Thank you for your replies.
LuckyR: I have recently discussed this idea with people I know and I think the chance is greater than 50%. Also, auxiliary forum would make it possible for people to agree about the laws because that would be easier for them to discuss important things than it is now (currently people just choose their leaders but those without power have low chance to directly contribute to the discussion; auxiliary forum would help to remove this obstacle). Moreover, cannot we assume that such changes can happen spontaneously right now?
EvaHawk: I think we can start with this philosophy forum, as it is "an internet oasis of open discussion without personal attacks". That would require creating new category "Best World Scenario" with three subcategories for each of the committees
. Initial group of ethicists can consist of current moderators of Online Philosophy Club. Then they would have the right to appoint new members of the committee of ethics, as well as invite scientists from the universities to contribute to the discussion. Auxiliary forum can have pinpointed post with metadiscussion, i.e. discussion about further development of "Best World Scenario" category.
-----------------1. THE NEED FOR NEW PARADIGM
Have you ever thought about hypothetical best world scenario that could maximise overall happiness? (Happiness may be defined as in Seligman’s theory). There were many attempts to create better societies, which resulted in various forms of government. These forms of government have some inherent flaws that become even more evident with rapid changes of contemporary world.
Representative democracies result in promoting politicians that care more about their own benefit than public good. Direct democracies are not sufficient by themselves and can be considered only as a part of more complete systems if they are expected to flourish. Monarchy risks that new ruler will not be as good as the previous one. Negative impact of communism can be observed in the economical and mental challenges of post-communist countries.
Serious difficulties can be found even in the way how technology relates to economy because it needs to introduce workarounds like planned obsolescence etc.2. THE NEW PARADIGM
The basic law is freedom driven by good will and reason, as well as compassion, loving kindness, empathetic joy and equanimity.
In summary, I would suggest existence of three entities, i.e. committee of experts, committee of ethicists and auxiliary forum.
Experts should be appointed by the universities and submit laws. Committee of ethics would be responsible for approving them according to basic moral rules. And auxiliary forum would make the whole process more efficient and transparent.
(These three entities should ensure optimal functioning of laws. The best qualified professionals are guarantors that rules are not in contradiction with scientific knowledge. Ethicists make sure that new regulations contribute to the general well-being. Auxiliary forum should involve all members of the society that want to contribute to constructive discussion so that system has chance to be accepted).
Good will is defined as wishing good to oneself and to the others. Bad will is wishing suffering or unhappiness. There are in-between states too (some of them helpful). Only good ones can be members of the committee of ethics. Formal proof that bad will was behind decisions or discussion should be enough to exclude member of the aforementioned committee.
All these entities should be self-organising units.2.1. Social experiment
The whole proposal may start as social experiment. It does not have extensive requirements. They mostly involve informing all those who may be interested in the project and qualified by the initial requirements. The second requirement is creation of the technological mean (e.g. web application) and its initial maintenance. The system may be first applied e.g. for so-called micronations.
Further development of the system naturally stops when the conditions required for its growth are no longer present, i.e. when there is too little good will or too much bad will.2.2. Committee of experts
As initially sufficient condition all people who “finished their own psychotherapy” (i.e. understood and explained their own theory of mind) and have PhD or higher degree should be considered experts. Alternatively, they can have relevant experience. Experts need to be chosen from variety of different backgrounds and worldviews. It should be considered whether requirement to explain theory of mind should be present for appointment of all experts or only experts in ethics. Later, committees may extend rules to confirm expertise of others or to make rules more strict, e.g. to require specific experience.
Projects should be discussed by relevant experts. It should be decided which scientific disciplines are expected to be mostly involved in discussing new thread, e.g. by adding list of scientific disciplines related to the thread under discussion.
There can be auxiliary discussions in the other thread, linked to the original one and intended to clarify areas of competence. Other experts can also participate in the discussion as experts but it should be made clear that it was not expected that their expertise is relevant to the topic.
There can be auxiliary areas of expertise, e.g. experienced judges may be considered experts in the law and help to make the law properly defined.
It is expected that all experts follow widely accepted high standards in scientific methodology. They should present their laws together with relevant justifications and references (like bibliography). Making laws more concise may be better done by interactions with auxiliary experts.2.3. Committee of ethics
Initially, all philosophers with PhD, equivalent or higher level should be considered as experts in ethics but it is one of the first duties of the committee of ethics to reconsider these rules. Philosopher is defined as a person whose main focus of studies was related to metaphysics, epistemology or other branches of philosophy.
It may be considered whether access to the document describing theory of mind behind members of the committee of ethics should be available to everyone, or only to all members of the committee of ethics. Nomination of new member of committee of ethics should be initiated by already working member. The lineage should be available and the person nominating should review theory of mind written by the nominee, to eliminate from it those elements like self-praising and criticizing others or invasions of privacy.2.4. Basic laws2.4.1. Freedom
Ethicists should apply good motivation to make their judgements. Applying scientific method and good motivation results in the creation of rational and moral laws. Ethicists should make their own judgements regarding the priority of basic rules, provided that good will is behind their choices.2.4.2. Applying the laws
In some cases there may be moral dilemmas resulting from different ways of applying the rules. One way of dealing with them is to recognise the difference between private and public sphere. It may be preferred to allow more rights in the private sphere then in the public one. The right to freedom also allows limiting its own freedom, based on free decision and on transparent rules.
It may be preferred to define some laws in general way, describing how specific countries should apply those rules, by providing objective criteria that should be met to follow specific paths in the general law.
In order to accept new law or change existing law, the committee of ethics needs to write a formal justification.2.4.3. Responsibility
There are two layers of analysis. The first one is motivation. When motivation is good, act is also good. There may be cases when good will still leads to bad results. It may happen for various reasons. Will may be too weak or there may be ignorance. Ignorance can be moral fault of the person being ignorant if that was reasonable to expect that this person should have specific knowledge or skills but due to lack of good will does not.2.4.4. Truth
Words should be used with their real meaning. Real meaning is defined as meaning that corresponds to the objective qualities. Whenever there is doubt that requires clarification, widely accepted experts in the given language should help to explain them. Changing the real meaning of words may result in worse quality of discussion.2.4.5. Privacy
The right for privacy can be deducted from freedom. Freedom may be executed up to different degree, depending on whether behaviour belongs to the private or public area. In some cases, there should be separation between private and public domains.
Whenever there is breach of privacy, it may be best not to use doctrine of the poisoned fruit, but rather to accept responsibility of both parties, breaching the privacy and breaking the law. Any of these actions should be considered in the context of motivation. 2.4.6. Public laws
Deciding how public freedom should be limited is best suited for direct democracy. In some cases it may be better to let local governments or other authorities widely accepted in the given society to take care of the implementation details.2.4.7. Person
Person should be defined as sentient being. There are differences in the way beings perceive the reality, which should be taken into account. The term ‘reality’ remains undefined for the purposes of initial implementation of this system but may be defined later. Cruelty against animals is result of bad will. Whenever reasonable, wider definition of person should be applied.2.4.8. Members
There can be active and passive members of the new system. Active members contribute to the process. Passive members are either unwilling or unable to contribute. Inability may result from lack of necessary mental capabilities.2.4.9. Purpose
The system should help its members to become happier and more virtuous, at the same time respecting their freedom. Good system should promote making will good, strong and becoming wiser.2.4.10. Helpful ideas
The following ideas should be helpful in making moral decisions:
Some of the ideas can be concluded from the others. Committee of ethicists, as self-organising unit, can reconsider list of moral rules.2.4.11. Self-improvement
At the same time committee of ethics should take great care that its members represent high qualities that are expected from them. Ways of ensuring that include request for clarification whenever there is uncertainty about interpretation of their input to the discussion, analysis of content added to the discussion or correlation between different inputs. It may include other elements like regular retrospective meetings.2.4.12. Consistency check
It is reasonable to expect that the system can work. After all, users need to provide a lot of input to the system. There is enough content from the given user, when it is possible to analyse correlations between inputs. In complex scenarios different reasoning may be applied in similar situations. In those cases request for clarification can help unhide motivation behind reasoning and clarify rules.
Whenever contradiction in reasoning is proved, expert can respond in constructive way or not. Good motivation can be proved if mistakes are used as opportunity to make improvements. Not making improvements can conclude lack of strong will, which should be another quality expected from expert.
Laws should be consistent with each other. Whenever further improvement in scientific knowledge or wisdom of experts requires redefining some laws, they need to be modified and justification has to provided.
There may be cases when the only just law would be general one and specific implementations should be decided at lower level.2.5. Auxiliary forum2.5.1. Forms of participation
Forum should be conducted in the most convenient way to all the parties involved, which includes members of the committee of ethics and experts, as well as other participants who are not members of any committee. There may be meetings which should result in a formal document summarising all the conclusions and important points (e.g. in the form of TED Talk video and related article) and also informal meetings.
There should be convenient way to make the process efficient and transparent by using currently available technological means.2.5.2. Technological requirements
The rule of pragmatism requires that all inconveniences that may be initially experiences should not prevent the parties involved from successfully participating in interactions. That requires good planning and development, with focus on security, privacy, reliability, stability, extensibility, scalability, testability and user experience. Functionalities may be implemented in phases whenever it is justified.2.5.3. Data flow
Inputs in the system are all the data submitted by participants. The actors include: experts, including experts in ethics and participants who are not experts. The process involves discussions between experts and other users. There should be also interactions in the experts’ area. Outputs in the system are laws accepted by the ethicists.
Members of the committee of experts submit projects of laws. Those projects are discussed on the forum which involves interaction with all the other members of the forum.2.5.4. Lower level initiatives
It should be promoted that users who are not experts can also suggest improvements in the state of laws. Groups of users can request review of their drafts or points made. List of requests should be prioritised by number of participants who consider topic important. Similar requests should be grouped together and votes should be considered on them as a whole. All requests that have not been addressed by any expert should be publicly available in convenient way, sorted by topics and number of votes.2.5.5. Experts’ area
Areas for interactions where only experts can provide input should have important exception. This exclusion means that any content posted by expert in such area could be marked by any user pointing to the related discussion in the open area of the forum. Next comments on the content should relate to the same related discussion as started by the first user commenting on the specific content.
The reason behind is ensuring the best quality of conversation which is not deteriorated by input from participants ignorant in the topic. At the same time allowing users to comment on experts’ input ensures freedom of discussion.2.5.6. Transparency
One of the basic ways the whole project could fail is lack of trust and transparency. Trust is defined as justified belief in the lack of malicious intentions of the other party involved. Transparency requires that high level design of this technological mean is easy to understand to non-technical person. That also involves understanding of the way it serves security, privacy and content moderation.
Transparency also requires that all projects have properly constructed summaries. The reasoning behind is simple, i.e. ages when one person could comprehend most of the human scientific knowledge are bygone era.2.5.7. Content priority
Simple technological mean can improve transparency by allowing people to vote on topics which are important to them. Whenever there are any votes or polls, they should be carefully audited. That means users need to have trust that the results are not manipulated.2.5.8. Moderation
Moderation should be the least obtrusive it can reasonably be. Content published by the users should never be removed without good justification. Whenever content removal is really required, it is advisable to leave information that it was removed, providing the reason of deletion and opportunity to discuss the incident. Content should be still available in the historical data, easy to retrieve. This point requires careful consideration regarding data protection.
Whenever reasonable to apply, content violating rules should be removed selectively, leaving other part of the content without modification.2.5.9. Competences confirmation
It is reasonable to expect that experts should provide basic information about their area of expertise, scientific title, name of university or universities of study or work, ranking of those places in internationally respected lists related to scientific research and publications, topics of important work etc.2.5.10. Governing authorities
Utilitarianism requires that it is better to have working system rather than system which is fragile and can be closed by the authorities. For that reason local laws should be obeyed. Whenever there is risk that significant deviations from the original intentions may arise due to external factors like laws to follow, it should be considered whether change in legal or other status (e.g. physical location of servers) could improve the system.
It should be preferred to promote high standards and freedom of speech so that governing laws and laws proposed by this system are in line.2.5.11. Extension points
There are potential extension points of the whole system. Once there are many laws submitted by experts, discussed by forum members and accepted by ethicists, complete system of laws may arise that would be applicable as real life law.
This influence can happen in various ways. Examples of good laws may influence real life decisions. Alternatively, the system may be accepted as a whole.
Moreover, users should take care of the auxiliary forum as the public good.2.5.12. Licenses
System should promote spreading knowledge and skills. That means it should be allowed to quote any content provided that quotation does not change the meaning and required context is also available, if needed. Whenever possible, it is required to provide hyperlink to the original forum content in the place where quotation is used.
If violation of this forum rule is found, it is expected to request either removing the quotation or to provide hyperlink to the original content. There should be reasonable effort to make these improvements. The reasoning behind is that it is easy to misrepresent original intentions of the author if the quotation is used outside context.
Free software should be preferred because that constructively redefines type of external dependency of the system. At the same time reliable and high quality solutions should be used which may or may not involve free software, as long as agreement with companies does not endanger success of the project. System scalability should be a factor in the decision making.
Basic law is the license for this text and results of its implementation.2.5.13. Content quality
It may happen that some contents would violate various standards. This topic requires careful consideration because participants’ rights should be protected. That involves freedom of speech but also promoting high quality discussion. Ad personam arguments cannot be used of the forum. The exclusion from this rule is discussion about expert’s status but that should be subject to additional rules.2.5.14. User profiles
Technological mean needs to secure freedom of speech and transparency. Most discussions should be conducted with real name displayed with each message. In cases where any party involved is afraid that using their freedom of speech may lead to some of their rights being violated, it should be possible to post a message anonymously, either by creating anonymous account or by adding message without account. Any solutions need to consider pragmatic aspects like protecting system from noise pretending to be real data, e.g. submitted by bots.2.5.15. Sections
There should be regional sections of the forum, making it possible to benefit from the effectiveness of international discussion. Variety of backgrounds helps to open to new ideas. It should be possible to create version by specifying geographical region and language, where region could be as large as whole civilisation or as small as any geographically meaningful place.
Geographical places should be verified for their existence. Users should be able to specify any location. Those may be very specific locations like single properties or as general as capital cities. Users should not be delayed with approval of their choice but they should also be responsible for the data they provide. If they will be unable to prove existence of the given place, it should be added as publicly visible annotation in their forum profile. It should be discussed whether or when annotation could be removed.
There can be other criteria and combinations. For example users may want to discuss specific topics which are important to larger group of participants. Those discussions may be combined with place or language too.2.5.16. Equality
When you look at Earth from space, it is clear that the world is divided. You can even see some of the political boundaries there. It shows there may be differences in the system of values between people from those countries. Properly implemented sections should help to find those differences and address them in constructive way.2.5.17. Search engine
Search should include useful features, e.g. fuzzy search. The reasoning behind is the way cognition works, i.e. by interrelating topics, applying heuristic thinking or making simple mistakes (e.g. typos).2.5.18. Practical guidelines
One of the first steps should involve graphically representing all the ideas. The reasoning behind is the application of pragmatism. Human brain is efficient at perceiving visual data.
All the requirements should be summarised and architecture decided to make implementation of the future functionalities possible. Regular feedback from users should be used to improve their experience. Users should be able to vote on feature requests. Source code should be open.
Users can decide to treat forum as public good which means they may make voluntary financial contributions required to support existence of the forum infrastructure. Expenses should be explained in transparent way.
Committees should first consider laws regarding basic human needs like access to food, clean water, accommodation and basic health services. Then we need to think about those jobs that can be automated and how to deal with people losing their jobs. It should be considered whether next step is free access to the internet so that laws can be discussed and developed together in transparent way.
Forum should also enable open discussion of topics of taboo, including all interested in participating in the discussion. It may be worth allowing members of auxiliary forum to submit their propositions of laws.
One of the first tasks of the committees may be writing formal proof that currently existing systems of laws are imperfect and how new paradigm may fix them.