Clause 16 of the GPL indemnifies the copyright holder from the user. A decision made by the user, can harm people who are not the user.
The Bhopal disaster was a result of legal decisions, legally made. It harmed people who didn't make the decision.
Corporate manslaughter is a thing, exactly because of this.
Your local bowling club can be exactly as criminally liable, by causing a death, by choosing not to service their minibus.
It's not the driver's fault that the brakes fail, if the driver is not responsible for having the brakes serviced.
Who is responsible for the brakes not being serviced? GPL section 16? Lol.
Effectively, the concept of this software is to act as a corporate secretary at a board meeting, for an eminently scalable size of organisation.
You can't have anonymous voting, because you can't know, in advance, which decisions will kill people.
If you can't show you haven't hidden the criminals, you are a criminal.
Their slaves, wives and foes are not users of the forum, yet all can potentially suffer from their decisions.
Harmful or unethical decisions are made daily using the telephone or Facebook, Skype, unethical videos are being recorded using video cameras of different companies, documents are being written by terrorists and criminals daily using Microsoft Word. Yet, have you ever seen the creators of those software or tools getting prosecuted for decisions made by the users of their tools?
The code acts as a presiding officer of a democratic forum. This is not a passive function.
Analogously, with a democratic company, where shareholders and board members are the same group, being corporate secretary to such a group is not a passive function.
A court reporter does the same job of recording in writing, the deliberations of a body, but the court reporter is not complicit in the decisions made, where they are accurately recorded.
The modern Greek government had to choose between defaulting on debt to the Troika, and cutting benefits to the people. It couldn't choose to pay both, because it can't print money.
When your user groups, who also can't print money, injure third parties by not paying them, can you claim you are not complicit in decision? On what basis?
If the third party is a government, legitimately entitled to tax reciept, and the users choose not to pay, who among them is responsible for how the meeting is minuted?
Even the admin responsible for providing hosting can say 'not I,' as can all users.
In my Hetherington days, there was a secretary at all meetings. The secretary both decided who spoke, and recorded the minutes. They had no plausible deniability for any decision made, where they chose to minute.
The software will not understand unreasonable, no matter how deep the bun fight gets. Nor will it understand the ten thousand local jurdictions of the world.
To make this work, the users must not be the people, or even the popular forum, the users must be the proedroi. Only they are willing to take legal responsibility to third parties away from the devs.
I guess if there are proedroi, willing to be users, to make democracy possible for their sub-users, this would be a workable model under the GPL.
It's not what you have.
Nobody ever got convicted of decisions made by magic 8 ball either.
The difference is that the software is minuting democratic meetings. It is *actively* engaged in allowing people to support gassing the Jews if they so choose.
If the Jews were to legally object to being gassed, the person who could write the idea as a resolution, without any responsibility for the resolution, would be a court reporter, who accurately transcribed a judge, who said 'gas the Jews.'
Without a judge to take responsibility, a presiding officer or corporate secretary is complicit in the decisions they allow.
Blank slate complicity with everything, doesn't strike me as wise.
If you present software as a democratic, decision making platform, which allows people to decide to evade tax, this is just as irresponsible as leaving a loaded gun in a bar.
You didn't make the bad decision, you facillitated someone else making the bad decision.
Not only that, but you left a trail of evidence that you'd been planning to let people decide to evade tax for a long time on github.
All because you refuse to understand the difference between a postman and a corporate secretary. Epitome, unlike Facebook, Skype, Ma Bell &c, is not merely postman software.
Specifically, it counts the votes and conducts the meeting. Like the Proedroi.
One can have a vote, and conduct a legally binding meeting, on Skype. Skype doesn't keep official records, so a user must assume the role of record-keeper, because Skype does not.
Twitter polls aren't legally binding on their participants either.
If you aren't willing to keep official records, why wouldn't anyone sane use Skype, Facebook, Ma Bell &c instead?
If you are willing to keep official records, how can you not be complicit in every decision made? How can you evade responsibility for the effect on third parties?
Do you have no right of complaint over what the Presiding Officer let Tsipras did to the Greek people because GPL section 16?
If you give me a shovel, and I use it to kill someone, you have plausible deniability. You didn't make the shovel to kill people. Skype makes verifiable record keeping difficult, which might have something to do with why the Channel Awesome admin insisted on using Skype.
If you give me a prison shank, and I use it to kill someone, you don't have plausible deniability. Prison shanks have no non-lethal purpose.
Skype don't sell a collective decision making tool, they sell communication software. Thus they can argue they are postmen, not presiding officers.
By counting votes, Epitome assumes the role of presiding officer. The other, important, quintessential role of a presiding officer is to sandbag.
i.e. If a board meeting resolves to avoid domestic tax, the corporate secretary, knowing such a decision would be illegal if made, properly should not write it in the minutes, even though the board vote is unanimously in favour of criminal action. If the corporate secretary does minute the decision to evade tax, they are complicit in the crime, because they could have chosen not to write; they could have told the board that they will resign rather than record a resolution in favour of criminal behaviour.
A postman is not faced with such a moral quandary. Presiding Officers must routinely deal with such issues.
This applies to the smallest direct democracy. Without a proedroi to take minutes, there is no democracy. The clamour of the crowd must be resolved to a single thread. This requires intelligence, wit, understanding and a conscience.
The mistake goes back to that convention, where it was assumed the role of proedroi is trivial.
It is trivial, as long as the popular forum cooperates and doesn't argue among themselves. In the real world, the popular forum *always* argues among themselves.
Like the postal service, they can be used by users to inflict injury on non-users. Where this happens the blame for the injury is not with the postal service, but with the person who decided to inflict injury.
Unlike Facebook, Skype &c epitome has democratic resolutions as an output. To be useful, these must be able to affect, and therefore potentially injure, non-users.
This is, to my knowledge, entirely novel in open-source development, and therefore it shouldn't be a surprise that software licenses in general don't address this problem. Any software that doesn't produce democratic resolutions doesn't need to cover it.
GPL section 16 doesn't force non-users to waive liability. There is no way to force non-users to do anything, they don't have to agree to your terms.
What you can do is have a required group of proedroi who agree to assume all civil liability from the devs to third parties, for the democratic resolutions of their epitome instance.
Without something like this, the devs are complicit in every resolution, because in epitome, you've decided to made an automated court reporter, and task it to the job of a presiding officer.
Combined with anonymous voting, this could make the devteam the only reasonable place to lay liability.
Letting people pass any resolution they want, potentially injuring non-users in any way they can express in words, without any proedroi to absorb liability, is dangerously negligent, akin to leaving a loaded pistol with the safety off for unattended toddlers to play with. Bad consequences aren't certain, but highly likely, and not the fault of the users.
There's a saying, 'The pen is mightier than the sword.' The sword can only kill, words can disinherit, disenfrancise, disqualify, divorce and dismiss. Because of this the output of epitome is incredibly dangerous, even to non-users.
It's like the nuclear power of software development.
Thank you for your messages.
I do begin to understand your message now that you have clarified it to such extent. Although I do think that being a non-party to a decision (such as the dev team, since they would not have actively take n part in the decision) would not incriminate you. I also think that groups of people can be held liable, and can be tracked from their IP addresses and accounts. Moreover paying someone to do something illegal or not paying someone when it was required to do so, has to be conducted through a legal entity (be it person or organization) and that person would be held liable in this case.
However, I am wiling to accept a possible scenario which I might be unable to imagine, in which a person cannot be held liable for damages and the blame is then put to the dev team.
You have previously raised two concerns.
a) The database can be compromised by the admin and the votes altered.
b) GPL section 16 does not sufficiently protect the dev team from harmful democratic outcomes produced by Epitome when used by others.
How would you address those two issues?
For (a) would you instead shift to a distributed database, such as a blockchain?
For (b) would you have both the admins (or the people that installed epitome to their system) AND each user accept a Terms of Service document that makes the assume the responsibility and liability for any outcome produced by Epitome?
Please let us know of your recommendations. These are important issues you are addressing and I would love to hear your thoughts on how to resolve them.
Thank you very much.
This raises a good point. The Facebook ToS is the rules by which all Facebook users are legally compelled to abide. There's often a huge fuss when Facebook changes the ToS, but users still have to abide by the ToS to continue usage.
Likewise, a small chess club may choose to change the official tie colour at an AGM.
This decision, while pretty trivial, is legally binding on the membership, assuming the AGM is properly minuted. If the AGM is not properly minuted, the decision is not legally binding and the deliberations are a waste of time.
Members who missed the meeting, even members unaware of the resolution, are required to follow the rules of the group. A member cannot claim the old club tie is the current official club tie, because they did not get the memo, or they weren't at the meeting, so didn't get to vote against the change.
Except of course if the resolution was passed via epitome, it isn't legally binding, so no-one is bound by it.
(There's also an issue that Postgres is a clunky beast that takes up lots of RAM. At the load levels I expect, SQLite will likely outperform Postgres)
For greater security, the repo can be hosted at a different location from the datacentre hosting epitome, and every write to the SQLite db can be followed by a commit and push.
epitome can generate a ssh key for automated passwordless pushes, and potentially github could be used as the master db store.
For b) you need Proedroi. They already exist, because in any potential user group, *someone* has to be minuting the meetings. They have to agree that they, collectively with other Proedroi of their group, will assume all civil liability to third parties from the devteam, with regard *specifically* to their group's use of their instance of the software.
As a side-effect of the previous solution to a), minutes become bombproof. This is a potential killer feature for the secretary of any student society, who has enough paper to keep track of already.
If the AGM of a student society is shifted to epitome, and the minutes are trivially replicable, then the job of secretary is fully automated. Further, arbitrary numbers of Proedroi can take responsibility for cloning and preserving the minutes, building in multiple redundancy.
Also, Proedroi are required for things that computers can't do. A computer can't answer:
- "Does this proposal conflict with the rules of this group or any governing institution?"
e.g. MIT student societies are governed by the rules of:
- The state of Massachussets
- Uncle Sam
You aren't getting any computer short of SKYNET to answer that question. Hence the need for Proedroi.
Also, classically the Proedroi were the mods of Athenian democracy. It makes sense to me they should have tools to deal with abuse by the popular forum. We can't automate that either.
The only way I see to maintain your vision of a single tier platform, is for all of the popular forum to volunteer to be Proedroi. I don't wish to prevent this, but I see the secretary as the 'easy mark' to offload potential liability to, because the secretary will see the value in bombproof minutes more than most.
Accounts are not legal identities.
e.g. IP geolocation reports me ~500 miles from my actual location, and I have a dynamic IP.
To get the information about which account was using a particular dynamic IP at a particular historical time is practically impossible, because there's no money in the ISP preserving those records.
Even if you get the ISP account, you still don't know who was *using* the account.
And you can just punch out free email addresses on the internet. Also, if you get the password, or they don't log out properly, it's entirely possible to use someone else's email to register to anything.
But it's not really an issue of identity, the government pursuing tax evasion, by definition, knows who didn't pay.
The question is *why* didn't they pay? Their answer: the computer program you wrote told them not to.
The person who signs a blank cheque is party to the decision to devoid their bank account of the amount later written in the amount to pay.
When cheques are issued, there are specific instructions not to sign a check without first writing an amount.
I won't allow users arbitrary use of words, without them stumping up Proedroi to agree to pay out on my behalf if everything goes tits up.
For basically the same reason I wouldn't sign a blank cheque and leave it in a seedy bar.
All houses have a presiding officer, responsible to regulate and record the meeting. Nobody has figured out how to conduct a meeting on the internet without mods.
The Ancient Athenians couldn't figure out how to have a meeting without Proedroi.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Anyway, if you choose to make an unregulated, single tier, forum, you *can't* disavow responsibility, because the only person to choose how the meeting should be regulated is you.
I vaguely remember the pipedream paper you showed me, it's a pipedream.
In the real world, some people are closer to the rules, and others closer to the work. The profession of lawyer exists, purely because a man close to the rules has utility.
Classically, Proedroi were drawn by lots, from those of the popular forum who hadn't been Proedroi recently. I think we leave Proedroi selection to the group, excepting that there must always be at least one.
Likely the one will be the secretary, who is already on the hook for all decisions made anyway.
I believe this framework is local to you, and fairly typical from what I can see.
If I could draw your attention to 10.1.9 (and 10.1.5 by reference), the society secretary is required to report any change in its:
- secretary's postal address
to a third party representative of the guild council.
Epitome could automate this process of reporting upstream, but if the Proedroi don't have mod power over which proposals get put forward, saboteurs can destroy the society by passing an unmoderated resolution against guild council rules, e.g. mandating censure for non-compliance in an initiation ritual.
The Guild Council president and registrar required to keep a bunch of formal records.
All these rules are fundementally incompatible with anonymous voting.
Non-students can't be ordinary members, but they can be associate members. An associate members may speak, at a general meeting, but may not vote. The secretary *must* ensure associate members don't vote on formal resolutions.
Thus, anonymous voting is impossible.
The guild council, student societies, partnerships, and companies all seem to work fine without anonymous voting.
The purpose of anonymous voting, while purported to be to protect the electorate from censure for expressing their honest opinion, functionally facillitates ballot stuffing, by making comparison between ballots non-trivial.
With an anonymous on-line vote, the secretary has no evidence the identity of voters was ever checked.
Summarising, instead of a single user role, I propose:
- officers (capable of limited unilateral action, verified by Proedroi)
- ordinary users
- associate users (no vote)
- upstream observers (no voice, no vote)
Also, forming a matrix, officers and ordinary users may volunteer to be Proedroi, gaining mod powers at the expense of being required to guard the minutes, and remove 3rd party liability from the devteam.
The fundemental problem I see with your upstream paper is that I don't see it allowing ordinary members to 'coast' by not volunteering to be Proedroi.
If someone doesn't want to play politics, they want to play tennis, and you make not joining the tennis society the only way they can play tennis without having to engage in politics, you lose subscription fees.
I hope you can see from my references, that these aren't just *my* ideas, they are the way things are done already, and the mechanism by which it can be formally recorded for witness by external parties that things were done properly.
You won't attract many users if you piss on these chips, they are not my chips, I just show them to you.
It has already been implemented and has been running for years. It's called 4chan. Everyone is equal on 4chan and there is no moderation or abuse protection. 4chan is a meme factory, it is produces ideas that people like, rather than well thought out ideas people are sure they can live with.
The other half of the design is anonymous voting. Most countries don't have anonymous voting, because this renders audit practically impossible. If your country prints serial numbers on your ballot paper, the vote is not anonymous, but it is auditable.
A student society, club, company or charity cannot legitimately use epitome for decision making, without ratifying every single passed outcome at a properly minuted meeting, with multi-tier membership, and auditable voting. This increases administrative load, when the only way to sell epitome to users is if it decreases administrative load.
However, if users skip the ratification step (they might well foolishly assume that epitome would keep formal records), then the audit goes:
- How did you make the decision?
* We used epitome.
- What formal records exist that the decision was made?
* I don't know I didn't write epitome.
The fundemantal code design points that the paper misses, is that:
- there is no demand for collective decisions to be made *unauditably*.
- only people, not computers, can be responsible for keeping formal records.
- Pushing this responsibility to the users, makes a multi-tier user base, which changes the design from the paper.
- Forbidding users from taking this responsibility, keeps it with the devteam, who can't offload it to the paper authors without a formal contract.
- people are not universally interested in performing administrative tasks.
- people don't have unlimited time to devote to administrative tasks.
Your choice not to alter the code design restricts the potential userbase to only:
- people who don't understand the need for formal record keeping. i.e. fools.
- people who have unlimited time for administrative tasks.
- people who *love* filling in on-line forms.
The fact that these aren't frontend/UI code design issues, doesn't mean they aren't code design issues.
I like the idea for a password-less automated to a database on git. We are using SQLite if you install it on your system, we needed PostgreSQL for Heroku. However we are not going to enforce that on our users. Also, because this is open source and someone may not choose to have a distributed database, we need to have a ToS that our users need to agree with before they use the platform.
Please explain the abbreviations before you use them, what is AGM?
Moreover I will request we keep this civil and respectful. If you recall I’ve stopped chatting with you before because you were being rude. You must understand that not everyone shares your ideas, intellect or feelings about the matter. If you want us to discuss and find a solution (or create a new one) then lets keep the discussion civil and polite.
I really don’t understand why you keep bringing minutes as a necessary democratic element. Epitome is not going to be used in committee meetings, it is going to be used as a governance platform. Is there minute-keeping in a referendum? I would like everyone to have “mod powers” by being able to report ill-intended submissions and then an algorithm to decide based on the number and rate of reports. If you read the paper, you would see that it did include the power to report. It is not perfect, but it’s the first step to remove representatives and admins. This is the main goal of epitome. Allowing communities to be representation-less is its essence.
Additionally you know that I am not willing to change the design of the platform. You keep mentioning about moderators that you call Proedroi. Such people will not exist in epitome. We have a design of a system and we want to stick with it. More systems will be developed but we want to bring this one to life.
I understand that there is a need for administrators in the platform, but their job will be to maintain the software and apply the decisions relating to change of the parameters of the software. We will include a section which will log their actions and that information will be accessible by each member. I know that doesn’t limit someone with sudo access to the server to change whatever they want without being noticeable.
I am not against non-anonymous voting. I want to give the option to groups to be able to vote both anonymously and non-anonymously. I agree, non-anonymous voting would solve many problems.
We will not have subscription fees in Epitome. Everyone will be able to download it, install and use it for free.
“The authors of the paper have not contracted you as closed source technicians” which authors are you referring to? If you are talking about our whitepaper, we are the authors of it. https://github.com/TheDemocracyFoundation/whitepaper
I am willing to create a repository for you to start developing your own software, using your design principles and be completely independent on it, and be in our foundation to help you promote it. I like different philosophies and I would like to see them prosper and be distinct from each other like open source software are alternatives to each other but with different approaches to the same goal. In fact we’re planning to create a blockchain-based platform and we have already had some ideas to make it work. Would you be interested to have this as your personal project and design it according to your philosophy? I can give you some initial thoughts we had to help you if you’d like? We would still want your ideas and opinions on epitome and we’re very thankful that you have been posting them here, but I feel like you have great potential to create something. If you agree, it would be best to talk privately on riot.im, message me there.
Deeper than an AGM, is a General Meeting. In a General Meeting, the membership can both question, and order, the officers.
Also, a GM can pass a resolution, which allows a random cunt, to be repaid for placing the order specified by the resolution.
There is also a technical adjusting device called an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM.) Typically, this is to revoke a presidential decision.
Normally, a president is a representative fit to legally bind their group to a contract by their signature.
This is why US Presidents get US Secret Service escort until they die. Their signatures can still 'post facto' bind the US federation.
I respect your wish to not have a president.
It is possible to have a group, where no-one has unconditional power to bind the group to an external contract, and the secretary opens and closes meetings.
i.e. It is possible to have a legitimate student society without a president, or a legitimate plc without a ceo.
So you can skip one of three cunts. That being president from (President/secretary/treasurer)
The real world will expect at least two cunts. One cunt (secretary) to attest to what the group has decided, and two cunt (treasurer) to attest to what the group owns. Theroretically these can be the same cunt, but that only works practically where the group possessions are of no practical concern.
You can call them cunts, because they are evil representatives, but they are *my* cunts because I expect to be short on volunteers, and I prefer volunteers to conscripts for the necessary administration positions.
The one cunt (secretary) is not only unskippable, but also required to be a qualified lawyer in a plc. Although, it can be any motherfucker the dumbass shareholders trust in a (Ltd/LLP/Partnership/Club)
If we do epitome, either we do it from the ground up, in a manner where there is legally solid records, for whenever the users choose to take their shit to the next level, or we waste everyone's time.
I apologise for Sam, but rest assured, that cunt uses less expletives.
If you want to revoke this, in order to make something new, could you please take the time to properly deconsruct it and define your problems with it?
Any democracy is ruled by those who count the votes.
A good example is made by Scotland ~66% turnout 2010 for the general election about whom has sovereign power over the law.
Yet 2014 ~85% turnout, because the No campaign won support with exactly the same campaign than Hillary could only tread water with.
This disproves psychology, beceause 2/5 habitual abstainers from 2010, decided to vote No, where only 1/5 abstainers decided to vote Yes.
Austraila is better off out. Far out from this fucking bullshit.
You say your software produces 'outcomes' that are democratic.
Also, you want your users to be able to say their 'outcomes,' from their particular instances of the software, are democratic.
Both of these are legal/academic claims of the form "X is Y" where X is a noun defining a thing, and Y is an adjective defining a property.
If there is to be no evidence to substantiate these claims, then they are fraudulent.
The burden of proof is on the claimant to prove the claim.
If you refuse to supply proof on behalf of your software and users, despite having a degree and knowing evidence is required for proof, you're a fraud.
I don't want to associate with a fraud except to call them out as a fraud.
You could do better, if you were willing to accept your software design is not democratic, because it offers no proof to users that their 'outcomes' are democratic.
I know, the design will not change. I just won't believe you have the slightest clue what democracy is.
If you won't allow epitome outcomes to be defended, and cannot prevent them from being contested, what actual value do they have, given they're legally, and academically, false by default?
Donald Trump's claim is false, because it has no substantiative evidence to back it.
Normal software, merely involves authors making claims to users. This is not hugely complicated, because users can test the software. Thus they can adjudicate for themselves if it meets the author's claims.
Democracy software *necessitates* users having the ability to make claims to third parties, of the general form of: a specific 'outcome,' from the user's group's instance of epitome, was democratically generated.
This means that, their specific instance must generate evidence, specific to their case, to substantiate that claim.
Without any such evidence, any claim an epitome outcome is 'democratic' is fraudulent.
The world is used to douchebags like Trump making fraudulent claims. Who, really, is harmed by his ignorance? Can you claim you've been harmed by his nonsense?
If you were ever to get to the stage ov having users, they'd get to say they'd been harmed by your nonsense, just as soon as one of the 'outcomes' from your software is contested.
If everyone always agrees, this problem will never arise, and also this software design has no legitimate value.