One thing that makes this a great paper is that it makes clear that at the highest level, faith in centralization comes from the idea that feedback loops can replace participatory mechanisms. (I mentioned Qian Xuesen’s OCGS the other week—here’s what the party thinks)
The idea of the OCGS is a particular type of system which is problematic for science: too many variables, no fixed boundaries with the outside, the systems themselves are in flux. This is much like what design thinking refers to as a “wicked problem.”
Interestingly, this claim rests largely on the esteem of AI researchers working on expert systems, immediately before the AI winter. Around the time this paper was published, everything in that space was imploding. Perhaps Xi Jinping should have read @Meaningness.
The mass line was a mao-era process by which revolution was carried out. In short: 1. Listen to the people’s unsystematic complaints. Directly. 2. Systematize them 3. Sell those back to the people 4. Use the people’s energy as a way to enact that state and reap political capital.
Xi Jinping has been reviving the theory—with the distinction that the fourth step is gone. Instead, the policy is pitched as an iterative process by which government realizes the people’s desires. ie—cybernetic governance.
And apparently, that pitch was what convinced the party elites that in spite of some bad results from strong central leaders in the past, Xi’s plan for centralization could go differently. I’d love to know what they think now.
PS: worth reading up on Qian’s life: Co-founded JPL Becomes a prof at Caltech Is deported to China on false suspicion of being communist Builds the Chinese nuclear and space programs Invigorates a generation of CCP thought with the OCGS
(If one wanted a worst case on unexpected consequences from “trying to keep defense infrastructure away from Chinese nationals”—a popular topic these days—you could hardly imagine a clearer case study.)
The paper in OP is on sci-hub; the Qian Xuesen one I link here:
Chris Beiser added,
One more: Qian Xuesen’s “A New Discipline of Science The Study of Open Complex Giant System and Its Methodology”, in which a leading Chinese rocket scientist solves “wicked problems” with cybernetics. Apparently hugely influential. …