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Fluid Democracy

By William Sims Bainbridge

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 62 No. 8, Pages 104-ff

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Even in the first month of my governorship of this fine state, I began to have problems with the legislature, which belonged to the "other" political party. I had campaigned on the plan to transform the state capital, Columbville, into a Smart City, but my political party and the opposition wanted it to use different operating systems. Another problem was that we disagreed about what should be done with the three abandoned shopping centers, now that all our citizens bought their stuff online. That issue was tangled up with all the road improvements needed to keep the self-driving trucks and taxis from roaming the schoolyards, although that could have been worse if the kids were still attending classes rather than home-schooling online as most of them now did. I sent drafts of laws and budgets to the legislature, and they voted them down. It sent laws and budgets to me, and I vetoed them. Clearly, the state of West Montana was spiraling into chaos!

Desperate one day, I was frantically trying to think of a plan to defeat my despicable opponents, and decided to enter "delegitimate" into Wikipedia in search of ideas, but made some typo and got "delegative democracy" instead. It was hard to read the page, because some Wikipedia editors seemed to be battling over whether the text should begin "Delegative democracy, also known as liquid democracy ..." or use "fluid" or "flüssig" instead of "liquid," apparently one of the instabilities caused by the merger of the English and German Wikipedias the previous week. I tried entering "fluid" into Google Translate, and discovered that produced "flüssig" in German. Translating "flüssig" into English did not return "fluid," but gave "liquid." Chuckling over the joke that this kind of democracy must be "all wet," I suddenly had a clever idea.


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