A variation on direct democracy

I don’t think the masses will ever be informed enough for true direct democracy to be a successful form of governance. Even if they had the augmented capacity to take an interest in politics some people just wouldn’t care, and I’m sure many will not be as technologically inclined as the transhumanist community. They’d also be lone individuals bringing up all sorts of things that they want to vote on, essentially flooding everybodies consciousness with having to make political decisions…. ugh, that wouldn’t be fun.

An alternative would be to have politicians that had dynamic support by citizens. If a politician suddenly renegs on promises or does something you don’t agree with you can transfer your vote to another poltician. You could also add in the ability to vote on issues yourself, but the politicians would have weightings in votes equal to the number of people supporting them. You could also provide a certain salary based on the amount of support you have, so full time politicians with lots of support could spend all their time addressing issues, but you could also have smaller parties/politicians that work part-time or have a specific ideal.

Also you would need a specific amount of supportting votes to even get an issue raised as something to vote on. Thus individuals could put together a petition to force a vote, or full time politicians that already have a large amount of weight/votes could bring up issues on their own.



7 comments ↓

#1   citizencyborg on 12.14.05 at 5:49 am

I think your right. In my book Citizen Cyborg I talk about both the cognitive enhancement of the citizenry, and the use of expert systems to help us monitor the political process, and manage our various forms of participation, from contributions and voting to letter-writing and protests. Such a system has been imagined here:

http://www.accelerateddemocracy.net/

And you might enjoy talking with progressive transhumanists about these ideas here:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/technoliberation

#2   Bob on 12.15.05 at 2:55 pm

I think it is critical that democracy doesn’t get involved in the management of a country – too many cooks.

Where democracy is useful is in deciding the ethics/direction of a country. I would say the current democracies are more or less the best system for the job (as opposed to our inefficient capatalist economic system).

The problem with too much feedback in the form of voting is all voters are essentially amatures (i.e. they spend most of their time/thought on other matters). And that’s the way things will always be (there’s more interesting things in life than politics).

Building on your idea though Joel. Instead of being able to shift votes suddenly (which would cause instability) voters could register their support/displeasure/indifference with each elected official (say every month). If a politician had too much displeasure and not enough support after a timeframe (say 3 months) they would get replaced. Thus if they do something crazy and have a lack of public support other politicians will isolate them (or risk going down too). This would seem more stable to me.

I don’t think the public should ever vote on issues (that is getting too close to the management of things and would make long term planning impossible).

OK that’s way more than I was planning to write!

#3   Joel on 12.15.05 at 3:06 pm

I think they’ll definately have to be some buffer of time before your can change your support of politicians – otherwise nothing would ever get done. Another possibe simulation project here 🙂

Regarding voters being amateurs there is an interesting idea pointed out at the website citizencyborg refers to:

http://www.accelerateddemocracy.net/

They have voting agents that monitor your behaviour and suggest who you would most likely want to vote for. Of course there are a whole raft of privacy issues – even if the agent is confined to not share information people would still be edgy about it collecting your behaviours.

Regarding having too many people voting, I suspect MOST people will want to transfer their vote to a politician. It is however empowering to be able to use that vote on a issue you feel strongly about. If you don’t use it then it gets transferred to increase the weighting of your favoured politician’s desicions.

For example, the civil union bill. I would want to vote for it, but for most daya to day issues I don’t really care about.

#4   Ben on 12.15.05 at 3:41 pm

The problem with politicians is that they represent the people “best at being elected” rather than the people best suited to doing the job.

Democracy is all about having important freinds, appealing to the masses and playing the media – doesn’t mean the candidate knows how to run a country, just good at getting elected.

Dictatorships tend to be self elected by the nastiest brutallist psycho nutter bastards ie. Robert Mugabe and Saddam Hussein.

I don’t think the form of government is terribly important, the determination of how people come to power is the important aspect as this directly influences the kind of people you end up getting in power. Hence the popularity of the modern Democrazy – this results in a PC “don’t rock the boat” please everybody candidate who makes everyone feel comfortable by maintaing the status qou. Not a god plan when the planet is on the verge of financial and environmental catastrophe. Bring on the Technocracy it’s the one thing that may save us, 1984 stylz ftw!!!

#5   Joel on 12.15.05 at 4:01 pm

I should probably point out now that my blog entry is an excert from a post at http://www.betterhumans.com/

The idea being that we’ll be able to make people more intelligent and objective in their decisions. It’ll still be based on media and appealing to masses to some extent, but again maybe the voting agent will be able to guide you to who you should really be voting for.

I’m still occasionally tempted to start my own political party – based on scientific progress and a pretty socialistic environment. No one would vote for me though because I’d want to increase taxes instead of offering stupid pointless tax cuts.

#6   wassname on 12.25.05 at 7:20 pm

Yeah I’m tempted to start a NZ political party too, it seem so easy in nz with mmp. But the best way seems throught a split with an existing party.

Theres an interesting transhumanist party called the consensus in the UK. Some of their ideas are great(liking making politiions leglly responable for their public promises), and some… arn’t (like not building any more roads).

As for your direct democracy idea, wouldn’t that bring out the worst in polititions even more, and overcompensate.

Maybe if voters pass a issue general facts quiz before they can vote to make sure they aren’t ametures.

#7   Jeremy on 01.17.06 at 1:24 am

Become an intellectual with a gun.
Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.
-Mencken

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