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Julian Blanco


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Why don't we use technology to have a real Direct Democracy?

In democracy’s origin, all citizens gathered together to make decisions on relevant matters.
As populations grow this became impossible and the best choice to keep the model was electing representatives.
We currently have the technological capability to have a large part of the population or may be all the population (if we talk about cell phones)of many countries making choices real-time on topics each individual is interested in.
So we have a chance to get back to the ideal democracy and avoid many of the problems that arise from the representation model.
I think it’s time to get at least a hybrid model where people can easily and massively participate in the decision process.
I’m very interested in the TED community’s perspective on this.
the perspective is science based, publicly open and available to all.

A fine example here (thanks Lucas):

http://CitizenME.org (thanks DK)

Other links provided in the posts:




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  • Mar 19 2011: Our government actually worked better before technology made it possible for voters to be so intimately involved in it.

    The fact is that the vast majority are not well informed about issues, nor do they possess a particularly high capacity for critical thinking. Far too many base their positions on ideological beliefs even when real world data contradicts those beliefs.

    The vast majority of people are not TED people, they're people whose understanding of issues comes from network news (some with a lot of bias to it), radio personalities with no credentials, and viral e-mails. They don't know history, geography, economics, or anything needed to make informed policy decisions and most of their arguments are based on logical fallacies such as post hoc, false dilemmas and ad hominem arguments.

    In the 2006 National Geographic/Roper Survey of Geographic Literacy, which surveyed people ages 18-24, a full 48% thought India is a predominantly Muslim country. 63% could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East. 12% couldn't locate Mexico on a world map and 21% couldn't correctly identify the Pacific Ocean. 57% couldn't find Ohio.

    Every survey done to assess what people know shows they know remarkably little. I frequently see people state "facts" that have no truth to them at all, because much of what people "know" is simply not true. The idea that people who have spent no time studying complex issues should influence policy seems naive at best and insane at worst. Our elected representatives study issues and have full time staffs that study issues, while the average American spends no time studying them. Whatever its flaws, a republic is a far better form of government than a true democracy.

    "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine." — Thomas Jefferson

    "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." — Winston Churchill
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      Mar 21 2011: Laurence, you make an excellent and staggeringly frightening comment. I am forced to agree with your thoughts regarding the average voter, however, I think it would be quite prudent to put the same test to our esteemed elected officials. Are they really any better, smarter, or ethical??
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        Mar 25 2011: Hi Greg:

        I agree with your comments, I think Laurence is implying “qualified voting” example: My vote is worth more than yours because I have a college degree, or even more because I have a PHD. On a different approach: is worth more because I have a masters in economy and this particular decision has to do with my general field of expertise. Even if that may sound interesting it’s very complex, in some cases unfair.
        Laurence, If I take your comment literally: I would love to have your confidence that the governing elected elite of the different democracies in the world has the best interest of the citizen in mind (if that actually exists).


    • Mar 22 2011: Laurence, I disagree with you. Please don't think every human on the planet is an American.
      Upon deep conversation, I've seen true wisdom and real solutions come from average on-the-street people in my country, India. The dumb ones are the people sitting in air-conditioned homes and offices, unfortunately they're the ones making the decisions.

      If we REALLY used technology, ex: extended internet access to every citizen, then I'm sure we'd have a much better managed society. A billion interconnected heads are always better than a small coterie.
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        Mar 27 2011: that's exactly right Nihil wisdom has nothing to do with education..fluency with current events is not wisdom it's a luxury that a few of usTed chatters and bloggers have..wisdom arises when "the whole tribe" considers ..when each voice and heart counts..the more voices the more wisdom..the closer we move to truth.You might enjoy exploring the work of the Co-Intelligence Institute and its founder, Tom Atlee who has written some very powerful essays on this subject. www.lindsaynewlandbowker.posterous.com
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      Apr 17 2011: Although it's tempting to think that a democracy which put power directly into the hands of the people to run their legislatures, I have to agree with you that it isn't the wisest idea. The argument that you made against it makes me think of what Alexander Hamilton used to his opponents who argued for more popular participation than the US Republican model provided--elites are needed to run governments and legislatures because the mob is basically too uneducated and/or disinterested. Most of the people who use this site would be able to make some use of the privilege of direct democracy of the Demoex sort, but it has to remembered that not everyone in the country is equally well-informed or thoughtful or serious.

      I still think that there is room in our democracy for more direct participation via the internet, I just don't think that the answer should be leaving everything in the hands of the masses.
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        Apr 17 2011: I think a great alternative that can be implemented with very little startup costs and disturbance, would be to make a web site that connects the people to the senator. If we used a gallop poll type voting system we could get a popular decision on certain legislature. this would be one of the many tools used by the senator to help make decisions.
        This system would be very open to fraud so you could limit the amount of votes to the number of registered voters in a geographical area, if the amount of votes for a geographical area goes over its limit then a point value is added per extraneous vote giving you a margin of fraud which can be taken into consideration... the smaller the geographical area you set the more accurate the poll will be.
        I know its not an accurate method but its the best you can do short of making people go to polling stations every week.

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