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Why not replace politicians by open source programs?

  1. Nov 4, 2014 #1

    fluidistic

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    I am wondering why we aren't replacing politicians (such as presidents of countries) by open source programs.
    Programmers would program several different programs and people would vote for them.
    To be eligible the program must pass through thousands/millions of different situations (like the reply to a war invasion in many different set ups; i.e. dependening on how's the economy, etc). People would get to see the results before voting and this way we would be sure that the program does not crash in any situation. If there's a small technical problem with the program, programmers would fix it under the eyes of everybody.
    I do not see how there would be corruption.
    People could see how the money the country has is being spent, totally transparently.

    The programs would be made by hundreds if not thousands of programmers as to be the most complete possible.

    I personally would vote for such a program instead of any human.
    We have the technology to do that, so why not do that?
    Thoughts?
     
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  3. Nov 4, 2014 #2

    BobG

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    The obvious reason would be that, in order for the program to work, we'd have to perfectly envision every possible future situation in order to write the program.

    If we can't do that (which we can't), then ...... our program is garbage in, garbage out?

    I think a program such as you describe would be a good aid to use in decisions. The irrational side of humans is just as strong, or even stronger, than the rational side (and at least as important, too ). Something that would strongly remind humans of the cost of following their gut reactions would be very valuable.

    But it wouldn't be something I'd want to totally rely on.

    Wow, " o o ) " (with no spaces) is a smiley? oo)
     
  4. Nov 4, 2014 #3

    fluidistic

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    Good point Bob.
    Do you have an example of a hard/impossible situation to predict?
     
  5. Nov 4, 2014 #4
    I actually thought of something similar along those lines a while back, feeling the "we have the technology" sentiment with the internet here. Only my idea was that, if you want a true democracy, you just have a website where every policy decision is put up on that website, and instead of the dems and republican congresspeople voting on them, it goes to a direct vote to the people. You could split it up into federal, state, and local decisions very easily.

    This model that we continue with as far as a "representative" government where you hire (vote) someone to represent your district, etc. is way outdated, a dinosaur, it only perpetuates because of stagnation.

    So you just abolish the politicians out of hand, you don't vote for a politician. You vote directly on the legislation in real time. You'd vote for an ombudsman perhaps to bring the results of the online vote results to the appropriate offices to enact the legislation, but the legislative power won't be held by that individual.

    Forget this veto stuff and 2/3rds of the congress must vote to overturn, filibustering yada yada. If there's an issue, send it out to 200 million American voters and we go on the majority vote. Put the issue up on a webpage, the yes-no icon, and relevant links to supplemental information to help make a decision, each approved maybe by this or that faction. And you have a relatively instant, fully democratic decision on timely domestic and international issues. Just a thought...
     
  6. Nov 4, 2014 #5

    BobG

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    This would be virtually the exact opposite of fluidistic's idea. Your government would be run by amateurs with practically no expertise. The irrational would dominate the rational.

    I have some issues with ideas like term limits, and direct democracies. They're not logical.

    Logically, you elect professionals - people who actually know how to run a government. They may not be quite as rational as a computer program, but if you elect good professionals, you get good results.

    Granted, in today's environment, you're not sure the people in office are more loyal to their country or their political party. And it's a sad state when the political candidates of one party are afraid to admit they believe in evolution because their party is dominated by a religious faction that doesn't. When their favorite response to controversial questions becomes "I'm not a scientist, but...."

    I wouldn't say a representative democracy is working fantastic right now, but since a lot of the problems with the current environment is because of the voters, I kind of think turning government completely over to them (via direct democracy) would be a disaster.
     
  7. Nov 4, 2014 #6

    Danger

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    I suspect that's the whole reason. The people with the real power wouldn't be able to bribe the ones with the apparent power. They don't want to give that up. :D
     
  8. Nov 4, 2014 #7
    Well, that's just the point, one man's "expertise" is another man's folly. If you take the vote directly to the people, you effectively eliminate the problem of lobbyists, special interest groups, corruption within the political staff, etc. Plus, you are demonstrating a model of true democracy, at least relative to what we have now... A representative democracy? What is that? Kind of smacks of a pseudo-democracy for the potential for abuse and corruption I highlighted above. But I'm not advocating for or against either one, I just think it's an interesting discussion.

    As far as Fluidistic's idea of "replacing politicians (such as presidents of countries) by open source programs," I don't many people are going to go for that, even me, and I'm a cognitive science/robotics nut. We're not anywhere near the point where I would trust a computer program to make sensitive human policy decisions, much less an American populace half of which don't even believe in evolution. :eek:
     
  9. Nov 4, 2014 #8

    russ_watters

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    Because we don't have the technology to do that, even without considering Terminator and iRobot flaws.

    Besides, whether you vote for a person or people or a computer program the person or people programs to make decisions exactly as s/he would have, the best you could possibly do is exactly the same as we have now!
    How would such a program have dealt with the situation in the Ukraine?
     
  10. Nov 4, 2014 #9

    russ_watters

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    Um...are you saying you don't see any merrit in representative democracy? Not only has it been very successful historically, it has serious benefits over direct democracy, much less other forms of government. Every modern western government is of that type because it works, not because it is an easy way to be corrupt!
     
  11. Nov 5, 2014 #10

    fluidistic

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    I do not know, because the program is supposed to return a reply after analyzing thousands/millions of data input. Even the programmers themselves would have to run the program to know its decisions. (Similar to chess engines nowadays, the programmer has no idea what his own engine would play in a given position, in fact it's not deterministic if running on more than 1 thread. Plus if the program contains some algorithms such as Monte Carlo method, I don't think there's a way to predict the outcome with perfect certainty).
    Depending on whether people voted for a program that focuses more on economy than military defense or the opposite, the reply to the Ukranian crisis would probably have been different.

    A problem I see with such a program is how to feed it with non-biased real time data, for example on the Ukranian crisis.
     
  12. Nov 5, 2014 #11

    russ_watters

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    I thought the goal was to make the program mimic the humans' decisions? Why would the programmers program the robot to make different decisions from what they would make?
    Right, that's what I mean: a pacifistic group of programmers would program a pacifistic robot to make pacifistic decisions just like they would have. It isn't much different from if those programmers themselves were making the decisions. It isn't the decision-making slant that you don't know ahead of time, it is the specifics of the scenarios the progam or leaders will face that is unknowable.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
  13. Nov 5, 2014 #12

    phinds

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    90%++ of the people in the country would not trust technology. They would much prefer to trust politicians, even though they think the politicians are corrupt and relatively useless, because they TRUST politicians to be corrupt and useless but have no idea what to trust in technology. People don't like what they don't understand. This POV will likely change as young people now are growing up with the kind of technology you are talking about and are more likely to trust it. I still doubt that anything like sensible technological solutions to our problems are anywhere on the foreseeable horizon.
     
  14. Nov 5, 2014 #13

    SteamKing

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    Let me get this straight ... instead of using thousands of politicians to run a government or governments, becuz they're stupid or corrupt or both, we're supposed to use the fruits of thousands of programmers, none of whom are known to the public at large and who presumably have varying talents (and prejudices) to program the workings of gubmint? No thanks. I'd rather pick the first 2000 names out of a phone book before I'd put my life in the hands of a bunch of anonymous coders.

    What do you do if you get a bloated Windows Vista government instead of the lean Linux establishment you want? Fire all the programmers and start over? We just got a taste of this approach with the ACA insurance exchange debacle, where a website was supposed to make getting health insurance easy and affordable. Still waiting for that to pan out.
     
  15. Nov 5, 2014 #14

    Vanadium 50

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    The ACA website is a good example - it's a subset of the bigger problem of "running the government", had the resources of the entire federal government behind it, and still proved to be a more difficult problem than thought.

    It's also not simple to define "corruption". Having multiple people collaborate on a book that says that Joe P. Senator would make a lousy President is considered corruption by some, but not others.
     
  16. Nov 5, 2014 #15

    phinds

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    Actually, in that particular case it was not technical difficulties that were the root cause of the web site failure. It is instead a case study is how to take a manageable technical problem (very complex, for sure, but still less complex than other systems that have been successfully built) and screw it up almost beyond belief. One of the most damming comments on big government that I have ever heard in my life came out of the fiasco. What happened was that after the government team screwed it up almost as badly as it could BE screwed up, they had to call in a swat team of industry experts from Silicon Valley to salvage the operation. The head of that team gave an interview after his team DID manage to get the site into some semblance of order and reopened to the public.

    In the interview, he said that when the team that he put together started in, he was worried about resistance from the existing technical team but found instead that they were grateful almost to the point of tears that someone was finally in charge and could make intelligent technical decisions. The reporter commented about how Obama, before the disastrous rollout, had management meetings daily where he emphasized that the technical issue were what had to be gotten right. The comment that the manager made that was so devastating to the Obama team right after the reported said that was, and this is close to if not exactly, what he said. "You know, to this day, I still have no idea who was supposed to be in charge of the technical team before I came in."

    That's been the problem w/ the Obama administration all along. As said in the Economist Magazine, and here I'm not sure of the exact quote but I know I have the message right "Obama simply isn't good at day to day management (also called governing) and getting things done"

    This of course is the kind of thing that may encourage the OP in his belief that good technology CAN get things done but the problem is that technology is managed by people.
     
  17. Nov 5, 2014 #16

    fluidistic

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    The goal is to replace politicians by open source programs but this does not imply to mimic humans decisions unless you consider that the human is aware of several million things that are currently going in his country and wants to maximize people's happyness, well-being, low unemployment, etc. in the exact same way that he said he would do, when he was elected. The program would be so complex that one would not know its output if it isn't executed.
    We would feed it with several billions different situations and analyze the output, making statistics to determine whether the program is really the way one would hope it to be.

    A pacifist program would probably lower or extinguish the milliary budget (like Costa Rica did) and place the money elsewhere. A "pacifist programmer" has no knowledge on where the saved money should go while the program would know where to use that money, because it would not be programmed by a few pacifist programmers but by hundreds or thousands of people.
     
  18. Nov 5, 2014 #17

    SteamKing

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    I'm not aware of any programs called President for Windows 1.0 or MacPremier Plus. What do you use as your starting point for this open source project?

    How would that work? Everybody must download and run this program? How would that make government more efficient and produce results in a more timely fashion?

    It takes time to run simulations, even if the software is working perfectly. What's society supposed to do in the meantime about keeping the trains running on time? Complex situations, like war, life, etc., don't always play out like a computer simulation. If you start with a certain set of initial conditions and run your simulation say 10 times, you might wind up with 10 different outcomes. Who decides what to do then?

    Who's got time to sit around watching a bunch of coders have a geek-off? There's other places to go, other things to do.

    There's the classic shell game, where one must pick which of three shells contains a pea. Even this simple game can be manipulated by a skilled con artist.

    That's a managerial and technical approach which has been shown to be lacking in numerous instances. I don't know how many programmers Microsoft has working on Windows, but the Blue Screen of Death has not been completely eliminated.

    How does one make sure that these hundreds or thousands of programmers all don't work on the same part of the program? How do you make sure that certain programmers should not be allowed within 10 miles of the source code, because they're nuts?

    We do? If such a technology exists, it's being kept secret from everyone. Most projects with a cast of thousands seem to get accomplished because of a few driven individuals, not because there is a great, undirected mass of bodies thrown at the task.
     
  19. Nov 5, 2014 #18

    phinds

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    Yep !
     
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