Delay discounting is a well-studied phenomena in behavioral science and economics. It compares the value of rewards received in the present with the same reward received in the future. Most species, humans included, devalue the present value if the reward is only received sometime in the future. This is a value depreciation function over time that is mathematically captured in a discount function. Delay discounting is an important phenomenon to study because it helps us understand how we make decisions on long term goals. Delayed discounting can be applied to many fields such as financial investment, life choices, and politics. In sustainability studies, it helps to explain ecological overshoot, because consumerism creates priorities that value consuming resources today more than saving those resources for the next generation.
Some scientists have attempted to define mathematical relationships that describe delay discounting such as the hyperbolic model, but the equations they choose can generate unpredictable results. The study “A Comparison of Four Models of Delay Discounting in Humans“ compares four prominent models of delay discounting (a psychometric): a one-parameter exponential decay, a one-parameter hyperbola (Mazur, 1987), a two-parameter hyperboloid in which the denominator is raised to a power (Green and Myerson, 2004), and a two-parameter hyperbola in which delay is raised to a power (Rachlin, 2006). In the study, 64 college undergrad students were asked to choose between hypothetical monetary rewards, one immediate and one delayed. The fit of these four discounting models to their data was assessed. The authors found that the agreement between the four models and the data was so good, especially with the Rachlin and Green and Myerson models, there was no way to determine which model was the better one, leaving their flaws undiscovered.
Parameter estimates and fit statistics for the discounting functions (Eqs. 1 through 4). Values in regular font are based on fits to the group median data depicted in graph; values in italics are the medians based on fits to individual data.
The new 6D mathematics can be used to analytically derive a 1/4 power law that is in agreement with the measured results of the four power laws investigated in the Mazur paper, and potentially provide an explanation for the four variations of delayed discounting as well. Furthermore, if the derived power law that describes delayed discounting uses the same 6D mathematics that provides a universal explanation for all the known laws of physics, chemistry, and biology, this serves as powerful validation of consistency with universal laws.
In the previous chapter, we became familiar with the metaphor of the superorganism to describe society, which first appeared in the writing of political philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Over the course of the last two centuries, the French and American revolution ushered in a global living lab of experiments in democracy. Were Voltaire, Socrates, Aristotle and Plato right in their concerns that democracy can be bad for the people? Some of their concerns seem to be born out today in a number of different ways as pointed out above. A potential solution to this is the Democratic Quality Vector.
The transferable voting system proposed in this book explores quite a different democratic experiment that may be closer to the heart of these philosophical giants, but still stay away from enlightened monarchism or totalitarian dictators. It may just be the medicine that can treat the sick social superorganism, making it healthier. It is a delegative voting system. Delegative democracy and liquid democracy are examples of transferable voting systems. The main difference between transferable voting systems and mainstream representative voting is the rule which allows any individual to legally “transfer” their vote to another person. This representative does not need to be running for office to compete against other individuals in the normal sense of a political representative, but is simply another individual nominated by choice, as long as they meet some minimum criteria set out in the voting system policies. Participating voters can nominate other participating voters for a variety of reasons. For instance, I could nominate you because I’m too busy, or a child of the minimum voting age may nominate a guardian to represent their vote. Ideally, a person may nominate another because of their perceived expertise.
Basically, if you trust another person on a subject, or in another circumstance, you can transfer your vote to them. In its purest form, transferable voting attempts to exercise meritocracy, or a transparent system of trust. This transferable vote can be executed for any issue that arises. If I’m an expert in water engineering, then I might feel competent to vote directly on a consideration for a new water treatment plant affecting my community, but if it concerns drug addiction treatment, I may feel out of my depth and transfer my vote to my friend, who is a researcher in drug addiction. This results in a “referral system” which can result in many representatives, not just one. Instead of having a few hundred representatives in a country the size of the United States, we could have many million. The idea of a centralized house of representatives becomes redundant, needless to say. It is a radically different voting system that is decentralized and far more participatory. These decentralized systems are hard to game.
Although any system with explicitly defined rules can be gamed, it is many times more difficult to game such a distributed system. Lobbyists and influencers could not easily sway a large number of different representatives. By preventing the concentration of power, vote transfer systems lessen the opportunities for corruption and abuse of power to take place. It would be far more challenging for a disease to take hold in the governing body when one cell cannot influence many other cells easily. The Diffusion that vote transfer resembles social media information diffusion behavior, which follows Kleibers Law type power laws.
In our transferable voting system, when one vote is transferred to a second person, we define a unit of value to add to the vote. This value is called “one unit of social capital” and is a measure of trust as we transfer our vote through the social network. Creating a mathematical entity with such characteristics creates a new set of behaviors. With vote transfer, we may allow the transfer to happen without limit. In a large social network of voters, the vote transfer may happen many times. If the vote is passed from the second to a third person, the amount of added trust is decreased because the first person who initiated the transfer may not have the same level of trust with the third person in the chain. But because the second person trusts the third more, there is an accruing of trust in the chain of transfers. This is reflected in a metric that decreases monotonically as the number of transfers cascade through a network. The trust increases less with each successive person the vote is transferred to. The vote transfer has both a magnitude and direction, hence can be represented as a vector. In the case of transferable voting, the vector is a measurement of the collective trust in the directed network. It can also be interpreted as the collective quality of the final vote.
Proponents of delegative democracy believe that by leveraging existing trust relationships and social capital, vote delegation can help increase trust in government, and therefore effectiveness.
Citizens in a liquid democracy would have a more direct engagement with government and would thus be in a better position to engage in cooperative endeavors as opposed to citizens of a representative system, setting in motion a “virtuous circle” through which trust promotes cooperation and cooperation promotes trust (Putnam, 1993). As history has demonstrated many times, compliance with societal expectations is inefficient when based on fear of authorities, rather than on internally regulated and positively enforced norms. A transparent and engaging method for encouraging this is explained in the next chapter.