When we look to data technology to solve problems, we should permit the technologies to identify the problems that can be solved with the current capabilities instead of demanding that the technologies evolve to solve the hard problems we have been working on. There are many opportunities to make progress even if we don’t touch the hard problems. Allowing technology to solve what it can solve now may transform the hard problems to be narrower, or possibly even less visible. For example, there are other ways we can improve overall life expectancy without curing any cancers, perhaps with investments in areas unrelated to health care. It is our nature to focus on objectives that catch our attention. This focus can blind us to immediate opportunities that are realistic given our current situation.
These examples set a new standard for rapid access to context information to accompany the new information for breaking news. In the case of street maps and aerial/street views, this information required extensive investment long before the event occurred. In the case of the more recent information (street congestion, weather radar imagery, landslide risk assessments) there was a need for prior investment for models and technologies to provide this information on a timely basis. These investments were made on a global scale where the vast majority of this readily available capability may never been needed for matching with a breaking news story. But when a breaking news story does occur, we welcome the ready access to this information specific to the broader context of the story.
A culture of poverty may be inevitable in a dedomenocracy. I am a little optimistic that the dedomenocracy may be able to work its way out of a culture of poverty once it occurs. One property of a dedomenocracy is that it has no obligation to be consistent with earlier decisions or some human ideology. It may be possible that a dedomenocracy can help in making a culture of poverty a temporary condition. On the other hand, I’m only a little optimistic. Once a culture of poverty takes hold, the population loss of enthusiasm and motivation will greatly hamper what a dedomenocracy can do.
Democracy also can not afford to be distracted by spark data (stray voltage) for the same reason. The urgent issues need solutions that require hard and painful choices. Unfortunately, the modern practice of democracy demands obedience to daily public opinion polls that are easily manipulated by stray voltage or spark data. Instead of governing by the people, modern democracy wastes time on arguments over sparks.
Assuming that a democracy is strongest when the demographics of the eligible voters are younger, we can redefine the eligibility for voting rights from the current eligibility to all adults to a new eligibility of all young adults. In other words, we need disenfranchise adults after they reach a certain age. This mimics what nature did for us in the 19th century. Older adults will continue to enjoy long lifespans and pension-like benefits. They will lose the opportunity to vote after a certain age.
Government by data and urgency will operate very different from the present governments. The focus shifts to immediate issues that can be informed by recent data. Unlike the present government with accumulating perpetual laws, this new form of government exclusively enacts short-lived rules that get updated when new data becomes available or get retired when priorities change. Similarly, the government views the population in terms of future possibilities instead of past performance.
Within a big data context, we need to obtain a more complete picture of current stories within a population in order to provide the opportunity to discover new hypothesis by comparing and contrasting different stories or story-elements. Relying only on voluntary story-telling or rapport-based journalism is not sufficient. Stories will remain that people will strongly protect as secrets. Part of that protection is to avoid talking at all. Coercion can compel them to talk and even if they succeed in protecting their secrets, their attempts to construct a compelling fabrication will require supplying credible details drawn from their experiences or education. The individual stories and their elements may be very unreliable data, but when combined we may observe useful patterns to suggest new hypotheses that we can test by seeking out new sources of information.
Being placed under oath to tell the whole truth even in an adverse interrogation is a recognition that one is qualified as independent thinker. That recognition deserve reciprocal respect by drawing honest and frank answers from the thoughts, knowledge, doubts, and fears from one’s own person, free from supervision or deferment to political handlers or lawyers. The implicit qualification to work independently is to accept the obligation to be accountable for the independent work performed. If one does not wish to accept this accountability, he should not have accepted a contract to provide independent contributions, and instead work under supervision of someone who will accept this obligation.
We need this information about the non-participating members of the community. The journalists have the skills to obtain this data. Unfortunately, they do not yet have the incentive to get this data. While one or two dissenting opinions may support a publication of an article, we need an extensive survey across the entire community. If the evidence is going to make a difference in the government-by-data approach, then we need at least as much evidence of the non-protesting population as we have of the protesting population. The protesters have been so vocal that this sets the bar pretty high.
The huge deployment of professionally trained journalists was largely wasted in redundantly covering the protest scene covered by amateurs, when they could have pursue the larger story of obtaining the opinions of all of those who were not participating. Perhaps they were seething that their government was prevented from providing the government’s usually effective service of protecting their property and putting out the fires. Perhaps the silent super-majority has always given consent to a local government that provided services when they need it: such as when their businesses are being robbed or their property is on fire. We didn’t learn this because everyone was busy independently confirming that the protesters on the street were very upset.