The Era of Signals and Changing Power Dynamics. By Dana Edwards. Posted on Steemit. October 8, 2018.
The world we live in is rapidly changing. For instance the #MeToo era has arrived. This new era shows us that any individual in any position in society can be brought down. It proves a point that many in the blockchain community may have known instinctively which is that any individual source of authority and or power can and may be removed from that position. Some people actively choose to seek to be in these positions of power for their own reasons and then some of these people abuse their positions of power. People who seek power for the wrong reasons and then abuse it are in my opinion a risk which positions of authority bring (which blockchain technology may help reduce).
What are signals and what is signalling theory?
Social desirability bias is a popular topic in academic circles. To explain:
In social science research, social desirability bias is a type of response bias that is the tendency of survey respondents to answer questions in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others. It can take the form of over-reporting "good behavior" or under-reporting "bad," or undesirable behavior. The tendency poses a serious problem with conducting research with self-reports, especially questionnaires. This bias interferes with the interpretation of average tendencies as well as individual differences.
People tend to want to be liked/loved. People when asked questions on a survey may feel pressured to answer the survey in a way which they think they will be viewed more favorably by others. In other words rather than answering in a manner which they truly think or feel they will assess how others might judge their response and then answer in a way which they think they will be judged more favorably.
A full video on this topic is below:
Social desirability bias is exactly why voting on platforms such as Steem will not work. When voting is public then most of the research seems to show that people will feel pressured to answer the question not in the way which they really believe or prefer but in the way which they think the whales want them to vote or prefer. In other words because on Steem the whales can reward (or punish) anyone who votes in ways which go against "political sensibilities" it is likely that social desirability bias applies particularly on DPOS style consensus platforms. If there are votes and the votes are not encrypted (secret) then we have no way to determine which votes are legitimate and which votes are the result of signalling (such as virtue signals).
For example when it was Trump vs Hillary the polls suggested Hillary would win. This is because there likely was social desirability bias which made it socially undesirable for anyone to admit they voted for Trump. As a result people who voted for Trump or who planned to vote for Trump may have said in public that they intended to vote for Hillary. Because the votes in the election are secret the people who may have seemed like loud Hillary supporters could have been secret Trump supporters in disguise.
In some of my previous posts I discuss signalling theory a bit more:
In these posts I have identified that behavior of individuals is shaped by how individuals think other individuals will think of their behaviors. This would apply to social desirability optimization which I'll label as adopting behaviors which provide the expected payoff of being rewarded with improved social desirability.
To provide clarity the definition of social desirability:
Social desirability is the tendency for research participants to attempt to act in ways that make them seem desirable to other people.
In other words people want to be liked. Likeability is a word I can use to simplify the concept of social desirability for readers. In the example with the 2016 election it is clear that supporters of Trump would risk a social stigma with severe social consequences if they came out in public support. This high cost of public support is why some believed that there were secret Trump supporters who were simply afraid of "losing face". In the most simple terms a person can talk red or talk blue depending on where the social stigma is.
One of the stunning conclusions I reached in my own research on this topic is that the increasing transparency leads to "preference falsification". That is a person who is talking blue while thinking red. If all speech is public (like it is on Steem) then there is the possibility that preference falsification is taking place.
Here is a video on the topic of preference falsification:
Why is this a major problem in the blockchain community? The evolutionary trajectory of a platform relies entirely on market preferences. If censorship exists and conformist pressures hinder true preference aggregation then the developers (and the community itself) will have no way of knowing which improvements to make or which changes would best satisfy the community.
What is leadership and what is the era of signals?
Before I attempt to discuss leadership I will first explain what I think leadership means and what it is. In my opinion the community must always come first. A person who is put into a leadership position is in my opinion in what I'll term "the seat of responsibility". This is in my opinion not an enviable position to be in but someone has to be in this position. For example a person who receives a security clearance is now in a position of heavy responsibility. The information which they protect is not their secrets but the nations secrets.
Leadership in my understanding is not about "being in power" but is about serving a community. To be in a "big seat" is to be in a position of responsibility to make decisions on behalf of a community which the chosen person must represent. In other words being in positions of responsibility is entirely about service and not about power. A representative in congress is not in a position of power but in a position to serve their constituents who put them in that position to represent their interests.
In my opinion to be a good leader is to be a great listener. The leader must listen to the community to find out what the community wants and or needs. The leader must listen to the community to determine what the community thinks is right or wrong. The leader then must offer solutions or proposals or policies which satisfies the requirements of the community. What matters more than who is in the seat is the seat itself. This means the Presidency itself matters more than who is in office. The positions themselves matter more than who is in them. Long after whomever is in these positions are gone there will be these positions to be filled. Any leader in any position is replaceable by someone else if they show failure to lead (whether it be a CEO, or a President of a country, or a lead developer, or any other kind of community leader).
In my understanding it is like chess where all pieces on the board can be in various positions. We know in chess that the pawn can become any piece on the board. The point with this analogy is that individuals in my opinion are not likely to remain the source of power in society. The source of power in society is increasingly becoming the community for better or for worse. According to me, to lead is to serve and to lead effectively is to serve effectively.
To accept a responsibility to serve (to lead) it is required to seek feedback from all whom the community servant represents. This does not require voting specifically but it does require under any circumstance a mechanism by which the community can give brutally honest feedback to the system itself. When I say the system itself I do not mean the feedback must go direction to those who serve the system but that the system must have a means of collecting data, analyzing data, and then informing those who can improve the system on which changes best would satisfy the needs of the community.
In my opinion this is a very data driven process. I do not think leaders can for example process big data using their brain power. This will require that they harness the power of machines (machine intelligence). There is also risk if all the processing is done by one company (such as Google) just as there is risk if all people rely on Facebook for the news and opinions. We can see that Facebook has the ability right or wrong to shape elections by deforming the news feed or by allowing certain fake profiles to interact on the site. We see that Facebook can ban crypto ads at will for example to enforce certain policies without taking any kind of poll from the community or the users for instance. We simply do not see any poll data from the users which indicated that the users were tired of seeing crypto ads.
Summary of thoughts on leadership:
Augmenting the wisdom of the community as a means of better governance
In a world where the community must decide what to do we have a situation where responsibility is increasingly diffuse. This means while it is true that the signature may come from the face of the community (if it is a human face) it is still the community which has to be capable of wisdom. The problem is most communities in the world do not become wiser as more join the community. A bigger community doesn't produce better policies by merely voting together. The problem is while most people have opinions it does not mean opinions are well informed or scientific or wise. The lack of wisdom in a community results in horrible (harmful) policies, over reactions, systemic bias, and more.
The conclusion I have reached so far is that in order to have better governance in an era where the community is the government it is a requirement that the community be wise. It's not enough to simply give the community unlimited power to shape the future without providing any capacity for the community to be wise or to do research or to solve problems. Voting in the sense we see in elections does not involve informed voters. Information supplied to voters is almost always sub par and voters are expected to trust "opinion leaders" and "opinion shapers" who tell them how to vote and why. Often disinformation shapes elections more than scientific evidence, facts, math, or reason.
As we build blockchain technology I think it is critical that we put great emphasis on data analytics. Data analytics will allow our leaders to make better decisions on our behalf. Blockchain technology will have to rely on data analytics to figure out potential wants and needs of it's participants, users, e-citizens, etc. At the same time private communication will be a necessity even if just to conduct surveys. The reason is people will not necessarily provide their real opinion in a survey which is completely transparent. The only solution I could find to the problem of preference falsification is privacy.
Most important of all is those who are put into positions of leadership are in trusted positions. This includes people who are moderators at forums, people who are lead developers, people who run exchanges. People who are in these positions have the responsibility to serve the blockchain community to the best of their ability. The abuse of these positions for personal power or personal gain is a violation of this trust and in these instances the community can and should select someone else for that position.
Bulbulia, J., & Sosis, R. (2011). Signalling theory and the evolution of religious cooperation. Religion, 41(3), 363-388.
Davis, W. L. (2004). Preference falsification in the economics profession. Econ Journal Watch, 1(2), 359.
Frank, R. H. (1996). The Political Economy of Preference Falsification: Timur Kuran's Private Truths, Public Lies. Journal of Economic Literature, 34(1), 115-123.
Grimm, P. (2010). Social desirability bias. Wiley international encyclopedia of marketing.
Sîrbu, A., Loreto, V., Servedio, V. D., & Tria, F. (2017). Opinion dynamics: models, extensions and external effects. In Participatory Sensing, Opinions and Collective Awareness (pp. 363-401). Springer, Cham.
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
― Robert A. Heinlein 
No, it is not a vow everybody to be everything. It is a reflection of the fundamental human fungibility . The average human can be taught to take any human role. The exceptions of true organic geniuses (those who are hard to be replaced) and morons (those who are incapable to replace), only confirm this general rule of shear numbers . This is what makes the mankind so scalable .
''Know'' is synonymous with ''can''. Literally. Knowledge = technology. Even etymologically . Knowledge is praxis . Only. There ain't such thing as impractical knowledge. If it is not a skill, it is not knowledge. I mentioned once  that we're all AIs. Ref.: feral children .
We are not what we eat , but we are what we've learnt. You are what you know/can. And you can what you have learnt. Learning is from the taking side. Teaching is on the giving side. Of one and a same process. We do not have a word to denote the modulus  of learning/teaching, it seems. But it will come.
We are taught by the others, the society. We are the cherry ontop of a layer cake of culture onto nature . We are learning by ... living. We acquire skills in plethora of contexts from family, street, school, job, media ... Learning  is not a monopoly of man, countless systems are also learners. Maybe one of the basic definitions of life and intelligence is the ability to learn . Giant topic, yeah. We won't graze into it here now on what is learning, but on how we learn.
Due to our neurological bottlenecks we spontaneously form hierarchies . This hinders our scalabilty  by forcing humanity to be more or less a fractal of 5. We are close to a number of breakthroughs which to mitigate these innate limitations of ours into a number of ways    . But the general case is not subject of this article - herein we focus on HOW we are taught. How we acquire knowledge, and how this knowledge of ours gets recognized and utilized by society. And the hierarchic emergent structuring is of course in full force upon us in teaching as well as into everything social else.
So comes education , such comes exam , knowledge certification , certified skills application , knowledge creation verification , job fitness testing , CVs and employer recommendations ... etc., etc. With all the bugs and the so little features of this 'map is not the territory' , situation.
It is all centralized and hierarchic - exactly as the global fractal of double-entry accountancy ledgers which we call fiat financial system is. In fact it is so interwoven with fiat finance than it is almost inextricable from it . And as much inefficient and imprecise.
In all these years of talking and thinking on Tauchain  - I noticed - and this suspicion of mine incrementally turns into shear conviction - that Tau, the upscaler of humanity, inevitably also is the ultimate teaching machine. If education is facilitating of learning, Tau is the maximizer of learning. By its very construction, it comes out so.
People talk and listen whenever and whatever they want. Tau has unlimited capacity to listen and attend and remember, and answer. Only limited by the hardware capacity allocated. Tau extracts meaning. Purifies the stream, distills it down to the essence. Detects repetitions, contradictions and all other, ubiquitous nowadays conversation bugs. Remembers changes of opinions of the individual user. And points them out. Sounds like the best tool to know oneself. And the others to know you if you let them.
Your Tau account or profile is what you know. You say what you say and also ask. Say statements and questions. Tau pools you together with the others who state the same and, more importantly, who ask the same type of questions. Knowing what you know, and asking about what you don't know but want to know, maps not only your knowledge state but also maps your knowledge dynamics. Records and drives how your knowledge changes. You even have access to what you forget, and can recollect it. True real time knowledge state reporting. For first time in human history.
If consciousness  is - aside from the clinical state of being merely awake - the post-factum integration of senso-motoric experience , the Accountant of mind, the speaker of the narrative which is you, then Tau is your consciousness booster. That is - stronger than thought.
The ultimate teaching, the ultimate fair testing or exam, the ultimate real-time comprehensive diploma, or certificate, super-peer reviewed paper(s) of you as academic carrer.., the ultimate job interview AND the ultimate ... job of being working as yourself and anything useful you create to be instantly scarcifiable and monetizable - your Tau account is! And all the rest of accessible socoety - being your own workforce. And you to them. In the billions. In a move. In real time.
Including control over the pathways of increase of your skills towards the most productive personally for you learning directions, because it aids you to analyze the you-Tau history and to apply knowledge maximizer techniques and to participate profitably into creation of newer better ones. Maximizer of self. And maximizer of society making it to consist of max-selfs. Ever improving. Merger of education with work occupation. Work-as-you-live.
The literal Knowledge Economy, as described by @trafalgar in his article  from few months ago. Where search, creation, reflection, certification, recognition, commercialization, accumulation, modification, improvement ... everything of knowledge - is all in one.
And it is not only Humans and Tau lonely job. I foresee the other Machines to join the party . Yes, I mean machines capable to have interests and to ask and seek answers of palatable questions.
This - the education amplification - to come down the technology way - has been, of course, anticipated by many. Few arbitrary examples:
- A distant rough-sketch hint for the inevitable tuition power of Tau is Neil Stephenson's  ''The Diamond age''  , with the depicted: '' Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer '' , as an interactive networked teaching device.
- or if I'm right about the inevitable conquest of the natural languages territory  - UX  like in the 'Her' (2013) film .
- Thomas Frey  of the futurist DaVinci Institute  in his book ''Epiphany Z''  paid special attention of this.: down the way of micro- and nano-education, an effective merger of the processes of education, diplomas issuing, job application, exam and actual execution of job obligations. Tom does not know about Tau. But I'll tell him.
With a big smile of irony and self-irony of course... these examples. Just to pick from here and there proofs of the giant anticipation of what's to come. And taken with a few big grains of salt. Cause the reality will be immensely more powerful.
Tutor , tuition , my emphasis via using exactly this wording, comes to denote the economic side of learning/teaching. It is about the cost of learning - the association of tuition with fees, about the placement of the acquired skills, about the business organization of those, about the protection of ownership and security of transaction of knowledge ... Let me introduce here a neologism  which to reflect the business side of it:
Scrooge Factor 
- Simply denoting the money-making power of a technology use by a business. The 'money suction power' of a business entity or organization of any kind coming from the application of a technology, if you want. Technology as socialized knowledge. Scaled up over multiple humans. Over a society. Of course the Scrooge Factor can pump in different directions. The Scrooge Factor of the traditional hierarchic education, governance and everything ... is apparently very often negative - hierarchies decapitalize, dissipate, waste. Orders of magnitude more wasteful than any PoW , but on this - some other time.
So aside from all the niceties of the abstractions of the full supply and value chains of a Knowledge economy, lets round up some numbers:
- We know that a true functional semantic search engine alone is worth $10t. Yeah. Tens of Trills. Trillions. As per the assessments of Davos WEF attendees of as far as I remember 2015 or 2016...
- Also, Bill Gates stated back in 2004  that ''If you invent a breakthrough in artificial intelligence, so machines can learn,'' Mr. Gates responded, ''that is worth 10 Microsofts.''
- Tom Frey  also argued  that by 2030 the biggest corporation in the world will be an online school. Given the present day size and growth rate  of, say, Amazon  this 'online school' should be in the range of good deal of trillions of marcap if it is to be bigger than the biggest corporations. But we do not need such indirect analogies over analogies to access the scale. The shear size of the global education industry is the most eloquent indicator . Note that Tom talks about 'corporation' i.e. for clumsy and inefficient hierarchic human collective. Not for a system which does this orders of magnitude more efficiently and powerfully due to being intrinsically P2P, i.e. geodesic . Even the best futurologists can be forgiven for missing to predict Tau. :)
And this mind-boggling hail of trillions, does not even account for the Hanson Engine  factor.
Tau the Tutor ex Machina is just another unintended useful consequence outta the overall design.
It is nearly impossible to track and contemplate exactly what all these 'side-effects' would be and how they will synergetically boost each other.
With my articles I intend to only touch some lines of the immense phase space  of the possibilia, with neither any ambition to think it is possible to cover it all, nor this to represent any form of advice.
Future is incompressible. Compression is comprehension. Comprehensible only by living.
Failure to go to the geodesic way of learning, will turn these beautiful but trilling words into prophecy:
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age." H.P.Lovecraft  (1926 ).''
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