Distrikt Proposal: Socialité XIV

I know we’re only supposed to start this part of the project next year, but I had a cool idea and I thought it would be a shame if I lost it — and since I typed it all out, I thought I might as well share with you here!

Distrikt proposal: Socialité XIV

Socialité XIV is a distrikt based on the economical and political structures of Socialité d’Engagement (described below). It is named so for being the fourteenth experiment with Socialité, an open-source AI powered government practice, and it’s one of the most successful to date.

Joriam: some of my influences here were social media, meritocracy, that scary sesame credit system in China, positive reinforcement, youtuber culture, Japan’s Gross National Cool, Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness and the recent declaration from Jacinda Andern that New Zealand would change its focus from growth to wellbeing.

The system

“What you’ve done for your people is invaluable, but please accept this token. Our distrikt’s highest honour, the silver lens, which comes with the highest grand increase there is. Thank you. We hope to see you running for staff office one of these days.”
— Principal of Socialité XIV

Socialité d’Engagement, also known as Good Deed Society or simply Socialité is an AI-powered societal organisation system that affects both economical and political aspects directly and many more indirectly. It is open source and free to copy.

In this system, each person is assigned a number called ‘grand’. Your grand is a trade modifier: whenever you make any trade transaction (notably financial, but also others), before the currency is exchanged, it will pass through both parties’ grands and be recalculated based on the grands’ values. In simpler terms: if you have more grand than I do, my one currency mesure is worth less than yours, even though we seem to be holding the same value.

Grand is a fluctuating number that can be boosted by Deeds: verified actions that contribute to overall wellbeing of society. It can also be lowered by Misdeeds, though the scale is not balanced, the Misdeeds are expertly calculated to tank your grand so much that they are not economically worthy.

The list of Deeds and Misdeeds and their altering factors is centrally controlled by the Socialité’s AI and can’t be manually changed. Still, the AI is programmed to accept requests and suggestions from the distrikt’s population, which are generally assimilated with due corrections. The most important part of this system is that both Deeds and Misdeeds need to be proven by irrefutable proof, generally in a form of photos, videos or hologuides and always certified by either present individuals and/or present AIs.

Every citizen has by default their list of Deeds and Misdeeds widely available and public, though citizens that wish for privacy may silence this list and receive a neutral grand, generally considered low.

Some societal actions are limited by your grand, chief among them occupying political positions. Other societal actions are not limited by law, but naturally limiting, for example opening an endeavour: with a low grand, the chances of financial success are minimal, as the transactions are weak against you.

Societal Patterns

“Of course I don’t have a job! I’m 25! I should be helping grandmas with their groceries and running my local daycare. What’s the point of having a job when I haven’t proven how good I can be?”
— A Socialité XIV citizen talking to a Terminus citizen

Every Socialité distrikt has different dynamics, but some patterns can be observed among all of them.

In this model of society, the younger you are, the more you’re stimulated to boost your grand instead of your direct income. Thus, a large chunk of the population works in a gig economy with the true objective of doing as many Deeds as they can while also sustaining themselves financially. This involves a lot of voluntary work, generally caring for your communities (from the household level to city-wide) and having a diverse pool of skills that are trained by seasonal and temporary work.

Once the population gets closer to middle-age in their seventies, they tend to occupy more permanent and more administrative positions, as they had enough time to build their grand and by doing so established the connections and had enough experimentation and specialization in skill to find a more long-lasting arrangement.

It is notable that Socialité distriks have very little crime and an above average mental-health conditions, though it is also important to note that it tends to have more emigration than the average distrikt.

Origins

“Write this down, write this down! After our first youtuber president, we’ve proven once and for all that social media is the most important political tool we have — but what if it was also economical? What if we replaced money?”
— Meeting recording from ‘The Social Planet Corp’

The idea behind Socialités came from an old failed experiment. A long time ago, a capitalist magnate from the old social medias decided to experiment with a society based on the same principles of social media popularity, the motto was “the like is the currency.”

The results were disastrous, as very quickly the society organised itself by mere appearance and not by the production of any value or increase in any level of wellbeing. Thus very quickly it was shut off, but some aspects of it fascinated the people who, almost 100 years later would found Socialité I, the first distrikt of its kind.

Their reasoning was that interaction alone was not enough of a measure, but if a similar process was applied to verified acts that better society (in terms of sustainability, wellbeing etc) and if the verification process was accurate enough and cheap enough, then this society could be based around those acts.

That combined with an expert AI that calculates the values up and down to point society towards what’s lacking formed the basis of the system.

The council of truth

“Trying to lie to an AI is dangerous. For example, did you know that on average, the more rebellious people move their left eyebrow 3% more than the right one? Of course you don’t know that! You’re not a bloody machine. The council is, in fact, a bloody machine.”
— Character from ‘Breaking the System, popular Socialité XI movie

To prevent the repetition of errors of the past, the Socialités have something called the council of truth, which is an automated societal process to identify attempts to alter, misguide or exaggerate events with the intention of altering your grand favourably.

In other words, if you try to cheat the grand system by informing you’ve done a Deed bigger than you did, even if you present credible proof and find a suitable accomplice to vouch for you, you’ll still need to pass through the AI scrutiny of the council.

The system is very effective, especially by the sheer amount of previous data attempts it has. Most discoveries are made by pattern recognition and microactions that are invisible to humans, but easy to identify by expert AI.

Art and Influence

“You know, you had the better life. You chose to build this! Myself, I cleaned water. It was years of extracting salt, of screens and the smell of plastic. Gah it’s so much plastic. I don’t regret it, I think it’s important, but you had the best mojito I’ve ever had every day. For me, it took forty years to get where you started. Listen. Barella just started to sing her second set. This is exactly what I used to listen back at home, the difference is that now I can see it live. I’ll extract your salt until I die if I can come here every evening.”
— Scarla, Socialité XIV immigrant

The Socialité distriks are fabled for its host of artists, generally tending towards videomaking, photography and hologuiding, as those elements are part of day to day life more here than anywhere else. For that reason, people from other, even distant distriks have a good idea about how Socialité life goes, what sort of shows they watch and how they communicate. Socialité distriks are also famous for spreading slang like no others.

Since a successful experiment in Socialité V, the distriks have put significant effort into achieving strata status. The word strata nowadays would be translated as cool or hip. Once a distrikt crosses a certain strata threshold (calculated by the AI via a series of strata indicators), it acquires a lot more tools and exchange possibilities that have been thoroughly documented since Socialité V.

Most notable of those new possibilities is a high influx of expert talent from other distrikts, who come to Socialités knowing they’ll receive a high grand score by their achievements alone and will occupy a comfortable space in the most strata of societies.

Joriam’s final thoughts

My main point was to get the surveillance society aspect of social media and turn it on its head: you are encouraged to act selfishly by doing those selfless acts. What’s the difference between a society of selfless and selfish people (internally) if everybody is helping everybody all the time? What happens if a selfish generation raises a selfless generation? What if positive reinforcement was the basis of a culture?

Those thoughts inspire me!

Anyway, I’m happy to just let this simmer here until next year, just wanted to leave it around!

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What you’ve got here is essentially what I was doing in Numbercaste with some very interesting currency value fluctuation on top. I could potentially see a use for a blockchain-ish thing here (using words cautiously - most blockchain applications are so much hot air). But you could record a person’s deed history and use that to interpret the value of their currency during a trade, with some autoenforcement from smart contracts. Since a key part of this is solving the Byzantine General’s Problem - how do you establish trust in the case of unknown bad actors? - it would fit neatly in.

We can actually hook the State Machine as the AI here - one of the narrative conceits is that it uses behavorial big data, so at all times is tapped into traffic cameras, call patterns, sensor mesh throughout the infrastructure, whatnot. So it won’t be perfect and you’d have the aspect of lying-to-AI and council mediation, but it’d get 90% of everyday deeds.

There’s interesting shades of Star Trek Star - where the focus has shifted away from material to reputation (you can get all the food you want, but there is a limited number of captain’s chairs). Do we have unlimited supply here?

I like this. Let’s weave it in. @alberto, what do you think? How might the economics work here?

In economics, reputation or “social capital” is thought of as an asset. You invest in it, and the yield is in terms of reducing transaction costs. In Numbercaste this is played in terms of a smooth top-down system, which has won acceptance. It’s a “Silicon Valley solutionism collides with a basic econ concept” thought experiment.

In actual historical economies, reputation is always negotiated. “Big men” in Mauss’s gift economies are big only provisionally, by virtue of a sufficient number of people who have slightly different ideas of “good reputation” agreeing that yes, this person is a good person.

The most interesting econ hist stuff I’ve seen on the matter in Graeber’s Debt. During the Arab Caliphate’s expansion (circa 9th century), the Arab (rugged desert nomads, who despised and feared the decadence of cities) took over several Indian Ocean trading cities, where culture waxed high and trade flourished. Camped out in the desert, they exacted tribute, but other than that they wanted no part in running places they perceived as corrupt.

The new rulers refused even to enforce contracts. Trade caravans went out to India, China and the distant West: they left for many months on end, on handshake deals. If someone run off with your money, there was no court you could ask for justice to. And yet, trade continued unabashed. Merchants cultivated their reputation as impeccably honorable, which was the only way to profitable business partnerships.

I can not see how a reputation meted out by an untransparent algo (or any untransparent system) could be trusted by all. I also see reputation as multidimensional: the same person could be a loyal friend, but subject to frequent depressions and so not always reliable. We employ people who do very well when left alone, but tend to crack under pressure. A scalar won’t tell you this. A vector is too difficult, and it is not even clear which dimensions it would have. What’s left is the constant play of renegotiation, hustling and updating that characterizes reputation in human affairs. So you could have:

  • DAO-plus scenario. There is a system with the Grand etc., but people tend to splinter off and make their own little grands: more emphasis on empathy here, a higher premium for level-headedness there, etc.
  • Arab conquest scenario: the state does not enforce contracts, people are on their own. This would probably lead to people figuring out reputation is not ergodic, and being veeery conservative and defensive of theirs. No debt financing, for example.

Makes sense?

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Could work. The Arab way is particularly interesting. Take an honor society with an honor code (eg: bushido, where the broad outlines are agreed on and highly ritualized, although certain variations exist) and you have, in essence, a predictable formula - a human algorithm. Major deviations might be open to oversight and contract enforcement (provided whichever AI is judging implements the honor code) or completely based on a handshake and trust alone. @Joriam, FYA. There’s some really interesting story potential here.

How about a twist on bushido that teaches to handle risk? You could have prob theory koan, apocrypha of Ole Peters and Nassim Taleb. :rofl:

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Oh, hell yeah! This just became unique as heck.

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Also Bayes’s theorem. I mean, you can deploy it right out of the box for calculating risk of COVID infection, and no one bothers. Make it a religion-ish, or a monastic training… you get quite some interesting people.

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Dune, but with statistics and risk calculation as a religion.

Yes. But with the Taleb-Peters twist: when the potential outcome is Really Bad (Black Swan): life is not ergodic, so do not trust the odds. Instead of maximizing expected value, you should maximize prob of survival. If you die or are ruined at round one, there is no round two. That leads to asymmetric risk taking: you are relatively reckless with small-and-likely losses vs. large-and-unlikely gains, and very reckless with small-and-likely losses vs. large-and-unlikely gains when the probability distribution is fat-tailed. Taleb himself, as an investor, played it: he would short blue chips a bit and lose, and short a bit and lose, and short a bit and lose. But not go bankrupt, these were small losses. Then one day 2008 hits… and he makes it big.

But you are never exposing yourself to Really Bad Outcomes, no matter how low the probability. He has a mathematical argument based on power law prob distributions having infinite variance. Peters’s is more intuitive, and I cover it here.

Taleb himself observed that religions have some antifragility encoded into their dogma: ritual fasting, for example.

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Agreed. Antifragility as a way of life and an artificial religion built around minimizing the Really Bad -scribbles- yup, let’s make that happen.

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Oooooh what a lovely convo happening here! I’m really digging this!

I know Star Trek is a hole in my SciFi knowledge, never watched one episode (I’m not a TV guy), but I see the incredibly interesting power dynamics this can cause. I’ll have to digest this for a while!

Oh I have a clear vision here. Hear me out!

Picture one group that decided to use this system for ideological reasons — they designed the whole thing based on philosophical reasons and installed and made it work. Let’s say that it was not a particularly popular philosophy they were using, so no other group at the time was interested in joining in.

So they create the thing with their on parameters. And it works.

That’s the point: it works.

This group thrives. Soon enough, other close-ish groups start to pay more attention, some even start to explore the philosophies. Eventually there’s a first subsidiary, and it also thrives. Then a second.

If it works well enough, then five generations later people won’t even remember the philosophies and ideologies that created the system — the only thing that matters is that it works better than any non-AI government.

Dissident groups might try to create their own old-fashioned systems, to revive an old human-centric time, but it would be so unbelievably dysfunctional that it would be like somebody nowadays proposing a throwback to feudalism. Even if they succeed, any feudal state could not even begin to compete with a nation-state.

So I can perfectly image a non-transparent algo working: start with a small group that clearly thrives, expand to likeminded people until you have such a critical mass of groups thriving that others can’t help but to join in. It’s more or less how liberalism+industrialism spread out in non-colonial countries, it was not a choice anymore, but the only viable survival method.

My system could only work if the prediction AI was ‘good enough’, so there’d be a threshold and the better it is, the better the system works!

But I also am enticed by the two proposals you mentioned.

I also love this!

Imagine if we incorporated the idea of smart contracts into day to day life. As in: you agree to help somebody fix their ceiling and this is recorded somehow, and there’s automatic accountability. This would totally influence language and people would naturally attune to what they’re going to “try” or “see if can do” and “promise”. You’d have different sorts of romantic partnership contracts for couples with different personalities! Fascinating!

Also I assume that from an outsider’s perspective, this would be totally abhorrent, but for somebody born and raised there, a natural thing. And the other way around — the denizens here would look to the other distriks and think “these people can trick you, lie to you with no consequence, how barbaric.”

If you think about it, in my system most of the risk calculation went into the AI — it feels only natural that there’s also a chunk of that that happens inside people’s minds. They become AI-like in personality.

Thanks for the refences, Alberto! I really wanna give this a look, I’m just a bit crunched at the moment :slight_smile:

No worries, dude. Let’s definitely work this in come Jan. This is a very cool idea, especially given the historical precedent that Alberto highlighted, and I’m pretty excited to have it take its place among the other Distrikts Major.

Sorry, that’s not enough. If you accept that individual human beings have strategic agency, they will try to get individual benefits, as well as group ones. Sometimes the two are in contrast. This is the essence of the free rider problem.

Are you familiar with dual inheritance theory? It stems from human evolutionary biology, in particular cultural evolution. The idea is that humans are eusocial animals, like ants, but not quite all the way like ants are. They cannot be, because of fundamental differences in the reproduction cycle of mammals vs. insects. So, whereas most animals (say, hawks) are subject to natural selection at the individual level, and eusocial insects are subject to natural selection at the group level (with the twist that each member of the same ant colony has exactly the same genome), humans are subject to natural selection at both levels.

Group-level selection rewards good collaborators, altruists: success of groups depends overwhelmingly on their ability to collaborate. Individual-level selection rewards selfish behavior, sociopathy, free riding. As E.O. Wilson puts it:

the human condition is an endemic turmoil rooted in the evolution processes that created us. The worst in our nature coexists with the best, and so it will ever be.

So, imagine you are a club bouncer in Numbercaste. You are supposed to only admit people with a Number above, say, 1,000. That is how the club would perform best (supposedly). But if you were to accept a discrete bribe from a low-number individual to let them in, you personally would fare best, as long as you are not found out. The tension continues on. There will be a pressure to hack, delegitimize and disable these systems. I mean, look at democracy! It is in a nations’s interest to have a functioning one, with dignigity and high trust in institutions, but plutes subvert it, because that’s good for them.

So, no, “it just work” is not a Nash equilibrium under DIT. :slight_smile:

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