Try Consensual Debating

To show you how Consensual Debating works, we have used the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion project as a Case Study. It is an example of how such a decision and similar ones could have been made much faster, being more effective, far more consensual, representing truly randomly selected citizens of London rather than relying on YouGov poll. You can read about how the actual decision on ULEZ was made here. When an organization requests conducting Consensual Debating, then one of the available PROJECT’s tabs will be dedicated to this organization and the PROJECT’s data will only be visible to the participants of that organization. The  PROJECT’S structure and the principles of participating in a real debate are exactly the same as for the Case Study.

If you are a participant in one of the projects facilitated by Consensus AI then the facilitator will introduce you to the entire process. If you have already registered or logged on CONSENSUS AI, then you will have access to all pages and can participate in voting. Otherwise, you will need to register first. However, if you have arrived here via a link and would like to assess whether Consensual Debating is something, which your organization might use, then you don’t have to register, although you will not be able to see the final report and some peripheral functionality. (Please DO NOT READ THE LEFT SIDE BAR BEFORE YOU HAVE VOTED ON ULEZ 0 STATEMENT. The reason for that is that this voting creates a kind of a baseline based on the knowledge and understanding of the problem before reading the information related to specific objectives on the initiative (you should read, however, all about Consensual Debating first). So go to Vote on ULEZ 0 – Initial Vote on Extending ULEZ now and then return to this page.

We are currently using Open AI’s ChatGPT, although it is quite likely that in a few months time we will move to a far more advanced AI Assistant. ChatGPT can already introduce in plain language the subject matter of the debate, present key issues with pros and cons for each one, and then participate in the debating process as an anonymous participant. When the debate is over, it will calculate the results and produce a draft report.

Before you start the Case Study, please read the introduction to Consensual Debating if you have not done so.

Here is a brief guidance to using ULEZ Case Study

  1. The Menu tab INFO on ULEZ contains all the information gathered for this project, mainly coming from London Assembly. For a new Project a new (hidden) Menu will be created.
  2. The DEBATE tab below contains key objectives of the ULEZ project. Each objective is preceded by the project identifier (ULEZ in this case)
  3. The First objective (0) contains just one initial statement. In this case ‘The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) needs to be extended to outer London’. The intention is to create a baseline showing the result of the voting without any prior knowledge about the objectives and all arguments and counterarguments of the proposed initiative (motion). That’s why on a real project, the participants will not be having access to any documentation gathered here by AI Assistant before that first vote.
  4. The next objectives are numbered from 1-5 (there should be no more than 5-7 objectives for a project). Each of them contains 10 ‘seed statements’, i.e prepared in advanced by the AI Assistant. You can add your own objectives during voting. AI Assistant may also add its own additional statements and will help in moderating the debate
  5. Each voting is followed by a deliberation, where the participants are shown the overall results and any additional statements, which have been introduced by the participants for a given objective. If the first round of voting does not create 60% majority for at least one statement, then there are subsequent voting rounds, until such a majority has been achieved.
  6. After the voting on the objectives has finished the overall results are shown in a deliberation which precedes one more voting. This is the voting on the overall motion (proposal), which is marked F. It contains the same statement as the 0 objective: The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) needs to be extended to outer London”. But unlike in voting for the 0 objective, the participants can add their own statement, which may be from the List of all statements the last side tab on INFO tab.
  7. If the original statement (proposal) gets at least 60% of votes it is deemed as passed. However, there may be other statements proposed in that final round which may have even a higher support, which the organization may wish to consider, or to move forward with if the original statement did not get the required minimum of 60%.
  8. The facilitators will prepare the final Report for the organizer, like the one produced for this Case Study. Such Reports are created after the voting for each Objective. This is followed by a deliberation, which may take from half an hour to even a few hours, depending on the complexity of the debated subject. Deliberation is managed by facilitators such as from Consensus AI or from and independent, experienced organization. The participants who put forward their own statements may be asked to argue their case. The observers may also be given time to put their case making a short statement or explanation. The sponsoring organisation representatives may be present but normally would not be given time to present their views, since they would have already made their case described in the documents provided to participants.
  9. Consensual Debating can be facilitated by Consensus AI, or after some  training by the organizers themselves. Contact us on how to proceed if you want to do that.
  10. It is recommended that any interested party may be invited to participate in such a debate as Observers. They will be able to put their own statements for voting, but they will not be able to vote themselves. Should the subject discussed have legal implications then the participation of lawyers may be needed in addition to facilitators. The lawyers should ensure the validity and consistency of the final statement.
  11. There is usually no further deliberation after the final voting and the presentation of the the final Report like the one for this Case Study to participants. What happens next depends on whether the final recommendation is binding. If it is then the organization should make a decision or introduce or amend the existing legislation, as is the case with the London’s ULEZ. If it is a non-binding recommendation, it could quite often become the main input for making such a decision.

Now, please read the Case Study and try to vote. You will not be able to see the overall result of the voting (that would require the presence of facilitators), but you will be able to compare your voting to that of other participants’ vote.