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Quora Answer : If you could create a new political party for the UK, what would it look like?

Apr 3, 2017

I've been a member of the UK Pirate Party. And while the current one hasn't really taken off, I think it represents an important need : a party which has a deep understanding of technology and the opportunities and challenges it presents.

Governance today requires an understanding of the patterns of technology that are leaking into the patterns of social organization. The network is reorganizing everything, from commerce to education to voluntary organizations to political campaigning to news distribution to governance. There are massive threats to national security, citizen privacy, the integrity of elections, the credibility of government etc.

Encryption is a deeply knotty problem that needs sound political wisdom to steer between Orwellian surveillance and government helplessness. Blockchains are threatening to reinvent money and potentially shut government out of any role regulating the economy or taxing it to pay for public services. Drones and autonomous, tiny robots are about to make a mockery of our traditional military operations and weapons, not to mention "security" in civilian society (how many buildings are proof against insect-sized intruders?) A few private global corporations now have mega-data on the entire population, and are increasingly able to model and predict (and steer) people through processing it. Artificial intelligence is on the verge of automating huge swathes of the current workforce out of a job. While telling us more about ourselves than we ourselves realize. We are not that far from mind reading technologies that can infer our beliefs and intentions from brain-scans.

All our major parties have ideologies which were formed before these technologies became significant factors in our lives. And try to pursue their ideologies as though technology changes nothing. Instead, we need a party which starts with the technological landscape and aims to steer the country through it.

In one sense, economics has moved centre stage in our political thinking. But I think we need to broaden from economics to something like Herbert Simon's "Sciences of the Artificial" or Jeanette Wing's "Computational Thinking". A governance fully rooted in understanding of how all complex dynamic systems (of which economies are a sub-class) work.

Having said that, we also face another crisis which you can see as being a consequence of technology. We have become so good at manipulating the world for our purposes that we are damaging much of our ecosystem. We are driving the climate towards a territory unknown in human evolutionary history. We are driving hundreds of other species extinct. We are accessing and consuming all kinds of scarce resources without thought for how we'll get by when they are gone.

A Pirate or "Technology" Party must also be a Green Party concerned with our stewardship of the environment and the world's resources, promoting our best current scientific understanding of how the world works.

Finally, a party needs a social conscience. If it doesn't care about welfare of everyone in the country. And in promoting justice abroad, then I have little use for it.

So yeah, there's a need to unify the impulses behind the Pirates and the Greens and merge it with some social conscience.

Pirates today (like Greens of yesterday) are seen as a single-issue (or couple of issue) lobby group. Piracy needs to be expanded into a full political governance program.

Greens (in the UK at least) seem to me to be too concerned picking up the disaffected left of the the Labour Party with copies of traditional Labour policies. I accept that I'm one of many people who lost faith with Labour in the Blair years and started voting Green. But I actually don't want a Green Party that's simply a re-run of old Labour ideas. I want to see Greens take the opportunities to be different. Free of some of the constraints on Labour.

But a "Green Pirate" party with a social conscience? That would pretty much lock in my vote for life.

See AlternativesToCapitalism for a vision of a smaller-scale, decentralized economy. But note the emphasis on IntellectualProperty as a tool for capital to defend its privilege. A pirate party's opposition to IP is not a side-issue but a crucial part of rethinking the economy going forward.

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