Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wiki Govt: Participation

Bertrand Russell's views on philosophyImage via WikipediaSorry to post all of these at once they were created much earlier in Google docs and I thought they would automatically post to my blog the way the rules update posts did. turns out no.

Anyway, the book seems to take axiomatically that increased participation is a worthy goal. By and large it is correct, to enough eyes all bugs are transparent. But there is the problem of self selecting social networks the book mentioned in that often the people who gain the social capital are neither the wisest nor the most skilled bu the loudest, and volume is no substitute for being right. Now this is not to say that this is not the case currently but often with a smaller volume of information teasing out what is propaganda vs what is useful credential is at least possible. An incrfease in volume of data does make organizing the entire endeavor much more difficult. Some things cannot afford to be measured by reddit-like thumbs up and down as sometimes esoteric ideas are quite unpopular. That having been said any suggestions made by such a body would presumably go through less time in lobbying and other craziness because everyone already agrees with whatever the decision is. Efficiency is a worthy thing and not to be disparaged.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wiki Governance :East Coast Code

Screenshot of wwwwwwwww.jodi.org/ source code ...Image via WikipediaWhy shouldn't policymakers design the computer code and device parameters to more closely hew to the desired legal outcome? Because the desired legal outcome is created by committee and the law is not obliged to work only to make people feel like they've done something. Bad laws are passed constantly and by and large if the law is too ludicrous or unrealistic people merely won't enforce it or will enforce it selectively and pretty much forget over time. Bad design is eternal, the physical world does not simply ignore foolish or impossible design decisions consequence happens and usually in a devastating manner. An engine or device that clings to what is legal will often not do what is practical, especially as what is legal can be fluid throughout the design process. We currently have cars that will not start until a breathalyzer is used on the steering column and that is all well and good. What if a similar device was made slightly earlier, say when in some counties women were not allowed to drive without a man present, or devices that keep a car from exceeding the speed limit under any circumstance. These may be silly but are unjust and unsafe. One of the founding ideals of the law is the idea that sometimes the law is wrong and human judgment should be used. Technology cannot apply such judgment. nor in many cases should it try. In the Time of Gilbert and Sullivan some unscrupulous people transmitted their works by telephone and telegraph across the Atlantic to America so that actors could perform bootleg operettas. If the policy makers of the time decided that such illegalities were important and had a hand in designing the phones, would we even have he clear signals we take for granted today? Think of what a printing press that values the local ordinance for obscenity or property over clarity of copy. Would we even have modern faith as we understand it if the Church policy makers chained the press to their requirements instead of those of the people? Technological growth is unfortunately amoral, sometimes our reach exceeds our grasp and the capacities science gives us are ones we are not mature enough to use well, but far more often this increase in capacity is the spark that topples existing injustice simply by making control of the new capacities too expensive to police. I don't want my equipment designed by people who care about what's legal I want it designed by people who care about making good equipment. I have my own moral faculties.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wiki Government: Patent Leader

Tournure1873Image via WikipediaFundamental problem of current patent law, too many things are patented and people have been offering mutually exclusive patents to multiple people for the same device or concept. The suggestion of the book is that some sort of automagic search system compares patents to see who has what. Sounds like a good idea and steps in this direction are being taken so perhaps all is well. There is a problem, natural language processing. In order for patents to be acessible to the common man and indeed comprehensible at all patents in regular everyday lanuage must eb considered allowable. However, language is fluid and can describe a phenomenon or device in hundred's of ways. A Binary Metallic Decision Making Device is just a complicated way of saying, flip a coin. The taxonomy of ideas that must be involved for a truly comprehensive and comprehensible patent system may well be impossible. Not to say it isn't worth trying but any time parsing a truly stupendous amount (terabytes if you include pictures, text etc.) of data in next to no time is the easy part of your task you have quite the difficult task. I am not certain the optimism of the book is warranted nor am I sure that technology is the appropriate solution. Perhaps a more precise measure of language in encoding the patents in the first place would be worthwhile. Natural language patents could be accepted but then a summary or abstract version would be encoded by a patent worker and then entered into the system. Unfortunately this solution would be wickedly expensive and time consuming but it is hard to imagine a system which isn't.

Enhanced by Zemanta