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Hacking democracy: a simple, legal way to put the power in the hands of the people

Literally all the problems in the way we're governed right now are due to the people with decision making power being disconnected from their constituents. No one except those running the military industrial complex want our tax dollars to fund endless war. No one except the bankers want our tax dollars to bail them out.

Occupy wall street, anonymous hacking government emails, peaceful protestors yelling at passerbys on weekends, hundreds of thousands of people signing online petitions, anarchists dropping out of college to go live in the woods, these techniques have not proven at all effective in fixing the broken system. No one seems to want to get to the root of the problem, the power structure itself.

I propose an online direct democracy system that any registered voter can use (not only members of a particular political party) that would allow every citizen in a community to propose, edit, upvote, comment, and vote on legislation that impacts their community. But this system is toothless without the hacking democracy part of my plan.

A person (not a politician) runs for office under the platform that he will exclusively use this decentralized decision making process to make decisions. Imagine that instead of his own brain deciding whether or not to pass legislation, he agrees to submit to the whims of the people. He will still be proposing legislation through this system, but now everyone can. If he has good ideas, the citizens will vote for his legislation. If he doesn't, he can just execute the legislation his constituents come up with.

I have a million bulletproof counter-arguments for any criticism of direct democracy & I have the time to explain them to you, but the most important idea you need to consider is this: we need to incrementally improve the system. No one is going to come up with a plan tomorrow that fixes all of society's problems and instantaneous paradigm shifts aren't practical.

Check out my site: http://hackingdemocracy.wordpress.com

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  • Feb 26 2013: My comments"
    " the people with decision making power being disconnected from their constituents" No. They are disconnected from sanity. A huge difference in my mind. So too are many of their constituents. Most are today Manchurian Citizens who are voting on Manchurian Candidates.

    "No one seems to want to get to the root of the problem, the power structure itself" This is a broken system. It cannot be fixed. It is an unjust system. It lives and thrives on corruption, greed, crime and so on. It cannot be made just. A completely new and just system has to be created, installed and implemented. How does this begin? By following the dictates, commands, wishes and authorization of the Declaration of Independence that tells the citizenry what to do and what a successful culmination of that should result in.

    People will have to be told and educated that most of our lives will have to be dropped and we will all have to pitch in if we are serious about bringing about real change. We cannot keep telling ourselves that we need and want things to change for the better and then keep doing the same ole things that keep the old one running.............out.....of......steam.
    What is more important? The now of your children, or the future? There won't be one if you don't change now. Everyone wants their cake and wants to eat it too. It won't work. It can't work. It doesn't even make sense to think it would work. Change means change. What did anyone think it meant? Chump change?
    It seems your method does involve change in "how we make decisions". This I agree on. It isn't who makes decisions, but how we make them as town, city, county, state, country.
    I believe we must get rid of the monetary system but let's say we don't.
    Decisions then must never be made because of money. Ever. They are almost always the wrong decision because they don't involve doing what needs to be done.
    Things don't....."get done"...... because of money.
    Things........."don't get done"...because of money.
    • Feb 26 2013: >They are disconnected from sanity. A huge difference in my mind. So too are many of their constituents.
      >This is a broken system. It cannot be fixed.

      So what do you propose? Dissolving government and living in tribal farming communes? Killing all the people you think are crazy? While these are legitimate ideas, and they have both been tried in the past, I'm not going to waste my space explaining to you why this is retarded.

      > By following the dictates, commands, wishes and authorization of the Declaration of Independence that tells the citizenry what to do

      Sure is religious in here.

      >Decisions then must never be made because of money. Ever. They are almost always the wrong decision because they don't involve doing what needs to be done.

      If you want to eliminate money, if you want to come up with a new world order where everyone works together, with hacking democracy you can. You just have to come up with a good enough argument for your plan to convince everyone else. Unfortunately for you, merely claiming that "money is the devil" is not enough evidence for people who don't already agree with you.

      It seems to me that you people all think the problem with how we're governed is human nature, not the system we use to govern ourselves. Look, human nature isn't a universal thing. People are always going to disagree on how we should live. Hacking democracy just puts everything to a vote. The reason why democracy caught on so hard in the 1800s is because it's a useful meme. It benefits the societies that use it. The reason why direct democracy will catch on so hard in the 21st century is because it's a useful meme. Direct democracy didn't work before because we couldn't communicate with everyone else on the planet at the speed of light. We didn't have the technology known as the "internet."

      And try to remember, I'm not proposing we exterminate the existing system. This frightens all the people that like the status quo. But even they can handle gradual change.
      • Feb 26 2013: To implement gradual change in a democracy will fail because as soon as the going gets tough the people will take the path of least resistance, what's best for them, a messiah and so on.

        The problem is throughout society not just in the power structure. The people keep electing the same people!

        The American Founders were genius for their time, and there is much we can learn from their original intentions. Thomas Jefferson said there should be a revolution every generation, instead we have been compliant citizens for GENERATIONS.
      • Feb 27 2013: When you cross a stream, you don't make huge leaps. You take small steps from one rock to another. You made a huge leap which indicates to me a degree of brainwashing, which we all suffer from.
        Example: "So what do you propose? Dissolving government and living in tribal farming communes? Killing all the people you think are crazy?" Ultimately though, over time, it has to drastically change.
        We need to take back certain powers from those in power and their power structure.
        Money is power, politics doesn't solve any problem whatsoever, but most importantly we need to hurry and wake up the populace and introduce new ways of thinking, a la what you are suggesting.
        I don't quite see or understand all your proposition but was just commenting on a few things.
        I really believe this system is so broken it cannot be fixed, thus something new has to begin being built and installed and it must be just. This has to mean (to me) that any and all reasons that allow or could allow corruption to exist, must be eliminated ahead of time
        For instance, Jacque Fresco has been working on re-engineering societies for over 75 years. No one else has done anything like this, including you or me. Is his perfect? No, but it is a better start than anything anyone has and many just push it aside because it isn't perfect. So foolish that it implies people no longer think for themselves but have sound bytes they are brainwashed into repeating. It isn't they vote for the same people. It is that they think voting works when it doesn't. It is completely broken.
        your idea feels to me to be very unwieldy, so perhaps I need to understand it's finer details, which I don't yet. Keeping what we have means keeping the bad parts too, and that I think, is foolish, won't work and is exactly what the bad parts want. If we don't get rid of the causes that erode our system and try and fix it with the best looking bandage, we are just fooling ourselves again.
        • Feb 27 2013: We seem to agree on a lot of things. I also believe the existing system is broken, and that humanity benefits from having some sort of system. I'm not sure of your views on various details for governing society, but because you're posting actively on ted.com I would bet that we agree on most other things too.

          It appears that the only thing we really disagree on is how exactly to go about fixing them. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it comes off like you believe we need to completely trash all components of the current system. The new system we install in it's place must be pure, immaculate, and infallible, possibly the work of some magnificent genius such as Jacque Fresco. I believe that it will take at least another 30 years before the chosen one saves us from ourselves by inventing the groundwork for a utopian society. I refuse to wait around for this.

          For some reason, this part of hacking democracy isn't clear to many people: it decentralizes decision making power, it's not a new system of government.

          What do politicians do that influences the course of society? They write laws that dictate the flow of societal funds and energy. They could write legislation banning plants that grow naturally (and they did). They could write legislation that puts taxpayers money in the hands of bankers to gamble with (and they did). They could write legislation strengthening the power of the federal government (and they did). They could write legislation criminalizing alcohol (and they did). They could write legislation *undoing the criminalization of alcohol* (and they did).

          There's no reason why they couldn't also write and pass legislation that does the opposite of any of these things. Or why they couldn't write and pass legislation that does anything else. The point of hacking democracy is to give this ability to everyone in society, instead of just the upper echelons with enough money and connections to run for office.

          It's not a band-aid, it's the white blood cells.
  • Feb 26 2013: It's a good idea on itself, however I don't believe you are taking into account the human factor. First of all not every body is expert on everything, so my first question is: For complicated problems that require specific knowledge to solve, how are you going to make sure that the people who votes really understand the problem, the proposed solution(s) and the consequences before casting a vote???. Second and more important, most voters work 8, 10, 12 or more hours a day, how are you going to convince them to spend their free time reading a ton of information, then spend more time deciding whether it affects them or not, then more time analyzing how it affects, and the even more deciding how to vote. How much time you think an average person is willing to invest on this???, How much time is required to read all the legislative information generated in just one day??? What if I'm ill in bed and can't read during all the time a legislation that affects me directly is being discussed??? What if a computer failure keeps me away for weeks and during that time is approved a law that puts me on disadvantage??? To keep bad ideas from becoming laws, people must vote with their brains otherwise you are creating a very efficient way to convert bad ideas into laws. How on earth are you going to make sure people vote with their brain and not with their gut???

    My final vote: Impractical.
    • Feb 26 2013: 1) For complicated problems that require specific knowledge to solve, how are you going to make sure that the people who votes really understand the problem, the proposed solution(s) and the consequences before casting a vote?
      A: The same way we do now. Congressmen and elected officials seek out help from experts. With hacking democracy, those experts can throw in their two cents without needing to bribe anyone or schedule a meeting. They just comment on legislation directly. This is similar to NulPunt: http://nulpunt.nu/

      2) How does hacking democracy deal with the problem of every single citizen not having the time to make informed decisions on every piece of legislation?
      A: First of all, many politicians in the current system don't make informed decisions. Look at anything concerning internet law or drug law. Secondly, unlike in Australia voting is not mandatory. If you really trust other people to make decisions for you, you don't have to participate. People would most likely only vote on things they care about. Many people wouldn't even get involved, but they would be agreeing to submit to any decisions made by their fellow citizens. As for being physically unable to read while others are making decisions: can you think of a system that would solve this theoretical problem? No, you can't. Hacking democracy is not a utopia. It's an objective improvement on the current system we have in America.

      3) How does hacking democracy prevent people from making bad decisions?
      A: Each piece of legislation proposed must provide a feedback mechanism that analyzes the affects of the legislation. This can be anything from a simple survey to environmental research. Initially people will still make bad decisions, as all leaders do today. But once enough data is gathered, we will know what legislation measurably improves society, and what legislation doesn't. This is only way to truly determine if legislation is beneficial. No one can predict the future.

      My final vote: Practical
      • Feb 26 2013: 1) How many citizens do you believe will have the time, money and will to hire experts to make decisions for them??? Impractical!!!

        2) Yes many politicians don't make informed decisions, but how much of them 20%?, 40%?, 50%? how many citizen will make uninformed decisions? 70%?, 75%?, 90%? you don't have a solid argument unless you show some figures. I don't have the figures either, but I am sure if a congress man/woman who's sole propose is to read and understand legislation is unable to make informed decisions, then it is quite obvious that someone who has to work full time on something else is in more risk of making uninformed decisions. Want to convince me of the opposite, then show the figures and back them up with a scientific research.

        3) How on earth are you going to make sure those data are unbiased?, moreover, in such a changing legal world as you depict it, how the law enforcement officers will be sure what they do is correct??? because it seams like laws will be somehow volatile.

        4) You failed to answer the most important questions: How are you going to explain and convince a hard working person who gets home tired to spend his/her little free time on your system instead of using it for something more pleasant??? How much time an average person is willing to spend on your system??? How much time is required for an average person to reach and read the contents effectively, that is not missing something important???. Until you answer this questions in convincing way I wont change my vote: Impractical!
        • Feb 27 2013: 1) Very few. Most of the information will come from the few that care enough about the issue to post information freely online. This is how it is already. People literally take the time to put up fliers, argue on the internet, etc all the time. The only difference with hacking democracy is that all these people would be more directly connected to the people they elect.

          2) So you're claiming that just because someone where's a suit, they are more qualified to make decisions? Most of what politicians do these days is not reading legislation and voting on it. It's mostly playing political games, worrying about getting re-elected, fundraising, and running ad campaigns.

          3) How are you going to make sure any data is unbiased in any system? If there is a problem with society, people won't need much more information than exactly what it is in order to change it. Police officers, just like now, will have to be informed of the law as it changes. They may still accidentally violate the law when apprehending citizens, just like they do now. This is okay because the only people who really need to know the law are lawyers and courts.

          4) Do you know what taxation is? If the average person doesn't give a shit where 20% of their paycheck goes, that's fine. But if they want that money to be put to good use, they will go out of their way to have their voice heard in politics. The amount of time people spend on politics is directly proportional to how much they give a shit about what happens to the money that is taken from them. That's not to say with hacking democracy we have to always have taxation. Allow me to digress: it would be possible to repeal taxation laws and simply use a kickstarter system, where people only paid for government services they wanted. In fact, this could happen alongside regular taxation laws.

          If you are truly as inquisitive as your question mark usage would indicate, I implore you to look through the FAQ: http://hackingdemocracy.wordpress.com/faq/
  • Feb 26 2013: I appreciate your response and the amount of thought you have applied. I will check out your site.

    As far as the isolation, I never meant to imply that the Federal government should not have a role. I only said that it should be severely limited; my observations from our past and present mistakes.

    What you are suggesting is similar to what my brother and I have discussed, but we keep running into trouble when we apply full-blown democracy at a national level. The argument is, as you point out, that people will have a say directly in legislation, but when one reads Facebook postings......Then there is the polling. People contradict themselves all the time. They want their freedoms or benefits, but are unwilling to allow someone else theirs.

    I just have to ponder whether we have evolved enough to bear the burden of such a responsibility over our fellow man. Have you read Alexis de Tocqueville?

    As far as a societal collapse, I don't know what will happen. Have you tried hiring someone to do a job? A society's value is not in its money, but rather its human capital and ability to utilize its resources. Yes, there are good hard working people out there, but I have seen the change over the last twenty years, and five or ten percent of the population cannot do all the work or all the thinking. There has been a conditioning process which has effected self-reliance and durability. Some will say it is the double-edged sword of prosperity, and this is an aspect you should consider when contemplating how effective democracy will work in the near future (50-100 years).

    Maybe, whether with your or our present system, we will naturally move towards another societal state no matter what we do.

    Sadly, Mankind seems to have to suffer at his own hand before he learns, and the secret, I believe, is an honest chronicling of those mistakes for future generations. How with the power structure as it is? I wish I knew.
    • Feb 27 2013: If you believe the federal government should be severely limited, you should be a proponent of hacking democracy. For some reason this is difficult to explain to people: hacking democracy is not a new form of government. It's a mechanism to decentralize decision making power.

      For instance: when legislation was passed in the 1800s strengthening the power of the federal government, those decisions, or legislation, was drafted and voted into law by the elected leaders at the time. These changes in how the government works were made by citizens. Hacking democracy would just give more citizens a say. I personally agree that federal government should be toned down, if not entirely eliminated. I think enough other people would agree that legislation could be proposed & voted on using direct democracy and executed by hacking democracy.

      I sincerely believe that using this system I'm proposing would point out the flaws of democracy at a national level. But then again, real democracy has never been tried at the national level. It would certainly work for some legislation, such as funding a national army, or making murder illegal. But more nuanced topics like gun rights or abortion probably are best left to different states.

      As far as whether or not we're evolved enough to be adults, I think we can't know until we try. We know it's useful to pool our resources as a society. That's why civilization exploded out of the fertile crescent, almost eradicating tribal life, which had worked for thousands of years.

      You hit the nail on the head with "mankind needs an honest chronicling of his mistakes for future generations." Hacking democracy does this by making every single piece of legislation (like concerning election fundraising, drug laws, defense budget allocation, anything) have to provide a mechanism for feedback. This can be anything from a simple survey to an analysis of our lakes and streams. It might not be perfect, but it's better than nothing.

      Thanks for responding!
      • Feb 27 2013: Austin, you are welcome. I hope to understand this hacking democracy better and discuss this further at a later date. I appreciate the debate. Thank you.
  • Feb 26 2013: The problem of leaders being isolated from the communities could also be born of the fact that political power and financial power usually form an alliance. Now, political power is given by the masses, or so it seems; but financial power helps sustain political power, such that big money begins to control political power like a puppet.

    Online communities would not be as effective as real life communities because their impacts are usually short-lived. They are trends that come and go. (like the Joseph Kony campaign that made it seem as if the dude would be caught in a few days, but now we know better) .
    The real paradigm shift is a new society that places value on character and integrity of leaders; not on charisma and personality. If we have true servant leaders, then we are on the right path. But as long as we have well branded crooks and all sorts of shady folks.......then.........goodluck.
    • Feb 26 2013: >financial power helps sustain political power

      Not with hacking democracy. Unless you were rich enough to bribe every person using the internet, money would lose most (not all) of it's power over the direction of society.

      >Online communities would not be as effective as real life communities because their impacts are usually short-lived.

      Are they? How long have you had this account? How many people have had a social networking account for the past 8 years? You realize that congress already puts all legislation online for everyone to see, right? You can even track the voting record particular candidates. http://www.govtrack.us/ Is this website transient? Because this is the type of website I would be proposing, a combination of social networking and government tracking.

      >The real paradigm shift is a new society that places value on character and integrity of leaders; not on charisma and personality.

      You really think humans are going to fundamentally change how they behave? I disagree. Humans are always going to act in a self-interested manner. It doesn't matter how much weed *you* smoke, there's always going to be at least some people who only want to benefit themselves. Hacking democracy makes it so the legislation we pass cannot only benefit a particular class of people, because everyone would have a say.
  • Feb 25 2013: I agree that there must be decentralization of government so that the people can have a say, but....

    The problem with Democracy is the people usually vote for who promises them the most money or an easier way of life, then they are surprised when they merely get a pittance or no new opportunities appear at their door step.

    You also don't want people in New York and Chicago deciding how things should be in Oklahoma or Wyoming; further reason for decentralization.

    These lobbyists are a result of an out-of-control-tax-code; it is natural for Man to use any means possible to gain an advantage over their competition.

    A Federal Government must be severely limited in its scope, and localities must be empowered. However, in the United States today the localities are dependent upon the Feds giving them back their tax money or redistributing the tax money from a more prosperous region.

    Our system of government is broken, and to continue to seek an avenue where everyone gets what they think they WANT will only postpone the inevitable.
    • Feb 26 2013: This is another thing I didn't have space to clarify in the introduction: I mean decentralization of decision making, not government. There will still be the same political entities we have now: city, state, nation, etc. The only difference is that anyone living in one of these entities can affect legislation that applies to everyone in that entity.

      That's a little difficult to explain abstractly so here's an example. A DDD rep is elected to be mayor of your town. Now every citizen of your town has a say as to what legislation passes in your town. People who don't live in your town do not. Period. Now imagine a different DDD rep is also simultaneously elected to be president of your country. Every citizen of your country has a say in what happens in your country.

      What do you think the point of different sized political entities is in the first place? So people can pool their resources, while having different laws to live by as different laws work for different groups of people. The most general legislation that everyone can agree on would be at the national level. As you get more extreme (no guns, no homosexuals, etc) you want those laws to be contained to the small populations who desire them.

      So then why wouldn't everyone just live in their own isolated tribe with their own isolated laws? Because it benefits society as a whole to pool our individual resources. Those small towns aren't going to be able to defend themselves from external forces, but if they pooled all their resources with many other towns, they would be able to benefit from a national army.

      By the way, what do you think is inevitable? Complete societal collapse? You do realize that this was far more likely in the sixties and seventies right? If you really think there's a problem with democracy, using hacking democracy it is entirely possible to set up a socialist, fascist, or even anarchist state. You just have to get enough other people to agree with you that it's a good idea.
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    Feb 25 2013: What will stop people hacking the system to influence the vote? The power will be in the hands of those with superior computer skills rathder than those with superior bank balances. Also you miss the whole point of goernment. I and a group of my peers elect a single representative to carry the power of our collective votes so we don't all have to vote every time there is a decision to be made. What ends up crippling pure communism is the time and effort required to have a vote on every little thing.
    • Feb 26 2013: What's stopping people from hacking the voting machines now? Or corrupt secretaries from "misplacing" legal documents? You do realize that literally *every* system in this day and age is connected to the internet, right? It's a complete waste of time to constantly fret about hackers, especially when dealing with an open-source transparent system such as the one I'm proposing. If someone feels as if something is awry with the system, anyone can hire someone with computer skills to conduct an investigation. People with computer skills won't have any more power than the lady at the DMV. She can be a bitch and make your life miserable if you piss her off, but she can't actually control how the system functions. If you want more of an answer, I don't feel like retyping it, so just check out my thorough response to Alan Russell, who had a similar question.

      With direct democracy, people only vote on what interests them. If you don't care, you don't need to have a say. However, "not caring" means that you will accept whatever conclusion your more politically active colleagues come to. Furthermore, those single representatives are often times the least qualified people to make decisions. They are good at playing politics, not understanding the impact of legislation on the environment, or on the economy. They end up hiring experts to tell them what to do anyway. With direct democracy, the people who have something intelligent to say about a given piece of legislation can easily tell the entire community, instead of just the single politician.

      What do you mean by pure communism? A classless society? That isn't what hacking democracy is about at all. There are still different classes with different interests, they just all have an equal say with regards to how their community is governed. Upper class people are probably going to vote for different laws than lower class people, and that's okay because they probably aren't going to live in the same community.
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        Feb 26 2013: What's stopping people from hacking the voting machines now? THat's why in Aus we still use paper ballots counted by hand. One corrupt individual can only count so many paper ballots one good virus could change the votes of millions.
        • Feb 26 2013: One corrupt individual can also lie about the number of paper ballots. Or an incompetent one could lose them. Or a competent person could have them stolen. No system is perfect, but we can gradually improve on existing systems. Because complete logs of every action taken on the direct democracy system will be recorded on multiple servers, it will be easy to identify any foul play. Bitcoin works in a similar way. Hackers have not "cracked" bitcoin yet, they have only cracked third party bitcoin transfer sites such as mtgox.
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        Feb 26 2013: As the stakes get higher more effort will be put into hacking. How much effort would the Chinese put into influencing the result of a US presidential election, or the US into influencing elections in the Middle-East?
        • Feb 27 2013: I'm guessing you aren't a computer guy.

          The system I'm proposing is much more difficult to "hack" (ie: manipulate votes), than existing voter machines are. Anytime anyone does anything in the system, it's recorded in a log. This log is distributed to a variety of servers. Every time an action is taken, it is confirmed on every other servers log. It will be clear if results are manipulated. But no system you create will ever be "unhackable." Fortunately for me and my idea, this isn't a problem either.

          This system is merely a tool for decision making. The real power of hacking democracy is the part where our existing legal system is exploited to decentralize decision making power. Remember, an elected official is still the person with the legal authority to sign off on all legislation. He uses the digital direct democracy website to determine what the people want, then executes the legislation proposed using the government's legal apparatus. If this system is hacked and the results look fishy, someone will say something. There will be an investigation and the situation will be rectified. At this point another vote can be held. If the system is hacked and literally no one complains, I fail to see the problem.
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        Feb 27 2013: :" I'm guessing you aren't a computer guy" Me and a friend of mine were threatened with jail time for hacking a major banks mainframe in 1992 using a dial up modem where you put the hand set into it. Remember them? While my hacking days are long over I still have many contacts in the business.
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    Feb 25 2013: How would keep me from voting over and over under multiple online guises?
    • Feb 25 2013: Excellent question!

      The same mechanisms we already have in place to prevent voter fraud, plus several more which I’ll detail in a moment. Firstly, do you know how the US government attempts to prevent voter fraud? The answer is that you fill out a “Voter Registration Application.” There are some inherent problems with the system the US government uses that are elaborated here: http://hackingdemocracy.wordpress.com/faq/#voting

      Signing up for the DDD system is actually more secure than filling out a voter registration form because, while you can lie about your address, the DDD system records your IP data, providing anyone who wants to look you up with your location in the world.

      In order to verify accounts, the voter look-up system the US government uses is implemented to confirm each citizen’s identity. After inputting your full name, birthday, state, and county of registration, the DDD system automatically confirms that you are a registered voter in the state you claim to be in. Here's the site we would use to verify the identity of somebody who claims to live in New York: https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/votersearch.aspx

      The DDD system literally uses the exact voter fraud prevention system the US government already uses. To use the DDD system you must be a registered voter with the US government, but your party affiliation doesn't matter. Maybe the DDD system isn’t perfect, but it is by definition more secure than what is being used now. After being confirmed with the US government’s records, your DDD account is given a unique voter ID number and you may change your public name to whatever you wish, or even remain publicly anonymous. However, your location data will still be available for anyone who wants to look it up. If you truly fear letting your location data be public knowledge, you technically have the option to connect to the DDD system with public wifi as well.

      Keep the questions coming if you got more, and feel free to check out my site too
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        Feb 25 2013: I like the idea of combining voter registration with identifying IP addresses. It seems like a good solution and something we should be using now anyway.
  • Feb 25 2013: Maybe the problem aren't the little politicians or the little guys. I am contending that the CEO's and some wealthy individuals are the problem which is exerbated by Citizens United in America. Would that be reduced by inititive and recall or whatever? I doubt it. We do have special interest groups to which we all belong . I am a life member of the NRA which is dominated by gun manufacturers - not peoplelike me. Do we really want every moron to have a gun or a car or whatever? Also, they are countering the grandchildren of the Prohibitionists who gave us murder incorporated and organized crime. All sides have not really thought this out when we find the vast majority of gun deaths in America are suicides and that Mexico with tough gun laws has twice the murder rate as America. Obvious there are many factors, but this is the land of the salesman and emotional decisions. Maybe some of you like politicians a great deal more than I, but do you feel good knowing that the two(2) oldest political parties in the world have divided almost every stupid idea evenly. Maybe this is what Francis Fukuyama was writing about in the Origin of the Political Order when he wrote of "dry rot."
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      • Feb 26 2013: ZX - I believe that we are saying the same thing basically. I identify the CEO's because - aren't they the brains of the companies which are criticized by Hayek. Just a thought.
  • Mar 14 2013: This is achieved: Gajantic.com
    Gajantic's crucial advantage: People turn their opinion into action. Immediately.
    And as deeply as they wish to get involved with any particular issue.
    Gajantic deals with most of the potential problems listed by commenters below. Although how it does so isn't necessarily obvious at first. Think deeper.
    Gajantic is neutral, world-wide, and as powerful as people need it to become.
  • Mar 10 2013: There is a site where anyone can pose a question and everyone can vote on them. It's IMO a mess. The questions are shallow and often have false dichotomies. So, it's a good idea, but needs a good team to work on it.

    PeopleCount.org has a different approach, compatible with our existing laws. A team creates better questions, starting with national issues, and then tests and refines them. The questions are organized into "political profiles" which give a broad overview on issues. People log in and give advisory votes. They can return at any time and change their answers and answer more questions. They can see how their district, state and country voted, and they might change their vote.

    The site is primitive now, with much more planned. The site was done with existing technology and the project needs funding to go forward. To support the project, please register and begin to complete your profile. Donation of $1 would show that it can be self-funded.

    What does an advisory vote do? Currently representatives don't know what we want. Though their may be data in polls, these are almost always national, so representatives don't particularly believe them, especially if they are contrary to what they hear from the few constituents that contact them, and the special interests that pay for their campaigns.

    And WE don't know what we all want, so we don't know what we can reasonably hold our reps accountable for. With this system in place and people participating, incumbents can be easily challenged if they don't deliver what people want.

    To make this easier, a communication system will be added so our officials can report back to us, according to what issues we say we want to hear about, and at whatever frequency we desire. They'll be able to effectively account to us on what they've done.

    Candidates can, too, cheaply, making campaigns much less expensive.

    There's broad agreement on many issues. Without us knowing it, govt need not deliver.
  • Feb 28 2013: You are dodging the key issue of my point: TIME... Human Time!!!. I positively do not believe a congressman/woman is in a better position for making informed decisions just because he/she wears a suit!, or has more brains than me or the average citizen. Positively NOT!. I do believe however, he/she is in a better position to make informed decisions because he/she has the TIME!, he/she has no other thing to do than reading, thinking and discussing legislation. I even dare to say that if I could read, think and discuss legislation the same amount of TIME an average congressman does, I could perform equal or above the average congressmen, but I can't because I have a full time job, a family, and I'm also building a house. So: TIME is the key issue here. One more thing in which you are completely wrong, the average citizen does care about politics and about what happens on his/her neighborhood, state and country, but he/she just doesn't have the TIME to get involved too much!
  • Feb 27 2013: Austin - how does DDD account for issues/policies relating to defense? Especially if much of the applicable information is classified? Thanks for your thoughts...
    • Feb 27 2013: Another reasonable concern.

      Certain organizations (such as the military or CIA) definitely do benefit from rigid hierarchy and secrecy. The DDD system would be used to appoint qualified individuals to positions of power in the military system, as politicians do today. Once appointed, these officials would have autonomy to implement their defense plans, or even hire new people as needed. There would actually be more accountability because with hacking democracy the masses would not only be funding a general's paycheck via taxes, but have the ability to fire him if he fucks up. How would fuck ups be revealed to the public? The same way they are now: leaked documents. These military leaders rarely voluntarily disclose evidence of failure; why would they? We unfortunately would need to continue relying on whistleblowers as we do now.

      Additionally, more and more these days the US government is already hiring private military contractors or mercenaries. Society could use the DDD system to pool their money together in order to hire these mercenaries for defense, eventually eliminating a military force that's intertwined with government. I believe this is the source of a lot of the problems with the military-industrial complex. They could even do the same thing for tax-payer funded police and private security forces.
  • Feb 26 2013: To anyone following this thread: notice how no one has a response to anything I say. It's not because I write incoherently or my arguments are not worth arguing with. It's because no one has any good rebuttals as soon as I elaborate on this plan even a tiny bit. The mere fact that these people are not responding should be enough to convince you this hacking democracy idea has weight.

    Entropy has eaten away at the current system to the point where our government (I'm talking about all countries) has become a complete joke. Sure, the Daily Show and The Onion are pretty entertaining right now but our children are going to ask us why we waited so long to fix this ridiculous system. We've had this revolutionary technology known as the internet for the past 20 years, but the most people use it for is still watching videos of kittens and porn?

    As soon as we have new medical technology, travel technology, even entertainment technology, we embrace it immediately. The only thing stopping us from embracing communication technology to begin fixing our existing system are the people in power who refuse to relinquish an iota of their decision making ability. They claim that "the masses don't know what's best for themselves." "We wear suits with American FLAGS on them. We're rich! You work a job you hate! So listen to us!"

    We're not children. Hell, children would probably be more efficient than congress at this point. The societal unrest expressed through Occupy Wall Street did not vanish when that movement faded away. And the next time someone comes up with a successful meme, even more people are going to get behind it. Open-source government will happen eventually.

    And to all you people who think we need to have the plan for a flawless utopia before we even think about altering the current system: instead of failing to criticize my idea, why don't you propose something of your own? Propose it in the form of legislation & post it here: www.reddit.com/r/hackingdemocracy
  • Feb 25 2013: If you guys really believe this stuff, you should look into hacking democracy! It puts wealthy individuals and lobbyists on a level playing field with every other citizen.

    I think lobbyists and CEOs are the problem as well. They have valid points sometimes (an environmental lobbyist is going to understand the repercussions of fracking much more than your average citizen) but their voice shouldn't completely drown out the voice of everyone else.

    In any case, with hacking democracy, you're not trying to "influence politicians to listen to you." Traditionally, politicians make the decisions, so if you wanted to change the world, you would have to beg politicians to give you 15 minutes of face time. With hacking democracy, ALL citizens are the ones who make decisions. Now if you want to influence decision making, you have to influence the public, and because everything is online, you have many weeks to make your case instead of whatever meeting slot you're allotted by a politicians secretary.