While originally intended for the election of government officials, a voting advice system has other uses, as well. Each application has its own benefits!
A voting advice system intended for government elections could well have other uses. Those applications would make the system useful in other areas. They would also keep the system in use between elections.
Here are some of the ways in which the system could be used.
With 2/3 of all stocks owned by 1% of the population, the outcome is in most cases determined by that 1%. But no doubt there are times when a real proxy battle goes on. In such cases, wouldn’t it be nice to know how to vote? A voting advice system would make it possible.
As an added benefit for society, the fact that you would know how to vote could create impetus for a 401k investment system where a fund managers manages the investments, but in which proxies are passed to the investors!
That implications could be enormous! For one thing, it would mean that fund managers would not have voting rights, unless you want them to. (I’m a little unclear how things work now, actually. It may be that they never have voting rights — which makes it all the more imperative that you have advice you trust!)
As another example, suppose you really want “A” to elected to the Board of Directors, and “B” is elected, instead. You might like a system in which you can tell fund manager to stop holding that company’s stock in your name, and get something else instead! (In a paper-driven system, that kind of flexibility would be unthinkable. But in a computer-driven system, it is entirely possible.)
With such a system, you could vote with your feet (or more accurately, your wallet), as well as with your voice.
The following statistics are easy to remember, because of all the 9’s:
- 90,000 lobbyists
- 9 billion spent on them, each year
- 90% of the bills a legislator votes on were written by a lobbyist
I’ll make up a statistic to go with that list: Every bill is 90 pages long! Ok, I don’t know how long they are, exactly. But they’re long. And dry. And complicated. So most legislators don’t have time to read them. Heck, most of the legislators who sponsor a bill haven’t read it.
In such circumstances, how is a legislator to know how to vote? In today’s world, the votes happen as a result of backroom deals — you vote for my legislation, I’ll vote for yours. You vote for this, and the party will fund you in the next election. And like that.
But you elected your representatives to represent you. Wouldn’t it be nice if they had advice they could trust, to be sure they’re voting in your best interest?
The problem they face in such circumstances is the same one you face at election time: Knowing who to trust, and getting trustworthy advice when you need it. A voting advice system can solve their problem, as well as yours.
Movie & Music Recommendations
New movies come out all the time. There are reviewers out there, but word of mouth is another great tool. But when someone you know says that a movie is great, to what degree do you know for sure if they like the same things you do!
Maybe they like movies about relationships. Or movies with lots of explosions. It makes a difference! Since new movies and new music releases come out all the time, a voting advice system could help you find the ones you care about.
To be useful, the system would keep track of past recommendations. It could then provide a user with a representative list of songs or albums from multiple genres. You as the user select the ones you like a lot, the ones you’re ok with, and the ones you don’t like at all.
The system can then recommend advisors who are likely to reflect your tastes! As long their recommendations match your tastes, you keep them. And when it turns out they don’t, you drop them!
How Such Extensions Would Work
Think of a voting advice system as Twitter on steroids. It would work a lot like Twitter, actually. The only real modification would allow hashtags to be defined with details, automated search capabilities that find your tags of interest, and the ability to store tweets under the tags they pertain to, so you can find them when you need them.
To repurpose the system for other uses, it would only be necessary to:
- Allow hashtags to be defined in other arenas (corporate proxies, legislative votes, etc.)
- Allow users to select their advisors in each arena.
Note that, a lot of the time, a trusted advisor is a trusted advisor. Anything they have to say that is relevant to you, you probably want to hear. But other times, you may want to be more selective.
For example, you might trust one person’s advice when it comes to music, but not when it comes to movies. You might trust a golf instructor’s advice when it comes to golf, but not when it comes to their politics. And so on. In such cases, you want the ability to turn off their advice stream in arenas where you don’t want it.
As always, one of the main features of the system is the ability to help you find advisors who are likely to give you good advice. Fortunately, such “social matching” algorithms are well defined. In fact, books have been written about them! They are currently in use in places like personalized music streams, personalized web ads, dating services, and Amazon.com.
Of course, they’re not perfect. But it’s early days, yet. Over time, they’ll just keep getting better and better!
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