Friday, December 09, 2016

Could your next vote be your last?

My recent focus on trying to understand the constituent parts of experience (particularly in relationship to the experience of customers) when combined with the impact of the capabilities of both Cognitive Computing and Artificial Intelligence raise challenging questions about the primacy of the self and therefore of liberal democracy.
This starts from the premise that we don't know ourselves particularly well - and therefore we may not be best placed to know what is in our best interests.
And that's built out of the Open Business principle of Trust. Trust is built from the belief that the entity you are dealing with has your best interest at heart (this is what partnership requires, too).
So first - why don't we know ourselves particularly well - and why does that matter. Anyone who has read my articles, the third and fourth dimensions of customer experience will have had a reminder of the work of Daniel Kahneman onwards showing how we make short cuts all the time when making decisions. We recall experience using the Peak-End Rule. We average our low score and our score at the end. We don't aggregate the sum of our experiences.
We have evolved to experience this way to enable us to survive in fast moving environments. It was the most effective way of dealing with the data.
Wouldn't it be better if we could take account of all our experiences when making a decision. Like whether to turn left or right at the next junction.
Google Maps already does a better job of this. It (potentially) takes the sum of all the experiences of all the drivers on the road and plots your routes in the best interests of all. It does this very even-handedly. There's no way to upgrade so that everyone else gets sent out of your way, for example.
It makes better decisions for us than we do. In Google we trust.
Ok, so why not let Google select our partners? By storing and being able to access and analyse all of our experiences (at least those shared with Google - which are plentiful enough) Google could claim to know us better than our Narrative Self (the one that makes decisions based on recalling experience in its short-cutting Peak-End Rule way. It also has everyone else's experiences and outcomes to draw upon for its calculation.
Should you marry prospective partner A or B?
Those using dating sites are already handing over much of this cognitive spade work to algorithms. In Google we trust?
And if you want to hand the decision making to the algorithm for the selection of your life partner, why not to cast your vote?
If the algorithm knows your best interests better than you know yourself, why not let it make the right choice for you - uninfluenced by your short-cutting Narrative Self?
En Masse, why bother with voting at all. Are we ready for Government by Algorithm?
Humans have been, for a long time, the best things we had available to gather and intepret data.
Control (via Trust) has tended to concentrate with those who both have access to and interpret data for practical benefit. Priests could interpret the word of God to give you temporal guidance. Astrologers could read the starts to tell you when best to plant your crop. As economies grew more complex being able to read helped you make better decisions, bureaucracies grew, measuring, recording, predicting data about fields and roads and cities and people and incomes and food production and disease and health and threats and technologies and the instruments of Government grew around these data warehouses.
Now, to predict the complexities of the weather, the markets, the needs of the people, we turn to algorithms. They have become faster and better at interpreting more and more data than the best human agencies.
So why not be Governed by Google? By knowing us better than we know ourselves it can provide for us better than we can choose for ourselves. If only Google cars were on the roads, we would need a fraction of the cars currently produced (most are parked at any one time) and we would all get to where we wanted to go faster, with less pollution.
Give it control of our health and we would all live longer happier lives and our medical care could be delivered at a fraction of the current costs. Take a look at what Google Deepmind is currently engaged with the NHS to deliver for one small segment of improvement the algorithm could deliver.
Give it control of the economy and imagine the potential for supply to meet demand and the wastage that would cut.
This feels really uncomfortably like centralised, command and control economics to those in the liberal tradition.
And it's hard to deny that's very much what it is. But the difference is there is no politburo, no five year plan - no numbers set by politicians. This would be an economy run in the best interests of those engaged in it by a benign dictatorship of an algorithm which genuinely has your best interests at heart. The command and control is the needs and desires of the people.
When the time comes that the algorithm really could do a better job of governing us than our politicians, would you be prepared to make your next vote your last vote?

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?