Governance sinkholes

Blog post by Geoff Mulgan: “Governance sinkholes appear when shifts in technology, society and the economy throw up the need for new arrangements. Each industrial revolution has created many governance sinkholes – and prompted furious innovation to fill them. The fourth industrial revolution will be no different. But most governments are too distracted to think about what to do to fill these holes, let alone to act. This blog sets out my diagnosis – and where I think the most work is needed to design new institutions….

It’s not too hard to get a map of the fissures and gaps – and to see where governance is needed but is missing. There are all too many of these now.

Here are a few examples. One is long-term care, currently missing adequate financing, regulation, information and navigation tools, despite its huge and growing significance. The obvious contrast is with acute healthcare, which, for all its problems, is rich in institutions and governance.

A second example is lifelong learning and training. Again, there is a striking absence of effective institutions to provide funding, navigation, policy and problem solving, and again, the contrast with the institution-rich fields of primary, secondary and tertiary education is striking. The position on welfare is not so different, as is the absence of institutions fit for purpose in supporting people in precarious work.

I’m particularly interested in another kind of sinkhole: the absence of the right institutions to handle data and knowledge – at global, national and local levels – now that these dominate the economy, and much of daily life. In field after field, there are huge potential benefits to linking data sets and connecting artificial and human intelligence to spot patterns or prevent problems. But we lack any institutions with either the skills or the authority to do this well, and in particular to think through the trade-offs between the potential benefits and the potential risks….(More)”.