I'd like to support the XR (Extinction Rebellion) movement, but in a way that pushes back against the anti-democratic forces that are keen to take it over (as in this video: https://youtu.be/haGLhlLDCUw -- plans for dismantling our system of government at the end). So I thought I'd create a plan for participatory democracy. Before I start, here is a response to some obvious objections that will come up:
- "It is too complex". I don't think a simpler plan will work.
- "It is too confrontational". I think it is crucial to confront the people with bad or misguided motives and sideline them. We can't save the world without confrontation.
- "It is too technical". I have to admit that the system is designed to attract the technically knowledgeable. We see XR people making totally unrealistic plans. I think the non-technical can join if working in groups with technical support. There are no secrets.
- "It can't decide anything". That remains to be seen. But what it can determine from the beginning is a consensus view of the relevant facts, and particularly the costs and benefits of various practical actions.
- "Without anonymity it puts participants at risk to reactionary forces". Absolutely. Participating in this will not be safer than blocking roads and getting arrested. It simply can't be anonymous and function correctly.
Everything that happens in the AutoParliament is recorded in a replicated log (like a blockchain, but without the massive computing), which can't be changed without the extreme action of going back to an earlier version of the log and replaying some but not all transactions. Access to the log and to updates is available to all, so even if the official servers hosting the log conspire to change it in this way, copies of the log as it was can exist.
Participants have to be associated with public keys to sign their actions. This has to integrated with 2-factor authentication (as in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_2nd_Factor).
The Internet is an essential requirement. But indeed it is essential for the XR movement as well. This is a serious single point of failure. There is an urgent need for a decentralized backup Internet. This shouldn't be too hard, as the Internet is explicitly designed for decentralized operation. I won't address this in this document, as it demands its own independent planning.
Anyone can join. To join one attends a local meeting of other members, and does the following:
- Make a video recording where you say your name, approximate address (postcode), say that you are a citizen of [specify country] and the world, and promise to use your membership to address the world's environmental problems.
- Get (buy) a 2-factor authentication device.
- Create a record containing the video, the unique id (public key) of the 2-factor device, and the person's own public key, and maybe more.
- Sign this record with that public key (thus proving the ownership of it).
The signed record then gets added to the replicated log, and the member has joined. Ideally automatic recognition software will quickly discover people joining more than once. I doubt if anyone will attempt it.
The basic operation of the AutoParliament is a combination of wikipedia and git. There are bills and amendments. Members can vote for or against or abstain for any bills, and can change their vote at any time. If you vote for a bill and for an amendment to that bill, it means you support either variant. If you vote for an amendment, but not for the original, it means you only support the amended version.
At any time there are bills with varying levels of support. Also, as we will see, there are various subgroups of members (caucuses), some self-selected and some automatically generated. Some bills will only be of interest to some caucuses, in which case percentages of those in that caucus will be of interest. External organizations can use a specific caucus (such as their members or supporters) for decision making.
Bills are accompanied by discussion areas where evidence of various sorts can be included.
Each member gets 100 endorsement points and 100 anti-endorsement points to allocate to other members. The member can move them around at any time. This turns into a continuous voting system that works like this:
- Each person starts with 1 vote, and gets 0.01 of a vote for every endorsement point.
- Now eliminate all the people with the lowest score.
- Then multiply everyone's endorsements by their current vote.
- And go to 2 and repeat.
This gives everyone a score, which is their highest vote before being eliminated.
This is also done within caucuses to give people a ranking within the caucus.
Members specify how important their caucuses are. The bills that they will normally be invited to consider and vote on will be determined by the current leaders in the parliament and in their selected caucuses. The arguments they will most readily have access to will be those endorsed by leaders. Of course all bills and arguments are available by diligent searching.
Anti-endorsements are also ranked so that anti-endorsement is more significant from people with high endorsement. People with high anti-endorsement scores will attract warning signs on their arguments.
Bills can be introduced arguing for specific people or groups to get endorsement or anti-endorsement and why.
Members are automatically added to geographical caucuses. Groups (or individuals) can create caucuses and determine the memberships.
The system can automatically determine groupings that can then get turned into caucuses. For example we can expect that members will be divided between pro- and anti- nuclear. The system will detect such clusters by similarities in voting and in endorsements. Members of such clusters can turn them into caucuses, so that the system will automatically discover leadership in those groups.