Metaverse vs. Democracy

I’ve published an article that explores the current and future challenge that technology and the metaverse brings to elections. I believe I’m the first to explore the connection. I would appreciate any comments and suggestions, as well as collaborators in developing a more in-depth piece.

The in-depth piece would likely have 4 major perspectives:

  • psychology & emotions
  • history & current practices in US elections (possibly looking internationally?)
  • technology & the metaverse
  • introduction to CAs, culminating in nested CAs

11 Responses

  1. I think you’re taking tech company hype a little too seriously. Personalised ads are nowhere near as powerful as the companies that sell them would like you to believe, and ‘the metaverse’ is just a copy of a copy of what people thought the internet would be like in 1985. Virtual reality is for hobbyists. Do you know what the top-selling game on Steam was for a while this year? Dwarf Fortress, a game that has recently received a tremendous visual upgrade – from ASCII symbols to static, 1990s-level pixel-art graphics. Take it from me as a professional video game designer – immersion is all in the mind.

    That said, if you can rid your piece of the Cambridge Analytica paranoia and all mention of ‘the metaverse’, and engage a little closer with people working on the social dynamics of social media and how people self-radicalise, it sounds like you might have a decent article on your hands. I think in particular you should pay attention to the way citizens’ assemblies are legitimated and how bad actors will try to delegitimise them. The crisis of democracy is a crisis of trust. Focus on how that is destroyed, built, and earned, and I think you’ll be heading in the right direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with Oliver. Arguing that people can be manipulated via high tech is a modern day version of the classic guardianist position that people are too stupid (or more charitably, too busy) to know what’s good for themselves. The democratic argument for sortition is based on the principle-of-distinction (i.e., that elections are inherently elitist) rather than on the ignorance (rational or otherwise) of the people.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yoram hits the nail in the head. This argument was made 2500 years ago about poetry and theatre. Also, electing Trump—what Cambridge analytica phobia is about—was not any worse than electing any of the other silly puppet emperors of the Empire. The problem with elections is both the provoke of distinction AND that the choices presented to the public are ALL oligarch approves to begin with. And back to C Analytica & Brexit / Trump etc. The worst consequence of Trump was NOT any policies he pushed through it was 1) the attempted psyop coup against him known as Russiagate (read Gerth’s grand article from a coupe of weeks ago or any of the Twitter files dumps) & 2) the use of Trump/Brexit/ “anti-vax” phobia to set up the censorship and cancellation apparatus that now runs this so called meta whatever.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I disagree with both the people agreeing with me! Propaganda is effective, it just doesn’t need super secret technology – it’s more about repetition of the message and having it propagated by trusted sources. Most people go with the perceived consensus on most issues. If that’s an elitist conclusion, so be it. And the worst consequence of Trump was the fact that he did a Beer Hall Putsch and didn’t even get jailed for it, which omens the imminent demise of America’s liberal institutions, such as they are.


  5. I agree that propaganda and convention are powerful forces. However, the idea that people can be manipulated into misunderstanding their own immediate situation – e.g., not noticing that voting party A is harming them while voting for party B is good for them – is essentially anti-democratic. In addition to being morally problematic, it is also problematic epistemologically, since asserting that this is the case would require having a privileged position allowing one to determine what is good for others, despite the fact that those others disagree.

    Liked by 1 person

    You may not live in the US or you may not have been paying attention.


  7. Ok, Yoram, what I said could itself be interpreted as a kind of political agoraphobia. What I mean is that STATE SPONSORED misinformation–the favorite tool of warmongers since forever but perfected in the 20th century–means that the administrative state can manipulate the public at large, if not the citizen panel itself. The citizen panelists could then be allowed (or not) to play in the sandbox since the general public will go along with what their betters have been programing them for all along anyway.


  8. Yoram,
    The issue is not that people don’t know how their own lives are going – of course they do! The issue is that they can be and frequently are misled about the causes of their problems, which are generally not obvious from anyone’s immediate situation. Consider for example the narrative in the UK that profligate government spending caused the 2008 financial crisis, and that austerity would be needed to fix it. Total nonsense from top to bottom, but large swathes of the country accepted it because it was accepted by both parties and most of the media.


  9. I agree with Oliver. I will note that his statement, “I disagree with both the people agreeing with me!” is one of the best things I’ve seen on the Internet for weeks.


  10. Ahmed, Oliver,

    Yes, propaganda and convention are powerful ideological tools. And yes, knowing your subjective situation is different from understanding the mechanisms behind the situation.

    My point is that the notion that voters would consistently be choosing the option that does them more harm is equivalent to not understanding their situation, not to not understanding the mechanisms. As I pointed out before, under the assumption that there exists on the ballot a good option, all the voters have to do is keep switching options as long as the situation is bad and then stick with the incumbent when the situation is good. This simple procedure should provide good results and does not require any analysis of mechanisms but merely reflecting on one’s own situation. Thus being consistently unhappy with the political outcomes implies either that there are no good options on the ballot or that the voters are too stupid, misinformed, or easily manipulated as not to know what their own situation is.


  11. In gross terms I think that’s precisely what does happen, and you’re right that the reason it doesn’t produce better results is that better results aren’t on the ballot. That doesn’t mean, however, that at the margins – which is where most elections are fought – propaganda on specific issues doesn’t work. It also doesn’t mean that voters are not deceived en masse on specific issues – they clearly are.

    Consider how the voters decide which of the alternatives to vote for when they’re dissatisfied. If the existing system is pissing on their leg and telling them it’s raining, they are liable to vote for the party offering them an umbrella rather than the one trying ban pissing on people’s legs. After all, nobody wants to admit they’re soaked in piss, it’s humiliating. This can have very serious consequences – the rise of fascism, for instance, would be impossible without this phenomenon.


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