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posted by martyb on Tuesday January 12 2021, @03:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the Crowdsourced-Government dept.

Taiwan has found a way to use a carefully designed social network constructively.
As stated in the Tyee,

Taiwan Is Crowdsourcing an Everybody-Wins Democracy

They had to do something. In 2014,

Opponents to the bill felt not just defeated, but invisible. The government had promised to listen to their concerns, but simply hadn't done so, rushing the bill onto the parliament floor. They had the votes; they could get it through. So that evening, protesters scaled the fence, kicked the door open and streamed onto the floor of Taiwan's parliament, the Legislative Yuan.

Sound familiar from recent history?

Well, the government found a way to listen.

They set up vTaiwan, a social network where prominence is given to posts that further concord instead of discord. And they're using it to craft proposals for legislation. Anyone can contribute.

The article doesn't state how the social network determines which posts promote consensus. I'd like to know.


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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by hendrikboom on Tuesday January 12 2021, @03:54PM (9 children)

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 12 2021, @03:54PM (#1098893) Homepage Journal

    I found more information on the software they use to manage the social network.
    It's called Polis [participatedb.com]

    Pol.is is a survey technology where the user clicks “agree,” “disagree,” or “pass” in response to statements others have contributed. The user can also enter their own statement for others to take positions on. Pol.is clusters users who voted similarly into opinion groups using realtime machine learning (artificial intelligence), and visualizes those groups in real time. Polis visually defines and gives space to divergent opinion groups and breaks the community’s deadlock by identifying the points of consensus.

    I'm still not sure what the algorithm is, but the users' agreements and disagreements can imaginably provide the data they need to make the decisions on what to present.

    And I suspect the "realtime machine learning (artificial intelligence)" may just be a clustering algorithm, dressed up in verbiage to make it sound more impressive.

    They [pol.is] claim the software is open source and link to a set of github repositories.

    -- hendrik

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by looorg on Tuesday January 12 2021, @04:11PM

    by looorg (578) on Tuesday January 12 2021, @04:11PM (#1098905)

    I wonder if this doesn't risk creating little (or large) bubbles, everyone want all the things they want and now and I don't want the stuff I don't want -- even tho it might be in the best of the interest in general or to the general public. Still that wouldn't be that much different towards how it is when you don't have a system like that.

    According to a 2016 Civicist article, the four-stage process, blending online and offline engagement opportunities, operates as follows:

            First, an artificial-intelligence facilitated conversation tool called pol.is is distributed through Facebook ads and stakeholder networks

            Then a public meeting is broadcast where scholars and officials respond to issues that emerged in the conversation;

            This is followed by an in-person stakeholder meeting co-facilitated by civil society and the government, and broadcast to remote participants;

            Finally, the Government agrees to bind its action to points that reached consensus, or provides a point-by-point explanation of why those consensus points are not (yet) feasible.

    http://www.participatedb.com/projects/344 [participatedb.com]
    https://civichall.org/civicist/vtaiwan-democracy-frontier/ [civichall.org]

    Oh goodie you have to be on Facebook to get invited to take part ...

  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 12 2021, @05:47PM (5 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 12 2021, @05:47PM (#1098943)

    the users' agreements and disagreements can imaginably provide the data they need to make the decisions on what to present.

    Sounds ripe for gaming to me.

    Ever since Digg, the concept of up/down votes has been used to manage popular message boards ordering of stories, Reddit comes to mind as one big current one. Some people play for the obvious most upvotes, some play for the most downvotes, and some play to get the most controversy - a mix of up and down votes, while a great many people don't bother to play at all and just type to read their own writing. For those who do play, the strategies include things like keywords and phrases to "trigger" a big response - particularly among certain groups, publication at specific times of day to get the best positioning vs global readership reactions, presentation of a photo - particularly in cropped index form, etc. Even the Green site, and to a lesser degree SN, has a strong bias toward presentation of Frosty Piss to the readers.

    If the algorithms are truly open source, they will be gamed - actually it's virtually certain they already have been gamed, particularly with a userbase centered in Taiwan.

    --
    🌻🌻 [google.com]
    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Tuesday January 12 2021, @06:16PM (4 children)

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Tuesday January 12 2021, @06:16PM (#1098958) Journal

      From the description posted here, I guess that the system will give posts prominence that get many “agree”s from people who usually disagree with the one who posted it. If that is true, you can of course get visibility by simply writing something that you don't actually agree with, but that's just plain old trolling, not gaming the system. And it only works if you don't *always* do it, because then the system will simply count you to the other group.

      Maybe you can game the system by being consistently inconsistent, but then I guess the system would simply see that you don't fit any group at all, and therefore not give your agreements and disagreements much value.

      So I don't see a way how that system could be effectively gamed. Which of course doesn't imply it cannot be, but at least it seems to be challenging.

      But then, maybe I guessed completely wrong how the system works anyway.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 12 2021, @10:43PM (3 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 12 2021, @10:43PM (#1099130)

        You forgot sock puppets... all the best gaming approaches use sock puppets.

        --
        🌻🌻 [google.com]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13 2021, @01:21AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13 2021, @01:21AM (#1099232)

          I totally disagree. Since I post for both the RNC and DNC when either pays me for "advertising", I can assure you there are much better ways to game the system.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13 2021, @01:33AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13 2021, @01:33AM (#1099242)

          Taiwan does use something like sock puppets in an effort to combat misinformation without censorship. These accounts are used to post responses that e.g., point out that anything from qanon is batshit insane rather than banning the insane posts. These are used in mainstream social media sites.

          If the US had a system like this, every tweet by Trump would have been responded to with a barrage of tweets pointing out that what Trump said had no basis in truth nor reality.

          Not sure it would work here though. Trump supporters are not known for nuance nor changing their minds when presented with evidence.

          • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Sunday January 17 2021, @09:41PM

            by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 17 2021, @09:41PM (#1101697) Homepage Journal

            Not sure it would work here though. Trump supporters are not known for nuance nor changing their minds when presented with evidence.

            No, but it might affect those who are sitting on the fence.

            -- hendrik

  • (Score: 2) by driverless on Tuesday January 12 2021, @10:20PM (1 child)

    by driverless (4770) on Tuesday January 12 2021, @10:20PM (#1099115)

    Pol.is is a survey technology where the user clicks “agree,” “disagree,” or “pass” in response to statements others have contributed.

    Brilliant. Mob rule, enabled by the Internet. There's a reason why systems of government have built-in long lags and delays, and that's to prevent mob rule based on knee-jerk reactions.

    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Friday January 15 2021, @04:40AM

      by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 15 2021, @04:40AM (#1100395) Homepage Journal

      There are a number of stages that are not just doing what the most people agree with. The system seems to be set up (I'm not sure how) to encourage dialogue, not just parroting, and it appears to produce consensus.

      It's worth further study. There may be hints in the source code. There may even be documents describing how the system works in detail. I have not yet found them.

      The choice of what to promote is *not* appear to choose the messages that will likely elicit the most clicks and ad revenue.

      -- hendrik