The Program

According to Mark Waser, the project of replacing human politicians with algorithms would yield positive results, far in advance of its nominal accomplishment. As he concludes: “I think that AI leadership is a tremendous idea, not the least because the path towards it necessarily improves human leadership (and civic debate).”

The extent to which the deep Anglo tradition tends in this direction is easy to under-estimate. Magna Carta was already a beta version draft of machine governance, as every serious initiative at constitutionalism has been. The principle of limited government finds its consummation in the ideal of rigid algorithmic constraint, and the impracticality of such an objective in no way diminishes the well-springs of motivation behind it. The programmatic erosion of political charisma is one obvious spin-off benefit.

In the Anglophone world — at least, until the most recent spasms of its degeneration — the call to empower the people has always been an unfortunate derivation from attempts to disempower government authority, by subjecting it to structural checks, and subtracting its discretion to the greatest possible extent. Computerizing a fast food restaurant gets you a cheaper hamburger. Computerizing government promises something far more deeply attuned to ancient political-economic impulses.

As Waser suggests: Merely letting politicians know that their definitive abolition is in prospect sends a valuable signal in its own right. Perhaps, in the interim, it could even train them to behave more like machines.

5 thoughts on “The Program

  1. a while back i went to a conference on bitcoin (writ large) and was at a talk by a lawyer was trying to sell us on the idea that self-enforcing/enacting e-contracts would eliminate the need for the usual courtroom-ish oversights of contracts and at the end i asked him if there was anything in the related law that kept me from suing if i’m not pleased with the way the e-interaction went down and he couldn’t think of anything that would keep me from taking someone to court over this but also couldn’t except the implications of this.

  2. Pingback: Magical or Machine Politics | catastrophic edge

  3. An algorithm can give a cheap hamburger, but can it give a high quality burger (granted under democracy we get expensive rancid meat)? Discretion, understanding the limits of the heuristics (law is built on heuristic for the sake of consistency), is necessary to elevate to the extraordinary and not be trapped under the repugnant conclusion (all being equal under the law is just egalitarianism,and if people are to be treated differently than discretion is a necessary ingredient unless all the differences and circumstances can be accounted for ahead of time. To dynamically react is the very essence of discretion, to remove that is to remove the ability to adapt).

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