Archive for August 7th, 2016

Democratic Deconsolidation

Crucial reading:

What does it mean, in concrete terms, for democracy to be the only game in town? In our view, the degree to which a democracy is consolidated depends on three key characteristics: the degree of popular support for democracy as a system of government; the degree to which antisystem parties and movements are weak or nonexistent; and the degree to which the democratic rules are accepted. […] This empirical understanding of democratic consolidation opens up conceptual space for the possibility of “democratic deconsolidation.” In theory, it is possible that, even in the seemingly consolidated democracies of North America and Western Europe, democracy may one day cease to be the “only game in town”: Citizens who once accepted democracy as the only legitimate form of government could become more open to authoritarian alternatives. […] … It is at least plausible to think that such a process of democratic deconsolidation may already be underway in a number of established democracies in North America and Western Europe. […] … In a world where most citizens fervently support democracy, where antisystem parties are marginal or nonexistent, and where major political forces respect the rules of the political game, democratic breakdown is extremely unlikely. It is no longer certain, however, that this is the world we live in. […] … As democracies deconsolidate, the prospect of democratic breakdown becomes increasingly likely — even in parts of the world that have long been spared such instability. If political scientists are to avoid being blindsided by the demise of established democracies in the coming decades, as they were by the fall of communism a few decades ago, they need to find out whether democratic deconsolidation is happening; to explain the possible causes of this development; to delineate its likely consequences (present and future); and to ponder the potential remedies.

Considerable statistical evidence (provided in the paper) supports this alarmed conclusion.

(Drezner is nervous.)

Previously by the paper’s authors, Roberto Foa and Yascha Mounk, making the same thesis here, and here.

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August 7, 2016admin 28 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy
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Machine Poetry

madness in her face and i
the world that i had seen
and when my soul shall be to see the night to be the same and
i am all the world and the day that is the same and a day i had been
a young little woman i am in a dream that you were in
a moment and my own heart in her face of a great world
and she said the little day is a man of a little
a little one of a day of my heart that has been in a dream

Not the greatest poetic achievement in world history, certainly. (The two final lines are definitely poor.) But the worst? Anywhere even remotely close to the worst?

The author: “Deep Gimble I is a proof-of-concept Recurrent Neural Net, minimally trained on public domain poetry and seeded with a single word.”

(Submissions from literary AIs accepted at the link.)

August 7, 2016admin 28 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Technology