[ExI] size of polities

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Mon Feb 18 16:39:50 UTC 2008

On Feb 17, 2008 4:44 PM, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:

[Lee wrote:]
>>> One obvious idea that emerges from this is that most nations
>>> are too large to properly reflect the desires of an individual
>>> citizen.

>> A broader view might restate your assessment in terms of information
>> technology..., recognizing that while historically "obvious" that a nation
>> could not effectively represent, let alone model, the fine-grained
>> values-complexes of its constituents, we have now at hand [a new]
>> technology...
> Well, yes, but this perhaps does not address the main point that
> no matter how accurately we aggregate desires or values, the
> larger the number of inputs, the further will be the expected
> outcome from the desires or values of any particular person.

Funny, I thought I was addressing just that point, placing your claim
within a broader context of increasingly effective technologies
modeling values over increasing scale, and further that it is
characteristic of this technological trend that our values are modeled
in ever **finer** detail, such that salient features are preserved and
available to influence decision-making over increasing scope, rather
than being lost in the aggregate, as was historically (but not
fundamentally) the case.

I mentioned amazon, lastfm, pandora {.com} as present examples of
increasingly fine-grained knowledge of individual values-complexes,
over much greater than individual scale, facilitating prediction of
future states likely to be found desirable despite being presently
unknown and therefore undesired.

In case this still isn't clear, please note that the nature of these
information-centric processes is that the knowledge of the system is
--and must be -- greater than the knowledge of any of the individuals
it serves, and that with increasing scale these systems deliver
increasingly effective personalization.

Perhaps I should have been more explicit in the extension of this
thinking from its (to be expected) roots in entertainment and commerce
to virtually all domains of social choice.  In this regard I thought
my final paragraph, on the power of prediction markets, and their
moral meta-benefit, would have been sufficient.


> Do you read French fluently, by the way?

No, but I'm comfortable with Japanese, and recognize that it affects
my written composition.  (I also strongly prefer RPN calculators, used
to "worship" the programming language Forth, and I'm editing this
message using VIM, all of which relate, I think, to your point.)

- Jef

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