Today jeffpearlman.com welcomes a special guest blogger. Stanley Pearlman is a retired CPA, executive search guru and, most important, my dad.
This is not a political discourse. But when conscientious citizens voted in November, they engaged in a process little changed in the past 200 years. In New York State, paper had given way to levers, and levers have now again reverted to paper, although with the addition of optical scanners. Our forefathers would have recognized much of it.
Since that late autumn day, the subject of political outcomes has dominated discussions. Lost in all this obsession over results is the progress being made in the field of Artificial Intelligence, or “A.I.” That term, in my opinion, is outdated and “Enhanced Intelligence” would be more to the point. There is nothing artificial about extending mental capability.
Is it time to merge this improvement to the human reasoning process with the electoral procedure? Would it produce a more universally acceptable result if a computer’s well-rationalized “thinking” replaced a human’s emotional hysteria? What else would you call it when much of the voting public opted, on both sides, not for someone they liked, but against the person they disliked more?
GPS systems make maps obsolete. The IBM computer Watson can win at Jeopardy. And in something we all now take for granted, commercial airliners are flown chiefly by computer. We should be willing to accept changes to the electoral process as easily as we do the boarding of an airplane, if it produces more beneficial results.
Here is one way such a system could work. I am basing it on the Presidential election, but it could be scaled down to any local balloting.
A bipartisan team will develop a questionnaire of 100 questions surveying recipients on everything from religious affiliations, to attitudes toward guns, education, and immigration. One hundred questions can cover a lot of territory.
There are some 435 congressional districts. Rather than the expense of seeking votes from the entire eligible population of the United States, a random number of persons will be selected from each congressional district. The sample has to be truly representative of the district’s population. Accordingly, a bipartisan group will select the criteria. It can include the cross referencing of birth certificates, social security records, school registrations, drivers licenses, and postal records, The objective will not be to exclude anyone, but to be sure to include everyone potentially eligible to vote. The important factor is that the group agrees on the criteria before anyone is sampled.
If the sample is truly representative, it can be quite small before it is digested by a computer which we will call Super Watson. Only this small sample will have to be surveyed with the 100 item questionnaire.
On the other side of the equation, the candidates can tell the public anything they wish, but they will be legally bound to feed these promises into Super Watson. Since there will be no polls to close, this time will be preserved as the moment that no more statements can be made by candidates, and the computer can start to work.
Far more that humanly possible, Super Watson will evaluate promises against voter sampling, and assign values to the likelihood that the statements can actually be fulfilled, taking into consideration ramifications upon ramifications upon ramifications ad infinitum.
At midnight, the newly elected official will be announced.
There will be no hysteria, no actual voting, no calculated surprises, and an effective government.