Extinction Rebellion claims the Scottish Citizens’ Assembly on the climate is rigged

The Scottish Citizens’ Assembly on the Climate Emergency is an allotted body created by the 2019 Climate Act that is mandated to answer the question “How should Scotland change to tackle the climate emergency in a fair and effective way?”.

The Extinction Rebellion organization was part of the process of setting up this body and its procedures. It has now quit the process claiming that the process has been rigged. “Rather than enabling a full spectrum of opinions to be heard, so people can come to their own conclusions, and make their own assessment of the value of current policy and targets, business as usual has been allowed to creep in and then take over.”

In an op-ed written by Extinction Rebellion members, they explain that civil servants have control over the design of the proceedings and those civil servants are happy with the status quo. In terms of how the rigging is done, they say:

Deliberations won’t be allowed to start until people have fully understood the difference between adaptation and mitigation responses, and the different government policy frameworks at a national and international level.

Those of us who have been talking about climate in different communities for years know very well this background understanding is not only not necessary – there’s a huge risk of disengagement from the very people we need to hear from.

People need to understand enough of the science, especially in terms of real-world impacts, but then need to judge for themselves the effectiveness or otherwise of our response so far: have the powerful’s many fine words led to any changes on the ground?

A practical and transparent method to sort

In this short post, I introduce a method that might interest readers from this blog. I present a practical method that randomly pick people without the need for a trustworthy third party. Before describing it in more details, I want to insist on its two main features.

The method is practical because it only requires a basic computer (a smartphone largely suffices). Computers cannot generate random numbers because they are deterministic, however they can produce long sequences of numbers that do not repeat themselves for a long time. If you don’t know how the computer generated sequence work it is difficult to predict the next outcome. The numbers in this sequence will constitute our set of random numbers.

How could we generate the set without a trustworthy party? A malevolent individual can let the computer run until they obtain the desired results. If you know the initial number of the sequence and how the sequence works the result becomes entirely deterministic. We call this number the seed and this number will entirely determine our set of random numbers. We use this property to generate an impossible to forge sorted list of members. But how do we pick this seed?

Our method uses a stock market index. This has two interesting properties, firstly it is impossible to predict (otherwise tell me so we can become rich fast :) and every market agrees on it. This guarantees true randomness. Secondly, everybody will be able to reproduce our sortition if they have the seed value, the member’s list and the script we used. This guarantees transparency and accessibility.

We will employ this method in our association (l’Association Française pour la Sortition) to constantly renew our board. I already wrote the code using the CAC40 index to perform this task, it is free, open-source and you can access it you can follow this link: https://framagit.org/PersonnePirate/sort.

Sicard: Replacing representative democracy with participative democracy is dangerous, Part 2/2

This is the second and final part of a translation of an article by Claude Sicard published in July 2020 in Le Figaro. The first part is here.

In order to put an end to the Gilets Jaunes revolt, Macron embarked in January 2019 upon what he called the “Great National Conversation”. This has consisted of organizing huge meetings in city halls with the participation of mayors and the local elected politicians, and urging the population to share their comments in person in during the meetings or through an online platform. Macron himself made many animated appearances in these meetings all over the country, which usually lasted more than four hours. Macron would take off his jacket and respond to all the questions addressed to him. Meetings took place in more than 10,000 municipalities, and 1.9 million comments were made. The “Great Conversation” was concluded with a press conference on April 25th, 2019. On that occasion Macron said: “I wished to meet you in order to draw the main lessons from the Great National Conversation and to propose to the nation directions for a new way that our citizens are looking for, a new way for our republic”. He has described the Great Conversation as “an unprecedented exercise for contemporary democracies”. This was therefore a mass popular consultation whose goal was to orient the actions of public institutions over the coming years.

That was followed by a second step. Following the coronavirus crisis, on May 25th, the “Health Conference at Ségur”. The crisis required great dedication from health professionals in order to make up for grave weaknesses of our public hospital system. It was therefore necessary to take their many demands into account without any further delay. Macron saw himself as forced to try to address as well as possible those demands, having been the first praise the exceptional dedication of the health personnel during the crisis, going as far as calling the first responders “national heros”. Macron initiated another great consultation, this time among 300 principal actor in the health sector. This was a second exercise, then, in participative democracy. The goal of this consultation was particularly ambitious. The prime minister defined it as follows in his opening speach: “To construct together the future of the hospital, to heal a system that was blocked and impoverished, and build a new health system organization in each territory”. The participants were given an incredibly short period for reforming our public health system: a month and a half at the most.
Continue reading