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.
Masa. Masayoshi Son . The master of SoftBank . The Japanese national of Korean background  - really great achievement in this context! The individual with, I suspect, the biggest buying power in all the human spacetime combined. In the world and in the history.
Masa's business record is formidable. He's not just serial and parallel multi-billionaire but a multi-billionaires-breeder  - for example he's THE Jack Ma-backer, i.e. THE Alibaba-maker. And many others more ...
He's buying pieces of Google  ! $32b cash for ARM , undisclosed $b cash for Boston Dynamics . Et cetera. And Masa definitely knows what he's doing with these bits and pieces. What mosaic he's building with those chunks.
Masa has a vision. An yuuuge vision. Masa has a Vision Fund . So, visions fully backed. Backing is what distinguishes a vision from fantasy. SoftBank Vision Fund current minimum check size is $100m by the organization's own rules.
With >$100b shopping spree cash in pocket (and we talking cash, not lower liquidity assets), and an yuge vision the already yuge Vision Fund to get even yuuuger.  Cause - you know - trillions are the new billions (and it is not 'just inflation' but in absolute, shear power - productivity beats inflation ).
His vision on the philosophic level in a nutshell is Vernon Vinge's  , Hans Moravec's  , Raymond Kurzweil's  (and countless other's  ) ... SINGULARITY .
On pragmatic level it is as simple as it is ingenious  - the machinery productivity and production grows so immense that inevitably and soon its output/supply exceeds the cumulative human demand. The machines run out of market!
Solution? As obvious as the Frederick Pohl's Midas Plague (1954)  - machines doing business with machines  (- from about minute 09:00 of the vid onwards). Many orders of magnitude more machine-machine collaboration than all the possible machine-human, human-machine or human-human ones. Trillions and trillions of transhuman chips and bots doing business between each other.
And Masa not just advocates or evangelizes this vision behind his Vision - he does it. Now.
In the narrow-minded aspect it is just matter of (a little) time before Masa notices my precious Tau  and ET3  (which I told you I see as 1, not 2 - explanations to be delivered in future posts).
From wide-minded perspective ... Well...
Do you see what I see?
Chatbots porting into Tau.
Masa's chips or bots are into Moore's law  state of inevitability, e.g. doomed to cross the human scale barrier and to rush even further ahead. To even crack the human natural language code barrier and to do all what a human can do and more. (On human-machine-Tau-machine-human sandwiching architecture for direct use of the few megayears thin natural language wealth and even the few gigayears deep non-verbal communication capital - some other time in some other posts).
Machine-Tau-Machine is completely legitimate and unavoidable use and dev mode. Nothing can stop it. (Better Turing Test, anyone?)
In my previous post  I explained my understanding of the ingenuity of Ohad's approach towards the Moravec-hardness problem of the human condition  - the realization that it is a waste and side-tracking to follow dehumanizing pathways of creation of biomimetic cybernetic homunculi to mitigate the organic limited human specifications, BUT we use them - Tau is the way the problem to become the solution. We utilitify all the processing and algorithmic capital accumulated over billennia into what we call human.
Is the Tau way into a divergence course with the Masa way? No! Absolutely not.
To make chips or bots of > and >> x100 Einstein intellect is a huge collaborative effort. Machines alone - it'd take few billions of man-years to get there. Humans needed - to serve as the effort amplifier lever fulcrum 
Tau with its human-machine-human network topology makes collaboration - for first time ever - really a P2P  thing, with social diameter  of 1 or even <1 for each and every participant  no matter human or machine.
- Tau is Masa vision accelerator.
- Tau is the geodesic Agora  of all intellects imaginable, no matter 'natural' or 'artificial'.
NOTE: Ohad most probably will disagree with this vision of visions on visions of mine, but I dared to dare already anyways. Sorry, bro. It is of course, not an official Tau Team position.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masayoshi_Son
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SoftBank_Group
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koreans_in_Japan#Integration_into_Japanese_society
Tauchain is a profound project that has taken years of deep research and development. Some of the smartest people I've known on this platform highly recommended it, which is why it has been making me do a few things I've not been doing for a while now:-
So one of the first things I noticed in #idni's IRC channel is a cool-looking username "naturalog". While I'm pretty sure it just means natural logarithm, could it be natural OG instead? The natural, original gangsta? In casual parlance of course. Turns out, that's Ohad Asor's (the founder) nickname. What a smooth operator. That username is like wordplay: a mathematician with street cred. Too bad that Steem username is already taken.
The Natural OG
Reading through the logs I soon realised that I can trust his words. Why? Other than his experience, I think it's because I'm somewhat the same in nature. Not that I'm a genius with great knowledge and expertise like he is, but I do appreciate stuff like language, semantics, logic, and such. They're the kind of subjects which I think helps shape clear communication. It shows throughout his replies in the logs.
Many might not know it, but everything I say or type usually takes quite some time because I do try to be careful with words. Sometimes I even spend minutes to decide whether or not to say "could" instead of "would", amongst all of the other nuances in communication. Because, what else do we really have between us other than words? This is why writing is almost sacred to me.
The ability to question oneself and question one's choice of words are part of our learning process. Why do we really say what we say, or think what we think? Can't speak for everyone, but I expect introspective, lifelong learners to be more trustworthy when it comes to dealing with complex subjects. Plus, the obvious elements of the project seems to speak more about substance than hype:-
So all things considered, the project is unlikely to be a scam. If you search through the ~28 megabytes worth of IRC chatlogs, you will even find three ultra-rare instances of Ohad Asor aka naturalog mentioning "before it was cool". Look at the image below. Knowing his history and experience, I think it's safe to conclude that this dude is a certified OG. The natural OG. Total man crush! I might even ask him for some dating tips once he's done with the bulk of the development.
If those points above are not enough street cred to establish an OG status, check out this section of the chat log below:-
10:39 < Liaomiao> you must know a lot about blockchain architecture if you came up with some of the ideas behind graphene
Just good to know that he might have had some influence in the creation of Graphene, Dan Larimer's creation for Bitshares that subsequently shaped both the inner-workings of Steem and EOS. Impressive indeed. It's a good sign for Tauchain / Idni Agoras. In contrast, I was still riding rollercoasters all day high on sweet carbonated drinks in Disneyland during the same age when Ohad Asor was already grinding like an OG, writing production-level software.
So it would seem like my investigation into the heart of Tauchain has quickly turned me into a huge admirer and fan of the project. It has never happened to me before to this extent, but I certainly don't mind given the project's scope and the main developer's character. It's at least a much better story than elevating irrational loonies and sensationalists with no appreciation of well-founded knowledge, which unfortunately is all too common in society these days. If anything would make the world a better place, it would be intellectual curiosity, not intellectual dishonesty.
For now, I'm quite happy to have found the natural OG who has been working quietly behind the scenes. So far it seems to me that it could very well be the next big thing other than Steem communities and SMTs. I'll be posting more about the project in time. As always, thanks for reading.
Website - http://www.idni.org
Github - https://github.com/IDNI/tau
Telegram - https://t.me/tauchain
Reddit (with FAQ) - https://www.reddit.com/r/tauchain/
Coinmarketcap entry - https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/agoras-tokens/
Here's an hour-long interview with Ohad Asor that you might want to check out.
Not to be taken as financial advice.
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Suggested readings to better understand the Tau ecosystem, Tau Meta Language, Tau-Chain and Agoras, and collaborate in the development of the project.
Lecturas sugeridas para entender mejor el ecosistema Tau, Tau Meta Lenguaje, Tau-Chain y Agoras, y colaborar en el desarrollo del proyecto.