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The first, and vaguest, part has to do with granularity, that is, with how one would describe one's views in detail. As I said before, true granular authority is a difficult problem. I haven't solved it, but it's still fun to think about how it might work.

I imagine a simple web site, backed by a big database of issues organized into categories. (I'm assuming, here, that the problem of internet security has been solved.) Then, you could log in to the web site at any time and update your views on the various issues.

Such a format would work well for some issues. Consider abortion. To begin with, there would be a single binary issue, whether abortion should be legal at all. Then, over time, as the ramifications were explored, new issues would develop and become standard.

Should there be a minimum age?
A waiting period?
Should parental consent be required for minors?

And so on.

Actually, the format would work well for all questions of law. There would be issues related to driving …

Should there be a speed limit?
What should it be?
Should we use photo radars to catch speeders?

… and issues related to controlled substances, and so on.

Should there be a minimum drinking age?
What should it be?
Should alcohol be illegal?
Should marijuana?

Everyone would get to describe their own view of where the boundary between right and wrong should be.

For other issues, the format might not work so well. How, for example, would you set the budget for highway maintenance? You certainly wouldn't want to just enter a number out of the blue, but maybe the current budget could be provided for reference. Or, maybe a feedback loop could be created—you could say whether you thought too little maintenance work was being done, or too much, and with the appropriate constants and time scales the budget would gradually settle to the correct value.

To prevent huge deficits, you'd probably want the amount of deficit spending to be an issue, with tax rates set automatically to take up the slack. Then, if everyone said they wanted more of everything, taxes would go up; and if you thought taxes were too high, you couldn't just say so in general, you'd have to pick something that there should be less of.

The big question, though, is how the issues would be defined. I imagine it might be possible to set up some kind of self-referential system, where, for example, there might be an issue concerned with whether abortion should be defined as an issue. I don't really have anything else to say about that right now, except that the idea reminds me of the game Nomic.



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@ May (2002)