Emerging Trends; how tech is changing democracy (Friday, August 25 2017)


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Historical: https://www.meetup.com/DesigningOpenDemocracy/events/242526634/


6th Designing Open Democracy Meetup - Emerging Trends; How tech is changing Democracy

Link to document recording previous meetup:

People present:

  • Christian
  • Ken
  • Carol
  • Scott
  • Tim
  • Nichola
  • Brian
  • Nick

Promising technologies:

  • Issue-Based Direct Democracy (blockchain)
    • Blockchain: a ledger of transactions that everyone on a network can see, therefore trust
  • Etherium - Blockchain based technology
    • Put autonomous rules on the blockchain. Smart Contracts.
    • They execute rules; so transactions follow rules.
    • What is the regulatory environment for this technology?
  • Mivote (app + internet)
    • Offers the information relevant to a particular decision
  • Pol.is (The pol.is platform for grouping opinions. You can then poll across these groups to find something important to both of them to find consensus across filter bubbles. Used in Taiwan. https://words.democracy.earth/hacking-ideology-pol-is-and-vtaiwan-570d36442ee5)
  • Pollyweb (www.pollyweb.net.au online voting platform for direct democracy)
  • Voting machine: Rotation of the person who’s at the top of the ballot
  • Participatory budgeting. However is difficult to implement.

Note, that Media also influences how democracy works - if we allow one person to control the whole thing then we have a problem.

Criteria for a good democracy system:

  • Trust - why should people trust your technology? Why should they trust each other in this system?
  • Scalability - when will the scaling of your technology break down?
  • ‘Human Bandwidth’ - Will your technology require too much mental effort from people? At scale?
  • Security - what are the most vulnerable attach surfaces in your technology?
  • Who decides what the questions are?
  • Does it accrue decisions, or do we have to keep on deciding the same old stuff over and over?
  • Why is it a good fit for the lowest common denominators of human nature?
  • Will it tend to crush minorities?
  • Why will it spread?
  • Principle of commensurate returns; reward for engagement
  • No large barriers to entry
  • Will it be vulnerable to corruption?
    • Voting processes can be hacked/corrupted, e.g. Voting machines hacking
  • And any other criteria/considerations they deem important.
  • Cost/Benefit comparison

Assessment of each system

We could try a ‘rating’ for each tech and the level to which it addresses each criteria. If course, this percentage is an estimate, but it can be revised in light of better/worse options in the same area. For a fair comparison, we could try and compare it to the current system, and how that is rated.

For example:

  • 0% - Not at all
  • 25% - Not much (to a Low level)
  • 50% - About half the time (to a Medium level)
  • 75% - Very much (to a high level)
  • 100% - completely

Tech to possibly compaire against:

  • Voting Machine
  • Blockchain
  • Existing voting/ democracy
  • Ethereum
  • Media (TV and newspaper)

Potential Criteria To Consider:

  • Trust
  • Scalability
  • Human Bandwith/Mental Effort
  • Security
  • Who decides the questions?
  • Accrues decisions?
  • Fit to human nature? (Human centric design)
  • Will it crush minorities?
  • Will it spread? If so then why?
  • Vulnerability to Corruption
  • Unifying force?
  • Will it include “my” views (the voters’)

Note:

  • Most people will care whther the idea can give space to represent their views.
  • No technology needs to do everything, could have different techs do different things; e.g. information sharing, decision making.

Other Considerations

  • Humans are vulnerable to corruption
  • Is there a way to pay representatives for votes received?
  • Interlocked trust
  • Transparency
  • Could use blockchain to track earnings of public service - would it be trustworthy?

Comments on the meetup:

Possibly too focussed on blockchain and voting systems relative to other things/techs that influence democracy - potential solution, spend less time talking about one thing so more ideas can be heard.

Interest for future meetup discussions:

  • Principles of democracy reform
  • “Citizens jury” approaches to governance Random selection of people to

Mailout

Hi everyone!

Next topic will be “Emerging trends; How tech is changing democracy”. This meetup is free!

Facilitated via Skype by Pirate Party policy developer Andrew Downing, we ask that people bring to the table their favourite technology they’re aware of that’s changing democracy.

Prior to this meetup, we would like people to consider how their favoured technology meets the criteria of:

• Trust - why should people trust your technology? Why should they trust each other in this system?

• Scale - when will the scaling of your technology break down?

• ‘Human Bandwidth’ - Will your technology require too much mental effort from people? At scale?

• Security - what are the most vulnerable attach surfaces in your technology?

• Who decides what the questions are?

• Does it accrue decisions, or do we have to keep on deciding the same old stuff over and over?

• Why is it a good fit for the lowest common denominators of human nature?

• Will it tend to crush minorities?

• Why will it spread?

• Will it be vulnerable to corruption?

• And any other criteria/considerations they deem important.

As usual, there will be a live open document that anyone is able to edit that will be used to track the meeting’s discussion. It can be found via this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1aAW-OKc8PJgBwc1w2fGzYM6gostZdmiMM-SAS1Oye3k/edit?usp=sharing

We will also be recording this for public release via soundcloud and maybe elsewhere, so please let us know if you don’t want to be recorded or if you want anything you say to be removed from the recording.

We will meet out the front of Ross House at 6:30, we will move inside at 6:45pm. Please arrive on time, so we can get started as soon as possible!

Hope to see you there!

Nick