( A Ten-minute read)
AI in the form of Algorithms is impacting not just the social and political realms of our lives it is affecting and eroding the foundations of democracy.
Given that digital data permeates so many aspects of our lives there is now an urgent need for public understanding of and engagement with AI. There is a great difference between the technology we need and that which exploits us.
The manipulation of data has recently been exposed and points to the need for regulation. Regulations not left to existing self-regulation but by establishing a completely New World International Body that is empowered on behalf of all of us to grant certifications of AI for the common good and benefits to humanity. It must establish a virtual strong room where all original software programs are held so there is a clear and traceable accountability related to AI.
It must ensure that all data is accessible to all.
We must insist by means of International agreement that we create a technological culture that is meaningful to all. The increasing consolation of power and influence by a select few must not be allowed to develop further.
What does this mean for democracy?
To answer, we must first look more closely at what the word actually means today.
It is probably one of the most complicated questions of our century.
“Democracy” was initially used in polite society as a term of approval by the masses oppressing their betters.
Democracy isn’t simply a matter of choice. It’s also a matter of power – and, at the moment, voters have very little of that as can be seen with the missile attack on Syria whether justifiable or not.
The problem is that voters have turned to social media in order to express their anger, unfortunately, social media lacks any form of collective opinion and therefore has little power to exert any meaningful political leverage.
It lacks the organizations through which such anger was traditionally expressed.
The notion of representative democracy, the idea that collective human action and decision-making could work for the common good is not only discredited, it is being recast by social media, a slippery slope to totalitarianism, the road to serfdom.
On the one hand, the primacy of the market in the economic and social developments falling under the rubric of the fourth industrial revolution necessarily predispose elites to what we might call a managerial version of representative democracy – a system in which politicians see their first and foremost responsibility as ensuring voters don’t interfere with “sound economic management”.
Indeed, the internet’s troll culture developed, at least in part, as a response to the inane “participation” offered by online marketers which urge us to participate in petitions, pools etc, are obviously merely for the most part publicity stunt, creating a generation of digital natives vote to christen a research vessel thus exerting – even if only momentarily – a power that they were never meant to possess.
Most of these internet sites are meaningless and are more likely, an attempt by the site owner to harvest personal data.
Not merely at an election one day in the year, but every day creating a new sense of stagnation catering to voters’ fears.
In fact, almost everywhere in 2016, polls registered an upsurge in nationalism, xenophobia, and overt racism, as well as a growing hostility to global institutions and supranational blocs such as the European Union.
The result is ITS LONGER POSSIBLE TO HAVE NATIONAL DIRECT DEMOCRACY.
In the coming century, stable, long-term employment with a single employer will no longer be the norm, and unemployment or underemployment will no longer be a rare or exceptional situation. Indeed the so-called fourth industrial revolution sees workplace insecurity as a fundamental part of the new economy.
We are witnessing a significant transfer of wealth and power to those at the top of technological society that is using automation to reduced job security to break or diminish union power and are part of the vicious cycle of the reduced power of working people to actively pursue their interests.
Everywhere, rather than involvement, we’re seeing a kind of sullen apathy.
The schism we see opening before us is not just about policies, but about reality.
Brexit and Trump’s election laid bare this political schism of our time.
Left and right disagree so deeply about how best to cushion the effects of globalization, and how to deal with the vast influx of refugees and migrants, that even the threat of extremism may not be enough to bring them to make common cause.
On top of all this, the legitimacy of the electorate is now questionable. Have they the competence necessary for sensible decision-making. A large percentage of people have no clue what’s going on at all.
The party of accepting reality must be prepared to take on the party of denying reality.
The idea that we could aspire to a social condition of our own making, outside of the allegedly miraculous organizing power of the market has become laughable.
Perhaps its time to introduce a system in which only the well-informed may vote.
Because the internet provides a technical solution to all the traditional difficulties of democracy, allowing ordinary people the means and information to express their preferences with an ease unimaginable to earlier generations without committing to organizations or political parties. A world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth … where anyone, anywhere, may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.
It offers a potential for direct democracy so profound that it may well transform not only our system of politics but also our very form of government.
Through its electronic linkages, voters will bind together with people from other lands to create a global political entity that has never existed before. Bypassing national representatives and speaking directly to one another, the people of the world will use the internet increasingly to form a political unit for the future.
As a result, the venting will take very different forms. Allow … intimacy and involvement in decision-making at even the most local levels and it will catalyze a vast new expansion of political participation.
Digital connectivity would help voters surmount national borders.
The internet could provide a central nervous system for the global body politic.
Online voting through the internet would make politicians pay close attention to the views of their constituents.
Of course, that’s not what happened.
The early years of the online revolution inspired considerable overt utopianism.
In reality, opinion surveys consistently show that voters feel their views go unrepresented. Older people whose familiar world is vanishing beneath a welter of foreign tongues and multicultural celebrations are waving their fists at cosmopolitan elites. Extremism has gone mainstream. the depth of the anger at global forces.
It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. Rather than embracing internet-augmented direct participation, the political class seems increasingly hostile to democracy altogether. They fabricate realities that ignorant people like to inhabit.
Technological Globalization means culture as well as economics, it’s not stimuli that is fed down our smartphones whether it be positive or negative, or advertising that is no longer advertising but behavior modification.
It’s time we started paying for searches on Google or Posts on Facebook which in time will remove false news, as when you pay for something it gets better.
These two world Monopolies are incapable of change, but they could adopt this policy that could go a long way to resolving other world problems, not just democracy. (See the previous post on a World Aid commission)
We cant turn back the clock but we must release ourselves from the cages we are now all carrying around if we are to avoid a tragic future.
As Jaron Lanier says recently which elegantly sums up this post.
” We cannot have a Society in which if two people wish to communicate, the only way that can happen is if it’s financed by a third person who wishes to manipulate them. ”
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks chucked in the bin.