Thursday, 29 March 2012

Aggregating Diverse Views

According to James Surowiecki in "The Wisdom of Crowds: Why The Many Are Smarter Than The Few", the aggregating of diverse views is an important principle for solving cognition problems (co-ordination and co-operation problems are also effectively solved by crowds). In the book he describes many examples, from estimating the number of sweets in a jar to guessing the location of a stranded submarine. In the latter case the best guesses of various experts were amalgamated together, giving a result that turned out to be far more accurate than any single expert foretold. The book is well worth a read.
Interactive Democracy amalgamates diverse views, but the problem is that wide debate on the same online system reduces diversity of decision making, even though it allows diverse opinions to be expressed. So, my proposal that the debating points, clarified by Parliament, should be required viewing before any vote is cast (even though many may click past such a screen without reading it) may diminish the effectiveness of the system as a whole.
A summary of The Wisdom of Crowds is available here, on Wikipedia.

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