Elements of the BitVote concept. Version: 0.1.2
A small introduction.
The grounds behind the existence of this concept are the challenges and weaknesses of the democratic model. BitVote’s model is based on the scientific method outlined below:
- Formulation of a question.
- A hypothesis.
- Create a predictive model based on it.
- We experiment and collect data.
- We analyze the data to either support the model and hypothesis or to change them (learning from the data). Many discoveries happen out of a fluke, but not completely by chance. Someone was paying attention to the data flow. Looking for evidence for another model or idea. This process is iterative.
How is the scientific method relevant to politics?
Politics is something that has got to do with public issues and challenges of society.
To get them solved so far the best system we know of that creates stable solutions is that of the scientific method, as it is continuously proven by the solutions it has created (e.g., this Computer).
Weaknesses of the democratic model.
Depending on its application and by who it was and is insufficient, i.e., if someone votes from a constructed list of options it’s only in part a democratic process. Who decides, and how, about the options that will be put to vote?
Change in the population. If a vote depends on the 51% then simply a change in the population – i.e., how many have interest or time to partake in the vote changes the results. Since we’d like to have frequent votes; just on the basis of majority (51% wins); we would end up with seemingly random results.
The two pillars that could improve how the democratic model works: informed and educated citizen. Or the opposite: the demagogues (in our days Media) have a lot of power swaying public opinion and changing the vote result; the lack of understanding pertaining to a particular field upon which a vote may depend, is another important factor. BitVote’s editor will help the user both research and reference their proposal as they are writing it.
There are many more criticisms of the democratic model one can find to add to this list, however, for the sake of brevity we will stop here.
What will BitVote be designed to be used for?
Anything from the decision making processes organizations can make, to collaboration in user groups or any of the below:
- Non-profit organizations.
How will BitVote work functionally?
- Formulation of a question.
- Proposal formulation Process.
- Vote from the available proposals.
- Assign the implementer(s) of the proposal.
- Evaluation of the implementation and proposal as a whole. Archival.
BitVote starts to operate at the discussion and proposal creation level. However we may cooperate with a project that is similarly named (but for now let’s reference it as TimeVote), off-setting the discussion to more internet platforms (such as reddit). BitVote users may pick up a popular question or issue in their respective community and start a proposal session on this platform to address it.
Anyone can start a question or issue on BitVote, similar to sites like Quora. If the issue matches keywords or content of another that is already in the system the user is encouraged to review the previous one. He can still go ahead and create a similar issue but the algorithm will still group it thematically based on content and keywords. As soon as that is done anyone that is registered with the system can see new issues by region, type, language, or other keywords. A brand new issue or question will not yet have any proposals in it. One can go ahead and start writing a proposal for the question at hand.
This is probably one of the most important central features of BitVote, the editor. As the user is writing the algorithm is dynamically scanning the content and searching through any number of sources (Wikipedia, internet archives, academic journals, meta-searches in search engines), presenting the results as a part of the screen (for computers, a secondary tab with notices for mobile devices). One additional source, is the BitVote database itself, scanning for similarities between the current proposal and previous proposals already in the system. From the thematic content analysis, the user can see relevant papers and sources that can quickly inform him to better his proposal, or to use them as sources. If the proposal is very high in similarity with another, the user will be prompted to join in support of that proposal, unless there are any additions, or sub-versions to that proposal. The aim is to reduce the total amount of proposals, and foster synthesis. The creation of more complete proposals arising from many many authors in the system. This stage can take weeks, depending on the configuration of the person who is running this proposal instance has chosen.
Furthermore, there may be competing proposal chains in the system with different configurations, and if both are set to public, then both can benefit from already existing content and work in the BitVote archive. There are cases where a BitVote process will be started by a corporate entity or organization where only select groups of people will have electronic access keys to see the full content (or any configuration of the above). In the case of competing proposals, one may arrive at a solution using different time periods, different groups of people and different implementer(s) or auditor(s) of the voted solution.
Content ranking is done continuously, but iterates up until after the Proposal period is over. The rank value of every proposal (or synthesis of proposals for that matter for larger groups) is based on:
- Support by primary academic sources. (Max 0.5)
- Support by other literature. (Max 0.2)
- Education or specialization of the author (thematic match). (Max 0.1)
- Thematic match to the question addressed. (Max 0.1)
- User ranking and ratings. (Max 0.1)
- Potentially other factors.
The voting stage is generally a simpler process but depending on the whole session or BitVote process configuration one can configure a vote with different rules appropriate for the occasion. And what should happen if a satisfactory result is not reached? Return to Proposal session for a set amount of time to foster more formal discussion, or re-iterate the Vote session until there is a clear result. Assuming there is a clear winner, this part of the process is done, now depending on the BitVote process configuration there can be a vote for who will be the implementer or a public competition for potential implementers to compete.
The next stage can be assigned to an auditing authority that will assess and report back in the system how the implementation of the proposal went. All this stays in archival to be used continuously in the system and also for historical record. If a great proposal and implementation is reached that will be featured and highlighted to see what has been learned, but the same really for a failed proposal or implementation.
We need such methods to be able to cope with the amount of information we will have to deal with in a large scale application of meritocratic democracy today – that means very big populations and thus countless submissions of proposals to dig through. That would be impossible without a smart collaboration design. The intent is to let the best ideas come forth, be expressed and compete. Choose democratically from those, and then implement and assess.
How will BitVote operate technically?
Unlike common online voting and decision support system solutions BitVote will run on a hybrid design that is both decentralized and centralized. With a hybrid Mesh network, even if commercial servers are unavailable the system continues to operate even in the event of a complete catastrophy in the internet intrastructure. BitVote can be recreated by users who hold the public encrypted database prior to the internet-blackout. Any user joining the network operates as both a server and client, but also interacts with distribution servers. Everyone has access to the public encrypted database and programming but cannot change the way the system operates (hijacking) due to the hard-coded chain of events. At the same time private identifying date are kept encrypted and used only by the system for authentication. This openness makes verification of the processes easy. One can see how votes and voting rights are distributed to members. Each member is represented by a cryptographic key in the system that is created initially by using a person’s multi-modal biometric data: iris, fingerprints (if available), facial recognition, vocal, interaction statistics (Behaviosec). Furthermore, this identity is maintained and updated by the system as it is being used, and by a request made to update a user’s biometric data after first authenticating with at least three methods of biometric identification.
Someone that may not have access to a computer temporarily or does not have one at all can log on to the system from any member/server-client that has biometric hardware (new members will have to have their biometric signatures verified at locations with adequate hardware). Since access to the system is biometric, one can vote without carrying around a computer that runs the software BitVote.
For those familiar with Bitcoin, ‘wallet.dat’ that contains the ‘currency’ – BitVote’s equivalent datafile is smaller and integrated into the networked system, that means everyone is keeping a copy of the file that contains the voting rights and votes but only the person with the biometric signature can unlock it and use it – also it will be fragmented in a mesh-type file storage for archival, robustness and quick access.
All the functions of this closed system are based on cryptography, as it runs there is continuously more added to the chain while previous additions are verified by the same process. If someones tries to push a piece that does not fit to the current and continually evolving cryptographic chain he gets kicked out of the system. In other words if someone tries to forge a vote or an ID that breaks the ordinary operation of the chain, it gets kicked out and the action is nullified. We could talk about this further, but to save us time Bitcoin is a ‘proof-of-concept’ that is currently in use for a few years without interruption.
Anytime someone mentions digital voting it often comes up that it could be forged – and that there is no security in such systems. Although centralized-only applications can serve as a good solution for now, it will not become accepted or help the idea of digital meritocratic democracy if we do not create a solution that is secure from beginning to end.