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Electracy: Evil Revisited

Buried in my latest delirious rant were multiple *pragmatic*
descriptions of Electronic Democracy, and to my great chagrin all have
been virtually completely ignored, save one thoughtful soul responding
to me in email, who I've exhorted to post to the list. Where is the
picking apart of the pieces? I expected the highly suggestive details
to be pounced on like scrumptious food for further thought or (more
likely) carrion for vultures, but instead get the standard vague
marshmallow-philosophical Libertarian and Anarchic Promotional Literature.

I'm really quite amazed at all the deathly pessimism and antipathy
herein toward genuinely improving our governmental system. It seems
that many believe that the natural state of `their' government is
oppression, and that the goal is only to minimize it. The perverted
Majority is fundamentally and invariably Untrustworthy, Capricious, and
Painfully Stupid.  It is always stated in terms of Us and They. But
*we* *are* our government. How can it not be more obvious? What does it
say about our character if we are resigned to deprivation?

As I've already stated, the future will hold many developments that
will gradually shift opinion, and give working models that won't be
subject to immediate ridicule and vague philosophical ramblings about
Inherent Evil. It seems everyone here is interested in debating the
issue in terms of how they see government, how it has functioned in the
past, *irrespective* of any novel mechanisms presented (which I took
great pains to put on the table, to specifically address virtually all
objections, with the same dramatic effect of shouting at a chasm).

I've written about this in the past, and will write about it in the
future, but for now I'm going to focus on a comment by N. Szabo
<[email protected]>, to elaborate on an earlier item everyone conveniently ignores:

[electronic democracy (electrocracy? electracy?)]
>* A basic problem with E.D. is that nobody has an
>incentive to vote correctly.  People's political opinions
>can be as stupid and wrong as can be and it won't have any
>negative impact on their own lives, or at least none that 
>is disproportionate or easily recognized to be a result decisions
>based on that opinion.  Other people might have great opinions, which 
>if implemented would solve world hunger, clean up the environment, 
>grow the economy, etc. etc.  but there is no special benefit to these 
>people for having done their altruistic homework and arrived at effective 
>solutions to these problems.

Here are some ideas that my lone anonymous respondent picked up on, but
that I've been taking as obvious and given, perhaps because I've
thought about it for a long time, and overestimated the imagination of
the reader (quite unexpected in this crowd).  To make this more
specific and tangible, consider a system where people can choose to
vote non-anonymously (choosing to vote anonymously is of course always
permitted). Now suppose that a `vote' is not something static but
rather a pledge of support for a proposal that can vary over time. That
is, one can revoke or increase support of a proposal over its entire
lifetime, not at an instantaneous blip in a curtained booth. 

Further, imagine that people can propose different categories for bills
such as National, Local, Environmental, Law Enforcement, Infrastructure
Maintenance, National Information Infrastructure, Unemployed
Programmers, etc. ad infinitum ad nauseam. When a bill is created the
creator suggests the category. Categories are created and deleted by
anyone. Others can propose the same bill in a different category if
they think it merits it. People can refuse to vote on bills or against
them based on the classification.

Now imagine that everone has Status or Credit associated with their
votes in any category. Under certain circumstances, with a certain
amount of global support or combination of support based on tabulation
of votes and the status (weight) associated with each, a bill becomes
Law. The requirements for a bill to become National Law are themselves
subject to modification but of course eventually stabilize (a bill to
modify the current voting system itself can be introduced under the
system). However, a whole set of different characteristics can be
associated with bills that become Laws in each category (again subject
to modification), and many less `formal' laws can be passed with less
constriction in smaller spheres. When a new category is proposed under
the system itself, the presenter also indicates that `status formula'
associated with it.

The status or `credit' is such that it can be impacted in various ways.
If one consistently voted for bills in a category who declined in
support, one's status in that realm would be diminished by intrinsic
mechanisms (remember, a `vote' is dynamic and can change over time
based on the owner's `maintenance'). Note that this can be done even
with an anonymous voting record by an automated but concealed system. 
Also, there might be a way that people can trade their status to others
whom they admire or respect in that category, based on past experience
or their non-anonymous voting record. The status of people might become
closely associated with not just their proposals of bills but their
successful *real* implementation of them.  Under this system, the
status becomes very much like a currency system! The `status' itself of
people may be advertised or hidden for further effect. (``How much is
he worth, anyway?'')

In fact, it is not really the case that this system sounds like today's
currency, it is the case that our monetary system is actually a very
small microcosm of this future Electronic Democracy. Look at all the
synonyms associated with money: Power. Status. Influence. Money is the
economy's built-in `voting mechanism'. It is an abstraction that, when
implemented, causes a competition for improvement and superiority, an
*incentive* for *evolution* and *success*. Similarly, under the new
system sensible classifications, status formulas, and bills will
prosper and persist, while nonsensical, inferior, and obsolete ones will die out.

These ideas are all very cypherpunkesque in their allusions to digital
cash, reputations, social upheaval, `anarchy' in the sense of a
government so unobtrusive and natural it is virtually invisible yet
omnipresent (sort of like God, eh? ah, well, a good role model.)

I call on patriotic and guerilla cypherpunks to implement this system,
to be a model for the world! all the critical features of technology
are already in place -- methods of providing universal communication
called `email', guaranteeing accurate voting via authenication called
PGP, a widespead `proposal dissemination and discussion system' called
Usenet, a library for past proposals and bills and resolutions called
FTP.  I guarantee that by *far* this will be the most important of all
cypherpunk projects, if in the amazing odds it were actually adopted by
one (considering the recent formidably frosty reception, currently all
that is left of my attempt at a burgeoning snowball is a Dissolving Drip in Hell).

In fact, the sheer dischordant cacophony on this group might be
ameliorated through such a system. Imagine that we as a group (the most
disorderly and uncooperative group ever to be called one) could vote
and stabilize Cypherpunk Resolutions.

(Nah -- some things are just fundamentally impossible.)