TED Conversations

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

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

+4
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • 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/

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.