Sunday, December 01, 2013

Privacy and Protection

There are two models for scalable information-theoretic systems that are generally applicable to human systems: the small-worlds model and the hierarchal command and control model.

In the case of the hierarchal model, there are no limits on an individual's ability to absorb and process information. However, in the small-worlds model, a connectionist node is saturated with specialized, local information and a small number of connections outside of that immediate proximity. The flattening of a small-worlds network scales negative exponentially with the removal of intermediate layers while the hierarchal model scales linearly. In short, the small-worlds model is realistic for human systems whereas the hierarchal model fails catastrophically with small changes in scaling of human systems. Hierarchal human systems only exist in the real world as abstractions.

In our personal lives, we may want to have a degree of privacy that is disproportional to the good that we would like to gain from our interdependence with others. Thus there is a natural tension for the individual. For the system, there is no such tension. The system finds equilibrium at all points and does not hold itself against imbalances. A large positive imbalance in the individual is immediately offset by smaller negative imbalances in many others within the local neighborhood. The wants and needs of the individual are washed away by the wants and needs of the many.

Fortunately, the information from the individual does not scale in the same ratio as the individual's ability to absorb and process information. The flow of information from the individual is asymmetric to the same scaling factor as the connections of the small-worlds model. The specialized local nodes of the small-worlds model report up the net discrepancies of  relatively similar subordinate nodes amplified by their own processing filters.  Thus the individual acting through the local connectionist node can transmit information throughout the system to the degree in which it is a useful innovation throughout several layers rather than to the degree to which it is "voted" by the aggregate of the nodes in the local and subordinate connected layers.

In equilibrium, the usefulness of an individual's information dies out as quickly as under the hierarchal model. The virtue of the small-worlds model is in its ability to adapt to changing information on short time scales.

The destruction of privacy of the individual is akin to the substitution of a hierarchal model rather than a small-worlds model. In short, it is an unnatural and statist substitution that leads to systems that are incapable of adaptation on the same time scale as natural exogenous inputs. Hierarchal systems fail to adapt readily and are most often made obsolescent by competitors and outside disturbances. Thus, to safeguard the system at large, the privacy of the individual must be safeguarded.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Outliers: Those not Covered by the Second Amendment

Clearly, in any time, it would be considered immoral to force those who cannot form moral thoughts to take on the responsibilities of the whole. Was it ever the intention that the Second Amendment (or for that matter, the rest of the Constitution), that we should apply its obligations to those that were infirm, adolescent, or insane? No, the Constitution is a ongoing social contract and like any contract, the parties must come to it with volition and the capacity for that volition.

In the area of controls, we would call a system that requires an exogenous input for its stability to be "conditionally stable", i.e. that it is itself unstable in nature. These systems are never left to their own devices for a slight perturbance can cause dynamics that can quickly overcome any realistic control. Think of a wrecking ball being held at the pinnacle of a mountain by your finger, for example.

The same is true of people who require drugs for their mental wellbeing. They are not themselves stable, but can act so and appear so during their maintenance. This condition might be temporary and many return to full mental health (e.g.  John Nash). Naturally, we would not allow these individuals during these conditions to serve in the armed forces and the existence of the condition exempts them from compulsory service. Fortunately, since such drugs require a prescription, there is a mechanism by which we can enforce this rule.

Let me propose that within the framework of our Constitution, we can agree on sufficient conditions for the welfare and safety of society that are also necessary to ensure the rights of the individual:

  • Every free, mentally sound American adult has the individual right to bear arms whether or not he or she chooses to practice that right. In America, we respect the rights of others whether or not we ourselves choose to partake in the freedoms of that right since the correspondent responsibilities apply to us all.
  • Those that have been adjudicated as insane, who are under sentence for felonies, or who voluntarily have been prescribed mind altering drugs for their mental wellbeing do not during that time participate in the responsibilities of the Constitution and may be denied the rights of the Second Amendment.

In the best society, we do not require paid armed guards for our childrens' schools since we are all at all times our society's and our nation's guardians. Let these disasters end with us and let us not take one more step on the path either of Germany and Russia in the first half of the last century. Let us show the world once again that the US is a nation governed by the People--rational and responsible adults. We are not a nation governed by children, but one which will protect its children.

Rights and responsibility must go hand in hand. We should insist on both at the same time.