A More Perfect Union - Frequently Asked Questions

Here, you'll find a list of the most common questions we receive regarding the AMPU project, and our usual answers to them. Please take the time to read this section before you ask us the same question again. However, if you have another question, or a suggestion, please do not hesitate to contact us.

What is AMPU?

AMPU is an method of managing issues -- of discussing problems, deciding on solutions, and implementing those solutions using modern technology.

The short term goals of AMPU are to provide a system for managing small projects, and limited organisations such as private clubs, departments, and public universities.

The long-term goal of AMPU is to provide a system for the better management of entire nations, and to provide a practical, evolutionary process to take us there. The envisaged process of replacement is socially beneficial at every step, rather than chaotic, as would usually be the case with revolutionary ideas.

Answer by: Jel
How does AMPU work?

Although AMPU is relatively straightforward, it is a little hard to explain in this space. See here for a complete discussion.

Answer by: Jel
Isn't this Direct Democracy?

No. AMPU is not a system of direct democracy. However, those who support direct democracy might find it beneficial to study AMPU's approach. We believe that AMPU includes most or all of the features of direct democracy, with none of the flaws.

Answer by: Jel
Isn't this Representational Democracy -- just an online version of what we have now?

No, AMPU is not the same as our current system. However it does share many similarities. Again, however, those who currently advocate an online method of voting for our current system might like to study AMPU's approach. As for Direct Democracy, we feel that AMPU has all of the features of Representational Democracy, with none of it's flaws.

Answer by: Jel
What if I prefer Representational or Direct Democracy over the AMPU system?

Well, we believe our approach is better, combining the best of both worlds. However, we recognise that the other options have been around a lot longer, and that our approach is neither accepted nor tested at present.

Moreover, we want the support of both the Direct Democracy and the Representation Democracy camps. We actually believe that AMPU can allow both camps to "have their cake and eat it".

Essentially, the AMPU approach is a hybrid of both systems, but through simple software configuration, it will be possible to make AMPU use either system solely, or, for example, to use different systems in different Forums.

Answer by: Jel
What makes AMPU different from Direct or Representational Democracy?

There are many features in AMPU above and beyond both direct and representational systems of democracy. For now, though, we'll only mention the immediately comparable features.

Essentially, AMPU gives everyone the ability to both propose and take part in governmental decisions. This fulfils the major goals of Direct Democracy, whilst fixing the fundamental flaw in Representational Democracy -- that people don't the level of input that they now expect in their own affairs.

The difference with AMPU, is that not everyone is required to vote on every issue at the same time. This fixes the major flaw in Direct Democracy -- that it is too demanding of peoples' time and effort, since it requires the entire community to participate in every individual decision, no matter how large or small.

AMPU can be tailored to the situation in hand, involving many people, or indeed, everyone in major decisions, and only a few in minor decisions. Taken to extremes, this tailoring allows AMPU to become fully representational, or entirely direct.

Answer by: Jel
Isn't this just a web forum, or Usenet? Or a Forum with Polls?

No, it is not. AMPU certainly has the features present in these systems. However, AMPU is an integrated system, designed for the task of government, with additional features and important failsafe design considerations which make it ideally suited to this task. Moreover, is not simply software, but is software implementing a particular idea.

Answer by: Jel
What features does AMPU have beyond normal e-voting systems, or other methods of governance?

Beyond the actual issues of of raising, discussing and deciding upon ideas, which are at the heart of any government, there are many additional features required for efficient management. These features include management of information, and management of tasks.

AMPU, being implemented as computer software, is ideally suited to these particular tasks, and it makes sense to include them as specific features of the system. So we have.

Answer by: Jel
You don't really believe you can replace governments with a piece of software, do you?

No, we don't believe software can do that. However, we do believe that people can do that, and that they will choose to do it, given an available system of government which is better. We aim to provide such a system.

Furthermore, we believe any such transition would be a gradual, evolutionary process, and we have designed AMPU to scale well during this process of transition. We expect that AMPU will be both more useful and more efficient than current systems at every stage of the transition, from it's start in small organisations, to later stages, in major governments.

Answer by: Jel
How will decisions made within the AMPU system be enforced? Won't people just ignore them?

There is certainly potential for decisions to be ignored. However, that is present in any system of government.

The AMPU system simply provides the resources necessary to make good decisions within a social group. It is up to the social group itself to ensure that such decisions are respected, just as it is in any current form of government.

If further measures, such as the implementation of policing or Justice measures are required to enforce decision, then it is up to a society itself to implement those measures. No decision making process can do it for them.

However, AMPU, as a better form of organisation, can also assist in organising these enforcement bodies, should they be deemed necessary at all.

Answer by: Jel
Won't these decisions made in a Forum be biased, since the people deciding it are already interested in the subject?

No, there is a bias in this situation, but the bias is a useful one -- the bias towards interest in the issue being discussed.

There is no inherent bias towards one particular decision, since people join Forums about subjects, not about particular decisions. Individual decisions are a much more specific event within the life of a Forum.

Answer by: Jel
Where would the funding come from for such a system? Isn't the lack of fundraising or budget management a fundamental flaw?

This is a surprisingly common question. However, the fact is, that AMPU is not a fundraising system, nor a budget management system.

AMPU is designed to assist societies in making decisions. As such, it can be used to help people decide how to manage their money, assuming they are willing to discuss and decide upon such matters.

It cannot manage a social group's money for them automatically. No form government does this. It simply provides a framework for organisation in which such management can take place.

Answer by: Jel
This system might work for big issues, but what about the small, insignificant issues that no one is interested in? Why would anyone bother to discuss and vote on issues so boring?

Society might well find some issues boring, and no interest in discussing or voting upon them. If that is truly the case, that no one cares, then that is your answer in itself... no one cares.

In such situations, when no one is interested in an issue or decisions related to it, then there is no need to bring the issue to a social gathering -- simply pick an option yourself, and go with it.

On many issues, though, I think you will find much more interest than expected. For example, many people would consider the size of plastic drinking cups to be boring and unimportant. At first glance, it might well appear that no one would care.

On closer examination, though, you will find that entire industries exist around such cups. Vending machine manufacturers need to know what size a standard cup is to build their machines accordingly. Food manufacturers need to know the size, in order to calculate quantities of dry soup mix, etc. The list probably goes on, much further than a lay-person would imagine.

Answer by: Jel
Surely you don't advocate that ordinary citizens be allowed to make decisions on their own? Doesn't the average person make terrible decisions, or, aren't they too stupid?

Actually, what we propose is that people are asked to consider the issues and all available evidence carefully and fully before deciding upon issues. AMPU provides facilities for this process.

If you think about it, you'll realise that this is exactly the system we use in court, for our most crucial decisions -- life and death.

Studies have been done which confirm that people asked to deliberate in this way -- not in a courtroom scenario, but in a governmental one -- actually make very good and conscientious decisions.

This method of taking a person who knows little or nothing about an issue and giving them the details they need to make an informed decision is exactly what our current leaders have when they consult with their own advisors. The only real difference with AMPU is that more than one person is required to make such decisions.. therefore, human error and human bias becomes less of an issue in AMPU than in current systems, through the simple law of averages.

On top of all this, the AMPU system actually adds competence to this approach, since those deliberating are already known to be interested in the issues being decided upon. Few would argue with the idea that we will often follow and decide upon an issue better if we are already interested in it, than if we are simply asked to take care of something we know or care little about. It might be argued that current leaders are not knowledgable or even interested in many of the areas they are currently compelled to decide upon.

As for the issue of stupidity, again, the fact that those asked to make decisions are already interested in the topics at hand provides a good deal of support for the idea that they will have reasonable comprehension of it. Furthermore, it is entirely possible, and indeed, expected, that those deliberating will ask for expert testimony when making decisions for which they are not yet sufficiently informed.

Answer by: Jel