[hackerspaces] A call to all hackerspaces

Yves Quemener quemener.yves at free.fr
Tue Oct 18 16:39:53 CEST 2011

Hi Todd,

I have several bad news for you.

First, on the face recognition algorithms, there are 2 problems:
 - In the hypothesis that you manage to make an algorithm that manages to
identify two side pictures as being the same person, well it can be used to
recognize that person in any other side picture, including a mug shot. You
cannot have an algorithm that could find duplicates but could not identify
the person, given the correct database as this is essentially the same task.
 - To my knowledge, when your database exceeds 50-100 people, the error
rate of any face recognition software rises quickly, rending this
application probably useless.

Second, on electronic voting, even assuming you have a way to prevent
multiple voting, having a good algorithm is an active field of mathematical
research (that is not given enough love, talk about it!) and I haven't
looked into for 2 years but I am not aware of a good solution that allows 3
properties of the vote :
1) impossible to tamper by the voters
2) impossible to tamper by the organizers
3) anonymous

Nowadays, most electronic/web based voting solutions drop either 2) or 3).
If you drop 2), it means that you trust an organization to correctly tally
the votes and to not modify the results. It sounds like it is what you plan
to do.
If you drop 3), every vote is made public but can be cryptographically signed.

I am happy that people are finally getting interested in the problems of
web-based voting. I am sad that it has taken so long to understand the
importance of such a technology. And now that we need it, it is not ready.

If you meet anyone with mathematical or coding skills at the protests, tell
him/her that s/he would be far more useful coding the missing communication
tools than incrementing the crowd's cardinal.

In the meantime, here is a proposal : don't make votes, make polls. If
there is a crowd of 1000 people, distribute 50 login/password in a way that
ensure a reasonably random repartition (throw them in the crowd ? make an
ID-card bingo ? ) and let THEM decide. Make the individual votes public
(#32 voted AGAINST proposition 45) so that the organizers cannot easily
tamper results and it can be individually checked but do not link numbers
to individuals. It is a poll, not a vote but will probably give a better
measure of the general opinion than a badly designed voting solution. Be
prepared to face criticism for it, however.

On 10/18/2011 03:57 PM, Todd wrote:
> Hello everybody, I come to you with a challenge!
> I helping the occupy Chicago movement get organized. A constant request
> that I get is for web based voting.
> The requirements are that is be  difficult if not impossible to game the
> system. The way I think this can be implemented is by requiring everyone
> who wants to vote, has to show up once to register to vote. During this
> process we would give them some type of PIN or unique ID that would be
> different then their login and password, which they must enter in order to
> vote. And to make sure a single person does not sign up multiple times we
> would take each persons picture as part of the registration process, but it
> would be a side profile picture so people do not need to worry about us
> putting it in some govt database. If all the pictures are a side profile
> with the same backround, we should be able to do basic enough facial
> recognition to make sure the same person isn't in there twice, but not
> enough that it could be used for anything else.
> I am unfortunately not a programmer. I am not looking for someone to write
> facial recognition software. Only the voting part. If it can be done
> securely I would like to integrate this system into a drupal site. But even
> if it is all done in perl, that is fine. This email is mostly to get
> preliminary information from those more experienced then I in programming
> to see what the possibilities are and get an idea of how I should approach
> this.
> Direct Democracy is a pretty big challenge, think you are up to it ?
> Eventually if this works I would like to spread it to the occupy movements
> around the globe. Currently there are 870 cities participating.
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

More information about the Discuss mailing list