Digital tools can be a useful bolster to democracy

Rana Foroohar at the Financial Times: “…A report by a Swedish research group called V-Dem found Taiwan was subject to more disinformation than nearly any other country, much of it coming from mainland China. Yet the popularity of pro-independence politicians is growing there, something Ms Tang views as a circular phenomenon.

When politicians enable more direct participation, the public begins to have more trust in government. Rather than social media creating “a false sense of us versus them,” she notes, decentralised technologies have “enabled a sense of shared reality” in Taiwan.

The same seems to be true in a number of other countries, including Israel, where Green party leader and former Occupy activist Stav Shaffir crowdsourced technology expertise to develop a bespoke data analysis app that allowed her to make previously opaque Treasury data transparent. She’s now heading an OECD transparency group to teach other politicians how to do the same. Part of the power of decentralised technologies is that they allow, at scale, the sort of public input on a wide range of complex issues that would have been impossible in the analogue era.

Consider “quadratic voting”, a concept that has been popularised by economist Glen Weyl, co-author of Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society. Mr Weyl is the founder of the RadicalxChange movement, which aimsto empower a more participatory democracy. Unlike a binary “yes” or “no” vote for or against one thing, quadratic voting allows a large group of people to use a digital platform to express the strength of their desire on a variety of issues.

For example, when he headed the appropriations committee in the Colorado House of Representatives, Chris Hansen used quadratic voting to help his party quickly sort through how much of their $40m budget should be allocated to more than 100 proposals….(More)”.