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

Dan Plante (
Mon, 28 Jun 1999 11:42:44 -0700

At 05:56 PM 27/06/99 -0400 Eric Boyd wrote:

>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.

Thanks, Eric. I followed the links you provided. Actually, this is loosely similar in form, but profoundly different in function. It suffers from the same ailment as the "committee" analogy, that was dealt with in the preceding post: it isn't "anchored" by a strong, stable "motivational complex". In other words, the effective feedback loop from which all emergent properties arise, doesn't exist in those two examples. Each and every "decision node" MUST bear the full and direct consequences of the decisions, or it's not a real feedback loop. The consequences for each decision maker must be significant and unavoidable.

>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.

Yes, by its very nature. Unavoidably so.

>In fact, it
>isn't -- it is, instead, the Evolutationary Stable Strategy (ESS).

It would, in fact, be both.

>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.

Again, this is a flawed analogy. It assumes that, because the "flock-of-doves-organism" doesn't have an intrinsic feature that constantly and potently selects against "hawkish" behaviour and weeds out "hawks", that the proposed system will necessarily be the same, and that's simply not the case. It is the very "flat and broad base" of the power distribution, as well as the "flat and broad base" of the idea input, etc (which is guarded by very few, immutable rules), that projects forward to produce the increases in cultural power and dynamics, which then feedback to reward the very same aspects that gave rise to it. It is the flatness of the base itself that defines the characteristics of the emergent culture that positively reinforces or accentuates the flatness, and negatively reinforces or suppresses the deviations from flatness. See the comments in my previous post about the emergence of multicellular organisms. Your body's cells work the same way. Although they have differentiated (added a stack of laws onto the basic rules), they still carry out the same simple rules as a "pact" with your body as a whole: they are all equally protected and satiated with nutrients, and as a result, make your body to operate at a very high level of effectiveness and efficiency.

>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.

Actually, I said that the media and the larger member sizes were the two biggest problems. Maybe you were misattributing the quotes from Carl? Anyway, special interest groups will not be able to hold sway. I explained why in some detail, but perhaps a different way of thinkning about things prevents me from relating ideas in a way that "resonates" well enough to project the desired meaning. Maybe if you give me a specific example of a sequence of events, I can show you why it won't matter?

>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.

The problem with the US constitution, as I see it, is twofold:

  1. It's too complex AND undifferentiated. The few truly fundamental and critical aspects are lumped in with the rest of the ammendable rules, which undermines the integrity of the very aspects of the document that gave the culture its original potency and dynamism.
  2. It has an ammending formula. This is inextricably tied in with the fact that the constitution was too complex and undifferentiated at the outset, but, in essence, the problem is that there is no truly defining set of simple rules (making the culture what it is) that *isn't* safe from ammendment, and eventual undermining of the critical aspects of the culture.

To be perfectly fair though, they didn't have the means to implement the proposed system back then.

>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.

How could 20% of the voting members pass anything that required, say, 70% of voting members to pass it (unless your'e under the impression that I meant 70% of whatever group of people bothers to vote)?

>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)

This is handled by human nature (which the particular dynamics of the system actually takes advantage of). Say 72% of the population outlaw abortion. That's bad for the other 28%. Then, another mix of 72% of the population outlaw liquor. Another baddie. Then another mix of 72% of the population outlaw cigarettes. Then another 72% outlaws gay relationships. Then another 72% outlaw gun ownership. Life is really starting to suck for a greater and greater combined percentage of the population, until all the "disenfranchised" 28%'s start to add up to a majority 66% (or whatever) and start retracting these laws, saying "Enough, already! It's abvious we'll have to agree to cut each other a LOT of slack, or it very quickly (remember the short "bio-feedback" time constant?) starts to turn around and bite almost *everyone* in the ass". The point is, sooner rather than later, a large majority is formed of previously tyranical voters who have been the target of one or more of a different majority's tyranny, and get the message that they can't do that with impunity anymore. And they get the message quickly, before the passage of time blurs the causality of it all. This is the essence of the survival value of bio-feedback in organisms. If you stubbed your toe on a table leg, and didn't feel it until you were playing soccer two hours later, you wouldn't be able to discern causality effectively enough to prevent you from killing yourself. It's very time-dependant, and, to be as short as possible, you need to cut out all the middle-men.

>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

The dynamics of the system *forces* apathy out of people in the same way that it *forces* them to tolerate minority opinions, as in the example above.

>(and since if *everybody* participated, totally, the volume of changes
>would be too great to manage),

No, not really. Once the systemic paradigm has established itself near its set-point (long before it would ever be adopted on a large (i.e. national) scale, the amount of legislative activity would have slowed to a bare trickle, partly for the reasons given above, and partly for other reasons. People would already be familiar with the individual behaviour required by a workable set-point long before it got to that level. News media, word of mouth, etc.

>it makes sense to have some kind of
>system whereby individual can 'give' their vote to another (at least

A non-starter. Concentration of individual political power is exactly what the current system is suffering from (since it is embodied in the motivations of single individuals), and exactly what the proposed system is designed to redress.

>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
>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.

This is actually quite interesting, and it seems to me that it would manifest a damn-sight better dynamic than the current one. As a matter of fact, I could see this as a workable incremental step toward the system I suggested. We are already headed in that direction anyway (politicians "governing by poll", and all that). As I said, it's inevitable, sooner or later. The only thing that would need to change for your proposal, though, is that instead of the polls being "push", they become "pull". In other words, instead of polling companies geared to single issues and feeding voters their own questions, poll sites on the net accumulate multiple-issue opinion-maps of larger and larger percentages of the population (building what would become, as I suggested, an inverted bell curve), until it becomes obvious to everyone when a politician is acting contrary to the "collective will" of the voting public. Once this paradigm is established and people get used to thinking in these terms, it becomes a very small conceptual and emotional leap to "delete the middle-man", redundant as he would then seem by then.

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

Could you supply me with a link to a good description of "Kinocracy"?

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