TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

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

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    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.
      • thumb
        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.
      • thumb
        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.
      • thumb
        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.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.