1. Democratic deliberation - how can we support an enlightened and good conversation?
1.1 KNOWLEDGE & TRUTH
- Where and how do prediction markets work best? Can prediction markets be used to help organisations make better decisions?
- Can prediction markets be used to reduce fact-resistance in society and reduce the prevalence of conspiracy theories around key policy decisions?
1.2 ARGUMENTATION ANALYSIS
- How can digital methods of argumentation analysis be designed and integrated into a democracy forum to help participants structure and assess the plausibility of arguments for and against?
1.3 ONLINE COLLABORATION
- How can a smart system of deliberation be built that facilitates participants to have a constructive discussion, explore common values, find compromises and reach consensus instead of getting stuck in debates about what they disagree about?
2. Democratic decision-making - how should votes be weighed up?
2.1 REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of today's representative system of democratic decision-making? What are the most crucial problems that need to be solved?
2.2 DELEGATIVE DEMOCRACY
- Where and how does delegation work best? How are performance and functioning affected when the size of an organisation is scaled up? What are the advantages and disadvantages of delegation in small and large organisations?
- Can delegation be used to manage entire countries? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of such a system?
- What forms of meta-delegation should be allowed? How are delegation cycles optimally managed?
Should delegation to groups be allowed? One problem with delegative democracy may be that it does not sufficiently encourage party structures and cooperation between delegates. One way to remedy this could be to allow groups to stand as delegates. A group could either have a unified line on issues or provide a list of delegates who think like them that participants can "copy". This means that a participant who has delegated to group X is in effect delegating by spreading out their vote, giving e.g. 20% weight to person A, 30% to person B, 50% to person C, etc. What are the variants of delegation to groups and which are optimal?
- Would quadratic delegation be desirable? Suppose that the above suggestion of groups would not work well enough and that we were looking for some way to (1) encourage reading up on more candidates and their positions and thus make more informed delegations (2) encourage delegating to a cluster of all delegates who think roughly the same, giving delegates incentives to work together and highlight collectively on e.g. a website that they think alike and who they are. One solution would be meta-delegation combined with final quadratic delegation. This gives incentives to spread one's final delegation to as many delegates as possible who share one's views. For those who can't be bothered to read on their own, meta-delegation can be used to maximise your influence to, for example, the "Green Party" who have produced a list of all Green delegates who agree with them. This means that you end up delegating to the widest possible group that supports the "green policies" you want to see. What are the advantages and disadvantages of square delegation? Is there a risk of strong groups with lots of time and resources taking over? Is there a risk that square delegation leads to the isolation of odd minority views? Can we find an appropriate weight for quadratic delegation (^2 may not be optimal) that does not lead to minorities losing too much influence but still creates sufficient incentives for electoral cooperation?
- How can different types of auctions be used to collect richer information about participants' preferences? What are the possible types of auction procedures that could be used to facilitate decision-making? Philip Mirowski has shown a correspondence between automata and auction types, showing which types can simulate the others - as well as all others.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of using voting rules for ranking? What empirical studies exist?
2.4 QUADRATIC VOTING
- Is quadratic voting the optimal way to take into account the strength of participants' preferences? Are there other features, such as ^1.5 or ^2.5 that would be better?
- Conduct more empirical studies testing quadratic voting for specific purposes.
2.5 VOTING INCOME
A possible system for managing an organisation would be to give all users X points per day or per new vote in voting income which can then be spent or saved. The vote credits can then expire if not used within Y days. There could be a number of motivations for such a system:
- Voting income could incentivise participants to prioritise long-term between options over time, they could abstain from voting on unimportant issues and prioritise voting on issues they consider important.
- Voting income allows for give and take: gaining more influence at one point at the expense of less influence later. This principle is often followed in real-life compromises and could be used for larger-level compromises in an organization as well.
- By regulating the rate at which vote credits expire, a balance could be struck between high incentives to save for strategic reasons until the future to have a big impact then to high incentives to actively engage and be involved in influencing in the here and now because vote credits otherwise expire.
- Quadratic voting where everyone starts with X voting credits only works if you have several options to prioritise between. Instead, paying with vote credits from a wallet could bring the benefits of square voting to single-issue voting as well.
However, all voice revenue systems have the following problems, let's define:
Unpredictability: users do not know exactly what suggestions will come up.
Efficiency: no other system performs the same functions using less time and or length of the algorithm.
Flexibility: being able to get new information over a period of time to deal with crises.
Uniqueness of suggestions: there is no overlap between any suggestions over a period of time.
A voting system over a period of time where the proposals are predictable is always less efficient than having a proportional vote with all the proposals for the whole period (because everyone already knows what will be posted).
A system of voting over a period of time where all proposals are unique cannot be flexible at the same time. For new information to be taken into account, the same issue must be able to be raised again, which means that each new proposal is not unique.
A voting system over a period of time that has unpredictability (and thus is efficient - which is desirable) and that does not have uniqueness of proposals (and thus is flexible - which is desirable) may lead to a wait off between groups on a given proposal i.e. group 1 waits for group 2 to spend their points so that they can change back the proposal immediately. Thus, there is no efficient and flexible voting revenue system without the risk of wait-off (see the proof in: Hagberg, L. (2022). Collected papers of Digital Phenomenology. BoD-Books on Demand.). Research questions:
- What is the risk of wait-off in practice? If it happened, what is a reasonable solution? What is a good trade-off between efficiency, flexibility and the risk of wait-off?
- Are there other positive and negative aspects of a voter revenue system?
3. IT SECURITY
- There are different types of Distributed ledger technology (DLT) of which blockchain is an example. Some implementations may have negative impacts on the environment, but not all. DLT can make sure that all members know if something has changed in the system, then members can reset a vote. Is DLT the optimum for digital democracy? Which type? And how is it optimally implemented towards different goals? Such as environmental friendliness, security, etc...
3.1 FORMAL VERIFICATION
- Formal verification means ensuring that a system is not altered over a network over a period of time. Formal verification can be costly, but is it worth having it instead of DLT to solve security problems with digital democracy?
3.2 Open source
- What are the security aspects of open source systems? When are they more secure than proprietary code and not? Should any module ever not be open source in a voting system? And how can it be verified that the right code is running on a given hardware?