E-Democracy and the Future of Government
The Next Political Paradigm Shift
Every so often in human history, a civilization will transcend from one form of government to another. From despotism to representative democracy, humanity has made strides in maintaining a proper sense of ethics and realizing that the power of running a country should be given to the people and not a special group of people. With this in mind, there hasn’t been a proper paradigm shift in political systems since the Enlightenment Era, where John Locke and Thomas Hobbes provided the framework for modern representative democracy. Where we are now living in an age where technology is as important as government, it would make logical sense that the next shift in political systems will incorporate emerging technologies. For this day and age, using the Internet in a matter geared towards direct democracy would be the next step towards a new kind of government.
E-democracy, Government for the Information Age
The creation of the Internet allowed for people across the world to interact with one another and exchange ideas. As Hilary Clinton put it,
“The freedom to connect – the idea that governments should not prevent people from connecting to the internet, to websites, or to each other. The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly, only in cyberspace. It allows individuals to get online, come together, and hopefully cooperate. Once you’re on the internet, you don’t need to be a tycoon or a rock star to have a huge impact on society.”
This can be applied in creating a new form of political system, where representatives are no longer required and the maintenance that the country requires can be made by the citizens of the state via the Internet. Whether an approved social network or a congress is made on a web chatting service is implemented, anybody who is a citizen of the state can have their input heard by other citizens. In 2004, Ann Macintosh used the term “E-democracy” to express the idea of a technological adjunct to a republic. In her 2006 paper, she states that “E-democracy is concerned with the use of information and communication technologies to engage citizens, support the democratic decision- making processes and strengthen representative democracy.” Although, this can be taken to another level where representatives can be no longer necessary.
Other Possibilities and Candidates
One example that has been thrown around where emerging technologies are implemented in government affairs is the use of an AGI construct to guide a nation as a governing entity. Such an idea, if the construct is well designed, could make life easier for humans or even posthumans by having the construct deal with the major issues of maintaining a country. This could also eliminate corruption with the probability that the construct couldn’t take bribes and is resistant to lobbyists, provided that the lobbyist approaches the construct with propositions that would not be for the good of the general population.
As this may seem like a good idea but one possibility could lead to a scenario that was hinted at in I, Robot. In the movie, the main construct that maintained U.S. Robotics (unaffiliated with the actual company that bears the same name), V.I.K.I., realizes that in order to protect humans she must rule them. She does this by creating a form of police state within the city, enforced by anthropomorphic robots. Even though V.I.K.I. states that the Three Laws is all she has, she completely disregards ethics by creating a totalitarian system. This argument presents one major issue with using AGI to run a government; the construct could never be given complete control. That being said, the construct could be used as an advisory tool if various negative scenarios would take place.
The Future of Government and Its place in Transhumanism
As the Singularity is continuing to slowly creep into an actual event, it is time we begin reforming the outdated systems that provide the backbone for civilized society. As we begin working on reforming the infrastructure of society, we should weigh each possibility by their respective positives and negatives and then enacting on the decision. It would become a difficult task, due to much criticism and negative reactions, but nobody ever said this wouldn’t be a slow yet eventual process. This will probably take a few decades to enact but by the time the Singularity becomes an actuality, this will be viewed as a proper foundation to many other innovations and reformations to come. This major leap will lead to many milestones that will further lead to the biggest chance in human history since the development of the wheel and agriculture.
“From despotism to representative democracy, humanity has made strides in maintaining a proper sense of ethics and realizing that the power of running a country should be given to the people and not a special group of people”.
What “representative” democracy does is give the power of running a country to a special group of people. It is just that the group of people is chosen through an election. It does not mean that “the people” are running the country. Representative democracy does not change the basic fact that with the existence of the state that there are those who rule and those who are ruled.
At the end of the day there is no such thing as government of by and for the people. Democracy doesn’t change that and e-democracy won’t change that. There is no unanimity and where there is no unanimity then we face the myriad problems of collective choice. Then there is inevitably the submission of all to the choice of some and those some in our current system are backed by a monopolistic coercive agency (the state).
Where humanity has made strides since the enlightenment has been in the rise of liberalism (actual liberalism not American liberalism) and humanism, in the recognition that individuals have rights over and above interference by the state or the majority, an expansion of liberty, and rejection of collectivist norms that have followed the rise of liberalism and humanism. It is in the values of liberalism and humanism (and here I include transhumanism) where we ought to see humanity’s continued progress lying.
Listen to pioneering transhumanist FM-2030 speak about how he sees the Future of Democracy here: