The Computer Aided Governance Map and Process (CAG MAP) explores how we can use computers to understand and steer complex systems. Specifically, CAG MAP explores tools and techniques for humans to draft and analyze governance proposals. This does not make assumptions about the dynamics or governance mechanisms of a system. It does, however, assume that those drafting and analyzing proposals are advocating for their interests.

This is important because a system with diverse stakeholders implies a diversity of viewpoints. This means there is no objective view of what is "best." It's all relative.

If that's the case, then how are decisions made? The political process of compromise. This has a few requirements:

  • First, stakeholders need to be able to participate in the political process. This might look like direct voting, delegation, or something else entirely - but stakeholders need to have a meaningful voice to affect change within the system (as opposed to just exit and loyalty).
  • Second, there needs to be a ground truth to orient around. This is the data part of data driven decision making. We might interpret the data differently, but there needs to be a source of data that we can all agree on.
  • Third, assumptions that are not objective reality, but are shared among stakeholders as an inter-subjective reality, need to be stated explicitly. This way stakeholders can agree on the strategy (mission/vision), even if they disagree on tactics (concrete steps to get there).

If these things are not present, then first figure them out. Without a basic foundation for governance nothing else is going to work.

If these things are present, however, then CAG MAP might help stakeholders (like you) engage in data driven decision making. Key word might. CAG MAP is an ongoing research project so your mileage may vary.

The Computer-Aided Governance map and process is divided into eight parts:

  • Observe: the system in its natural state, its stocks & flows
  • Ask: who, what/what if, when, where, why?
  • Map: draw a picture
  • Model: thought experiments, with code!
  • Present: share your ideas
  • Debate: applied critical thinking
  • Enact: make a decision and take action
  • Monitor: log results
  • Repeat: feedback leads to new questions, proposals, etc

It's a map, not the territory. The goal of this overview is to provide some intuition around the concepts & tools. It's up to you to determine what's useful for you and how to apply it within the context of the real world systems you're engaging with.