by Max Kaye, first published on http://voteflux.org on Friday, 26 May, 2017
The Flux Movement is founded on (what I now call) Deutschian Fallibilism. It’s an evolution of Popperian Fallibilism and David Deutsch’s book The Beginning of Infinity does a great job of explaining both the theory and exploring the breathtakingly profound consequences. In one light it’s a book about epistemology, but the consequences are far reaching.
In essence the book’s thesis is that explanations are the basis of human knowledge, new knowledge can always be created, that all evils are due to a lack of knowledge (at a fundamental level: how to rearrange the atoms around us to alleviate some problem), and thus that the progress of people (and prosperity linked to that) is essentially unbounded – it’s just a matter of creating the right knowledge.
The book also discusses myriad other topics, such as morality, Dawkinian memes, aesthetics, AI, democracy, and many others. All these topics are brought together in a breathtakingly profound, consistent argument.
We’ve taken his lessons and built a novel form of democracy we call Issue Based Direct Democracy. IBDD comes at the problem of democracy from an entirely novel position: that democracy should be designed around solving problems, not “the will of the people”.
The reasoning for this is quite simple: if canonical democracy (Rep Democ, Liquid Democ, or DD) is able to make decisions that reduce the prosperity of its citizens then those decisions are wrong, regardless of how the majority feels about it. Furthermore, it’s very simple to see that a democracy that biases prosperity (via the creation of new knowledge) at a minimum must always be at least as good as canonical democracy, since it is able to create policy that is of greater benefit than other forms of democracy.
The core method of creating new knowledge is a cycle of conjecture and criticism. The two processes we know of in the universe that create knowledge (evolution and human creativity) both use this. In biology the conjecture is gene mutation, and the criticism is death. In human creativity, a great deal of conjecture and criticism goes on in our mind before we even know we have a thought (perhaps this is what is happening in those ‘empty’ moments of creativity before an epiphany hits), and after we publish our thoughts peer review process and debate takes over. Karl Popper originally called these two things “conjectures and refutations”.
It’s not that canonical democracy doesn’t have this: election cycles, party politics, and citizen movements all involve conjecture and criticism, but it is far too slow, and far more akin to biological evolution than human creativity.
We took the idea of conjecture and criticism and designed a system of democracy around it that we believe biases more correct knowledge. In other words IBDD is a truth machine (or rather, a more-truer-than-what-we-had-last machine).
Because we’ve built democracy around epistemology (instead of the usual “will of the people”) we view the policy creation process uniquely too: policy is simply an application of explanations we have around certain phenomena and instructions on how best to change our reality to cause some effect.
Thus the most important part of policy formation should not be voter buy-in, but how well that policy is crafted and how good the underlying explanation is – and this is what should decide which policies are enacted. (The book goes into great detail about how we can tell if explanations are good or bad before we even test them, something that’s very useful in policy since testing is often slow or inconclusive – no doubt due in part to the problem of creating a ‘control’ in society).
Furthermore, since mistakes are impossible to avoid (and necessary for progress) we put incredible emphasis on the ability to self-correct. This is one of the reasons Flux is called “Flux” and not “Stasis” – the outcome of a particular issue in IBDD can change day to day, based on how voters intend to interact (or perceive the benefits of their interaction) based on everything else that’s going on that the time, and based on the new knowledge that’s been created recently. (This also has the great benefit that it can help improve IBDD strictly more easily than the system that came before it.)
We enable this dynamism by treating policy as an ecosystem (as opposed to each policy in isolation) and crucially allow voters to move their political power between issues via an auction market and neutral central liquidity token (think of it like money and stocks, except that you can’t sell liquidity tokens and everyone starts on an even footing and is constantly pushed back towards an even footing). The end result is that by giving opportunity cost to every choice a voter makes, they are incentivised to move their political capital into the issues that are most prescient to them ending the problem of ‘tyranny of the majority’ and ‘boaty mcboatface problem’.
An additional side effect is that both Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem and Balinski and Young’s apportionment paradox are avoided entirely. We don’t ‘solve’ the problems (after all they are mathematical theorems) but avoid them by constructing democracy differently.
These discoveries are what has spurred Nathan and I into creating The Flux Movement. Put another way: we see the action of holding on to this information and not doing our best to instantiate IBDD as a grave crime against all current and future people, and thus we have a moral duty to bring this to bear as fast as possible (provided we don’t destroy any methods of correcting mistakes).
As a final note: The Beginning of Infinity teaches us that a key property of knowledge is persistence, which is to say that knowledge instantiated in reality (by say, building a device) should persist. Thus IBDD’s ability to persist is indicative of whether it actually is better suited to solving the problems we face as a society. We predict that once we start using IBDD anywhere (provided it’s suitable) it should rapidly and virally expand since the benefits of IBDD (producing new knowledge in policy efficiently) is associated with increasing the prosperity of the population that adopts it.
If we are right, IBDD will thus lead to the end of tyranny globally, since no system is better able to create new knowledge than one designed to do exactly that.