TED Conversations

Poch Peralta

Freelance Writer / Blogger,

TEDCRED 10+

This conversation is closed.

Is Technology stopping or abetting political apathy? Can we beat political apathy with technology?

Beating Politics with Technology
Peter Sunde thinks Bitcoin is "interesting" and has a fascinating story behind it, but one that he feels is symbolic of a depressing widespread lack of trust in politics.

'"You can't beat politics with new technology all the time. Sometimes you have to actually make sure that politics are in line with what people want. A lot of people are giving up on politics and thinking they can solve issues with technology. These kind of arrogant behaviours towards the rest of the society are a bit disgusting," Sunde told Wired.co.uk in a Skype interview...'
http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-11/18/peter-sunde-hemlis-political-apathy

Share:
  • thumb
    Nov 21 2013: Poch, I was in the PI years ago and asked a man if he was voting for Marcos or Aquino ... he said Marcos. I asked why. He said Marcos is already a multimillionaire he would steal less.

    Technology is a tool. Politicians use all of the tools in the toolbox.

    Remember that politicians only have two goals: 1) Get elected and 2) get re-elected. Everything else is rubbish.

    The second thing is to know that the general public is extremely uninformed. Along with that is the lack of transparency and cold and calculated lies that are common to all politicians. A good spin doctor is worth their weight in gold .... they not only make the koolade they make the citizens enjoy drinking it and look forward to more.

    If the public does not want to see .... no amount of technology will change that.

    Bob.
    • thumb
      Nov 21 2013: Using Marcos and Aquino in your illustration hits the nail Bob.
      I risked my life using my body as shield to prevent the massacre of rebel soldiers in the EDSA uprising. When the later admins ruled, I saw my sacrifice was for nothing. I was very angry and regretted fighting Marcos.

      '...A good spin doctor is worth their weight in gold .... they not only make the koolade they make the citizens enjoy drinking it and look forward to more.
      If the public does not want to see .... no amount of technology will change that.'

      Very picturesque and sharp sir! Perhaps the public sees but doesn't care.
  • Dec 3 2013: I think we can but it will take a change in mindset. Since I always put my money where my mouth is, I went out and created a platform that I believe answers the question "can we beat political apathy with technology?" Submitted for your approval (and the subject of another conversation on TED that was closed a short time ago) . . .

    www.inations.com

    The purpose of iNations is to present to people all of the questions that humans have struggled over for thousands of years, along with actual choices so that people can define where they stand on all of these issues. The point of this exercise is to get people thinking about the "big" questions, and yes, committing to an answer (even if that answer is "I don't know" or "I choose not to answer the question.") Then, every person is free to create an "iNation" of their own, based on their beliefs and feelings, and invite other members to join. It's all explained on the site, but I hope anyone reading this checks it out!
    • thumb
      Dec 3 2013: Hey Joe, iNation is great! Expect me to join your site later.
      And I hope all caring netizens join too.
      • Dec 3 2013: Thanks! iNations is still only in a "proof of concept" stage - basically, I ran out of money! But at least I have a social network that functions and does the basics of what I want it to do. (And please, please, please - share the site with everyone you can. To get to a point where I can start attracting investors, I need a lot more people!!!)

        At some point, however, I'm going to need to figure out how to add in the ability for people to vote (to elect leaders and decide issues via referendum), to customize their iNation home pages, to add in marketing to their home pages (I don't intend to do any marketing on inations.com itself - but I want to provide individual iNations the right to sell ad space on their iNation home pages), to create customized credit/debit cards for use by iNation citizens, to barter/exchange between iNation citizens, and to invite politicians (and other speakers as well) to "townhall" meetings.

        What drove me to create iNations was the idea of setting up a system where politicians would be drawn to do online townhall meetings, but they'd be FORCED to answer specific questions and provide their REAL thoughts on the BIG issues. It drives me crazy that we elect people without knowing where they stand on all the big issues!!!
    • Dec 4 2013: Just joined iNation. Shared it on my FB page and told everyone to check out the iNation "About" page (reading all the way to the bottom!). "NewPoliticalSys" is my handle. What a great concept and site thus far. I'm looking forward to seeing what the "iPerson Questionnaire" questions are like. Joe, I'll send you an email through your support contact page, we've got to talk! I have a few ideas and brainstorms that might be helpful to you.

      You said "It drives me crazy that we elect people without knowing where they stand on all the big issues!!!" and I have had the same "itch" that's never been scratched. Politicians play the dodge-ball game with vagueness and carefully crafted rhetoric. They know nobody has the time or tools to properly vet them (and FORGET about the MSM making sense of anything, because they're in it for the $$). That's just one of the things I hope to reverse with my idea. A politician can do far too much damage these days and letting idiots gain office is just asking for chaos. We don't have a better system to vet, rank, score and compare how politicians stand on the issues because no one has developed it. I hope to change that just like you are waking people up to the notion of "borders" and "nationality".
  • Dec 2 2013: I don't think technology per se is the cure. I think our education system is.

    During our path through school/college we teach nothing formally about the responsibilities of citizenship and how to effect change within our goverments. Is it any wonder once people leave the education system that people feel completely disconnected from government and focus only on their careers and families?

    Civilisation is so precious, and secular government is so key to maintaining it, and yet we treat politics as some niche interest/subject, that only the focussed few will study or work in. And we wonder why politics is so uninspiring?

    Make it a part of the fabric of society, not an alternate tv soap for grownups. Teach citizenship and its responsibilities in school, along with political concepts.

    Politics is "us", but if we're not actively involving and educating our children about it then we will carry on going round in circles.

    We ALWAYS end up with the leaders we deserve, and if we are so apathetic in enthusing and empowering our children about politics, then the leaders we deserve will be the fruit of our apathy. And that's a gamble and a half in my opinion.
    • thumb
      Dec 2 2013: 'I don't think technology per se is the cure. I think our education system is.'

      Someone has suggested this before Nikos. But not as lucid as you did so
      I think you have convinced me. Some activists claim that even education is
      being manipulated by the government (Dumbing of America). If that is so,
      how much chance your excellent idea of educating children about political
      apathy would have?
      • Dec 2 2013: I agree the idea of improving the educating of our youth on participation in politics has merit and also think some now in politics will want to hold it back, benefiting from ignorance and apathy in the electorate. What if someone set up a system for people to suggest online topics for the President to comment on and had him respond to the top three each week? Could we convince lawmakers to mandate the President address our concerns for thirty minutes a week? I'd ask him about the TPP, the top secret Trans Pacific Partnership "free trade" deal he wants to enact without Senate approval via Fast Track and see him squirm around that one with a politician's favorite tool, shall we say misleading words. Anyway, perhaps as middle class suffering increases, more people will be willing to demand something better from those we elect. There are so many huge problems, money in politics and lack of choice with only two parties to name a couple.
        • thumb
          Dec 2 2013: Right Philip. Most hardcore activists are blasting that
          TPP proposal. It just hit me that there are indeed only
          2 major parties feasting on the elections forever and it
          seems a mystery how that came and continues to be!
      • Dec 3 2013: Education doesn't need to be manipulated to create an apathetic populace. It only needs to be turned over to popular control.
        • thumb
          Dec 3 2013: If that's the case, then we must fight popular control
          too right? Thanks Bryan.
      • Dec 3 2013: Ah, but that's the rub--central direction might not result in apathy, but it does facilitate totalitarianism, while popular control makes totalitarianism very difficult to implement.
      • Dec 3 2013: Hi Poch, sorry for not replying sooner, but thank you for starting a great conversation. I would like to reply to your question.

        Technology is an "enabler", a tool, nothing more. But it interfaces with all levels of society, and all aspects of it. As such it empowers everyone, not just the Government, if we only possess the will to use it (technology). Technology is a double edged sword, the same power it has to control can be used to liberate.

        So, to your question, I would reply that my answer remains the same. Regardless of who is "controlling" education, in any country, the answer to political apathy is still education. If education is corrupt, then that must be fought, with technology or without it, but fought regardless. Same for any institution that has issues. Technology could make that struggle easier on both sides.

        Technology is a tool though. With or without it, we still have to solve our societies issues. That responsibility remains, as do we. We deny our responsibilities at our peril.

        The universe does not care and will not catch us. Some find that depressing, but I find it gives me a sharper sense of value in our time and place in the universe. We may be alone in many ways, but that just makes what we have and who we are more precious and worth taking seriously.

        If we stop assuming we have many lives, or even an afterlife, and start treating this life, and our society, as the fragile flame that it is, and make our global culture reflect that, I believe a lot of things will become easier to prioritise.

        Education may be a lifelong journey, but it starts in childhood, and some ideas are too important to leave to adulthood and chance to teach. Its irresponsible to assume we have time, and chances, on our side.
        • thumb
          Dec 3 2013: 'If we stop assuming we have many lives, or even an afterlife, and start treating this life, and our society, as the fragile flame that it is, and make our global culture reflect that, I believe a lot of things will become easier to prioritise.'

          Another major problem of society again: shortsightedness of majority.
          And another question arises: can we blame people being shortsighted?
          Or do they just don't care about impending bigger problems?
    • Dec 2 2013: Education is KEY. What the powers that be want is uneducated drones to "vote" big money candidates into office after knowing nothing more than a name and sound bites. Politics has evolved into a circus NOT by design, but by apathy and chaos. Time to design a better system and it all hinges on education, intelligence and wisdom and undeniable FORCE of numbers. If the current system is imploding it is doing so because we let it get to this point. Now it's time to change direction and Nikos, Poch and Phillip are right on spot.
      • thumb
        Dec 2 2013: We shouldn't be surprised if the powers that be
        also use hi-tech drones for their sinister purposes lol.

        'Politics has evolved into a circus NOT by design, but by apathy and chaos.'

        Very sharp James. Thanks.
      • Dec 3 2013: The "powers that be" need do nothing to get such a goal. People are notoriously short-sighted and hedonistic, with a few exceptions.
  • Dec 1 2013: Appathy to our politics is a fault of the present social system. If many of the concerned citizens were able to participate in debates and to more directly influence the politicians, then the appathy would give way to a far greater degree of democracy than exists today.

    Some of this attitude could be expressed by the introduction of referenda, but in order for it to be meaningful the participants should a) have some former knowledge about how the national economy works and b) have had some experience in putting across their proposals and ideas. Thus for the appathy to go requires a degree of training for all those who want to take part in the running of the country and then the politicians must be able to accept more of what these active citizens say. This approach is technology to the degree of better knowledge being applied to understanding.

    The subject is confused when we think of technology being applied to production methods. It does not mean that the participants are benefiting from the ease with which their better techniques allow them to earn and spend greater amounts. When new techniques are introduced in production and sales there is always a drop in cost (otherwise the technique is not worthwhile), but quite often the consumer does not directly see this reduction due to the monopolization of the manufacturing resources being the benefactors. Only with competition between would be monopolists, can there be a chance that technological change will benefit the population as a whole.

    This comment therefore claims that it is the better technique in government, not manufacture, where real benefits lay.
    • thumb
      Dec 1 2013: 'Appathy to our politics is a fault of the present social system.'

      Great of you to point that out David. Citizens get apathetic when
      they see that their governments are wasting citizens' efforts for
      positive changes.

      'Thus for the appathy to go requires a degree of training for all those
      who want to take part in the running of the country...'

      A radical idea sir but considering they are already apathetic, I think
      this will be a moon shot difficult to implement. Your illustration citing
      production and sales is remarkable. Thank you.
  • Nov 30 2013: In my country, tons of people use the internet to share their opinions about politicians and Politics in general. You can easily find various ideas of what’s going on in our political system—and process and even numerous gossips about the politicians on the internet.
    It certainly helps people be awake; at the same time misleads us if not authentic.
    Can we beat political apathy with technology?
    Yes. It[technology] clearly draws people’s attention and helps connect us with political movements or something like that.
    But what it leaves to us is just a shallowly driven interest.

    What saves us from being ignorant of ‘politicians’ works’, if you will, could be…
    ‘Leap before you look’
    We need more courage and love toward people and the system that motivates( and controls) people in our society.
    Cynicism helps, but shouldn’t always be the common attitude.
    • thumb
      Nov 30 2013: Are you Chinese Elizabeth? I know that internet freedom is terrible,
      if not grossly repressed, in China, Korea, and Singapore. So I'm
      glad you're not one of the censored many.

      'Leap before you look'
      lol you're brave and you sound just like an activist! I'm glad we agree.
      • Dec 1 2013: ‘Leap before you look’ lol Yeah! I love this sentence.
        其实I got the idea from some famous college’s motto.
        (我是韩国人。哈哈!)
        I agree. ‘Internet freedom’ could be seriously distorted unless people are truly willing to take part in.
        Seems like some people give too much credit for ‘mere tools’.
        Internet is a great tool.
        But we need to be discreet and sensible before jump into it.

        It’s a wonderful topic, Poch
        Thank you
        Liz
        • thumb
          Dec 1 2013: 'But we need to be discreet and sensible before jump into it.'

          I have leapt before looking in my online activities so many
          times I already feel black and blue lol so I think I have to
          listen to your warning.

          You made this a wonderful topic Liz. Thanks.
  • thumb
    Nov 22 2013: Hi Poch,
    I observe people giving up on politics because they do not feel they have a voice. I have not heard the idea that people can beat political apathy with technology. In my perception, it is more beneficial to understand and educate, rather than trying to "beat" something. I agree with Entropy..."Technology might be a means towards education, but education should be the emphasis".
    • thumb
      Nov 22 2013: Hi, Colleen: I completely agree. I've always supported as one of my main believings that education is the basis of almost all the improvements of human being, and is also in the basis of co-existente, democracy, respect for human and civilian rights, etc. And education is what those who want dominate are most afraid of
      • thumb
        Nov 22 2013: I agree Sean, that education can be one of the major improvements we can all make as humans. Isolation is a key factor with abuse and violation of human rights. If information is suppressed, it contributes to the isolation and oppression of people, who then become easier to control and dominate. That is why I do not believe fighting, or beating is the most beneficial way to deal with apathy. Technology is a great tool which opens up our world to more and more information, which in my perception, educates.
    • Dec 2 2013: I'd like to see internet technology used to educate the electorate to the possibility of getting the well known corruption in government under control. Good people have made a plan to get money out of politics in the US and are promoting it via the website www.anticorruptionact.org . They want public funding of federal election campaigns to get rid of Citizens United PACs of billionaire money deciding who gets elected. I post a link to their website on so many political posts I comment on on facebook and online newspaper articles. I cannot understand why it is so slow to gain momentum. What's not to like about changing campaign finance to make lawmakers more responsive to voters than to big money operations? The people behind the web site seem OK with taking some years to get the deal going, but I can't see why it's so slow going.....
      • thumb
        Dec 4 2013: Philip,
        You write..."I cannot understand why it is so slow to gain momentum. What's not to like about changing campaign finance to make lawmakers more responsive to voters than to big money operations?"

        I believe it is exactly as you say in a previous comment.....
        " It must be the case that the majority of people do not want to hear what whistle-blowers have to say, preferring not to disrupt the status quo no matter how mediocre it may be."

        I learned, in an up close and personal way, that whistle-blowers are not always welcomed, as I mention in another comment on this thread. Many people balk at change because, as you insightfully say, they sometimes don't want to disrupt the status quo no matter what!

        I understand it, and I don't understand it.....know what I mean? Many people like to stay in what is perceived as their "comfort zone". If they ignore certain information, then they may not feel a need to take action. To address the corruption in government, seems like a HUGE undertaking, which it is. However, my constant mantra is that we can ALL take steps toward the goal, and the combined seemingly small steps can eventually create change. In some respects, I cannot see why it is so slow to happen either. On the other side, I understand the concept of "comfort zone" and how difficult it is for some people to move from an old paradigm to a new one.....even though the new one might obviously be better.

        According to your profile, this looks like your first conversation on TED....welcome:>)
  • Gord G 50+

    • +2
    Nov 22 2013: The article seems contradictory and naive in many respects. Peter Sunde appears to have been able to align himself with dot com developers as a spokesperson. I think political aspirations is a natural progression.

    In regard to political apathy, I believe it's naive for him to believe politics doesn't thrive on apathy. It always has, it always will.

    Politicians want to satisfy the majority. The smaller and more cohesive the majority, the easier it is to develop a compelling platform. I think intentional ostracization of vast segments of the population is a predominate political strategy.

    I also find the following statement demonstrates the schism between the ideals and desires of his generation.

    "I really don't see any revolution happening."

    A revolution requires consensus. The Me generation is the antithesis of consensus. They are self interested. Which is an obscene paradox because the same generation promotes the open source community. It makes one wonder what really motivates them.

    To answer the question... no one wants to beat it...they want to enhance it.
    • thumb
      Nov 22 2013: Your analysis seems to be most professional sir.

      "I really don't see any revolution happening."

      I don't agree with that. There will always be attempts if the admin keeps getting rotten.

      'A revolution requires consensus. The Me generation is the antithesis of consensus. They are self interested. Which is an obscene paradox because the same generation promotes the open source community. It makes one wonder what really motivates them.'

      Since they are self interested. Then greed motivates them just the same as with the corrupt pols.

      'To answer the question... no one wants to beat it...they want to enhance it.'

      If you mean all us by 'they', I strongly disagree. I am an activist and learned that apathy is the primary fuel of corruption.
      • Nov 22 2013: "They" refers to people seeking positions of power. And I agree, cultivating apathy creates fertile ground for corruption.
        • thumb
          Nov 22 2013: Very glad we agree sir and thank you for clarifying.
    • Nov 25 2013: The "me generation" is in its sixth decade of existence. They were what the Boomers were called when they were young adults.
      • Nov 25 2013: Right you are Bryan, the "Me Generation" was originally young Boomers. The term that's being used today is "Generation Me" or the "Millennials". Generation Me is often compared to the Boomers.

        http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2013/the-me-generation-meets-generation-me.html
        • Nov 25 2013: Every generation is a "me generation" at that age. Ho + hum = is there anything new under the sun?
      • Nov 26 2013: I'm not sure what you're alluding to Bryan.

        Some research suggests youth are physiologically predispose to lack empathy? (also it's suggested empathy is in decline). But then again, there are studies that show babies demonstrate empathy. It seems debatable whether all youth, in every generation are equally self absorbed.

        But either way I don't think it matters, because it's not about their natural inclinations. Analyzing and comparing generations is the study of human social behavior.

        Each generation shares specific environmental interactions that shape their generation (of course this doesn't mean they don't also have similarities in varying degrees).

        But really … I don't know if this relates to your cryptic post. I'm moving on.
  • thumb
    Nov 20 2013: Political apathy stems from resignation, which stems from disappointments, distrust and mainly due to the given lack of direct participation. To have a say only once in 4 years is way to little in those 'fast times' of today and not even topic related at all. Change this and people will rediscover the beauty of democracy - direct democracy!
    • thumb
      Nov 20 2013: Do you really think that is possible? I mean, the smaller the gap between
      elections, the bigger the expenditure. What more, activists claim that US
      is ultra-bankrupt now.
      • thumb
        Nov 20 2013: Yes!

        Elections only define political representatives for a certain time frame, thats all, yet the political participation of citizen is usually manged by referendum, which are self-motivated and come free of charge ... at least when the political framework allows for it.

        In Switzerland, which is considered a direct democracy, it takes only 100.000 signatures of Swiss citizen to kick-start a referendum to get the parliament active on it and those signatures get collected by those interested and political active citizen who have a need or request for a change.

        As much as I know, the federal budget is not involved at all, despite the time it takes to work on a valid referendum, yet this is what politicians are payed for anyway, to deal in and with the interest of their people.

        As higher the official hurdles for a referendum are in so called 'modern democracies', as less democratic they actually turn out to be, as 'bureaucratic chicanes' are neither an excuse nor even a positive feature, if real democracy is at stake. And whatever hurdles you may find, they are all there for certain and non-democratic reasons. And those reasons are definitely not budged related.

        And even if they were, since democratic governments spent billions of tax money of their people to bail out private 'to big to fail' corporations, there is no excuse to save some bucks on a referendum, as those are top priority - or should be - in any democratic society.

        Political apathy is nothing else but the manifestation of the paralysis of political disabled citizen. Its that simple - and - its that dangerous!
        • thumb
          Nov 20 2013: Yes...referendums. I've forgotten about it. But kleptocracies will probably
          work under the table to prevent or kill it too.

          Those apathetic people who don't care about being puppets will suddenly
          wake up when it's too late -- when the chains they allowed to tighten will
          be unbreakable.
  • Nov 20 2013: Nope. Only education, only education. Technology might be a means towards education, but education should be the emphasis.
    • thumb
      Nov 20 2013: Do you think education without political experience can beat politics?
      • Nov 20 2013: Do you think that political experience is not educational?
        • thumb
          Nov 20 2013: Education is not the same as political experience.
          Any experience does not come from books.
      • Nov 22 2013: Who said that education has to come in books? Haven't you heard of learning by doing? It's big time in graduate programs in the UK.
      • thumb
        Nov 22 2013: Poch,
        What do you mean when you say..."beat politics"? What do you envision as the end result?
        • thumb
          Nov 22 2013: Thanks for joining here Colleen.
          When I say 'beat politics', it simply means fighting corrupt politics.
          If we ever win doing that, I would like to see the suppression of beneficial
          technology -- cure for cancer, natural sources instead of toxic chemicals,
          water for fuel instead of oil, etc... -- stopped. Imagine all the health and
          wealth we will enjoy if we ever stop corrupt economy from corrupt pols.
      • thumb
        Nov 22 2013: My pleasure Poch,
        You want to see suppression of beneficial information stopped....yes? I agree that we may enjoy more benefits with the availability of more information. There seems to be quite a lot of information available now regarding health issues for example. Is that information being totally suppressed in your perception? I think it is sometimes available, and people simply are not paying attention....maybe they don't think it matters, or something like that.....sometimes the same as political apathy....some people think it doesn't make any difference to be involved or not.

        Consider obesity for example....there is all kinds of information out there with evidence that it adversely affects the systems of the body/mind. It appears that people are not paying attention. So, for something like that, more education would be beneficial, don't you think?
        • thumb
          Nov 22 2013: Education would always be beneficial ma'am. I know because
          I'm one of those eternal students; self-learners. But if people just
          ignore health warnings with evidence, how could you expect them
          to want more education which is more time consuming? As always,
          we have to learn the hard way via painful experience.

          Also, suppressing technology is far worse than withholding public info.
      • thumb
        Nov 22 2013: Me too Poch....a student of life:>)

        I don't agree that we HAVE to learn the hard way via painful experience. I believe that if we encourage curiosity in children, which they already have naturally, we can learn. That doesn't mean that we will not have challenges in the life adventure. I just don't think we have to experience pain to learn WHEN/IF we embrace a different paradigm. I don't think that education WITHOUT pain is any more time consuming than education WITH pain. In fact, learning might be faster if one is not in pain:>)

        I don't think that suppressing information is beneficial. I also do not like the idea of fighting, and prefer to offer something different and more beneficial, rather than spending time and energy fighting against something. What do you think?
        • thumb
          Nov 22 2013: You misunderstood me ma'am. When I said 'we have to learn the hard way via painful experience', I was referring to apathetic people, not the literal 'we'.

          Well, of course winning without fighting is better and preferable. But are you aware how
          evil our governments now are? Did you know there is massive evidence that it was the
          law enforcers that masterminded the 9/11 plane attacks and not radical Muslims?
      • thumb
        Nov 22 2013: Ok Poch...sorry I misunderstood....you are referring to just the apathetic people....not the literal "we"...

        I am aware of various theories regarding the 9/11 attacks. I have not seen any "massive evidence" indicating that law enforcers masterminded the attack.
        • Dec 2 2013: I think there is a substantial amount of evidence out there that the report of the 9/11 Commission explaining the attacks is very faulty and incorrect in many ways. It pains me that the general public is so quick to accept whatever they are told. Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (name may not be just exactly that) seem to say there's lots and lots to doubt about the government's version of "the truth". It must be the case that the majority of people do not want to hear what whistle-blowers have to say, preferring not to disrupt the status quo no matter how mediocre it may be. I must be an outlier, because all this stuff bothers me a lot. It seems that internet technology is making some inroads toward making other than the "official story" available to the public, but whether we can ever get enough voters to confront the corruption in government is still an open question. Again, I point to anticorruptionact dot org. Why doesn't everybody tell their friends and neighbors, hey, lets get the corruption out of our government so it can work for us for a change? Too many just don't believe it's possible, while many don't even want to see a problem there at all. I imagine a large number of my facebook "friends" have elected not to have my posts show on their page since I am like a broken record on these things.
  • Jane S

    • +1
    Dec 9 2013: Technology is a tool like movable type.
    The problem is that this tool seems to make it easier for people to simply confirm their preconceived biases rather than be exposed to alternatives or, and I know this is a stretch, seek to understand other bases for alternate points of view.
    • thumb
      Dec 9 2013: You have raised another major issue Jane: Does Tech make us lazy?
      It's sad but tech does that to the majority of netizens. And again,
      good and bad attitudes are involved.
      • Dec 16 2013: Plato would have responded that "tech" does make us lazy:

        "The story goes that Thamus said many things to Theuth in praise or blame of the various arts, which it would take too long to repeat; but when they came to the letters, “This invention, O king,” said Theuth, “will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memories; for it is an elixir of memory and wisdom that I have discovered.” But Thamus replied, “Most ingenious Theuth, one man has the ability to beget arts, but the ability to judge of their usefulness or harmfulness to their users belongs to another; and now you, who are the father of letters, have been led by your affection to ascribe to them a power the opposite of that which they really possess. For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise."
        • thumb
          Dec 16 2013: The best example or illustration so far Bryan!
          If the mere ordinary handwritten letter makes us lazy,
          how much more will tech!?
  • thumb
    Dec 8 2013: Technology has had a massive positive impact on the ability to campaign for change. Individuals and organisations are now able to mobilise global support through information on websites, social media, e-petitions, etc. Technology is essential in facilitating such large scale activism. Look at the way ideas and information is shared and exchanged on Twitter. These are such powerful tools fro facilitating positive (and admittedly negative) change and we're only at the very beginning of understanding how to make the most of this.

    I would suggest that political apathy arises from disillusionment with existing political systems. And no wonder, they're out of date. In terms of our formal political mechanisms we continue to operate at a country level (ie I only vote for what happens politically in the UK) even though globalisation has enmeshed society to the point that single issues are affecting the entire world. Look at the recent climate change summit. How many political representatives were acting in the best interests of the world, and how many acted for what was best (let's be honest predominantly economically) for their country? This isn't a technological issue, so why is there an assumption that there should be a technological solution?
    • thumb
      Dec 8 2013: 'This isn't a technological issue, so why is there
      an assumption that there should be a technological solution?'

      I didn't assume that 'there SHOULD BE a technological solution' Rebecca.
      I asked questions on the possibility of tech being helpful. But I'm grateful
      you pointed out that this isn't a technological issue. Maybe that will solicit
      more definitive answers.
      • Dec 16 2013: There is a frustrating habit on the part of dogmatics that asking whether or not something can be done is identical to saying "Something should be done, so here is my passive-aggressive way to say that without explicitly advocating it."
        • thumb
          Dec 16 2013: In short, the frustrating habit is called 'hedging',
          isn't it Bryan lol
  • Dec 7 2013: As much as I like technology for what it can do, I believe Bernard Baruch was right 50 years ago when he said, "In my 87 years I have seen many technical advances, but none have done away with the need for character in the individual or the ability to think." (my paraphrase)

    Technology can encourage transparency and reduce coverup. It can also be used to deceive and mislead quite effectively. Perhaps even more dangerous is the poor decision making in government and industry using data and modeling attractively packaged and persuasively described. Sometimes leaders pass laws or approve mergers that are described as being too complicated to be understood.
    • thumb
      Dec 7 2013: Predictive opinions that were published decades ago and
      are 'being declared' right today really makes tech repellent Courtenay.
      You have just increased the cons for tech and are on the
      winning side.
      • thumb
        Dec 7 2013: What do you mean by winning side?
        • thumb
          Dec 7 2013: I simply mean that those who don't believe that tech
          is stopping political apathy are more numerous than
          the other side.
      • thumb
        Dec 7 2013: There was a time when TEDsters had hope and faith in Technology. Do people even realize that they're on Technology Entertainment and Design.com?
        • thumb
          Dec 7 2013: LOL Sometimes the thought makes me guilty Jimmy lol
        • Dec 16 2013: Point being? I know that steel can be used for better buildings. That does not mean that I am so naive or stupid as to believe that the mere presence of steel will ensure good housing for everyone.
      • Dec 10 2013: I disagree that the quote made a repellent statement against technology but rather a supporting statement for core human values (or rather what should be core human values). Technology was never meant to replace that. Technology must be tempered with intelligence or else it is only convenient and not useful. It becomes a microwave instead of an oven. Also information must be tempered with the ability to receive and process it correctly (or maybe objectively might be a better word.)

        Political apathy can't be solved by technology because it stems from a lack of trust in politicians and the government which they represent. The lack of trust is a direct reaction to the disillusionment of the people who believed that politicians were better than the common man. As the kings and Queen's of old coerced the populace to believing that they were somehow ordained by god so to have our politicians had us believe that they are the embodiment of our own core values. The information brought to us by technology shows us that that is untrue, that those who we would call our heroes are merely men in nice suits.

        I for one think of that as a good thing.
        • thumb
          Dec 10 2013: Yes Caleb. What I should have said was:
          'Predictive opinions that were published decades ago and
          are 'being declared' right today really makes tech repellent
          Courtenay.'
  • Dec 6 2013: Politics requires people working together. Technology makes people less necessary. We can see where this leads.

    Allow me to elaborate:
    A few centuries ago, someone of my education and stature (college and managerial) would have more people in his life because he would have no choice. Technology has removed the necessity of personal interaction, even interaction between employer and household servant. Likewise, driving to work is solitary for me. Might as well be nobody else on the road. The same is true for many other transactions. I pay bills online, no need to go to a stationer to get envelopes and mail or pay them in person.

    In any case, people are less necessary for daily life. That means we are less experienced in the daily interaction with people that underlies politics. Being less experienced, we are less inclined, and we participate less. I can live for years in a house in the USA, within a city, and never even meet my next-door neighbor. Technology permitted this. Sit on the porch and talk to people? I have a TV.
    • thumb
      Dec 6 2013: 'Politics requires people working together. Technology
      makes people less necessary. We can see where this leads.'

      That was a very sharp observation and elaboration Bryan and
      it seems the strongest argument against tech yet. And have you
      realized you just pointed out how tech can give us peace by
      isolating us rather than 'connect' us and give us anxiety!?

      I'd like to use your illustration in one of my articles. Would you
      allow me? Thanks again for your intelligent views.
      • Dec 16 2013: It is not an argument against tech. What is wrong with the capacity for comfortable isolation? Perhaps there are some people who are extremely loud and talkative who have a pathological need for "connection". Since these mentally ill people are so loud and talkative, it sounds like they are "normal", when they are merely the loudest. If it truly were the case that "connection" is so vital for humanity, we would have used our technology to "connect" ourselves ever more tightly into more and more suffocatingly constrictive chains of interaction, and those who used it for isolation would have died off centuries or at least decades ago.

        We did not evolve in nations of millions or billions. We evolved in bands of dozens, and these bands divided when they became too many dozens. We are not neurologically equipped to deal with more than a few people as people. Everyone else fades into a background. If we use technology to look up appropriate facts or history and thus "shuffle" who is in or out of this small group (salesmen have done this masterfully for a long time, even when the technology was note cards), the fundamental core processing limit is biologically hard-wired.

        I make no argument at all "against" technology. I argue against naive silliness in thinking about technology. Look at what it has actually done. Technology has only allowed us to be more powerfully us. It has never introduced or created a fundamentally new aspect of human nature.

        You may use my ideas in your articles. My relatives in the Suaco family might get a kick out of that.
        • thumb
          Dec 16 2013: '...Technology has only allowed us to be more powerfully us.
          It has never introduced or created a fundamentally new
          aspect of human nature.'

          You reminded me of one of my convos Bryan but this one is
          already closed:

          Has Technology Changed Who We Are (Our Essence)? If so, how?

          If you replied to that, I'm sure the reply would've been excellent too.
  • Dec 4 2013: Technology can be evolved to do away with the present form of governance, Which requires some representatives to take decisions on behalf the people.
    Using technology the decisions can be taken realtime by citizens.The consensus could be reached quickly using technology. The consensual decision would be acted upon by government employed administrators.
    • thumb
      Dec 4 2013: Now we are talking about changing forms of government.
      Are you suggesting Socialism or any other? I might agree
      with that since we are only a 'democracy' by name and which
      is turning dictatorial.
      • Dec 6 2013: The suggestion is not of Socialism where state ownership is all pervading. 

        From history we find that the form of governance has changed over time.Far back it would be tribe head, then Kings, Emperors,dictactors, and then a group of people put there by democracy or as communist or as Socialists .

        These group of people are there as the entire country cannot sit in a hall to decide on governance issues.But with future technology we can have such big virtual halls. Where nearly all citizens can participate to decide on governance issues.

        Lot many issues come to mind about such a set up, but they all are within the horizon of known technology.

        Technology will evolve governance, increase transparence. Under so many watchfull eyes corruption will be significantly reduced.

        Citizens empowerment will increase with technology. 

        Then maybe we may have a healthy mix of democracy and socialism.
        • thumb
          Dec 6 2013: 'But with future technology we can have such big virtual halls.
          Where nearly all citizens can participate to decide on governance issues.'

          I think this is already possible via teleconferencing and
          megascreens technology. And all citizens participating
          reminds me of Plato's belief that "philosopher kings" should
          be in charge. If a philosopher king is reigning, then surely
          the king would want exchange of opinions which is the
          core of philosophy.

          I think you just made a prophecy AS.
        • Dec 6 2013: Hi AS,

          Your's is an interesting vision and I agree that technology can be used to empower citizens and give them a greater say (I discuss it below). But do you really think that we can eliminate the need for any government at all? My concern is that such a system can lead to popular opinion being the prevailing one, the media being given too much power, and ultimately the long-term consequences of our decisions being ignored.
        • Dec 6 2013: Hi A S

          I've posted this below, but just in case I'm re-posting because we have been working on exactly that same idea for the past year and a half!

          We are developing a software DemocracyOS (here it's live version in spanish www.democraciaenred.org) that allows citizens to get informed, debate and vote how they want their representatives to vote. Our system, Net Democracy has an offline component, a political party, The Net Party, is the vector through which this collective intelligence has direct impact on government (parliament). The Net Party run for elections in October with candidates who took a vow to vote 100% according to what citizens decided in DemocracyOS.

          You can see the code in english: github.com/democracyos.

          My Tedx on the subject http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOn2IIpj7iY (sorry, english subtitles coming really soon) and a presentation we did at The World Justice Forum (english) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lECAWGkvDlg

          http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/john-izzo/net-party-argentina_b_3786115.html
          http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/138655/networking-as-a-political-party

          Cheers.
    • Dec 6 2013: Oh, yeah, technologically-enabled mob rule!
      • Dec 7 2013: When, in past, the idea of replacing the Kings with elected persons was first tabled, the same Bryan's expression would have come forth "mob rule"

        Our forefathers made the idea possible, functional.
        Its time to move on. To empower citizens to be better abled to make changes in the governance
        • Dec 16 2013: Lynch mobs--the ultimate expression of public opinion. There is a reason why we have brakes on government. The larger the government, the more brakes it needs. Now, split all states up to tiny little polities of a few thousand people, with absolutely no jurisdiction over the other tiny little polities, and a direct system could work. Get larger than that, like a million or more, and it won't work.
  • thumb
    Dec 4 2013: Technocracy: The failed mind control

    Because of that article by Adil Elias, I began to think it was better if this was the original question:

    Is Technology stopping or abetting political apathy?

    'How did we get into this mess? The answer is simple. We forgot about what freedom is. For decades, we’ve taken it for granted. We’ve overlooked the study of freedom and its implications.'

    More of Elias' opinion here:
    http://www.activistpost.com/2013/12/technocracy-is-failed-mind-control.html
  • thumb
    Dec 3 2013: I feel that I talk a bit too much about this on TED lately but… YEAH!!!

    Peter Sundes party uses a form of internal democracy that is kind of liquid (there are numerous versions)…

    Liquid Democracy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fg0_Vhldz-8

    But yeah, with a liquid democracy we actually get a say in what happens, which we don't today. And that would most likley make people wanting to do and learn more.
    • thumb
      Dec 3 2013: Serendipitous. Joe Crandall has just introduced his site iNations.com
      and it's about internal democracy.
  • Dec 2 2013: Today politics has negative connotations: a field without accountability; privileged rules made by the its very members; untransparent processes; cash-laden considerations; a medley of people who have become a caste. Politics should rhyme with citizenry & citizenship instead. Anchoring the problem around "apathy" sounds as if it is people's fault that they are apathetic. I don't belmieve that this is the case. I think that the problem lies with the nature of the so-called "democratic" institutions which offer litlle to no openings for the right kind of engagement that makes a difference. Why should they? The status quo from their point of view is so much more comfortable. Such openings have to do with ceding power. And throughout human history, power has never been ceded just like that: because you or I asked for it. It requires that citizens demand, demand and demand. In this area technology remains but a tool which can be used masterfully to facilitate certain aspects of engagement. I don't think it can solve the problem-riddled demo/autocracies of today.
    • thumb
      Dec 2 2013: '...power has never been ceded just like that: because you or I asked for it.'
      Probably the root of the problem if not apathy. If you think tech will not solve
      the problem, do you think educating children about corrupt politics will?
      Thank you Vessela.
      • Dec 2 2013: I think that education should focus on the fundamentals of clean politics and cultivating in children critical that allows them to see through fake authorities and the establishment. There isn't one single thingle that can solve this problem that is incremental & now forms a hard crust on our political systems & societies. Education is one way that needs to be flanked with lots more.
        • thumb
          Dec 2 2013: flanked with lots more..and optimism.
        • thumb
          Dec 2 2013: I've thought about that before but it seems to me that
          adding tech to the education of children would only
          accelerate the learning pace and nothing much more.
          Maybe adding the third missing tool will finally make the
          tide turn.

          @evelyne
          Apathy itself is the block to optimism. When we've slayed
          apathy, optimism automatically comes.
  • Dec 2 2013: I think technology can be a great tool to reinvent what people know as "politics" and create a system whereby citizens, voters and everyday people can turn the current top-down system into bottom-up. Imagine an online system to help people manage their political life, chase money out of elections and create citizen empowered government. Someday, if I'm lucky, I hope to speak at TED! http://www.NewPoliticalSystem.org
    • thumb
      Dec 2 2013: 'New Political System is Google sized disruptive technology.'

      Great motto and your website is awesome too James. I'll wait
      for your talk at TED.
    • Dec 3 2013: The same was said about Television. It was also supposed to become a medium whereby nearly anyone would gain the equivalent to a university education. People had the option--they chose candy instead of veggies.
  • thumb
    Nov 30 2013: We can beat apathy with a sense of self-worth and the awareness of our importance in the maintenance of the individual and overall good fortune of our society and all things, animal, vegetable and mineral. Technology is an important tool for the betterment of our health and welfare, and for increasing our appreciation and awareness of each other.
    • thumb
      Nov 30 2013: You just made me realize that if we can beat apathy without the
      help of technology, how much more we can if we use the aid of
      technology too. I'm glad we agree Don.
  • Nov 29 2013: I believe that it can. I believe that the current prevalence of political apathy is caused by a widespread feeling of disempowerment, made even worse in tough economic times. This disempowerment is partly caused by a failure to combine democracy with technology.

    Under the current system of democracy, people can vote on which individuals/parties they want to make decisions on their behalf for a couple of years. Speaking from a British point of view, apart from the occasional referendum, that's where the people's say in the running of their country ends. But it doesn't have to be like that anymore. We can now use technology to gauge the public opinion in a matter of hours through, eg. online polls. So why do we completely hand over our 'collective sovereignty' to a group of politicians for periods of 2-4 years, giving them more or less exclusive powers to call the shots? Granted there will also be cases where government knows best, but there are many more times when the people's will should prevail.

    So I think we can beat political apathy with technology, by using it to give power to the people. The internet has opened up the possibilities of mass political participation. We just need to demand more of a voice.
    • thumb
      Nov 29 2013: 'This disempowerment is partly caused by a failure to combine democracy with technology.'
      That was also the complaint of many techies and the reason why they believe the US
      government is stupid and won't be able to do that ever lol.

      'We can now use technology to gauge the public opinion in a matter of hours through, eg. online polls.'
      What most activist groups do is gather enough signatures to coerce and convince their government.
      Is there more freedom of speech in Great Britain now? Is the soapbox still legal?

      I'm glad we agree with most others here Emmet. Thank you sir.
      • Nov 29 2013: Thanks for the reply Poch.

        'they believe the US government is stupid and won't be able to do that ever'
        I wouldn't say its a question of ability for these governments. It might be a case of them being stuck in traditional mindsets; many political systems aren't very innovation-friendly when it comes to system change. Also, though, such a tool as online polls may give the people a level of authority that governments aren't comfortable with - if a government-conducted online poll revealed a large majority of people wanted increased government spending on renewable energies and reduced oil subsidies, it would be very politically costly for a government to go against the wishes of the people, and the media would devour them over it.

        'What most activist groups do is gather enough signatures to coerce and convince their government.'
        This has been a great win for technology, but in the absence of government backing it can be a bit one-sided. For example, if I started an online petition asking Ireland to raise its corporation tax because it is currently a tax haven for big businesses, I could easily get thousands of signatures. But that wouldn't account for the claims of other citizens that this tax is crucial for luring companies and thus jobs to the country. Something like government online polling on sticky issues could ensure greater empowerment and greater democracy, I think.

        As for free speech, as far as I know the situation in GB is quite healthy, and I believe the soapbox is still legal!
        • thumb
          Nov 29 2013: 'But that wouldn't account for the claims of other citizens...'

          Sometimes, when certain signature campaigns reach a certain level,
          the US gov is forced to act on the said petition not considering the
          contra side. But it wouldn't be predictable how favorable the gov reaction
          would be.

          Well, I'm glad for the GB freedom news. More power to you.
  • thumb
    Nov 29 2013: If we are ready to change, we can change anything. But the proof of readiness to change is a honest heart and the strength to see change to the end.
    These are rare in our times, even with the illussion that there are lots of such people.
    • thumb
      Nov 29 2013: '...and the strength to see change to the end.'

      Right Feyisayo. But most are weak and shortsighted. Also, creating
      the illusion that there are many who want change at least works in
      favor of the activists -- a necessary 'trick' every group does.
  • thumb
    Nov 28 2013: I would think so.
    It's to the people to use technology in a positive way. Governments and coorporations are not going to do it for us, it seems to me they only use it to control us, monitor us and supress us.

    There are many ways where technology is used by the people to resist. Many of Gene Sharp's 198 methods of protest and persuasion can be applied with the use of technology.

    http://irevolution.net/2008/12/25/gene-sharp-civil-resistance-and-technology/

    In the bottom of this article he points out a list of examples where technology is used in 'non violent resistance'.
    • thumb
      Nov 28 2013: That was a great reference link Mike. Since it's a Wordpress link
      and my blog is too, I reblogged it so I could use it for future reference.
      Thank you.
  • Nov 24 2013: Yes, we can. Once people are educated as Colleen suggested, they can formulate political goals. Technology can be adapted to a tool that catalyzes change. In each case we need to go to the root of the problem, to the fulcrum point and design our tool to have leverage there. Then it is the cooperation of people. Apathy has settled in where hope has faded. Demonstrate that effort can payoff and the tide will shift as rapidly as a school of fish. Governments are made nervous by the internet and rightly so. They may try to control it and their people through it but I suspect they'll find it unwieldy, like picking up a jellyfish with a stick.
    • thumb
      Nov 24 2013: You are a great metaphorist Bradley and I'm glad we agree.
      Great analysis too.
    • Nov 25 2013: Ah, yes, and radio was supposed to do this, too--anyone else remember "University of the Air Waves"? No? Probably because it had very little effect. Television was supposed to to this, too. What did it get us, instead? Infotainment, a "HIstory Channel" that is about UFOs, picking through junk, and pawn shops.

      Technology never has been and never shall be a solution to any large-scale social problem entirely on its own. Its value depends entirely upon the choices made in its use. If there were a way to make sewer systems profitable and entertaining without having them handle sewage, then sewer systems would be primarily used that way instead of being used to handle sewage.
  • thumb
    Nov 22 2013: Your absolutely right about the apathy and distrust of our existing political structures, and especially with the so-called representative system that only representis political parties and the backroom dealmakers that lurk in the party shadows.

    However, bitcoins are most popular with criminals and those who want to hid their money from the tax man and have nothing to do with politics.

    But If your talking about people using technology to have more direct input into their political decision making with more referendums and online forums and balloting then absolutely yes.
    • thumb
      Nov 22 2013: Great of you to mention Bitcoin William. If the criminals find a way
      to launder bitcoin money more than the way they do with traditional
      banks, then bitcoin would not be a benevolent tech but an evil tech
      that must be stopped.
  • Nov 21 2013: No. New technology: More games to distract the people and facilitate even more political apathy.
    • thumb
      Nov 21 2013: Which reminds me that social media and networking could be worse.
      It's a double-edged sword that starts revolutions but also causes
      political apathy. Networkers enjoying idle and cheap chats and exchanging
      private photos.
    • thumb
      Nov 22 2013: there's nothing wrong with using social networks for personal connections and communications although i have seen enough instagrams of peoples' dinner for several lifetimes.

      i am seeing a growing number of responses to 'news' media on social networks and this is the real value of these forms of communication - alternative viewpoints and dialogue.

      it sure beats the one-way, slickly spun commercials masquerading as news or campaign propaganda we had to put up with in the days before the internet.
      • thumb
        Nov 22 2013: '...there's nothing wrong with using social networks for personal connections and communications...'

        I have nothing against that Scott. What I detest is using networking for idle cheap talks instead of spreading truth and useful info.
      • Nov 24 2013: Please quote where I specifically stated that there was something wrong with using computer network for personal fun. Note to the foolish: A "social network" DOES NOT NEED COMPUTERS AT ALL. Human have had social networks as long as humans have existed. That being said, technology will only help people more efficiently be what we already are: Distracted, momentary, pleasure-seeking. Apathy is the way of the majority for humanity. We are happy to let someone else make all our decisions, with only a few exceptions..
  • thumb
    Dec 16 2013: Technology can replace the political system with true democracy if we are brave enough.
    • thumb
      Dec 16 2013: Yes sir. I agree tech can do that if only many of us aren't apathetic.
  • Jane S

    • 0
    Dec 12 2013: Most attitudes are not inherently good or bad but just responses. The net makes expressing attitudes without any reflection or editing too easy and generally without any consequence.
    • thumb
      Dec 12 2013: 'Most attitudes are not inherently good or bad
      but just responses.'

      Maybe that applies to apathy Jane. Because of weakness
      of personality, most give up the fight thinking it's not worth
      continuing.

      'The net makes expressing attitudes without any reflection
      or editing too easy and generally without any consequence.'

      And that's just why it's easy to manipulate Internet content --
      the Net is just a robot (although threatening to have a mind
      of its own soon). The downside is political mafias are doing
      most of the manipulation.
  • thumb
    Dec 10 2013: I would like to ask this to the ones thinking hat we all need to be active on a political level: How are you active, I'd like to hear your story.
    • thumb
      Dec 10 2013: My dilemma is that I'm an activist but I hate politics so
      that I avoid it when I can. An activist could be passive or aggressive.
      Hating politics, being passive suits me. And my main passive activism is
      exposing every kind of shameless corruption.
  • thumb
    Dec 8 2013: Don't reply on replies that contain only links.
    Treat them as spam like I do.
  • Comment deleted

    • Comment deleted

      • Comment deleted