WHY FAILING TO PAY ATTENTION & THINK FOR OURSELVES CAN BE HARMFUL TO OUR HEALTH, EVEN FATAL

STUPID ALGORITHMS

PART TWO

Follow-up Analysis

By Jay B Gaskill

 

This follows Part One, which is posted at –

< http://www.jaygaskill.com/HowStupidAlgorithmsFailedUsFrom2008Through2013.htm >

That piece connected the dots between the economic crash of 2008, the Korean jet crash in SFO this year, and a number of other failures, all of which are traceable to the blind reliance on machines and/or decision formulas that failed to work as advertised.

If you haven’t read that article, please do.  It is well worth your time.

Toward the end of that piece I referred the “accidental” election of an incompetent mayor in Oakland and the complete collapse of the “state of the art” computer system that doomed the Romney presidential campaign on Election Day

Here are those tow hair-raising stories in more detail.

Both cases deserve to be studied.

CATASTROPHE ONE

ROMNEY’S CAMPAIGN FOR POTUS AND THE ORCA “ALGORITHM CURSE”

Project ORCA: Mitt Romney Campaign Plans Massive, State-Of-The-Art Poll Monitoring Effort

NOVEMBER 1, 2012

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has been quietly assembling a massive, technologically sophisticated poll monitoring program that staffers believe will be their secret weapon in defeating President Barack Obama.

…BUT….

The Boston Globe 2012 :

The story behind Mitt Romney’s loss in the presidential campaign to President Obama

By Michael Kranish / Globe Staff / December 22, 2012

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/2012/president/2012/12/23/the-story-behind-mitt-romney-loss-the-presidential-campaign-president-obama/2QWkUB9pJgVIi1mAcIhQjL/story.html

It was two weeks before Election Day when Mitt Romney’s political ­director signed a memo that all but ridiculed the notion that the Republican presidential nominee, with his “better ground game,” could lose the key state of Ohio or the election. The race is “unmistakably moving in Mitt Romney’s direction,” the memo said. But the claims proved wildly off the mark, a fact embarrassingly underscored when the high-tech voter turnout system that Romney himself called “state of the art” crashed at the worst moment, on Election Day.

To this day, Romney’s aides wonder how it all went so wrong.

WHOOPS!

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/11/08/Orca-How-the-Romney-Campaign-Suppressed-Its-Own-Vote

… one factor is emerging as the essential difference between the Obama and Romney campaigns on November 6: the absolute failure of Romney’s get-out-the-vote effort, which underperformed even John McCain’s lackluster 2008 turnout. One culprit appears to be “ORCA,” the Romney’s massive technology effort, which failed completely.

Project Orca was supposed to enable poll watchers to record voter names on their smartphones, by listening for names as voters checked in. This would give the campaign real-time turnout data, so they could redirect GOTV resources throughout the day where it was most needed. They recruited 37,000 swing state volunteers for this. {But}they had issued the wrong PINs to every volunteer in Colorado, and reissued new PINs (which also didn’t work). The problems with Orca appear to have been nationwide, and predated Election Day itself.

They assured us that the system had been relentlessly tested and would be a tremendous success.

[V]olunteers were expected to print their own materials, and were mistakenly not told to bring their poll watching credentials to polling places. Attempts to communicate with the Romney campaign to ask for assistance were unsuccessful.

[There were} widespread real-time complaints and criticisms on Twitter by Project ORCA volunteers. At one point during Election Day, the system had malfunctioned so badly that desperate volunteers wondered if the program had been hacked.

Romney volunteers in Virginia confirmed that the campaign had relied entirely on Project Orca to turn out the vote in key areas such as Roanoke, where Romney and Ryan had made appearances. Volunteers who had driven to Virginia from safely-Republican Tennessee were shocked at the disorganization they encountered.

… ORCA diverted scarce resources that would have been better used physically moving voters to polling places. By a rough calculation, Romney lost the election by falling 500,000 to 700,000 votes short in key swing states. If each of the 37,000 volunteers that had been devoted to Orca had instead brought 20 voters to the polls in those states over the course of the day, Romney would have won the election.

… There was, in fact, massive suppression of the Republican vote–by the Romney campaign, through the diversion of nearly 40,000 volunteers to a failing computer program.

There was no Plan B; there was only confusion, and silence.

 

CATASTROPHE TWO

THE JEAN QUAN MIS-ELECTION

Portions of this section were first published on The Policy Think Site in 2010

MINORITY GOVERNANCE SUCKS:

DO NOT Try This at Home

A brilliant, tough cop, Oakland Police Department Chief Anthony Batts, is about to abandon Oakland for a better city (pick one).

[For more details, see these two stories in the San Francisco Chronicle: <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/17/BAFL1H9URT.DTL > and

< http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/16/BA2U1H96SJ.DTL&feed=rss.news>]

This follows a disastrous patch during which:

(a) Chronic municipal mismanagement led to a fiscal crash that robbed Oakland voters of the 800 police staffing level they had voted to fund (police staffing now down to 657 when even the high water mark 800 officer level was low, given the resident parolee population).

(b) Oakland’s new mayor, in an attempt to improve plummeting police morale, met with line officers in a group, asking them to recite why they liked doing police work, then left the meeting.  “On her first full day on the job, Quan tried to mend fences by meeting with the rank-and-file cops at roll call. The move fell flat with many officers, however, when – after giving a short talk and asking all the officers to introduce themselves and state why they wanted to be on the force – Quan left without taking questions.”

San Francisco Chronicle: < http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/16/BA2U1H96SJ.DTL#ixzz1BJakmheE >

Chief Batts had briefly been able to do more with less, but now the “doing much less with much less pattern” will take hold.

The Mayor elect is an obscure former councilwoman named Jean Quan (notable, according to former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown for having advocated “ebonics’ in an earlier era of lunacy). See Jean Quan off to rocky start as Oakland mayor by Chip Johnson, in the San Francisco Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/13/BAM11H8MRT.DTL#ixzz1BJefM9T6

Ms. Quan won the office against a much stronger, more centrist (and much more pro-law & order candidate), Don Perata, even though Quan got only 24% of the vote.  This victory was accomplished by a form of vote manipulation that has its roots in the Bolshevik vs Menshevik dustup in Russia that subverted parliamentary democracy and ushered in the dictatorship of the proletariat.  The scheme avoids runoff elections and the concomitant actual majorities that they produce by a system of “instant runoff’ voter ranking.  The system (sometimes called plurality voting) has the pernicious practical effect of artificially amplifying the negative over the positive to the effect that the angry left (in this instance) slips into power against the sensible center, with a tiny plurality.

Not to put too fine of a point on it:  Ranked voting is a dangerous innovation fully capable of subverting the will of the majority.

Ranked voting is a poison pill that is designed to entrench vestiges of the has-beens (in this instance the left) in power against a reformist trend (in this case the practical center).  See my 2010 post, Quantum Vote Stealing at < http://www.jaygaskill.com/QuantumVote.htm > .]

The fallacy of ranked choice is that voters are fully focused on second and third tier candidates and actually think through whether they (say, by ranking Ms. Quan and their second of third choice) seriously want that person to serve as their ultimate.  Most protest votes are just that, and when a protest candidate slips through, disaster almost always follows.

Key executive positions should always require a traditional definitive choice in which a majority of the to-be-governed voters have actually chosen their leader.  Ranked voting (sometimes called plurality voting) is a bad, bad idea whose time seems to have come.

Do not try this at home.

 

I continue to warn everyone who cares about the future if this country: These examples are about neglecting reasonable judgments (whether about selling bad loans, making intelligent treatment decisions, safely landing an aircraft, or voting for an untested leader) and bypassing actual person-to-person trust relationships in favor of a rote formula, in the name of expediency.

Men and women are not just “in the loop”, we are the loop.  Everything else is a brainless tool, provisionally useful, but not ever to be fully trusted. It is time to wake up. The 2008-13 crashes and other disasters were just the beginning. Instead of blindly relying on algorithms, all matters of consequence to our lives must reflect the work of real people, in real time, in the real world, doing real thinking, making real judgments; and accepting real accountability.

JBG

 

Copyright © 2013 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

Forwards and links are encouraged.  For other permissions and all comments, please contact the author by email outlawyer.gaskill@gmail.com.

 

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