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The Future of Politics

By DemiGodez in Culture
Sat May 20, 2000 at 02:54:01 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

I was reading a Wired News story about virtual characters. The main idea of the story is that more and more companies are looking at virtual characters as a way to make their products more usable. However, at the beginning of the story, the author mentions Jackie Strike. Jackie Strike is a virtual character running for president. The leader of the team that created her, Christopher Goold, said, "We've got a team of people who've created (her). It's really not that different from a real flesh-and-blood candidate."

What ramifications does this have for the future of politics?


I was thinking about the quote from Goold and I imagined a team of people deciding Jackie's stand on the issues. (The company that created her is from Germany, but that's really irrelevant to my point.) When I thought about her team of creators, my mind went immediately to the telvision show The West Wing. If you haven't seen it, it's about a fictituous president and his staff. I don't know how accurate the series is, but I get the sense from reading the news that some of it is accuarate. Particularly accurate, I believe, is their portrayal of how the staff basically handles a multitude of issues for the president and determines his stand on a variety of issues guided by an underlying rule of thumb. If this committe type president works today, with a real live president, what is to prevent something like Jackie Strike from actually being president in the future?

Imagine, the republicans and democrats each get together and create a character. It can look however it needs to and act how it needs to to appeal to the American people. Then, a committee (or staff) simply drives the character and guided by a few party imposed guidelines.

Do you think this is possible? Certainly I know it is currently not constitutional, but things can change. Do you think people could ever respond to a virtual leader? Do you think that if it were possible, it would be a better or worse system?

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The Future of Politics | 45 comments (45 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Amusing thought, but if memory serv... (1.00 / 1) (#19)
by ravenskana on Fri May 19, 2000 at 11:05:30 AM EST

ravenskana voted 1 on this story.

Amusing thought, but if memory serves me right, the American constitution requires the President to be a person of a certain age, born in America, and perhaps some other things that will ensure that Jackie (or any other artifical persona) does not qualify. DemiGodez knows this "is not constitutional, but things can change". How? How would things change? Getting an amendment to the constitution is not easy, and what exactly would you change? I wish DemiGodez would have gone further in examining what would be required to make this sort of change, and how difficult that would be. Perhaps in another 100 years, but this won't happen anytime soon.

Wag the dog! How would we know, any... (none / 0) (#5)
by eann on Fri May 19, 2000 at 11:10:56 AM EST

eann voted 1 on this story.

Wag the dog! How would we know, anyway?

Special bonus for conspiracy theorists: Isn't this the first election in decades that Dick Gephardt hasn't run for the Democratic nomination? What does he know about Al Gore that we don't? :)

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.


Very interesting, but utterly stupi... (none / 0) (#9)
by End on Fri May 19, 2000 at 11:58:01 AM EST

End voted 1 on this story.

Very interesting, but utterly stupid. America's truly great presidents have never been what you call "committee presidents," surround by advisors telling them how they stand on certain issues. This would be the ultimate exaggeration of behaviour everyone hates in politicians: changing your views to pander to the majority. A president who does not take positions he truly and firmly believes in will never be able to bring real changes for good.

Cartoon Politics. It's such a stupid idea, Americans might just do it someday. Personally, though, spineless demagogues who must be propped up by advisors to have any positions at all make me want to spit.

-JD

Re: Very interesting, but utterly stupi... (none / 0) (#35)
by Howard W. Campbell Jr. on Mon May 22, 2000 at 09:21:56 AM EST

Exactly. Makes Jackie want to spit, too. That's why she's here!

[ Parent ]
I think completely autonomic AI's w... (2.00 / 1) (#13)
by flamingcow on Fri May 19, 2000 at 12:07:21 PM EST

flamingcow voted 1 on this story.

I think completely autonomic AI's will eventually surpass and rule us all (that was serious).

Eventually... maybe (none / 0) (#23)
by farlukar on Sat May 20, 2000 at 06:41:33 PM EST

You might very well be right, but the technology to make an AI autonomous entity (instead of a digital strawman) that can actually do that is so far off that your grandchildren's grandchildren won't live to see it.
AI research has been going on for a lot of years and still has not produced anything you can have a nice conversation with, let alone make important decisions.

In John Varley's book Steel Beach he describes a human race led by a computer which is government, head of police, judge, jury, etc.
All goes rather well and (almost) everyone is happy with the situation until the computer gets a mental breakdown. The police attack several groups of 'suspects', and a good number of people die as a result. No-one can explain it and it is possible it may happen again, maybe with disastrous results.

Machines can only do as they're told. Computers don't make mistakes of their own, their instructions make them do it. If instructions are incomplete or contradictory, things might go right but can very well go very wrong.

Open the pod bay door please Hal
______________________
$ make install not war

[ Parent ]

Re: Eventually... maybe (none / 0) (#39)
by error 404 on Mon May 22, 2000 at 09:46:48 AM EST

While I can see a possibility of a breakthrough in many parts of AI (I never expected to see speech input and human-language translation this soon. Neither is perfect, but when you understand the problems involved, both are pretty amazing.) I don't see the Will to Power being an AI function anytime soon.
..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]
Re: Eventually... maybe (none / 0) (#42)
by CodeWright on Tue May 23, 2000 at 07:59:45 AM EST

That may be true for "synthetic intelligence", but as soon as molecular engineering (read: nanotech) makes human xerox's possible (ie, just set a group of dissemblers/assemblers in tandem to make a "bit-for-bit" dumb copy), it will be relatively trivial to reconstruct the human brain's neural net in silicon.... VOILA! Instant silicon intelligence.



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
The cynics would love to get their ... (none / 0) (#16)
by madams on Fri May 19, 2000 at 12:19:26 PM EST

madams voted 1 on this story.

The cynics would love to get their hands on this one. Even if a virtual candidate would be no different from a real one, at least it gives people the impression that the candidate makes all of the decisions. How would a virtual candidate (if it were President, for instance) visit a foreign country or get their picture taken holding babies?

--
Mark Adams
"But pay no attention to anonymous charges, for they are a bad precedent and are not worthy of our age." - Trajan's reply to Pliny the Younger, 112 A.D.

Re: The cynics would love to get their ... (none / 0) (#31)
by Imperator on Sun May 21, 2000 at 11:12:34 PM EST

A virtual candidate would have no trouble visiting virtual foreign countries and being rendered with virtual babies. In fact, a virtual candidate would have a much easier time of being in many places at once.

[ Parent ]
I've long suspected that Bill Clint... (none / 0) (#8)
by marlowe on Fri May 19, 2000 at 01:44:26 PM EST

marlowe voted 1 on this story.

I've long suspected that Bill Clinton is a virtual president.
-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --

And how, other than the potential f... (none / 0) (#6)
by error 404 on Fri May 19, 2000 at 02:03:16 PM EST

error 404 voted 1 on this story.

And how, other than the potential for sexual misconduct (except when needed for ratings) or random unprogrammed policy surprises, would this be different from Al W. Bush Jr. or George Gore?
..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Re: And how, other than the potential f... (none / 0) (#27)
by ickx on Sun May 21, 2000 at 09:27:49 PM EST

it is not !

[ Parent ]
Re: And how, other than the potential f... (none / 0) (#36)
by Howard W. Campbell Jr. on Mon May 22, 2000 at 09:24:27 AM EST

You tell, em, ickx

[ Parent ]
I don't think it's a good idea. ... (none / 0) (#15)
by farlukar on Fri May 19, 2000 at 02:26:16 PM EST

farlukar voted 1 on this story.

I don't think it's a good idea.
Such a virtual person will still represent the ideas of a select group of people. The ideas of those persons may differ, but the virtual politician will probably just create a compromise. There are more ideas/people than just republicans and democrats.
Even if you were happy with a bunch of compromises, the "leader" would need adjustments to its initial implementation for it to be able to consider new developments, and so you're back at the humans arguing about what's right and wrong... just what the virtual leader was intended to replace.
______________________
$ make install not war

Not possible. It's true that the mo... (none / 0) (#7)
by Ozymandias on Fri May 19, 2000 at 02:37:23 PM EST

Ozymandias voted 1 on this story.

Not possible. It's true that the modern politician is nearly as much a puppet as this virtual character, but there's a limit to how far the analogy can be pushed. No matter how real, no matter how lifelike, when it comes down to it people want a real, flesh and blood person.
- Ozymandias

Re: Not possible. It's true that the mo... (none / 0) (#32)
by Imperator on Sun May 21, 2000 at 11:14:18 PM EST

Are you sure we want a single person? I'd prefer a small committee to act as the executive in many cases. For example, a flesh and blood person can have psychological problems and launch nuclear weapons. If that person was one of a small committee, the other members of the committee would sensibly disagree.

[ Parent ]
Re: Not possible. It's true that the mo... (none / 0) (#41)
by Ozymandias on Tue May 23, 2000 at 12:40:42 AM EST

You have too much faith in humanity. I prefer only one person to have control over my life; me. Failing that, I suppose a committee would be acceptable.
- Ozymandias
[ Parent ]
Re: Not possible. It's true that the mo... (none / 0) (#37)
by Howard W. Campbell Jr. on Mon May 22, 2000 at 09:30:05 AM EST

Fortunately, we'll soon have do-it-yourself cloning kits, likely on special offer at Walmart. This would enable us to take the brain of a sheep, the lips of a chicken, the heart of a marmut and the ideas of the Phrasemonger to create a flesh-and-blood Jackie Strike who would ride on the back of a Wooly Mammoth crashing both the Republican and Democratic national conventions in the name of baseball, hotdogs and apple pie.

[ Parent ]
There are more interesting things t... (none / 0) (#18)
by dash2 on Fri May 19, 2000 at 02:58:00 PM EST

dash2 voted -1 on this story.

There are more interesting things to talk about, at the interface between politics and technology, than the idea of using new technology to replicate the exact system we have already (manufactured politicians as a front for special interest coalitions). But if you do care, check out London's virtual candidate for mayor Dave
------------------------
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.

Re: There are more interesting things t... (none / 0) (#26)
by b!X on Sun May 21, 2000 at 03:14:47 AM EST

Jeez, yeah. I thought from the heading that this would be a relevant discussion on the future of politics. Instead it's merely a vague Max Headroom curiosity.



[ Parent ]
Re: There are more interesting things t... (none / 0) (#28)
by ickx on Sun May 21, 2000 at 09:30:39 PM EST

it´s up to you !

[ Parent ]
I believe that the Lewinsky affaire... (none / 0) (#1)
by Strange Charmed One on Fri May 19, 2000 at 03:02:58 PM EST

Strange Charmed One voted 1 on this story.

I believe that the Lewinsky affaire were shown to have improved President Clinton's standings in the popularity stakes. Would either party try inventing an affaire for their cadidate to improve his ratings? :-)
--
Feel the urge to put excessively cute little quotes into your .sig?

JUST SAY NO!

If you or one of your friends is frequently plagued by this tendency, Help IS available- Ask me how.

Why have a leader then? Why not run... (none / 0) (#2)
by fvw on Fri May 19, 2000 at 03:33:22 PM EST

fvw voted 1 on this story.

Why have a leader then? Why not run the country by commitee? I certainly don't need a cheap computer animated teletubby to hide what's really happening.

Eh, not much of a big deal. CNN is ... (none / 0) (#14)
by Alhazred on Fri May 19, 2000 at 04:15:35 PM EST

Alhazred voted 0 on this story.

Eh, not much of a big deal. CNN is already making up some virtual newscaster... As for politics, half the presidents of the US have been figureheads at best. So whats new about that? I just can't get excited over this one...
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.

It is worth noting that Philp K. Di... (3.00 / 1) (#17)
by ardran on Fri May 19, 2000 at 04:52:08 PM EST

ardran voted 1 on this story.

It is worth noting that Philp K. Dick wrote a story, called something like "The Mold of Yancey", on this very topic about forty years ago.

Re: It is worth noting that Philp K. Di... (none / 0) (#22)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat May 20, 2000 at 02:22:22 PM EST

Philip K Dick is always up on great stuff way ahead of anybody else...

Slow - D anybody?

[ Parent ]

Re: It is worth noting that Philp K. Di... (none / 0) (#33)
by jovlinger on Sun May 21, 2000 at 11:50:41 PM EST

Asimov also had a precient story based on the idea of increasingly good predictions based on polls. Eventually, all they needed was one person, selected randomly, to answer a few questions posed by ... multivac?.. and the winner was chosen. Interesting is also that he backed away from this idea in the Foundation saga, where he basically claimed that although mobs were predictable, individuals were not.

[ Parent ]
First we'll make a system that allo... (2.50 / 2) (#3)
by FlinkDelDinky on Fri May 19, 2000 at 05:52:31 PM EST

FlinkDelDinky voted 1 on this story.

First we'll make a system that allows us to vote via internet. Then the net becomes conscious. Then the net creates virtual characters and gets itself elected to the presidency, all chairs in the senate, all chairs in the congress, the prime minister and all chairs in parliment of all major countries, and the mayor of all major citys.

Then I don't know what happens but I bet something gets its ass kicked.

Re: First we'll make a system that allo... (none / 0) (#43)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed May 24, 2000 at 01:27:12 AM EST

That's not as far-fetched as you might imagine. As this paper explains, current technological progress should make the building of robots with human-equilivant (and beyond) physical and mental abilities possible in the early part of this century.

[ Parent ]
ye gods. Shades of Ronnie RayGun's... (none / 0) (#10)
by warpeightbot on Fri May 19, 2000 at 06:42:29 PM EST

warpeightbot voted 1 on this story.

ye gods. Shades of Ronnie RayGun's second term.

The scary thing is that the sheeple just might be stupid enough to vote for such a thing.... and there are surely more sheeple than geeks. <sigh&rt;

Vaguely interesting.... (none / 0) (#4)
by TomG on Fri May 19, 2000 at 07:09:47 PM EST

TomG voted 0 on this story.

Vaguely interesting.

I don't know what to make of this..... (none / 0) (#12)
by ishbak on Fri May 19, 2000 at 11:20:34 PM EST

ishbak voted 0 on this story.

I don't know what to make of this... We certainly have virtual presidents already(Reagan, George W)...

Very interesting... Idoru for Presi... (none / 0) (#11)
by adric on Sat May 20, 2000 at 01:20:27 AM EST

adric voted 1 on this story.

Very interesting... Idoru for President. I could use one for Congress around here..

Re: Very interesting... Idoru for Presi... (none / 0) (#25)
by joeyo on Sat May 20, 2000 at 07:59:35 PM EST

Glad I wasn't the only one thinking: Gibson.

--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi
[ Parent ]

Virtual Characters, hua? (none / 0) (#20)
by Zarniwoop on Sat May 20, 2000 at 02:57:38 AM EST

Well, in that case, how about J. R. "Bob" Dobbs for prez!

"Give Me Slack, Or Give Me Food, Or Kill Me"

36 years of age. (3.70 / 3) (#21)
by Strongtium90 on Sat May 20, 2000 at 03:57:39 AM EST

You have to be 36 to be president. The most powerful computer of that vintage would be the CDC 6600. Designed by Seymour Cray. All of three mips if I recollect...

Re: 36 years of age. (none / 0) (#24)
by Nio Spartan on Sat May 20, 2000 at 07:51:30 PM EST

Aw, C'mon...

..Does anybody really think that massively fast reasoning power is necessary to be a politician? Of course not! It's all about commanding presence, having the Machiavellian charm to fill up an entire room, without even producing anything immediate or radical...

So to hell with the Cray, cast a vote that'll count:

UNIVAC 2000!!

What does courage mean? You can't program it. -Hugo Pratt
[ Parent ]
Re: 36 years of age. (none / 0) (#29)
by ickx on Sun May 21, 2000 at 09:33:24 PM EST

how do I programm it ?

[ Parent ]
virutal Persons and diffused responsibility (5.00 / 1) (#30)
by dang on Sun May 21, 2000 at 09:46:56 PM EST

If this isn't possible in its high-tech guise, it is certainly possible low-tech. Corporations, for example, are treated as virtual persons in the US, and while virtual persons can't run for office, they can own things, sue, lobby, hold copyright and patent, be harmed, and so on. Puppet governments match the description, as do any governments that are organized primarily around ideology. In all of these cases, even a powerful leader is really a figurhead, serving the interests of a board of directors, a foreign country, or subscribers to an ideology (and the broad values spelled out therein). The central political/moral problem here has proven to be that responsibility and accountability become diffuse. Underlings pass responsibility up the chain to their bosses ("we do what we are told") and at the top of the chain you have a figurhead who answers to a group of people, an charter, an ideology, or all of the above ("we do what we were elected/hired to do"). So, while each is accountable for her actions, many act as if they are not. At best, this makes the organization inefficient; at worst it contributes to repugnant behavior.

The Future of Politics and Phrasemonging (3.00 / 1) (#34)
by Howard W. Campbell Jr. on Mon May 22, 2000 at 09:18:33 AM EST

Hi, I'm Howard W. Campbell Jr., writing for my supervisor Christopher Goold. We at Jackie Strike campaign headquarters of course take note of reactions and responses to Mrs Strike’s campaign. Thank you all for taking the time to comment. If Jackie Strike is about anything, then she’s about communication. Jackie Strike takes a stand for openess and dialogue. Please take the time to get to know one of Jackie’s good friends, “The Phrasemonger”. http://www.phrasemonger.com The comments on Jackie listed on your page open up exactly the kind of dialogue which Jackie intends to spur. It is Jackie Strike’s first and only intention to promote and strengthen the power, influence and participation of each individual on and via the Internet. Many of you commenting stated the opinion that we have long had “virtual presidents”. This may just hit the nail on the head. According to Jackie’s Manifesto: “Jackie Strike has slipped into the guise of your everyday American politician striving for the presidency. Jackie Strike is nothing but a kaleidoscopic “hollow-gram” of the existing political circumstances.” Will Jackie be our next leader? We’ll find out in November. Please feel free to give us your comments at hq@jackiestrike.com Best regards, Howard W. Campbell Jr. Assistant to the Manager of the Jackie for President Campaign.

Re: The Future of Politics and Phrasemonging (none / 0) (#38)
by ickx on Mon May 22, 2000 at 09:45:19 AM EST

hear, hear

[ Parent ]
no different... (none / 0) (#40)
by maskatron on Mon May 22, 2000 at 01:54:38 PM EST

than it is currently. maskatron

Virtual Leader ( of Future Politics) (none / 0) (#44)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed May 24, 2000 at 09:28:57 AM EST

Sounds kind of like voting for your favorite character in "Toy Story" Can anyone say "idol worship"? of the "golden calf" variety...? Doesn't leadership include accountability and responsibility? As someone's .sig over at /. goes..... "why do we get the government 'they' deserve?" _________________________________________________________ Guess cynicism beats naievete... until they both miss the boat.

Duke for president! (none / 0) (#45)
by SPUI on Tue May 30, 2000 at 12:25:12 PM EST

I'm surprised no one's mentioned http://www.duke2000.com/ yet :P

The Future of Politics | 45 comments (45 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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