A government by data, a dedomenocracy, determines all rules based on statistical analytics of all available observational data. To be effective, the government must automate rule making where computed new rules becomes immediately enforceable over the entire population. In particular, there is no time lost to human deliberation to persuade the population of any cognitive justification of the rules. In such a government if there is a human decision-maker, he is obligated to accept the recommended rules from the analytic computation. Consequently, the population must obey the automatic rules based on data without any persuasion from a human leadership. A dedomenocracy is an authoritarian form of government, but where the authority comes from data instead of from a panel of humans (military, party, aristocrats, bureaucrats, etc). In particular, it bears some resemblance to communism in China and formerly in Soviet Union, but with the optimism that excellent data and machine algorithms can succeed where humans previously failed.
I imagine a dedomenocracy running similarly to modern data automation in markets such as program trading in stocks, or automated marketing based social networking data. These projects are effective because they act quickly on patterns in data to take advantage of short term opportunities. There is no time for human persuasion that the action makes sense or conforms to some law of nature or even to rational causation. The algorithms produce the rules too quickly and used far too much data for humans to comprehend within the short time window when the opportunity is available. Despite the lack of human deliberation or even the lack of rational explanation afterwards, we continue to use these algorithms because they tend to succeed more often than they fail, and their accumulated rewards outweigh the losses.
A similar process may become available for government when we obtain enough data and sufficient technology to process that data. This government would replace all perpetual laws with a high frequency of introducing short-lived rules.
The legacy governments can accumulate a large body of laws because these laws are perpetual (needing new legislation or bureaucratic acts to replace them) and this allows enough time for the population to incorporate the laws into their practices so that they can accommodate more recent laws. In contrast, a dedomenocracy must have only a small number of rules active at any time because each rules is always new and it will take time and effort for the population to incorporate the rules in order to obey them. If a dedomenocracy attempts to renew the volume of laws we currently have, the population will not be able to keep up and the government will be irrelevant.
As the evidence of the large body of laws we currently have, there are huge number of issues facing a central government. In order for a dedomenocracy to cover this much ground with a small number of short-lived rules, the focus of the rules must shift over this broader territory over time. At any time, the rules will focus on the highest priority issues representing a small subset of all behaviors needing government. As a result, the authoritarian nature of the rules for a particular behavior will be temporary as the next iteration will need to focus on another priority. After a rule expires, there behavior being governed most likely will enjoy a complete restoration of liberty.
While this restoration of liberty for a previous priority for imposing a rule permits the objectionable aspects to return, the expectation is that the rule will have changed the culture to accept a different and less objectionable approach in pursuing their liberty. The rule making will always be authoritarian when applied to specific area of life, but this authoritarianism has an expiration date after which the full liberties will be restored. The objective of the rules is to teach lessons of what works better by conditioning people to avoid the type of behaviors that will attract future rule-making to return.
There are so many areas needing governance and yet only a few rules at a time may be effective. The result is that most of the time and for most of the behaviors, there are no governing rules. The population enjoys complete liberty but with knowledge that their activities could supply data that can attract future rules.
Government by data is a potential alternative form of government from existing governments. Also, I used the term dedomenocracy to express data-driven government as an alternative to democracy. However, both expressions are misleading because what results from automated decision making (from data analytics) is not a government at all. In an earlier post, I described familiar forms of government has ultimately having some root in religious thinking, and in particular a a root in some assertion that Truth exists and it is knowable. When decisions become automated based on analytics operating on objective data collections, then the result is not a government at all, or least nothing like any of the forms of government that involve human leaders.
Achieving a dedomenocracy will be an end of government. In its place is a default libertarian form of social organization. Instead of governing, the dedomenocracy polices. In the unlikely event that there are no urgent issues that need attention, a dedomenocracy may issue no rules at all. The population will be allowed to operate with complete liberty until there is a conflict that becomes a priority that justifies a new rule. At that point, the dedomenocracy will detect this condition and identify an appropriate data-driven rule that it will enforce with in a completely authoritarian way where everyone must obey the rule. All rules are short-lived so that liberties will return when the rule expires (assuming that there is no priority for another rule). This does not look like a government, but instead it is like a policing action but one that polices populations instead of individuals. The dedomenocracy rules are similar to an arrest. It is temporary loss of freedom until a judgement can be reached. In the case of dedomenocracy, the judgement comes from another iteration of analytics of new observation data to determine what to do next. As the end of the rule, the population returns to its original state of liberty, though probably with some lesson learned to avoid the need for future rules (similar to a criminal avoiding getting arrested again).
In an earlier post, I discussed the how a dedomenocracy should address crime and punishment in the context of short lived rules. In that post, I discussed crimes as individuals who disobey a currently active rule. I argued that punishments for short-lived rules must itself be completed during the time the rule is in force. I argued against long term incarceration that outlasts the period that the rule is valid. I suggested that many crimes may be punished through a combination of tolerance and a permanent data record for the rule-breaker where that record will influence future rules. The alternative is harsher brief punishments, but ideally these should be rare. That ideal requires that the population accepts accountability without justice.
That discussion about dealing with crime within dedomenocracy is an analogy of how dedomenocracy rules act on the population as a whole. From a data perspective, there is no grand Truth to determine laws. We may say that the data itself is the ultimate Truth, but data come from observations that always involve some element of surprise. Dedomenocracy treats Truth as impossible to know to the extent that we can make permanent laws. This is a reasonable conclusion from mankind’s actual experience from millennia of failed attempts to make such governments.
Instead, dedomenocracy works with available observations to determine the best course of action at this time. This has the consequence of the population not being able to cognitively predict future rules because they can not predict the future observations. Similarly, the sequence of rules may not be consistent or follow some satisfying explanation. Dedomenocracy operates in some ways like a theocracy but one where not only is the divinity accessible only to high priests, but the priests themselves are data algorithms instead of humans. Following this analogy, the priest-like algorithms determine police actions to impose on the population. These police actions are analogous to an arrest but applied to populations instead of individuals. The imposed rules affect some change in the population to meet some objective. Eventually, the population is released (through the expired rule) so that they can resume their liberties.
Government by data works because it makes rapid decisions based on the most recent available information. The goal is to take advantage of the immediate opportunities and to avoid the immediate hazards. To be effective, this agility demands the elimination of accountable decision makers and that in turn requires an authoritarian approach to the population. A dedomenocracy is definitely not a democracy. Although I suggested a democratic role in the data science of scrutinizing the data fed to the algorithms, the rules from the algorithms can not be questioned or opposed by the population. In that sense, a dedomenocracy is authoritarian. However, this agility includes a limiting factor in that there can only be a limited number of rules in force at any time. Too many rules will be impossible for the population to learn and adapt to. Also, too many rules will interfere with the data collection because we will not be able to distinguish what rule had the most impact on some observation. The combination of agility and limited scope leaves most of the available behaviors to the population to be outside of any rules most of the time.
Over all of the behaviors available to the population in a dedomenocracy, most of those behaviors will be free of any rules. This is characteristic of a libertarian type of government. However, this libertarian government gets policed by the the data it generates. The population will understand that some behavior may be arrested if it becomes necessary to restore the peace or to avoid some intolerable loss (which may be a missed opportunity for some gain). The overall pattern is a libertarian government that is punctuated by limited rules to keep the order and to assure future prosperity.
15 thoughts on “Dedomenocracy is both libertarian and authoritarian: punctuated libertarianism”
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I found this article that uses the term “libertarian paternalism” that seems similar to my punctuated libertarianism:
The article is a review of a book that argues against libertarian paternalism. One argument is:
My concept of punctuated libertarianism differs from libertarian paternalism. Most significantly, punctuated libertarianism involves only short-lasting rules and those are implemented only when there is a high urgency. Implicit in the urgency requirement is at least an immediate consensus that best interest is measurable for the short term. Unlike in libertarian paternalism, these expire quickly and returns the population to a pure libertarian situation where any lasting influence of the rule is based on memory and conditioning, not enforcement.
However, the concepts are very similar in the sense of an authoritarian approach to impose new rules based on data instead of deliberation. This article describes the quantified citizen. My concept is more empowering to the citizen because I consider him to be an active data scientist instead of a passive object for observation.
In any case, this is already a topic of active debate. The Reason articles argue that data will rob us of liberties. My argument is that data can give us more liberties.
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