Next-Generation Voting and E-Governance

Photo credit: Sami Anas

In the past year, and to varying degrees in years previous, the US and other countries around the world have encountered issues with updating their voting and e-governance processes. In some cases, they faced challenges with implementing new voting processes, while in others the legitimacy of the voting processes and election results were challenged. All points on the political map were harmed as a result, wasting millions of dollars and accruing a substantial psychological debt of distrust likely to cost billions more.

With the 4th of July, Independence Day in the US, mere hours away I’m reminded of how passionately many people seek after their freedom from oppression, having their votes count, and building that brighter future they can be proud for their children to inherit.

Much of the problem today is that they haven’t been given the tools necessary for these goals to be manifest, a bit like if Amazon or Paypal was trying to handle their accounting with a paper, pencil, and handheld calculator. With e-governance systems built on the principles of collective intelligence, these systems can modernize in a way that can be easily and rapidly tallied, audited, and integrated at scale.

Nations shouldn’t have to take days or weeks just to get a rough estimate, and further days and weeks to recount every vote by hand. These waste tremendous amounts of time and money for all parties that could be better invested in improving the lives of citizens, and as we’ve seen even such wasteful recount methods don’t avoid the debt of distrust.

In order to improve the intelligence with which governance operates we now require systems that can function at the local level, and all the way up to the national level. The population has to be engaged in the process and know that what they have to say can actually make a difference, even if their perspective isn’t popular in their region. Cooperation at each scale is essential to building any functional system of governance, and often solutions to problems come from unexpected places.

“Innovation Hubs” have become popular in recent years, and one consistent trend on those platforms has been that when experts in one field had a “Hard” problem to solve it was the experts in a completely different field who offered a working solution for it. Likewise, people in one political party can solve many problems themselves, but when they run into a problem they consider hard the solution to it may often prove easy from a different perspective. This demonstrates how diversity of perspective contributes to collective intelligence, and how every individual can contribute.

Fundamentally the e-governance process and voting don’t need to be more complicated for those using them than the systems people are already familiar with. People can have something like a news feed discussing anything that will be coming up for a vote, the contents of which may be challenged, verified, and have debiasing measures applied. People could add comments and suggestions when debating subjects to help refine the voting process, which could potentially be integrated into new versions of a proposal. The User Experience (UX) of these systems could be simple, intuitive, and familiar to the broadest possible audience.

By having these systems operate with graph databases and run on the COG Blockchain the authenticity of these systems could be robustly maintained, showing a readily verifiable history for quickly certifying any vote. The graph databases in particular also open up the possibility of systems in one locality learning from systems that faced a variety of similar situations elsewhere, helping each e-governance system to offer better options for voting over time.

Rather than each local government having to come up with their own ideas or try to repurpose others they’ve been exposed to they could be presented with a variety of options that worked well in other similar regions, benefiting the most people. This could not only substantially reduce the burden on local governments, but also greatly improve the results as they are able to draw on a much broader and deeper sum of knowledge which grows and improves constantly.

The debiasing process benefits substantially from this networking and scaling of e-governance systems as well. For example, if one system recognizes misinformation being spread or corruption taking place those events could be verified, and the verified results made available to all other systems in the blockchain to prevent any further harm. This ability to rapidly recognize and respond to serious problems impacting the governance process at scale can serve as a sort of digital immune system. Even rendering systems highly resistant to common fallacies could save communities from tremendous amounts of wasted time and energy.

Collective Intelligence Systems allow for a group of humans to achieve better results than any one human while reducing bias. When these systems are networked together they can create collectives of collectives, allowing every collective in the network to achieve better results than any one collective in isolation could. At each increasing level of complexity new levels of cooperation can take shape, and better solutions to problems may be realized more easily.

Nations need not wage endless and pointless wars within themselves, pitting one portion of their populations against the other. As with many other kinds of warfare, this is both very wasteful and unethical, but this status quo need not continue.

There is a better way, one where these wars may end, and freedom begins. May everyone have a happy and safe 4th of July.

 

 

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