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The Hivemind Singularity

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the i-am-kurzweil-of-borg dept.

Communications 277

An anonymous reader writes "Alan Jacobs at The Atlantic writes about a book called New Model Army (NMA), which takes the idea of Anonymous — a loose, self-organizing collective with a purpose — and adds twenty-five years of technological advancement. The book's author, Adam Roberts, 'asks us to imagine a near future when electronic communications technologies enable groups of people to communicate with one another instantaneously, and on secure private networks invulnerable, or nearly so, to outside snooping.' With the arrival of advanced communications tech, such groups wouldn't be limited to enacting their will from behind a computer screen, or in a pre-planned flash mob; they could form actual armies. 'Again, each NMA organizes itself and makes decisions collectively: no commander establishes strategy and gives orders, but instead all members of the NMA communicate with what amounts to an advanced audio form of the IRC protocol, debate their next step, and vote. Results of a vote are shared to all immediately and automatically, at which point the soldiers start doing what they voted to do. ... They are proud of their shared identity, and tend to smirk when officers of more traditional armies want to know who their "ringleaders" are. They have no ringleaders; they don't even have specialists: everyone tends the wounded, not just some designated medical corps, and when they need to negotiate, the negotiating team is chosen by army vote. Each soldier does what needs to be done, with need determined by the NMA which each has freely joined.' Let's hope resistance isn't futile."

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rst again! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40669979)

1st

Geeks do not form army (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670135)

On another tracks we were talking about what makes Geeks "Geeks" and how we are pounded by those unscrupulous scumbags

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2980545&cid=40659239 [slashdot.org]

And the author is talking about the complete reverse

I do not know which one is more true-er, tho

GLORIFY! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40669983)

Yes, these anarchistic bunch of teenage assholes being controlled by a handfull of old hackers are sooo COOL!

Re:GLORIFY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670035)

They are, arent they!

Re:GLORIFY! (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670203)

As long as they don't march on my lawn.

Re:GLORIFY! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670301)

anarchistic bunch of teenage assholes being controlled

They can't be both anarchistic and controlled.

I assume by "controlled" you mean buying into an alternative propaganda to the one presented by mainstream media.

For better or worse, It's just an age where people have a choice where they invest their beliefs.

The idea of a decentralized "army" is pretty ridiculous but ironically the definition of perfect democracy as the strength derives from the membership.

Re:GLORIFY! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670415)

manipulated is a better word

Re:GLORIFY! (4, Interesting)

tenco (773732) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670655)

The idea of a decentralized "army" is pretty ridiculous

You may want to read up a bit on how the anarchist militia organized in the spanish civil war. E.g. before going on a mission, squads would elect a squad member to be the leader for that particular mission.

Re:GLORIFY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670743)

If they had squad leaders and elections and organized a militia, then they weren't anarchists. That's not anarchy, that's democracy.

A real anarchist would reject the legitimacy of any squad leader or any other leader of any kind, and would refuse to be part of any organized militia or any other organization of any kind.

Kind of like democracy today? (5, Insightful)

saboosh (1863538) | more than 2 years ago | (#40669995)

We've seen what happens with democratic decision making, as the population grows so does the splintering and each side grows further apart. Unless human nature can progress like the "25 years of" technology I dont see large hiveminds getting too far past their internal "debates".

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (4, Insightful)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670013)

What 'democracy'? I don't know about you but I live in a representative republic. What the summary is describing is an actual democracy so, no, it is not like what we've seen so far as far as national politics goes.

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (2)

srussia (884021) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670159)

What 'democracy'? I don't know about you but I live in a representative republic. What the summary is describing is an actual democracy so, no, it is not like what we've seen so far as far as national politics goes.

Switzerland [wikipedia.org] perhaps?

Except that the country hasn't splintered or been invaded (although the latter may be down to having a SIG SG 550 in every home).

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (4, Insightful)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670201)

Quite insightful. Another quip I have (about the story since I dn RTFA ) is that apparently the story's poster thinks that joining individuals into a live feedback net with each other will somehow erase individuality. The thing is that since we are not exact cell perfect clones of one another individuals will tend to excel in differing tasks and - given a wide enough array of tasks - roles will finally emerge. Now I'm not saying that there actually will be `ring leaders` but surely the individuality of each of the hive mind participants will come to be used in the fields it excels in forming a recognizable structure and disrupting total equality.

tl;dr version:
The importance of your thoughts varies depending on the likeness of their field to your publicly recognized specialties.

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670395)

>but surely the individuality of each of the hive mind participants will come to be used in the fields it excels in forming a recognizable structure and disrupting total equality.

Any socialist libertarian or anarchist will tell you that specialization of roles is not a disruption of equality. It's only authority over roles that disrupts equality, if you take responsibility for a task because it fits your skillset, and you report to the collective rather than to a boss (or the collective reporting to you) - then it's still equality.

That's one of the most inspiring thing for socialist libertarians, our vision of small highly decentralized true democractic communities is no longer an ideal but a highly likely logical outcome of current events and technology.

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (3, Interesting)

tenco (773732) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670735)

Any socialist libertarian or anarchist will tell you that specialization of roles is not a disruption of equality.

Specialization will produce a position of power if your skillset requires a high investment to acquire it. High investment will make these specialists rare and not easily replacable, which they can in turn use to gain power.

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (2)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670753)

>Specialization will produce a position of power if your skillset requires a high investment to acquire it. High investment will make these specialists rare and not easily replacable, which they can in turn use to gain power.

False. If they have to report TO the collective, then they are in a position of service, not power. Some people may not be easy to replace, but nobody is IMPOSSIBLE to replace. Do you really think a thousand philosophers over 5000 years have all managed to overlook something THAT obvious without considering sollutions and YOU managed to spot it ?

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670279)

Yes, well. TBH I don't feel "represented" by those in the gov't positions I understand are meant to do so. This old idea of a gov't "of the people, by the people and..." ugh, like whatever, to me seems to be missing in Today's so-called representatives, I think *they* even stopped using that word. Flawed as we humans tend to be, they are looking after their own interests (read "pockets") influenced by lobbyists and special-interest groups and such.

In short, I don't feel that the majority of those in power in any government institution represent me, speak for me, or even look out for me...or the majority of the population. They are more about being "rulers" and telling us what to do, how to live, think, act and so on.

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (2)

yerpo (1370359) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670021)

That, plus "democratically" peforming specialist tasks doesn't seem like a terribly good idea. Who'd want to have their wounds tended by a political scientist? I wouldn't...

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (2)

dadioflex (854298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670033)

Have you any examples of democratic decision making? Our Western political systems aren't democratic in the historical sense that the people can each vote on important issues, as the ancient Greeks did (though even then it was a limited proportion of the population), as opposed to voting for politicians to represent/ignore them.

Even at a Government level, voting is rarely a democratic choice and much more likely to follow a party whip.

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (4, Insightful)

multiben (1916126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670071)

Try living in Zimbabwe or North Korea for a day and then see if you think you live in a democracy or not. The system you are citing is utterly untenable in the complexity of the modern world. We would do *nothing* else all day long except vote on issues we would barely understand.

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (5, Funny)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670109)

We would do *nothing* else all day long except vote on issues we would barely understand.

Sounds like what most politicians already do.

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670195)

We would do *nothing* else all day long except vote on issues we would barely understand.

The ancient Greek system could be modified so the sample of the population assigned to vote on a specific bill actually had some expertise in the subject. This avoids the representative problem, where politicians ignore the vox populi and obey their sugar-daddies. Then we just have to avoid one other problem. Stacking the sample, like a senate committee frequently does.

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670387)

I wish people would stop with this kind of argument. The fact that there exists worse countries than country X does not mean that country X is good. This should be obvious, but it doesn't appear to be.

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (3, Interesting)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670421)

>We would do *nothing* else all day long except vote on issues we would barely understand.

Bull, nobody would force you to vote on every issue, and one of the fundamental principles of direct democracy philosophies (such as socialist libertarianism, anarchism and the like) is complete decentralization. That is - no nation states, you'd vote only on issues in your own small community, and the decisions taken would affect only that community.
People would vote on the issues they care about, which with modern tech is already a minor burden and will only become easier and smaller in the future - and those who don't care/ are not informed about the issue won't be affected at all (not even by having to vote).

What anarchist philosophies teach is that everybody has a RIGHT to an equal say on all decisions that affect them, not that they have a DUTY to use that right.

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670759)

you don't just vote on everything you only vote on what your good and knowledgeable about. The right people for the right job.

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (1)

CycleMan (638982) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670449)

Democratic Decision Making -- no, it's not possible for a nation of 300 million. But try attending a town meeting in New Hampshire. They believe in democratic decisions, and much of the town will turn up to discuss and vote. (depending on the town, your math may vary). Their State House of Representatives has 400 elected members -- one for every 3000 residents. That's like having 100,000 people in Congress. (pause, shudder) This is the root of our American political system -- democracy at the lowest levels and a representative republic at higher levels.

Re:Kind of like democracy today? (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670807)

That's why you need 25 years of communication and computer advancements. By that time we will be a lot closer to our computers maybe even brain computer interfaces to automatically file opinions and reactions, and also artificial intelligence capable of filling, sorting, and analysing the massive amount of data generated. It's not like the /. comment system would be capable.

Raises the obvious question (3, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670011)

Let's hope resistance isn't futile.

Why? As far as I can tell this would be a good thing. If everyone in an army is making decisions then they aren't as likely to engage in risky behavior or unnecessary violence. The analogy is to how many have argued that the US has become more warlike as it has lost its draft, so that people favoring war are no longer in any serious risk of being called up. Nothing in the summary seems that negative, and a brief skim of TFA doesn't seem to indicate much actually negative as far as I can tell.

Re:Raises the obvious question (2)

phayes (202222) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670151)

I fail to see the advantage of mob rule.

"Democratic" leadership in military units have ever worked beyond very small units.

Re:Raises the obvious question (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670463)

The advantage would be it's very hard to kill or even analyse (the guy that makes the crucial decision one day might never make another). at the moment there is a kill list of the important people in the Taliban and if you could kill 100 of the right people in a america you could bring the country to its knees. With this system you can't dissect it the way the a modern army likes to operate, not to mention that the members can be anybody from anywhere in the world (you would have to kill a huge percentage to stop it). Sure you can't control information channels like with classic democracy getting away with stuff the mob doesn't want, but who says you need too. It's not mob rule as much as the right man for the right job, similar to how the scientific community works. Also democratic leadership in current military units wouldn't work because they don't have the tech to get, and sort opinions from the large number of individuals needed (/. comment system just wouldn't cut it)

Re:Raises the obvious question (2)

phayes (202222) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670777)

Lol, if you think that the taliban are unorganized you have a world of education to catch up on. Many are confusing guerrilla tactics with mob tactics. Guerrilla warfare has the advantage of melding back into the background but is anything but disorganized. Mobs have no tactics.

Re:Raises the obvious question (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670871)

I never said that. I think the Taliban is quite well organized, and in a good way to hold out against america. My point is it's not perfect, when america kills a Taliban leader another guy pops up but it's a young guy, they are big shoes to fill, and he hasn't had experience making those decisions. With adequate technology you could spread the load of leadership giving it more minds on the job and have no points of failure or bottle necks. How many good ideas are we missing out on by only having a a select few in charge?

Re:Raises the obvious question (3, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670199)

If everyone in an army is making decisions then they aren't as likely to engage in risky behavior or unnecessary violence.

I came to the exact opposite conclusion. Individuals can be smart, but people are dumb. This sort of thing is likely to encourage mob mentality, and I do not see that as being a good thing for the respect of human life and dignity.

Re:Raises the obvious question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670285)

was trying to be funny, but it backfired

Re:Raises the obvious question (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670287)

As far as I can tell this would be a good thing. If everyone in an army is making decisions then they aren't as likely to engage in risky behavior or unnecessary violence.

A word already exists to describe that kind of army (even if the army doesn't exist yet) - losers.
 

The analogy is to how many have argued that the US has become more warlike as it has lost its draft, so that people favoring war are no longer in any serious risk of being called up.

Which is an abysmally clueless argument because the people called up in the draft aren't the people making the decisions.

Re:Raises the obvious question (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670309)

But the people making the decisions are accountable to the voters, who would risk being called up in the draft. Could Bush have so easily called for the invasion of Iraq if the voters he depended upon had known they or their family members might be called upon to fight and die for it? It'd certainly have cost him a few votes.

Re:Raises the obvious question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670713)

"A word already exists to describe that kind of army (even if the army doesn't exist yet) - losers."

how are you going to beat them you idiot? who are you going kill? who are you going to nuke?

Re:Raises the obvious question (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670407)

Let's hope resistance isn't futile.

Why? As far as I can tell this would be a good thing. If everyone in an army is making decisions then they aren't as likely to engage in risky behavior or unnecessary violence. The analogy is to how many have argued that the US has become more warlike as it has lost its draft, so that people favoring war are no longer in any serious risk of being called up. Nothing in the summary seems that negative, and a brief skim of TFA doesn't seem to indicate much actually negative as far as I can tell.

Yes because large groups of people always remain calm and never engage in risky behavior or unnecessary violence....well, except for the riots that happen from time to time, here and there of course.

Re:Raises the obvious question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670737)

Generally people riot because they don't have any control and that's away of taking it. Give them a voice and you have no need for riots.

Re:Raises the obvious question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670533)

hell yeah mate. sounds a lot better to what we have now.

Re:Raises the obvious question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670799)

If everyone in an army is making decisions then they aren't as likely to engage in risky behavior or unnecessary violence.

This is plain and simply wrong. There is plenty of evidence that crowds are very violent and behaves very bad. Lynch mobs, Ochlocracy, mob rule. You are making the assumption that a group n+1 people always are making a "better" decision than a group of n people. This is wrong. It's perfectly possible that the optimal decision maker is a group of n=1 for a certain definition of the "better" function. A benevolent dictator is the way to go - and I'm the perfect choice.

NMA flies a kite (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670015)

I wonder if the author fully recognizes the primary downfall of the "NMA" model: boredom and single-mindedness. If the "flash-mobs" and other self-organizing units we've seen pop up over the last few years really do suggest the future, then the future is filled with groups who'll come together for roughly 15 minutes to vaguely complain about some particular topic, and then wander on off to ride bikes. All traditional structures need to do is weather the 15 minutes and then continue on as normal.

Re:NMA flies a kite (0)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670137)

I wonder if the author fully recognizes the primary downfall of the "NMA" model: boredom and single-mindedness. If the "flash-mobs" and other self-organizing units we've seen pop up over the last few years really do suggest the future, then the future is filled with groups who'll come together for roughly 15 minutes to vaguely complain about some particular topic, and then wander on off to ride bikes. All traditional structures need to do is weather the 15 minutes and then continue on as normal.

Ummm... is it? What if the need turn out to be "weather 50 new incidents spawning every 5 minutes, each one requiring 15 minutes"?

What about a population with enough time (because of the technology advances) to learn of a new "Whitehouse petition" and vote on it? How long 'til the "traditional" structures are obviously no longer appropriate to react to the needs of the society? (many of us know this already. Now, assume your kids/grandkids would be more able to process the information at higher speed than us and more able to put a pressure on the govts than the second amendment currently offers us).

Wont you think of the lobbyists? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670039)

they will all be out of a job

Re:Wont you think of the lobbyists? (4, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670143)

they will all be out of a job

Recycled as astroturfurs?

Voting is not the best solution (5, Insightful)

cripkd (709136) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670059)

It's somewhat of a sociologically interesting fact that in 99% percent of the cases, where this sort of utopic future communities are described, voting always come up. The fact that there is a network and a mean for people to be "always on" doesn't make people brighter all of a sudden. That sort of democracy can quickly turn into chaos and then anarchy.

From my experience in being part of some passionate amateurs communities I can say that leadership is very important. Individuals will always have different degrees of involvement, different degrees of the ability to know what is right for the group of a whole, different degrees of objectivity, education, selflessness. And even different agendas. Individuals in a group might sincerely believe that their way is the best.
What I'm trying to say is that voting is not always the best solution, leadership (formal or informal) and fast decision making abilities are more important. Having a vision and seeing "the path" is more important than wasting time and energy (think of how long it takes in a group of people larger than 3 to decide where to eat out and multiply by ten for "important stuff") to vote all the time.

I'm not saying that democracy is overrated but not even democracy supposes that people vote on every single aspect. That's where the idea of a parliament (or similar institution) comes from. You're supposed to have your interests represented by people with knowledge, leadership skills, vision and desire to serve the community.
Then again, we also know how that turns out :)

Re:Voting is not the best solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670155)

That sort of democracy can quickly turn into chaos and then anarchy.

Only if the group involved in a participative democracy is large/heterogeneous enough. May not happen in a "Hive mind".

Switzerland (5, Interesting)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670217)

That sort of democracy can quickly turn into chaos and then anarchy.

You might think that yet Switzerland has a democratic system which is the closest I have seen to the "everyone votes on everything" idea and yet is an incredibly stable country. I think part of the reason for this is that people get to decide things at the local level which makes for strong communities since they have a sense of control. Certainly you don't seem to get the usual sense of powerlessness caused by the politicians listening to rich special interest groups and trampling all over society in their hurry to get that money.

Re:Switzerland (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670315)

That sort of democracy can quickly turn into chaos and then anarchy.

You might think that yet Switzerland has a democratic system which is the closest I have seen to the "everyone votes on everything" idea and yet is an incredibly stable country. I think part of the reason for this is that people get to decide things at the local level which makes for strong communities since they have a sense of control. Certainly you don't seem to get the usual sense of powerlessness caused by the politicians listening to rich special interest groups and trampling all over society in their hurry to get that money.

True, the fact that local things get decided locally [llrx.com] is one of the things that make the system work (each of its 26 cantons (states) has its own constitution, its own executive, its own parliament, its own courts and its own law).

Probably another particularity which makes the things work is something that the americans would probably consider crazy - cooperation [llrx.com] and not competition in politics. Seems to me as a country that evolved on the idea that a stable community will offer better chances for everybody be happy than "the pursuit of happiness on individual basis". Weird, eh?

Re:Switzerland (1)

Corbets (169101) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670515)

That sort of democracy can quickly turn into chaos and then anarchy.

You might think that yet Switzerland has a democratic system which is the closest I have seen to the "everyone votes on everything" idea and yet is an incredibly stable country. I think part of the reason for this is that people get to decide things at the local level which makes for strong communities since they have a sense of control. Certainly you don't seem to get the usual sense of powerlessness caused by the politicians listening to rich special interest groups and trampling all over society in their hurry to get that money.

True. However, we also don't vote on everything - our elected politicians make many of the decisions, and we simply hold a referundum if 100'000 people or more sign a petition saying that they think it's necessary.

Re:Voting is not the best solution (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670443)

>That sort of democracy can quickly turn into chaos and then anarchy.

There is no similarity between chaos and anarchy. Please educate yourself on anarchist philosophy before equating it with chaos. The absence of authority does not equal lawlessness.
Somalia has no legitimate government but it certainly is NOT an anarchism either (though it is chaos).
Iceland on the other hand was an anarchism for nearly 200 years - and it worked very, very well.

Re:Voting is not the best solution (1)

cripkd (709136) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670605)

I happen to know a few things about anarchy as an ideology. I admit my phrasing was not the most fortunate, but yes, I tend to equate anarchy with chaos in the end because I don't believe in it as a real solution that actually works.
In the real world anarchy will degrade to chaos. Funny you should mention Iceland. That didn't turn out so well in the end. Power struggles between individuals ended that.
Plus I'm sure we can find countries that have been NOT anarchies for more than 200 years, right?
And come on, are really discussing the 12th century?

Re:Voting is not the best solution (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670703)

Personally I blame the eventual end of Iceland's anarchy on the fact that it was a capitalist anarchy rather than a collectivist one.

That said - historical context is valuable in evaluating the possible results of a philosophy but it's certainly not absolute - there was one revolution that ended up in a fairly free democratic state without just replacing one dictator with another.
One must also consider the circumstances of a particular instance, something that never worked before for anybody may work for somebody, somewhere.
Participism is a form of socialist-libertarianism (which itself is a form of a collectivist-anarchism) that seems to be very well thought out and likely practically feasible.

More importantly - new technologies make possible ideas that were previously untenable. The largest city of the ancient world was Rome. In Ancient times it's population was estimated to have maxed out around 600 thousand people. Today it's a city of 2.8 million people - and if you count the greater metropolitan area a more accurate figure of almost 4 million people.

A city that size would simply have been impossible to manage or govern with ancient technology, but today it's not even one of the largest in the world.
In the same way - many of the failings of various anarchist philosophy could potentially be overcome by modern technology (and high literacy levels) - at least in theory.
Not to mention that most anarchist philosophies are fundamentally built on large-scale decentralization - one way of reducing the potential for chaos is to keep the voting communities (and thus the issues they have to vote on and the impact of their votes) very small and localized.

Re:Voting is not the best solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670577)

>I'm not saying that democracy is overrated

It could be.

The ideal system is a perfectly designed Benevolent Robot Dictator. No corruption, just does the duty of protecting the individual rights of his constituents and keeping the fabric of society together.

(I'm talking theoretically, of course.)

Re:Voting is not the best solution (1)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670793)

That's where the idea of a parliament (or similar institution) comes from. You're supposed to have your interests represented by people with knowledge, leadership skills, vision and desire to serve the community.
Then again, we also know how that turns out :)

The idea of parliament is brilliant. Unfortunately, the current implementation just plain sucks.

My personal belief is that we have two historic examples of parliament working very well. One is the (old, not the current) british constitutional monarchy, with the two very different houses serving different purposes, working on different principles (inherited vs. elected) with different interests (long-term vs. short-term) and keeping each other in check. It worked because for every shortcoming of one house, the other had a balancing factor.
The other is the old athenian democracy, in which representation was limited to the educated class and the system was set up so that everyone was constantly involved with the public good - for example, there was a civil service that had no fixed staff, but every athenian had to serve as a public servant for a fixed time every few years. Imagine how much more friendly the public servants must've been, if only because they were on the other side of that desk most of the time.

Re:Voting is not the best solution (1)

cripkd (709136) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670851)

Yes, the idea that we could all take turns to hold various public jobs or position is a great one, however, somewhat sadly, impossible today. In today's capitalistic market and work environment no one wants to take x months off their current high paying job to go sit a public office. Nor does today's level of specialization (even in public jobs) allow for that.
But I guess a system where I'm taken and used somewhere according to my skills and to my current salary could be investigated.
Another way we could achieve similar results would be to actually vote for every local public function (judges, trade offices staff, customs officers etc) even if that contradicts my original opinion of not voting for every little thing :)

Crowdsourced medicine is the future! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670065)

God knows that if I'm suffering hypovolemic shock concomitant to massive war trauma, I want nothing more than the wisdom of the crowd!

Stupid hierarchical medical profession: all of my comrades can Google "How to start an IV" and hit up the Wikipedia page on exploratory laparotomies. Hell, I bet there's an instructables on how to install a Wittmann patch. Oh wait, I already feel confident/competent enough after seeing the Wittmann Patch [wikipedia.org] Wikipedia page.

Excuse me, I'm off to check the eHow for "How to scrub in for surgical procedures"...

Sounds like Daemon/Freedom by Daniel Suarez (3)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670077)

I haven't read this book, but I'd be shocked if it were better or more interesting than Daemon and Freedom by Daniel Suarez - which vividly represented the same sort of organizational idea, but set inside a truly impressive narrative. Check out his talk at Long Now [fora.tv] to get a taste.

Re:Sounds like Daemon/Freedom by Daniel Suarez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670599)

Also like "The Invincible" by Stanislaw Lem - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Invincible

Why the technical advancement? (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670081)

I just read the blurb but I don't see where the 25 years of technical advancement comes in. We have all the communication tools available already.

Re:Why the technical advancement? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670339)

Almost all. We'd need much improved decentralised ad-hoc networking, otherwise the army can be defeated by simply turning off the cellphone masts.

What about spies? (3, Insightful)

pipedwho (1174327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670089)

You can assume that there will be a foreign agent pretending to be part of the 'army' using an equally secure link to send out the planned activities to the adversary.

And what happens if a large number of equally 'anonymous' agents are influencing the vote and then following through with counter actions to whatever is decided?

Re:What about spies? (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670125)

If it were that easy, Anonymous wouldn't exist and be effective now. They obviously do and are despite the occasional culling of a member here and there. The only difference I can see in what the summary describes is they would work faster. Check your presumptions.

Re:What about spies? (1)

pipedwho (1174327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670181)

Your assuming Anonymous isn't just a small number of guys that can behave relatively safely within a reasonable degree of trust. That kind of trust does not scale. That's my assumption.

Re:What about spies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670723)

Anonymous is a swarm, not a hive mind. Anonymous doesn't exist. Anonymous doesn't have opinion on things, it has all the possible opinions. Anonymous on "does" something when large enough subset of the swarm do something ( or a smaller clique "inside anonymous" ) Anonymous could be you, or me, and then the next minute someone else. Someone brings up an idea, and if it will cause lulz it might get done. It's nobodys personal army, as far as I know. But in some cases it might be.

Hmm...sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670103)

You mean like The Borg?

The crowd can get pretty psychotic (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670121)

I don't think this would help much

Dystopia (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670123)

Is this book about a Dystopia? This sounds like such an incredibly clumsy and inefficient system that I'm hoping the book is a lost Stanislaw Lem satire.

Re:Dystopia (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670355)

Is this book about a Dystopia? This sounds like such an incredibly clumsy and inefficient system that I'm hoping the book is a lost Stanislaw Lem satire.

Ummm... like "The Trap of Gargantius"? It's not quite lost and I wouldn't consider it a satire.

How revolutions eat their children (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670131)

That's a classic way to run a resistance movement. Mao, Marighella, the IRA, al-Queda, etc. It works fairly well in the early phases. As the revolution advances, tighter coordination is necessary. This leads to centralized leadership. In the end, there's a Stalin or a Castro.

The US is one of the very few countries to get a stable democracy out of a revolution. That's not what usually happens.

Re:How revolutions eat their children (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670231)

The US is one of the very few countries to get a stable democracy out of a revolution

That's because the the US revolution was led by the rich and educated.

Revolutions are frequently funded and led by the middle class who mostly want a pay-rise. This causes an internal war as the new ruling party, copy the old ruling class and are killed for disappointing the party faithful.

Re:How revolutions eat their children (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670311)

Pol Pot went to the Sorbonne...

Re:How revolutions eat their children (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670251)

The US is one of the very few countries to get a stable democracy out of a revolution. That's not what usually happens.

That's because the American Revolution was led by men of God.

Whereas usually what happens is that they're run by bloodthirsty Marxist assholes.

Re:How revolutions eat their children (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670353)

Poe's Law in action. If this weren't posted on Slashdot, I'd assume you were serious. I troll a few sites where comments like that are very typical.

Re:How revolutions eat their children (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670549)

If this weren't posted on Slashdot, I'd assume you were serious.

You forget that Slashdot is not quite 100% comprised of Marxist assholes.

But I know you 99% are working on it.

Re:How revolutions eat their children (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670363)

Keeping and beating slaves is not being an asshole?

Re:How revolutions eat their children (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670295)

The US is one of the very few countries to get a stable democracy out of a revolution. That's not what usually happens.

France and India for starters.

Resist What? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670183)

Let's hope resistance isn't futile.

Why? Why is this a bad thing? Because the organizational units are not based on geographic boundaries? This is just a new kind of nation-state that is forming in cyberspace, and they will establish their sovereignty using the same tools of diplomacy that we use in traditional geopolitics; force, propaganda, influence, and intimidation. These new entities don't all fall along traditional geopolitical boundaries, but that doesn't make them inherently evil. In fact, they may wind up being a particularly effective balance against multinationals and governments that act in concert via treaties.

Multinational corporations and governments are already arming themselves for cyber warfare. Corporations are wielding semantic analysis, shilling, and astroturfing to manipulate public perception and change the course of governments all over the world. Governments are bordering on open war in cyberspace.

Which is more dangerous: For citizens to be armed, or for oligarchs to go unchecked? Reading the Declaration of Independence may give you some insight into the conclusion reached by what became the most powerful nation-state in history.

Re:Resist What? (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670539)

oh no don't give me freedom, a voice, and a vote on everything i care about not just the stuff that doesn't matter.

Who gets punished? (3, Interesting)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670213)

Inevitably, we can imagine that if groups like these actually existed, one would eventually engage in a war crime of some sort. When that happens, who would be punished? The ones perpetrating it? The people who voted in support of the crime? Those who were aware of it? The entire group?

Re:Who gets punished? (1)

jxander (2605655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670267)

There will definitely be some thorny legal issues if a tech-based telepathy ever becomes reality.

Re:Who gets punished? (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670473)

It's a fallacy to raise an objection to an idea if the system it's meant to replace has the same problem. "Not an improvement with regard to X" doesn't mean it is not an improvement in other ways.

And this really is a "not an improvement" thing- right now the most powerful army on earth and it's leaders is immune to prosecution from the international court we set up to prosecute war crimes. They actually claim the right to deliver accused war criminals to that court for judgement but refuse to recognize it for their own actions - and nobody has the political, economic or military clout to force them to do so.
The only time anybody gets punished for war crimes by the USA is when a soldier with a conscience leaks the video and they are forced to hold court-martials for P.R. reasons. Why do you think that this would NOT happen with the kind of consensus based military predicted here ?

Democracy usually leads to Oligarchy (2)

mentil (1748130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670239)

Unfortunately one of the first votes the generalists agree on is to delegate power to specialists, including leaders. It's the Iron Law of Oligarchy. [wikipedia.org]

If your unit gets surprise attacked by the enemy, do you want to spend 5 minutes (at least) calling an online vote on whether to counterattack or retreat, or do you want a commander to give an immediate order?

Anyone remember the Millennium Challenge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670245)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Challenge_2002

I believe it has already been proven that the US would fail.

Michael

Eh (3, Insightful)

jxander (2605655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670255)

Even though my buddies and I can hive-mind our decisions, it still takes us 15 minutes to decide on pizza toppings.

Or, to put it more plainly, knowing what we're all thinking won't necessarily help the individuals cast their mental "votes" any quicker.

Tesla touched on bees (2)

bohobourgie (1598707) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670269)

In a creepy [tfcbooks.com] lawful neutral fashion. The current reality is a bit more mercenary. Leaderless armies tending their wounded pan out doesn't seem that near. Might make more insular groups down the road.

Bullshit that should not concern anyone. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670275)

I was an army medic, and can tell you right off the bat this idea is bullshit it several different directions. First, no army ever could or would fight this way. The notion of the egalitarian army with no leadership is not really different from a mob. An army works because of the top-down nature of command. In order for all the so-called soldiers to 'vote' on decisions, they'd all have to know what's going on. Otherwise they're voting without having any clue as to what effect their votes might have. There is neither the time, nor the capability, even with this so-called "advanced" communications they're supposed to have, to brief EVERYONE, so either you're going to be wasting time informing everyone then debating everything, getting nothing done, or you're going to have people who don't know what's happening making decisions, either with NO intel, or with undigested and probably misinterpreted intel at every step.

As for the commo, people cannot in my experience, concentrate on more than one conversation at a time. Try it some time if you don't believe.

As for the cockamamie idea of having everyone tend to the wounded... the modern US military has as its new doctrine that every soldier learn basic medical skills. This has actually been the case for years, maybe decades, but recently the expected level of medical proficiency (of all soldiers) went from "buddy-aid", like applying field-dressings to wounds and cooling someone suffering heat-stroke, to every swinging dick being Combat Lifesaver certified. However, that course is about a week long. When I went through, Combat Medic School (Healthcare Specialist Course, MOSC 68W1O) was about 16 weeks long, which was followed up at my unit (as presumably any of my fellow CMS graduates deploying to war as I was, and maybe even ones who weren't,) also attended something called CMAST, Combat Medic Advanced Skills Training, which included performing procedures on a cadaver, and a doing a few other things I'm not permitted to reveal. Then on top of that months of on the job training doing the actual job.

A real functional army waging a war doesn't have the TIME to train every soldier to be a Combat Medic, let alone train them in the 200+ other specialties an actual, real army needs to wage any kind of war.

This... is it a book? This article, or what it references, is sheer mental masturbation, a fantasy that a bunch of soft little fruit-cakes playing games and pretending to be an "army", scoffing at conventional forces demanding to know who their ring-leaders are, is fucking ridiculous. You might as well write a book about people spreading their fingers wide, and flapping their arms and FLYING. It's a fucking joke.

If you're having trouble understanding what I mean, imagine if you went brain-dead tomorrow, and your various body-parts decided to vote on everything you do. Your penis would (assuming you have one) veto every vote that doesn't involve stroking it. Your back would insist it needs to rest, and lay in bed all day. Your stomach and your mouth would agree you should eat, but your hands would demand to know what's in it for them. Your teeth would refuse to chew anything without a guarantee from your hands that they will be brushed and flossed after eating. Teeth appeased, your epiglottis would complain that the body should make up its mind about what they want it to do, open to lungs, or open to stomach, and would start hiccuping to show its displeasure. In short, you wouldn't have the level of agreement and cooperation to be able to so much as stagger into the bathroom and take a shit. Just like what such an army as described in the story would do, without any central leadership and authority.

Re:Bullshit that should not concern anyone. (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670437)

Agreed. It's just self-aggrandizing mental masturbation. Any army worth its salt has a defined chain of command so that you know where the orders are coming from, and soldiers are - according to principles of auftragstaktik - issued with a clearly defined goal, the information needed to reach it and a concept of operation to follow. Should comms be broken, the lowest-ranking private still knows what needs to be done and can try to complete the mission or at least achieve a partial goal. This laughable anonymoose thing, you break down the comms (which is among the first things to go in real combat) and they're headless chicken, all of them. They can't talk, they can't vote, they can't decide. You can spoof comms and MIJI them at your heart's content. You don't really believe your Wal-Mart tech can stand up to some heavy-duty jamming, don't you? Get over it, loserboys: you'll never have your "revenge". You will be at the bottom of the ladder forever, to be shat upon by Real People.

Shopping-online for watch,High-quality Replica Wat (-1, Offtopic)

jim tokky (2685933) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670327)

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A movie quote that isn't far off the mark (3, Insightful)

xs650 (741277) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670389)

A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.

- - Kay
( Men in Black)

4chan, something awful, encyclopedia dramatica,et (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670445)

We already have them, they're called 4chan, encyclopedia dramatica, portal of evil, something awful, and to a lesser extent there are plenty of private forums out there.

The thing missing from all of these is the "secure" bit. Most of these areas are just a way to raise a mob to humiliate a target (most of 4chan's /b is people showing each other their naughty bits in between encouraging terror on a target.) Portal of Evil takes is full of homophobic posters. Something awful forums are a semi-private way to humiliate a target by talking smack behind their backs since their target most of the time is oblivious to what is going on. Encyclopedia Dramatica takes the worst of 4chan and portal of evil, and then tries to make their targets commit suicide.

The "inner circle" for all of these are private IRC, that may or may not be secure, but the person behind the curtain is not the same people on the public side. 4chan is mostly children, teens and adult-babies/children that have entitlement issues, occasionally something righteous might come up, but it's mostly "I raided this chicks facebook, post dicks on it"

doPll (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670569)

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Secure private networks? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670619)

'asks us to imagine a near future when electronic communications technologies enable groups of people to communicate with one another instantaneously, and on secure private networks invulnerable, or nearly so, to outside snooping.

And how exactly is this possible? The resources required to create the internet and the actual system is not well-suited for any sort of true "decentralized" network or completely private operation.

We're still all physically connected to massive backbones that have to route all the packets we send along wires that connect every computer or wireless router or cell tower on the planet. It passes over countless miles of land that the governments of the world regulate (and control through things like zoning laws and the concept of public land).

How exactly do you have a network that isn't stationary or locally based without that sort of physical limitation? Satellites? Besides SpaceX, I can't really this as an option. And that would be an extremely vulnerable network even if for some odd reason it wasn't regulated, governments could easily take out rogue satellites with random debris.

specialists (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670701)

they don't even have specialists: everyone tends the wounded, not just some designated medical corps,

Do not sign me up then. When my life is on the line, I prefer a trained medic, thank you very much.

There's a reason specialization has won the culture wars some 10,000 years ago: It works. Everyone who did Economics 101 knows that, it's called "division of labour" there. Basically, you do what you're good at, I do what I'm good at, and we share the spoils, which results in both of us having more than if we had to both do everything ourselves.

And the more complex things get, the more specializiation is required and useful. In a hunter-gatherer society, in a bind the primary deer hunter can also skin the beast and the primary cook can also catch a rabbit. But that was 50,000 years ago. How many medical doctors have even a basic competence in programming? And how many of us geeks here could make even the simplest operation without killing the patient?

So, interesting vision from the sound of it, but already from the summary I can tell that someone hasn't thought hard enough about the consequences.

Oh, also: Even Anonymous has specialists.

Re:specialists (2)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670831)

On the otherhand, technology also has a way of mitigating the need for specialists. Instead of hiring a cook, you can make a fancy italian dinner by heating a frozen packet in the skillet for 10 minutes. Instead of contracting an orchestra, you can select a recording on your mp3 player. In medicine, tasks such as testing for pregnancy have been very successfully relegated to the lay person by certain technological advances. We trust doctors for their significant and extensive training, but who is to say humans will remain the most trustworthy means of either diagnostic or treatment of illnesses in the future? "Specialization" is already something of a hindrance in that you may be bounced around from doctor to doctor before finding the right specialist who can treat you. The reason for specializing is because of the necessity of present human limitations rather than because of its inherent utility. When we rely on humans, and, especially, when we rely on them operating at the full extent of their abilities, we rely on the specializing advantage. But throw in another 25 years of technological advance and the function of humans, even in medicine, may be quite different.

You only have to look at some FOSS projects (1)

Michael_gr (1066324) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670707)

...that lack a strong leadership / vision, to know this idea is doomed to fail. Think how debilitating it would be to first ask a soldier to form an opinion on a certain course of action and vote on it (thereby forcing him to make an emotional investment in his choice). Let's say the majority chooses otherwise, rejecting said soldier's strategy. Now tell him to follow through with whatever the majority chose - that would create a negative effect on morale, much worse than asking soldiers to follow commands blindly and not form any opinion in the first place.

Like all futurists (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670801)

He will be careful to only bring things that came true up by the time this doesn't happen.

unworkable (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40670803)

'Again, each NMA organizes itself and makes decisions collectively: no commander establishes strategy and gives orders

Bullshit. Some ambitious psychotic will subvert the system and rig the votes so he is making the decisions. Actually, probably several will, and they will set the parts of the 'army" they control against each other.

Even if that didn't happen, the idea of crowd sourcing military strategy is bound to fail. Crowds can't agree on a complex strategy, let alone carry out one that requires discipline and surprise.

This kind of thing can work for guerrilla warfare, small groups harrying an enemy, which is basically what Anonymous does, but not a real war. They could cause chaos, but not take or defend territory.

25 years is a bit generous isn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40670847)

More like 10. And it will be as much due to the maturing of currently existing technology assisted communities as it will be to the emergence of new technology and improvements on current tech.

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