Thursday, November 01, 2012

States and Nations 3.0: Expert system enhanced democracy

Cyberdemocracy is still a concept that is very much under development. Proposed models for the use of cybernetic systems in governance run from setups in which citizens vote directly on important issues via specialized networks, to political schemes in which human involvement and democracy as most people understand it is minimal. Expert system enhanced democracy is a term that covers a broad  array of potential political setups on this spectrum.

At one extreme of expert system democracy, elected officials implement plans generated by AIs or expert systems to solve problems as they arise -- or even beforehand, if the systems' ability to model real world events outstrip that of human beings. So far in the real world, expert systems have lagged well behind humans in performance when it comes to diagnosing problems and generating solutions. Which is no great surprise given that it was only this year that we finally modeled an organism down to the molecular level, and that creature happens to be the simplest known single cell bacterium on the planet. However, with Moore's law showing no signs of stopping; with laptops holding the processing power of a human brain on the twenty year horizon; and super computers gaining the ability to model complex real world systems, this is a scenario deserving of serious consideration.

There are also variations of this political system, which impart increased degrees of control to human beings. In one, elected representatives prioritize implementation of expert system generated solutions based their own priorities or ideologies, rather than following a machine-generated order of execution. Another kink has solution implementations prioritized by civics network upvoting on the part of ordinary citizens.

In another step down with greater human control, problems are addressed after being chosen by elected representatives or through direct referendums. Only then do expert systems model the issue and generate a solution. In still another model, citizens are randomly chosen to serve a set term of office, and assisted by expert adviser systems in carrying out their duties.

Doing away with the law - Constitution as source code


Under these political systems, law as we know it might cease to exist. In its place, a series of vastly simpler guidelines would  shape the output of expert systems. A kind of DNA of basic rights and responsibilities used to generate complex arrays of dynamic responses. This could serve as a mechanism for rebooting legal systems that have become so choked by statutes that even mundane business tasks require consulting a lawyer.

Of course the decision to reboot a legal system in the real world is normally a dramatic one involving revolutions, or in the past, founding new, remote settlements. Tomorrow we'll look at some of those conditions  in a science fiction context, as well as at social network driven democracy.

Next: Social Network Democracy 

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