute a rule which says that anyone voting over X votes is intitled to Y monies from the gov.

The advantages of this system over a pure 'one vote each' are numerous, but most have to do with the fact that the proposals made by these people will tend to have higher quality, and will also have a person dedicated to them in a way that the average Jill (becuase she has another job) could not be.

I think the best part of such a system is that it brings us back again to a Kinocracy.

That's about all the point on the tip of my tongue, but more may occur to me later...