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Context : OnDemocracy

See also EmergentDemocracy / LiquidDemocracy


Quora Answer : Does voting really matter anymore, with technology being hackable?

Aug 29, 2019

Technology and "hacking" (in both the technical sense and the social sense) pose great challenges to some of our assumptions of how voting can and should work.

The principle that people should have freedom is obviously essential.

Democracy and voting has been a way that people can both a) protect themselves from tyrants, b) steer the direction of their governments somewhat.

I think it's obvious, particularly with the political upheavals and crises around the world at the moment, that technology, and especially the internet / social media, are coming into conflict with our existing institutions. And we are going to have to adapt and change them.

If we accept that now, that our challenge is how to remake our democracies in the age of the internet, and we manage to find wise leadership and cooperate, then I think we'll get far better voting systems. Perhaps more participatory ones. Perhaps liquid democracies with more regular voting on finer grained details etc. That are fairer but still come to good decisions.

On the other hand, if we fumble this, technologies are just going to be used by the elites and oligarchs to cement their own power and corruption in place. They'll use analytics and data-crunching and targeted adverts to form opinion and buy whatever support they need. They'll spread disinformation and fake news and hysterical memes to shut down any opposition or threats to themselves. They'll sponsor the creation of Orwellian surveillance to know what everyone is thinking about them. Etc.

We need to get this right, right now.

And I think we need to understand that this technology makes large and powerful things like governments and mega-corporations and the super-wealthy all equally dangerous, and we need to break them down into smaller things.

Governments should be smaller, more localized, and have less overall power.

Corporations should have a maximum size, and should be automatically broken up once they exceed that size. It's not about arguing about "monopolies", it should just be hardwired into company law, that corporations can't grow larger than X without triggering an automatic mitosis.

Nor should individuals be able to acquire or wield huge amounts of wealth. It's almost impossible, in an age of so much and such diverse communication, and of privacy, to stop rich people influencing politicians through lobbying, bribery, signalling things. So we have to stop the problem at its source and simply stop there being such rich people. The world can't afford more Kochs and Soroses (though I have no criticism of Soros personally). Again we need company and property law to define limits on the amount of money that any individual can amass. That will prevent super-rich individuals spending money on hacking elections.

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