Deliberation Talk 8-22-2012
- Lee Worden, UC Berkeley, McMaster University, San Francisco Art Institute
- Preliminary mathematics of direct democracy
- I will present a modeling approach to theorizing about processes and protocols for collective deliberation among humans — that is, ways for a group efficiently and effectively to find a mutually agreeable solution to a problem when participants may disagree on what is acceptable. Seen from this perspective, the problem becomes one of collective search in a complex problem space. I will draw connections to work in evolutionary dynamics, political science, and distributed problem solving in computers. I will be very interested in hearing feedback from Google workers about the search and distributed information processing aspects of the project.
- Google HQ, building 43, Mountain View, CA, Aug. 22, 2012, 11 am.
Here is [sic] the presentation slides:
There are two videos that I will show along with the slides. Links to the videos are included on the slides. Here are the links:
- RocketHub fundraising video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpBWZLCrtj8
- (use the YouTube copy because it has subtitles)
- Animation of information cascades on a lattice: http://lalashan.mcmaster.ca/theobio/worden/index.php?title=Special:GetProjectFile&project=Deliberation_Talk_8-22-2012&make=false&filename=microstate.animation.ogv
- (I used a shortened link for this to fit it in the slide.)
Notes from Consensus Presentation 12-16-2011
Useful comments from the audience:
- Look at behavioral psych, other ideas of what people are likely to do. People have heuristics about fairness, responds differently in different framings, etc.
- People may not like "if worse and not acceptable" in practice, because they may refuse to go along with something that's acceptable but worse, fearing a slippery slope in which others slip towards something that's worse and not acceptable.
- The 3-topping pizza is not a hypercube, it's just a cube.
- Look for percolation threshold in the space of acceptable proposals?
- Look into my friend Todd Parsons's work on modeling search on evolutionary fitness landscapes by drawing each new point independently. Potentially very simple and powerful.
There was some confusion from the announcement about whether actual pizza would be served at the event. It was not, but we took the opportunity to deliberate together about going out for pizza afterward. There was a vegan in the crowd, and general agreement that you can't get adequate vegan pizza in the neighborhood, so we went to a place that has hummus, garden burgers, chicken sandwiches, etc. The process was pretty distributed, though with locals playing a special role since they know what the local restaurants are.
More from Graeber:
- During my first year in DAN, I spent a lot of time trying to understand what this "spirit of consensus" was really all about. It was clearly not just about decision making. It wasn't even just about conduct during meetings. It was more an attempt-inspired by reflections on the structure and flow of meetings-to begin to reimagine how people can live together, to begin-however slowly, however painfully-to construct a genuinely democratic way of life. The perennial example of ordering a pizza (I can't tell you how many times I've seen that one used in trainings) could be seen, in its own way, as an accusation directed at the very heart of America's claims to be a democratic society. How often does the average American actually sit down, even with a group of four or five people, and try to make a collective decision in which all have equal say? True, children often do it while playing. But, for adults, the experience of democracy is largely limited to decisions involving food, or maybe movies. For the college-aged, it probably does, indeed, happen most often when ordering a pizza; for older people, mainly when choosing restaurants.