RE: Money, democracy, and transparency

From: Alan F. Kay \(E-mail 2\) <"Alan>
Date: Sun Aug 17 2003 - 13:31:10 CDT

Dear Anand Pillai,

MOTIVES Perhaps you are confusing me with Alan C. Kay, called by some the
"inventor of the pc." My principle motive is to make the world a better
place, using my own background, knowledge, experiences, and talents to the
best of my abilities. Yes, I do enjoy working on these matters, both alone
or with competent and friendly collaborators who with me or separately seek,
evaluate, and/or confirm worthy social innovations and, after rigorous and
thoughtful review, screening, and testing, seek to introduce them to the
world. My website explains all this, from the home page,
through topics like "What is social innovation?" and "Social innovations
that are regarded highly by a million plus people, but remain outside the
mainstream, because of the stupid attitudes and ignorance of so-called
leaders". Also there are currently "Ten Social Innovations" that may not be
known to millions and have been put up on the website to seek reactions and

MONEY I'll get no money from any of the social innovations I've worked on.
On the contrary, I've spent a lot of money on public interest projects for
the last twenty plus years. I've spent my own $2 million (now probably more
than my current net worth) finding the principles of public-interest polling
(See ), which is the most important and useful
of the innovations I've introduced, other than perhaps those developed with
collaborator and spouse, Hazel Henderson. Hazel gets lecture fees from
corporations and government bodies, sells her books, and gives lectures for
struggling non-profits without charge up to her ability to meet demand (see ). On the patents among the ten innovations, our
share of any royalties will be donated to the United Nations.

ROLES On the state of the current project, to the extent that it is systems
design and programming, I have little interest or competence
in participating, except on user-interface design objectives and
specifications. I am interested in the political, economic, societal,
cultural, government and business aspects. I am seeking to make democracy
work to produce far better governance than we are getting, and I know that
this can be done. Right now I think that choosing Members of the lower body
of the legislature by sortition offers far better governance than choosing
them by the farcical elections facing us.

I'm glad you brought this subject up.

Warm regards,

Alan F. Kay

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Arthur
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2003 11:35 AM
Subject: Re: [voting-project] Money, democracy, and transparency

At 10:48 AM +0530 8/17/03, Anand Pillai wrote:
>Hi Alan
> Essentially this is going to be a perennial thorn between people like
> me and you, since
>from what I understand, you stand to gain a lot in terms of recovering
>money you have
>spent in this project, or the acceptance it brings to you in seeing it
>become commercially
>viable etc, many concerns that I have no interest in understanding or
>getting involved in.
>I have nothing against you attempting to recover the expenditure you were
>incurred, by
>an eventual commercialization of this product since it sounds only human.
>Again you mistake
>me there also, since I dont care who are involved in the final
>commercialization project
>based on the original demo. I require no such guarantees from you,
>neither might I be interested
>in doing it, since it goes against my work ethics to work for money while
>I am already employed
>by somebody else.

I think there are multiple objectives that can be compatible. For
you the objective (as far as I understand), it to learn and have fun
developing a interesting project. For me the objective is to make an
impact and change the world. That I might possibly get paid in some
not-yet-determined future role is of only secondary consideration for
me. For Alan, the importance of my two issues may be different for

>I just need one gurantee, that which David Mertz initiated in the first
>mail about licensing
>, that is to use an existing OSI approved license for this project, or to
>create a new one
>which supports the OSI philosophy and apply it to this project. I also
>want a free hand
>in running this developer's ship without any extra interference from
>commercially interested
>parties, till the throw away demo is complete. This applies to things
>like developer discussions,
>chats, mails and protocols related to it. We, the developers create these
>protocols and
>manage the whole process among ourselves. We shall notify you whenever it
>is appropriate
>to do so based on the trust placed on the volunteering engineers in a
>project as this.
>I dont work for money so dont expect me to be the regular employee who
>reports regularly
>about meetings and discussions and other things that are a requirement
>for any web based
>project. I am not going to do it. If I had done it out of goodwill
>sometime back in the beginning
>of this project, I dont have it now since the goals of the project goes
>against the spirit of
>this goodwill, so I want to make this very clear.

My primary interest here is what can we do to maximize the impact and
effect of the demo. Of course, I want us to have a good process for
development, one that makes all the volunteers on the project feel
that they are being heard and respected.

Whether our names are on the New York Times or not, I would expect
that we will prefer if our project is not merely for the sheer joy of
hacking (I agree with Anand's sense of the word), but has some larger
impact on the world. That's exactly why I got involved.

So there are tradeoffs between what is wanted from a programming
perspective and what would be helpful to enable the larger project to
reach the next stage. I do think we need, however, to make the
distinction of what each of us is doing for the project's benefit and
what we are doing for our own personal benefit (when there is a
distinct and tangible personal benefit). That's one of the reasons
why I clearly state that if I lead the effort to write an
NSF-proposal, it is likely that some of my time will get paid for
providing leadership to the project.

Like many of you, I do lots of things for the good of the community.
I am often pleasantly surprised when I obtain a personal benefit
thereby. But the personal benefit is not my primary motivation.

I hope that this helps to clear the air. I welcome everyone's
continued volunteering on this project. I hope we will all be able
to look back several years from now in satisfaction that our work has
helped ensure that the US will have rededicated itself to the notion
of free and fair elections that instills confidence by all voters in
the election process.

Best regards,

Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA  94303-4507
tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:11 2003

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