Equilibrium - The Decision Support System for Open Government
Online PR News – 26-July-2016 – New York, New York – Quite apart from performing online activism, Anonymous also develops solutions to complex social problems. Anonymous undertook a study of the global political and social systems in an attempt to create an IT system that could generally improve the world. Equilibrium was the result of this research. Equilibrium has been architected as scientific solution to resolve many of the major underlying causes of revolution and war, Equilibrium supports human collective decision making by projecting the consequences of decisions and only allowing better solutions to replace old ones.
This article should be seen as a starting point to a broader debate, rather than a comprehensive solution. The science behind Equilibrium gets very complex, very quickly, however it is something that can be simplified a great deal to aid basic comprehension. This science deals with the human mind and places it in a context of spacetime interacting with other human minds. It tells the story of how humans make sense of the world, how that sense changes with time, why we have different viewpoints, why we go to war, why history repeats itself, etc,. From this information it becomes possible to understand what is wrong with our societies and what we can do about that.
This story begins very simply, it begins with motion.
We are all very familiar with the process of kicking a ball, or hitting a ball with a bat. What escapes the attention of most people is that human communication, the sharing of ideas, is the same process. Communication is the flow of energy, in some physical form, between two or more people.
Given this, we can describe this mathematically. From the chemical processes in the brain of the sender, words modulated onto air and/or a gesture conveyed by light to the chemical changes it induces in the receiver, we have a good view of the overall process. The interesting part about this is how an idea takes physical form and its complex movement across large groups of people. How the idea mutates, how it interacts with other ideas and ultimately what that makes people do or how it changes their behavior both instantaneously and over time is subject to intense study.
What this means in practice for humans is that any individual is not strictly an individual, they are bound to the rest of the society and the universe by a physical world. It is a symbiotic relationship, one so deep that it changes the very fabric of who we are and how we behave. When we hear something, touch something, smell something, see something, etc., these little sensations are adding memories, slowly changing views, progressively shaping and defining who we are. Much like a rock face being carved by water over time, we are as much a product of our environment as we are of our genetic code.
We can think of this as a physical communications layer, much like the physical wires and routing equipment of telephone system or internet. As it is mathematically describable (some portions described statistically), then with enough information about the system we can project the flow of ideas, the interactions and outcomes. In this respect, it is a bit like modelling the weather.
In the articles that preceded this one, this physical layer is known as Voodoo and the process of placing information on it to achieve a desired outcome is called Voodoo Mechanics. Voodoo obviously being a reference to making humans act a particular way at a distance (i.e. Remote control/Remote Mind Control).
Whilst we can think of Voodoo as the highways that connect our minds, it has one peculiarity, these highways dynamically rearrange themselves over time and at different rates. To make things more complicated, each of our minds do not necessarily map the same idea, to the same highway.
To understand why these highways that connect our minds dynamically rearrange themselves, we must first understand a little about the information that flows over Voodoo. This is known as Memetics. We should all be familiar with the Meme in the form of funny pictures such as that on the right-hand side of the page. But a Meme is more than this, it is any form of information that can be conveyed between two or more people. Thus, Memetics is the formal science of human learning.
I have used the word 'information' and that is rather misleading. A Meme in itself is not data, but rather a program that switches genes on and off in the brain to get to its destination. The act of chemicals arriving at a particular termination point in the brain is where data is generated or already present. Ultimately, we know very little about the point at where data arises in the human mind, but we do know that there is no data (like a word, etc) in the chemical exchanges of the brain. That is, its not like a digital packet of information which tells it where to go and carries the data as a payload. All that a Meme contains is instructions of where it should go.
From this we can begin to speculate at why the highways of Voodoo dynamically rearrange themselves, the act of switching on and off genes has wider biological effects than merely routing the incoming chemicals. These genes also build new structures, interact with other portions of the brain or even other chemical processes.
The dynamic rearrangement of Voodoo, driven by Memetics, has direct impact on both our sense of the world and our behavior. Let's now understand those processes.
If you step back from the detail of our world for a bit, you will notice something very peculiar. No matter where you go, no matter what period in time, no matter if a group of humans are isolated or in a densely populated city, in general they all tend to do very similar things and arrange themselves in similar social structures. The specifics of these structures may vary and, in the eyes of some, vary a lot but it always follows a particular archetype or pattern.
The answer is very simple. Whilst we have free will to do as we please, we are bound by two key constraints. The first is physics and the second is chemistry. Everything we do must occur within these contexts. The constraints imposed by physics is something we learn at a very early age. We cannot fly due to both gravity and lacking limbs that can provide sufficient lift. On the chemistry side of things, we are familiar with the limitations of our physical bodies, such as we cannot lift a 200 tonne object, run too fast and we lose our breath, etc.
If we gather a complete list of these constraints and model them on a computer, we end up with a limited set of choices we can make at any given point in time. When we add two or more people to this scene, then we can quantify what potential choices they have under all conditions. This, in a nutshell, is Social behavior. Social behavior can thus be defined as interactions within these constraints that are evolutionary successful. That is, any combination of choices not beneficial to the group should, in theory at least, die off over time leaving only a subset of choices that we would call the behavior of a group.
It is this process that gives rise to how bees, ants, birds, humans, etc., arrange their societies (a society being a form of social behavior). It is this process when combined with Memetics, Voodoo and Genetics that alter the social behaviors of species as they evolve.
Social behavior changes depending on the context and numbers of people involved, this area of study which attempts to quantify each sub-type of social behavior is known as Social Dynamics. If you want to think of society as clock, where all the gears slot together to make it function that will be a good way to think of this.
Now, if you have free will, why do we always demonstrate these same social behaviors? Why is it not random or chaotic?
Obviously something is biasing our choices in life. What's more is that this bias is not simplistic, it is rich and complex that deals with almost every facet of our lives. From how you interact with a loved one, to how you interact with your boss and how those interactions form part of a larger world that maintains the survival of our species as a whole.
Whilst we learn a lot of these social behaviors, if we were to raise humans in the wild, they too would have their own social behaviors but they would be very basic much like that of animals and they would learn from generation to generation. These behaviors come directly from the genetic code and the learning process begins immediately upon interaction.
This is where things take a twist.
Human Biological AI
I want you to think about how these behaviors slot together. How they bias our individualism; subvert each of our respective free wills. Its almost like when one or more people interact, a part of each of us conspires against our individual will to coordinate the group. But how is that possible? How is this 'thing' controlling us? What is this 'thing'?
If we go back to where I spoke of the constraints humans are subject to, physics and chemistry, we can observe that both our perception of the world and our acts of volition are filtered through it. Our social behaviors are to be found in this filter that sits between the mind and the objective world. When we attempt an act of volition, such as to drink a cup of a tea, what is really happening is billions of neural circuits are firing in complex sequences to perform the act. This process is entirely transparent to us. We just reach out and grab the cup.
With behaviors, we have the same experience, we just act and are completely ignorant of the neural circuits firing. The interesting thing here is that with grabbing a cup of tea we can describe the act through observation of our hand, but we are blind to the mechanics or details of something like behavior as the feedback is limited. Thus, we have a rationalization of our behavior, rather than an objective picture. These two viewpoints can differ substantially. That is, we can hold delusions about our behavior, even if we are presented with facts to the contrary. The latter of course being a form of mental illness.
So, what we have here is a window of opportunity to blind ourselves, to willfully (or ignorantly) ignore aspects of our behavior. Further, it also means that aspects of our behavior can go unobserved. It is this latter process that we will focus on.
It is here that we are beginning to touch upon things such as synaptic plasticity, social conditioning, collective behavior, etc. Each of these things are defined by circuits in our brains that are subject to change. These circuits are malleable. If we are blind to certain processes behind particular behaviors, then there exists the potential for these behaviors to contain more information than we consciously intend. In the worst case scenario, these behaviors do not mean what we have rationalized them to be, they just happen to correlate with our rationalization under optimistic or limited conditions.
What do I mean by this? Let's provide an example. Let's say a social behavior was to give rise to a union of nations. Is that what is really happening? Or let's say a social behavior was causing a nation to withdraw from the world. Is this is what is really happening? From what frame of reference do we judge these things?
If we use a frame of reference of rationalization in the mind, then there is the potential for the physics and chemistry to inject things into these behaviors and for them not to match what was intended. An entire society could act out its existence completely oblivious to the fact that whilst they were nation building, something entirely unrelated was actually happening.
What if these behaviors were merely evolutionary behaviours designed to cull population levels? What if the rationalization of a better world, was like the sirens calling sailors to the rocks of the shore? Its not that far fetched, if we look at every society in human history, that is exactly what happened in the end.
To properly answer these questions we must seek a truly objective frame of reference, like physics or chemistry. Something we can quantify or measure. This could put an entirely new spin on things and that too is exactly what happened.
In combing the work on Voodoo Mechanics and Memetics, it was discovered that we are indeed the architects of our own demise. The sheer physics of the situation, combined with synaptic plasticity, social conditioning, collective behavior and information transfer (memetics) meant that it was discovered that our social behavior, whether it be nation or empire building, is merely a process towards to maintaining population numbers.
The one thing that appears to delay the inevitable is ethical decision making, as this assumes control from these evolutionary processes and filters memes as they pass throughout society, whilst also limiting volition.
If we look at this mathematically and define these social behaviors as a set, we can observe an independent distributed process that influences free will to effectively learn how to integrate into our higher conceptual rationalization of our social behaviors to achieve this evolutionary goal. Effectively, we carry with us our own predator in the form of our social behaviors, forever stalking us when we relinquish control to it.
Thus, rather than evolving in a linear pattern, much like waves on the shore we ebb and flow between a feral and civilized state. Periodically shifting between lower and higher brain functions. As our ability to critically think collapses in key areas, which by all accounts is a function of a predator, it moves in for the kill.
To understand the role Memetics and Voodoo play in a human's ability to make sense of the world, let's consider 'Control' as a concept and demonstrate both the process of learning and delusion.
Dominance and submission, to many this is the name of game. To become the alpha leader and assert their control over a given situation. The desire for power; ambition blended with guile. How does this match up with objective reality though?
To understand this let's take a look at a classic relationship between that of man and his beloved four legged friend, the humble dog. What is the objective difference between a master and his pet? From the point of view of the master, he defines what the pet can and cannot do. This is what it means to be master.
If this is the case though, doesn't the pet define what the master can do equally? For example, the pet demands to be fed, cleaned bathed, taken for walks, petted, played with, etc. We can argue that the master can withdraw from these activities, thus has the upper hand in the relationship, in an effort to define behavior of the pet but this ignores that the behavior of the master has also altered. It can be equally said that the pet has modified its behavior to elicit said behavioral response from the master. The fact that this may negatively impact the pet is not really central to the issue.
What we observe in this is Dominance and Submission are a matter of perspective, rather than an objective reality. In objective reality, it is a bound system of interactions between two or more entities with no clear center of control, or at least one that appears to move fluidly throughout the bound system.
So what is control itself? It does not appear to be something anyone holds, just yet another perspective of the observer. I have discussed before how we are blind to the nature of our behaviors, how this implies that we rationalize our actions based upon feedback rather possessing an objective view. It would seem that control is just one of these rationalizations rather than anything real. So, when anyone seeks control, are they not seeking a delusion?
From this analysis, it would seem what we subjectively define as control is nothing more than correlation from which we have derived meaning. Correlation, in this sense, is merely a complex random coincidence. An alignment of forces, or flows, through a system which the observer takes to be the effect of their actions, intentions or will.
In short, an ego trip.
It is here we are touching on two major theoretical topics. The first is Consensus Reality and the second, Consensus Theory of Truth. Both these theories are intricately bound with learned behaviors. Dealing with the Consensus theory of Truth first, we can understand how we came to hold the idea that control exists as this notion holds with the observation of almost all individuals. Consensus reality, or agreeing upon what is real, is the recognition that with some aspects of reality, we as a species have difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction as we figure things out as we evolve with time. Whilst we have always recognized control to be a subjective experience, the fact that this perception is a delusion had eluded us.
This is further backed up by science itself. If we consider a moment frozen in time at the point of collision between two bodies, who is to say what is cause and what is effect? In a similar way, if we take a moment of time in any scenario we define as control, can we objectively define where the control resides? The answer is no because we cannot discern cause and effect.
This now raises an opportunity to define control in the context of the present being referenced against a memory. This is important when we consider how the human brain derives 'meaning'. It references a memory to the present, or to another memory. This reference, or link (an association), when scaled to every concept we can comprehend is how we make sense of the world. The most powerful psychological illusions, or delusions, map erroneous memories to either the present or to other memories. This causes confusion, or a distorted perception of the world and the sheer nature of 'sense' changes. This is also the underlying mechanism of what we would call madness and what happens in a dream state. In these states the implausible seems perfectly fine.
Does this mean that our reality is merely correlating with our thoughts and sensations of volition? Or is it the opposite, that our thoughts and sense of volition are molded by our experience of reality?
If we return to my point about cause and effect being indiscernible at any given moment in time, it tells us we will never know the answer to this question. More importantly, it clearly states there is no difference. That is, both views are simultaneously true. This said, causality in our perceptions is always maintained because we reference the present against a memory which is in the past to us.
With all this information we now address the issue of control in any form of society. Regardless of the nature of the 'ism', or combination of 'isms' that define a nation, we know from the above work that control is nothing more than an illusion of perception. Any society is nothing more than a correlation and thus our view of any nation, social system, event, etc., is merely meaning derived from the memory of a continuous sequence of correlations.
Obviously, this view of society is drawn from a snapshot of a moment. Its not a surprising view given that all this occurs within the context of quantum mechanics. We must then apply a dynamic nature which reveals group activity at the quantum and classical levels of physics. This view of the universe sees motion, or the interaction of fields and forces applied to the system, a tweening between moments. It is only here, where cause and effect becomes discernible due to what is known as the 'arrow of time' and it here where we develop this notion of control and the broader concept of power.
That is, what we define as control is an emergent property of spacetime as a construct and human perception. Energy is routed through each of us and our subjective biases then determine where control is based upon our memory of the apparent source. The ultimate source is obviously at the start of the universe, it just so happens that this energy is routed through a particular person or group, which much like a waterfall flows to other people. A person may feel that they directed this energy in some way, but they themselves are a product of the physics of the system molded by the flow of energy in it. So, it is truly random, even if you feel there is 'meaning' to your actions or that you had 'intent'.
But what of free will? Surely free will is a form of control. The fact is that whilst we have free will, most people do not employ it. Study any set of interactions and what you will notice that the behavior can be traced to a combination of the inputs and the flow of that energy as it moves around the brain. Most of what we call decisions, are nothing more than the dominant energy flow found in the brain. The exercise of free will is to be able to reject this and that is a rare event.
I know what most are thinking at this point. Rubbish, I can move left, I can move right, I can pick up a pen. But would you have tried that if I hadn't called into question your free will? Are you not simply responding to an input? Keep in mind that the brain also creates the illusion of freewill by keeping you blind to the activity of the neural circuits. If it didn't, then social behaviors would not function and the species would rapidly die.
What we observe here in redefining the concept of 'Control' is that we have leveraged Memetics to change Voodoo, or the routing scheme in your brain. This is a process that is happening all over the world, at different rates. We call this process learning, integrating new information into our world view. The alternative way of looking at this process is that the delusional are progressively becoming sane.
Given that Voodoo and Memetics operate on the physical world Entropy, a very important concept in physics,is also critical to understand in human nature and, indeed, politics. Think of fire extinguisher, how the white powder fills a room and does not do the reverse. This is the increase of entropy of a system. Its just a fancy way of stating that forces move in a particular direction and our observation of that is what we have named the flow, or arrow, of time. What I have mentioned before in this column is that everything we do happens within the context of the physical world, within the context of chemistry and physics. What this means for humans as a whole is that our societies are subject to physical laws, that would include conceptual constructs such as our various 'isms' as our rationalization, or sense of the world, is constructed from physical relationships.
In practice this means that things like communism, capitalism, etc., have a finite life span and there is no turning the clock back. They are subject to both Entropy and the Second Law Of Thermodynamics. When an old social system does re-emerge, it will be because it is referenced against a new collection of memories, a new sense of the world. This Entropy also effects broader social constructs such as stability and conflict. We know from our history, our observation of weapons development that as time progresses 'isms' either vaporize peacefully in a transition between 'isms' (i.e. Soviet Union to Russian Federation), or attempt to expand forcefully often with very high body counts (i.e. WWII Germany). With 'isms' there is no prolonged central ground that can be sustained. Thus, it becomes imperative to monitor 'isms', project that data and reshape them so that they don't go through the forceful expansion stage.
So, what does this mean for our Politicians, common agendas and society as a whole. It is very simple, the current social systems are nothing more than a correlation, driven by past events that will lead to new events, thinking and rationalizations. It seems obvious, but many attempt to seek control or power then arrest change to retain that. Or they make the mistake of trying to mold the system in a direction that is not physically possible. Regardless of the rationalizations, it is a fool's errand, it must evolve naturally as what is really happening has nothing to do with your rationalization of society, it is a system maintaining an energy budget.
What does this mean for the control in the sense of a leader, such as the President, or a group of lawmakers such as Congress. Well, if we go back to the comment I made earlier about the conscious mind lacking a decoding layer to the patterns detected by the unconscious mind, it means that attribution of the source of concepts, and thus corresponding world views or sense of the world, is not always in alignment. What this means is the we are not always sure why we hold particular views, we can speculate at those reasons, we only know for sure that we do. Going further, those views may lead to consequences that we do not intend because they are ultimately a rationalization that drives our social behavior which we do not have an objective view of.
I suppose that is a complex apology for government not knowing what its doing. All said though, its not like life comes with an instruction manual and we, as a species, are left to deal with the repercussions of eons of poor decision making and lack of scientific knowledge to guide us.
Thankfully, nature has provided us with a response to the Entropy issue in the form of evolution. As the universe undergoes increasing entropy, evolution drives adaptation to increase the survival odds of a given species.
Having now examined all of the above scientific viewpoint on human behavior, the problems in our societies may at first glance appear to be insurmountable. They are, for the most part, a product of how reality works and thus beyond any measure of control. That said, there is one readily exploitable aspect, Energy.
As a physical system, Voodoo opens the door to a novel way of dealing with geo-political and large scale social unrest. The wrong approach is to attempt to leverage this system for control through manipulation, as it will ultimately diverge and with human social behaviors that diverge implies conflict. The correct approach is to restructure our societies to create a potential well.
As Voodoo is based upon kinetic energy, by creating a potential well which defines all forms of conflict outside of the well, then it is just a case of making the energy barrier large enough to virtually eliminate all forms of large scale conflict.
This is all very abstract, so how do we begin to implement this Potential well? What does it look like in practice?
The answer begins with a complex IT system known as Equilibrium.
Anyone worth their salt in Enterprise today will be able to tell you of the transformative nature of Big Data analytics and Enterprise Resource Planning. As organizations scale, it becomes harder to get a grip on vast amounts of data and a complete picture of the business. Not many people have time for reading, there is work to do but they must be informed in order to make the correct decisions or reactions to events. For those not familiar with Big Data, let's give you a 90 second overview:
Over the last decade, major developments in data science, processing of large data sets and visualizations allow managers to have a near real-time view of their Enterprise at a glance.
'Equilibrium' is actually an internal codename for a decision support system and middleware platform to support open government. Consisting of three major components, a data lake solution codenamed 'Styx', a data processing tier codenamed 'Dante' and a UI layer codenamed 'Dimensions'. Styx is from Greek mythology, it is a river that connects Earth and the Underworld. Dante is a reference is to the nine circles of hell, which probably sums up any bureaucratic procedure quite nicely. Finally, Dimensions is a dashboard layer to track every degree of freedom in the entire system to quickly identify problem areas.
The general idea is that each nation will host its own 'Equilibrium' platform as part of its migration towards e-Government. 'Equilibrium' is designed to connect the people with government in a collaborative working environment where everyone takes ownership. This is not 'government by internet', Dante's role is to crunch the numbers on a given solution, project the future of that solution and move it forward if it is better than the current solution. Dante has a holistic view of government, in that any given proposal (change request), must fit into the bigger picture and lead to a general improvement across the board, not slant government agendas to meet the needs of a particular group.
So, rather than pushing corporations, think tanks, special interests, etc., out of government Dante ensures that their solutions go nowhere if it does not benefit that nation as a whole. In this system, there are no lobby groups, just an open API to which solutions can be submitted. Thus, it is possible to have your economic agenda up-and-running within a week.
How does this connect the people with government? They can do the same thing. May the best solution win. With 'Equilibrium' the rule of mob mentality is not suppressed, but rather guided into structured thinking that leads to beautiful solutions. We want people to exercise their democratic rights, not be exploited in a fashion that only serves the interests of a few. Or emerge as a populist movement that threatens everyone. The average citizen, or citizen group, can make use of the APIs but a UI based around Dimensions will provide a consistent interface for publicly generated solutions.
The reference to the nine circles of hell is the hurdles or tests that each solutions must pass. At a technical level, this is to reduce processing load. Each submitted change request will be processed against an ever increasing set of constraints to determine validity. If the solution is worse than previous solutions, it is rejected and processing ends. If the solution passes each level, or test, it will become current policy. In the background, Dante will employ the latest developments is machine learning and data mining to create more optimized solutions to current issues.
'Equilibrium' obtains its codename from the international effect. By linking such systems, each nation obtains a picture of the effects their internal policies have on other nations. 'Equilibrium' will allow collaboration at the international level that will prevent abuses and mistakes that traditionally drive us to conflict. Everyone will instantly observe the source of a given problem and its projected effects, allowing them to steer their nation through the waters of international relationships with relative ease.
No more will it be about how much money you have, no more will it be about whose ear you have, no more will it be about whose eyes you can pull the wool over. It will be simply the facts, a strict focus on the issues.
'Equilibrium' thus replaces the notion of a temporary public mandate in quantifiable areas of government, with a permanent public mandate to do the right thing in a holistic sense. ' Equilibirum' also thinks globally, it defines optimal solutions that are in everyone's interests to helps maintain long term international security.
'Equilibrium' will also be the corner stone of international trade, with enough key players and a requirement that all trade partners be 'Equilibrium' compatible the system spreads to all corners of the globe. In the end, it becomes more about ensuring the health and stability of other nations by acquiring information used to guide domestic decision making. This way, we constantly reinforce positive decision making globally.
As stated at the beginning of this article, it does not matter under which 'ism' your society is. The system only assists in making decisions that are in your long term interests.
To provide governments with a workable vision, I will use the press release from Gartner's which highlights the 'Top 10 Strategic Technologies for Government in 2016' (June 29, 2016). This will assist in aligning IT with the needs of the Enterprise and introduce some common pitfalls.
1) Digital Workplace
The government workforce is increasingly populated with digitally literate employees, from frontline workers to top-level executives. The digital workplace is a business strategy to boost employee engagement and agility through a more consumerized work environment. The digital workplace promotes collaborative work styles; supports decentralized, mobile work environments; and embraces employees' personal choice of technologies.
The Digital Workplace is the foundation of 'Equilibrium'. To a large degree, much of this is in place already. This push at this point is break the traditional silo and engage government in collaborative problem solving rather than individuals being a cog in a machine. This means leveraging modern technology to free staff from the bonds of their desk where they add value in a more creative way. Over the years, many have come to understand that whilst traditional office environments are productive, they can be soul destroying and even little changes go a long way. In terms of technology and OS choices, the modern web is agnostic to such stuff, so the decisions should focus on security and what makes an employee most productive.
2) Multichannel Citizen Engagement
Delivering an effective citizen experience requires a holistic approach to the citizen: (1) using data to capture and understand the needs and desires of the citizen; (2) leveraging effective social media and communications to actively engage citizens; (3) allowing the citizen to engage on his or her own terms; (4) understanding the citizen's preferred engagement channels; (5) affording seamless transitions among channels; and (6) ultimately delivering a more satisfying set of citizen interactions. Adopting a citizen-centric information management strategy with multichannel citizen engagement opportunities will deliver quantifiable benefits.
With 'Equalibrium' much of this remains the same. There are a range of issues that are non-quantifiable, at least not with currently with publicly available technologies, that will still require extensive debate. That said, 'Equalibrium' will massively reduce this engagement as people will have direct access to modify government policy through the Dante platform. There will also be a lot less complaints and pinning-the-tail-on-the-donkey as responsibility is shifted from the government to the individual.
3) Open Any Data
Open any data in government results from "open by default" or "open by preference" governance policies and information management practices. These make license-free data available in machine-readable formats to anyone who has the right to access it without any requirement for identification or registration. Open data is published as collected at the source ("raw") at the lowest granularity, as determined by privacy, security or data quality considerations. Open data is accessible with open APIs and is not subject to any trademark or copyright.
A highly critical aspect. Dante will base its projections on both past experience and analytical models. Thus, to improve confidence in the system, all data must be publicly available. Any weaknesses in the system are to found mainly here. With poor data or analytical models, projections will deviate from reality and there will be a temptation to massage both data and analytics models to game the system. As a classic example, many HFT systems respond to well-known media sources, thus it is possible to manipulate the markets if you have control of those media sources and have quantified the nature of the response. As a machine, if the inputs are biased, the output will also be biased. This will be difficult with Dante, but not outside the realms of possibility. Thus, vigilance is an absolute must at all times. Much of the expected debate around this in the political world will be analysis of data and analytics models, which is devoid of the usual nonsense we see in modern government. It is more of a collaborative problem in simulation science, rather than general waffle by people with fixed positions. Ultimately, data and analytical manipulation will be revealed as the projections deviate from observed reality in due course. Dante will always maintain two view of the world, where we are expected to be and where we currently are. Such sources of Data will then have reduced credibility in the eyes of Dante.
4) Citizen e-ID
As government becomes more digitalized, digital identity will need to become more reliable in order to serve as the core for all digital transactions. Citizen electronic identification (e-ID) refers to the orchestrated set of processes and technologies managed by governments to provide a secure domain to enable citizens to access these core resources or services. Governments should require online authentication and identity proofing, because in-person verification methods are becoming outdated for offering citizens integrated and seamless access to resources and services. This "no wrong door" business model must be able to associate each citizen with one unique and persistent identifier within the bounds of what is culturally acceptable and legally permissible.
The barriers to an e-ID system is mainly two fold. The first is the tracking of the population by government. History has show that governments can and do change, thus with a quantified population it becomes possible to isolate segments or in extreme scenarios even conduct mass murder. The US is no exception to world history, we are all human. The second barrier is a more modern one. With advanced AI almost upon us and an entirely digital government, it becomes feasible to create "Virtual Citizens", effectively AI ghosts that can be used to manipulate elections, etc. With 'Equilibrium' this threat is massively reduced as there is limited value in building towards particular 'isms' as the solutions they would hold would never match the quality already presented by Dante. Further, you don't need such a group to change things, just provide your solution to Dante and you win. Thus, e-ID is an important aspect of 'Equilibirum' that ensures the average citizen has a voice in their nation and not something to be frightened of.
5) Analytics Everywhere
Analytics is the collection and analysis of data to provide the insight that can guide actions to increase organizational efficiency or program effectiveness. The pervasive use of analytics at all stages of business activity and service delivery — analytics everywhere — allows leading government agencies to shift from the dashboard reporting of lagging indicators to autonomous business processes and business intelligence (BI) capabilities that help humans make better context-based decisions in real time.
This is the heart of 'Equilibrium'. Styx, Dante and Dimensions combine to turn chaos into order. This is fed information from throughout government, the private sector, the public, military, etc., crunched and turned into projections and assessments. Internally within government and available through APIs will be a range of visualizations. What we do require though is a a single unified visualization that presents three key facts regardless of the source (i.e economy, housing, medicare, etc). Those three facts are where we are currently at, where we do not want to be and a status indicator if these two latter positions are likely to converge. There should also be a temporal aspect to this, so that the history is captured and a clear list of what factors are causing the deviation. This way we can zero in on problems very rapidly. This type of visualization is also at the heart of interfacing with international partners. The ultimate goal, of course, is to have all indicators nominal across the board in all nations at all times. This indicates progress.
6) Smart Machines
In practice, smart machines are a diverse combination of digital technologies that do what we once thought only people could do. While capabilities are evolving rapidly, it already includes deep neural networks, autonomous vehicles, virtual assistants and smart advisors that interact intelligently with people and other machines. Government IT leaders must explore smart machines as enhancements to existing business practices, and possibly as foundations for new public services or ways of accomplishing business goals altogether.
'Equilibrium' is a decision support system designed to provide citizens with a sense of control and ownership over their nation and indeed world. In time, it is possible for this to evolve to an entirely automated platform, such as a full scale general AI, however, I feel that must be resisted as we are merely going back to top-down government. The psychology of having a voice, a sense of control, is at the heart of what it means to be human. Take that away and no doubt this system would last as long as any tyrannical human government regardless of how great things were. To compensate for this, Dante selects the best human generated solution, preventing major errors and assists, through feedback, the education of others. Thus, Dante always challenges Mankind to improve his/her intelligence. This aspect can even be gamified.
7) Internet of Things
The IoT is the network of physical objects (fixed or mobile) that contains embedded technology to communicate, monitor, sense or interact with multiple environments. The IoT architecture operates in an ecosystem that includes things, communication, applications and data analysis, and is a critical enabler for digital business applications in all private-sector and public-sector industries. The business use cases and adoption rate by government agencies vary according to service domain or program mission. Government business models are emerging that take advantage of the IoT; for example, pay-for-use or subscription-based taxation models, smart waste bin collection on city streets, and the remote monitoring of elderly patients in assisted-living settings.
'Equilibrium' can make use of IoT data to help improve government services. From assisting with optimizing energy usage, to determining when road side bins should be emptied, there are plenty of additional little roles at the state and local level that can be offloaded to the system. It also assists in funding allocation to ensure that investment goes to the right areas in society. With Dante, this is a tricky mechanism. For example, let's say a local funding pool to support community groups in a given area was completely allocated. How would Dante determine that your new project was more deserving than an existing one? Does it have a sense of fixed ethical values? Does it pay attention to general support in the local area by requesting feedback on proposals? A combination of both? It is these little things that make all the difference to many people.
8) Digital Government Platforms
Governments face constant pressure to improve service delivery and save costs. Digital platforms reduce effort and facilitate user-centric design. These platforms deliver services such as payments, identity management and verification, reusable application services and notifications (for example, SMS and email) that are commonly used across multiple domains. Globally, governments are taking a platform approach to simplify processes, improve citizen interaction and reduce expenditure.
Common sense. Fragmentation of government services into hundreds of websites, processes, etc., is not a good approach. Building a consistent mental model, under a single platform for all services, is both more cost-effective and improves end-user experiences. For inspiration on this, look to Operating Systems, or online Operating Systems such as the Azure portal. A government is no different in principle, thus there should be a web-based Gov OS.
9) Software-Defined Architecture
Software-defined architecture (SDA) inserts an intermediary between the requester and the provider of a service so that the service can change more dynamically — in other words, it is the IT equivalent of changing the tires while the car is moving. Adding a layer of software to abstract and virtualize networks, infrastructure or security has proved to be a useful way of deploying and utilizing infrastructure. Applying the same technique to software architecture improves the manageability and agility of the code so that the organization can respond to the fluidity requirements of digital government and the IoT. Some government organizations have begun implementing software-designed infrastructure (SDI), but most are still operating in traditional data centers.
A fancy way of describing a dynamically loading/unloading plugin-like architecture, SDA establishes a framework where services can be encapsulated in such a way that applications are composable at runtime. It can be compared to loading Photoshop and with a single click it converts itself into Word. A very powerful practice that allows developers to define applications as meta-data in JSON or XML format. With libraries full of such encapsulated function, it becomes a matter of uploading a config file to instantly spawn a new application tailored to meet the needs of the public. Whilst the general idea of 'Equilibrium' does specify it, I personally would highly recommend it.
10) Risk-Based Security
The cybersecurity threat environment is constantly evolving, but it represents only one dimension of a complex, multifaceted set of threats and risks. Government CIOs must adopt a threat-aware, risk-based security approach that allows governments to make knowledgeable and informed decisions about risks in a holistic fashion, allowing for a wiser allocation of resources; more sound decisions about risks and their impacts on government missions, operations, assets and people; and engagement of senior leadership in risk-based decisions.
Four new trends emerged in 2016 with the potential to significantly benefit government performance within the next three to five years. Analytics everywhere, smart machines, software-defined architecture and risk-based security will each challenge governance, human resources management, sourcing and financing practices.
“Many of these technology trends change business models in ways that need to be reflected in more modern policies, especially those related to privacy or regulation,” said Mr. Howard. “CIOs will need to be front and center in providing advice to policymaking bodies and working with industry experts who can consult on options and impacts.”
In the context of 'Equilibrium' I have one thing to add to this. It should be an ongoing task to provide formal proof for the code, both it correctness and security. Once formally validated, it should be open sourced.
First Order Of Business
When designing whole of government systems, it is critical that we first align the IT system with the business. That is, we must have a vision of how the final system interacts and improves government. With Equilibrium we have a degree of freedom no other provider has ever had when it comes to a government contract; the opportunity to align government with the IT system.
What is meant by this?
This is business analysis, it is about quantifying government in a fine grained manner. Initially it is about identifying every self-contained aspect of government. This goes beyond the traditional notion of departments and sub-departments, to examining the roles of groups and individuals throughout the government. This process identifies what everyone does, how they interoperate with each other, what legislation that is connected to, the funding sources, the impact to the local community, etc, etc. Essentially, every quantifiable aspect.
Each of these quantified groups are then allocated a Dimensions dashboard that provides a near-real-time view of this aspect of government. This information is then aggregated into dashboards of the parent group, department, branch, etc. At the top level, such as Congress, the Executive branch and Judicial Branch, there will be the ability to drill-down throughout the entire government structure with clear notifications of problems areas.
With a common data structure, comes the ability to merge and break apart government in a fluid manner. Duplication, over-allocation and under-allocation of funding, etc., will progressively become a thing of the past. Further, politicians will no longer carry the blame for a poor economy, or be accused of being in people's back pockets. Dante takes on this role and the public has no one to blame but themselves.
Within Dante, this quantified information is used to define constraints. That is, it is the context within which a solution must be defined. Each of these constraints will be identified as variable. Dante's constraint model will thus be open for debate and reconfiguration, however, each new solution must be better than the old one in a holistic sense. That is, it is an evolutionary model with the intent of compensating for natural entropy. The debate is performed through Dimensions, either through a UI or API and that is open to everyone as they can only improve things.
When submitting a change request, which is the evaluation of a new policy regardless of its source, Dante will use these constraints to project the costs of transitioning from the previous solution, to the new solution and clearly show if the solution is more cost effective. Further, Dante will have a broader view of the economy and other quantifiable aspects which will have constraints that need to be satisfied also.
For example, let's say a small town has a Federal department that employs 50 people. Whilst it may make sense from a broader perspective to move that department elsewhere, Dante will know if the local economy can absorb those 50 employees or if they can move elsewhere. Thus, Dante may signal to US businesses that the area requires local investment, before implementing the solution. The ultimate decision depends on the complex array of constraints and their relative weighting or priority of consideration.
This change request process includes, as the final step or test, integrating this solution into the broader global economy and understanding the impact. Thus, depending on the global impact, it may be necessary to resolve issues in foreign nations also. Again, this is not a problem as you can only improve that nation.
In connecting with business, Dante does not dictate, it can however provide recommendations based upon its continuous analysis of the economy and broader social needs. This operates on a global basis, thus as businesses grow, it is expected that they will have deeper integration with Dante which can provide impartial recommendations for boards and executives to discuss. This is something that would be augmented by services in the private sector, who would track more closely line-of-business requirements.
It should be clear at this point that the Equilibrium proposal seeks to decouple the economy and other quantifiable aspects from traditional politics, whilst maintaining and indeed improving open democracy.
Does this mean politics is dead? To be honest, politics, in the sense of Congress, has very little to do with the development of economic or other quantifiable plans. This is all generated elsewhere, by corporations, think-tanks, etc., then brought to Congress along with a little sugar to sweeten up key people, which in turn is presented as simple Memes to the public that gloss over the entire thing.
The dynamic forces this generates, in theory, is meant to maintain balance and order. That said, in practice it does not work this way even in a Republic. There is always a bias towards particular interests, rather than an objective holistic government policy. At present, we can this bias emerging as what has defined as the 1%, which has the potential to collapse the nation.
This is nothing more than human nature in action and it arises for many reasons, finally taking on a momentum of its own.
With Dante, as a Decision Support System, final enactment comes down to humans and will be performed on an annual basis. Throughout the year Dante will collect solutions and present the final work to Congress for enactment. At any point, modifications can come before Congress that have been assessed as improving upon the current solution. Unless a fault has been identified with Dante, it is expected that Congress will merely rubber stamp the solution into law, thus updating Dante's constraints.
As the system spreads across the globe, we will generate an international order that works in lockstep to improve both the living and working conditions of the people in a holistic sense. At the same time, this will dramatically reduce many of the driving forces for open conflict.
The interesting things is that this is merely a slight modification of current practices. Politics, as presented in the media, will not change much. That said, it will no longer be the cynical distraction or a means to build popular support to drive hidden agendas that it is currently. Thus, it is expected that this will be toned down dramatically, allowing people the chance to properly consider the unquantifiable aspects of our societies.
In short, Dante will be the place to run right and left wing economic and other quantifiable agendas. Congress will be battle ground for left and right wing unquantifiable agendas.
There are many situation when a cross-over of these roles is to be expected. For example, opening a piece of spectrum for mobile phone companies. What happens there?
Well, the quantifiable aspects, such as economics, spectrum allocations, etc., are passed to Dante, whilst the unquantifiable aspects such as alternative usage are passed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Traditionally, it was all about having key contacts within these organizations aligned with parties in Congress (who were most likely funded by said companies) to sway decisions. Dante will limit this to certain degree. In the end, the final outcome is determined by the result of both processes.
Thus, in many cases, building political support will still be critical especially when many solutions are viable. What we want to foster is productive competition and leverage these connections to work for everyone, as the reality is they do add value to the nation.
In addition to this, much of the day-to-day work will be implementing changes from Dante. In the beginning this will be a vast amount of work, with time the work load will reduce and incremental updates will be the norm.
As we transition to Equilibrium the various forces that push us to conflict is expected to decline globally. As people come to comprehend the weak points in our system that drive these conflicts and underlying agendas, solutions will emerge to address the remaining aspects that fall outside the domain of Equilibrium.
One of the key changes that must occur outside of the context of Equilibrium is to the authorization for war/hostilities, etc. Whilst we have a legal mechanism to go to war, we do not have a mechanism to end war. That is, nowhere in the relevant legislation does it define what peace looks like, or how to address the situation after the major theatre operation has finished.
Equilibrium will also project the economic and other quantifiable aspects of conflict. Thus, in many cases, alternative solutions to major theatre operations may take precedence.
In time, the hope is that Equilibrium will stabilize the global situation enough that the guns finally fall silent on this planet once and for all. The scientific theories behind this are presented in the last article.
So, what is Dimensions? What does it look like? How do people interact with it?
Dimensions is a UI layer, much like this webpage. It contains dashboard indicators that show expectation versus reality for every aspect of government, right down to the stationary supply. Nothing is left out. These dashboards will have a simple traffic light type feel to them that aids quick analysis. More complex data will be available, but the simplest version is used for quick identification. You can look at government from any point of view, you can see what the President sees, or you can see what the Department of Education sees, etc. Nothing is hidden, except for truly classified information. Given that the latter is of military significance, it will have little impact on decision making as any constraints will be exposed to Dante.
What you will notice in each of these views, is that the higher up in government a view is, the more it aggregates the information of the departments below it. Thus, the President will have a single indicator that shows the overall health of the entire nation. He can then drill down as far as he/she likes.
Dimensions will also present tasks lists that must be completed by each person in order to bring reality in line with projected expectation. Ultimately, this is how a politician will be judged and there will be a formal record of their ability to deliver stored in Dante.
The other side of Dimensions is change requests. This is akin to the current practice of lobbying, only without the substantial lube. Rather than trying to convince a human, who has many questionable relationships, the process involves convincing a machine, Dante. Dimensions will present the UI layer to collaboratively work on problems in government, inviting open participation in any department to achieve it goals.
Dimensions is just a codename for a general architecture. In practice, this role will be fulfilled by a myriad of different technologies, much of which is currently in place or already available in the marketplace. In time, as the general architecture solidifies, a consistent look, feel and capability will emerge across the products.
Much of what the public views and works with will be available on a government portal/website and/or mobile apps. All these systems under the Dimensions banner will communicate with Dante via APIs and sub/pub models.
Dante & Styx
Firstly, Dante does not need to be a single monolithic system. Indeed, much of the information that will end up in Styx (the Data Lake) will come from departments running a wide variety of technologies. That said, that information will be prepared in a particular format for upload to Styx from every branch of government. Styx itself does not necessarily need to be a single system either, there could be many providers and solutions that compose this data layer. The general idea will be to abstract this behind a consistent API that is agnostic to the ultimate location or technologies holding the data.
Dante itself will be a collection of machines in the cloud constantly processing data found in Styx and strategies delivered through its APIs and Dimensions. These machines will examine every facit of government seeking optimal solutions, informing businesses of opportunities, projecting consequences, simulating the economy, simulating budget choices, etc, etc.
Given the nature of big data, we may find in many instances that data and compute nodes are located together and the separation is just a logical construct of the various APIs. Ultimately this fine details of this will be left to the implementers, but you should be getting the sense that what makes Styx, Dante or Dimensions is really the interoperability between the systems, which is achieved by some custom middleware, open standards APIs and data structures.
Dante will then push out the crunched data for consumption through its APIs and pub/sub model endpoints.
With respect to tasks that government officials are assigned. Dante will also track the dependency chain or sequence of tasks and provide an open record exactly why failure occurred. In this mode, Dante is operating as a project management system. This will form part of the ongoing process of lessons learned, rather than wasteful senate hearings that are ultimately whitewashed. In this sense, FOIA will be a thing of the past, as everything forms part of the open record.
The other side of this coin is Enterprise Resource Management where Dante will co-ordinate the efforts of government with defined workflows and communicate with external systems to conduct day-to-day government projects. Thus, to form part of the bigger whole, ERP systems will require some form of universal descriptor for workflows and contents so that systems can be repurposed in a dynamic environment on the fly by Dante itself. This will also require appropriate open APIs.
To support open democracy, for the economic and quantifiable aspects of government, Dante will ingest change requests from its APIs. Change requests will have a defined scope. Ultimately though, given the constraints, each change request may need to be evaluated in a context outside of that scope to ensure no issues are occurring. That said, if all the tests are passed, this is either presented to Congress as a bill, or integrated into an annual budget.
Dante will also be the primary platform for tenders government wide. So, best not to massage your figures during tender or widely deviate from projections as Dante will flag your data as unreliable making it less likely to be awarded future contracts.
No doubt many reading this will see things they could achieve better with such a system, or processes they can clean up. As stating at the beginning this is just a starting point, a seed of an idea. What should be self-evident is that much of this relies on machine learning and big data analytics. In time, as the major tech players provide commercial AI, these systems will no doubt play a very large role in both communicating with the public and guiding them through the exercising of their democratic rights.
I do foresee a time, in the very near future, when everyone has a government official in their pocket and not just the select few.