• Oct. 4, 2019, 9:41 p.m.

    Okay so I've been told this could possibly be too political, so please advise and I will adjust accordingly.

    It's been said that technology can change humanity for the better, but it's also true that it makes certain lifestyles and organizations harder to maintain. For example, your sense of community used to be entirely defined by the area where you live. As we got into cities, people could go to certain clubs or societies to talk about their own interests. But can ideas like democracy, or even society itself survive the advances that we are going through and probably going to see in the future?

    Nowadays we can almost entirely burrow into our own rabbit role and still find others who agree with us. Eventually, I wonder if (I think this has been hinted at a bit), but maybe an episode on the fragmentation of society due to everyone finding their own #tribe, increasing labels, increasing ability to find exactly what you want to hear, the effect that can have on a democracy, if democracy can even survive it, how A.I. could mediate that somehow, or make it worse. And a single person can have many many non-overlapping circles and represent vastly different sets of values. Do you only get one vote despite being a different person in different realms of VR? The news you hear, the science you believe, the culture you are apart of is all determined by those things more and more as we become more and more digital natives. It could be a form of apocalypse happen at a very slow rate where we eventually are totally alone in our own post-scarcity-maintained virtual worlds, with no affiliation for or even ability to vote. Can democracy survive the digital transformation we're undergoing?

    It doesn't need to be political if no one is talking about specific parties or today's issues more than that they are trends or results of technologies. And there is much speculation that can be made about how future technologies (such as neuralink) could actually increase our unity as a society, since we could transfer feelings, dreams, and views to each other freely (aka tech ways of breaking echo chamber issues).

  • Oct. 12, 2019, 3:13 p.m.

    Democracy often gets treated as a luxury by science fiction and fantasy.

    Star Trek's 'Patterns of Force' asserted that when a planet was in chaos, the high efficiency of a Nazi-like regime pulled it together.
    Walking Dead promotes the idea that while nonviolent compromise is all well and good, you really need a strong man to survive when the going gets tough.

    I disagree with all of this. I don't think democracy is just nicer than autocracy, it's also stronger and more efficient.

    (Healthy) democracies tend to win at science, and in turn at all of the things science empowers: weaponry, food, economics, medicine, exploration.
    Autocracies prioritize the personal wealth of their leaders and tend to drive their economies into a ditch, lose at wars, and stifle useful ideas.

    I see dictatorship as a single-CPU machine. All major decisions are bottlenecked at the top and adaptation is slow.

    A healthy democracy on the other hand is more like a massively parallel system. Done right it engages the collective brain power of all its members in decision making and evolves more quickly.

    Most modern democracies are only babies in this evolution; we use our collective decision making powers sparingly, just during elections, to appoint temporary 'kings' retro-fitted onto a feudal hierarchy. The standard excuse for this is that taking a referendum on every decision would be slow.

    But technology may change things here. Imagine a world where brain-machine IO allows citizens to project raw images from their minds rather than words, increasing bandwidth of communication a thousand fold (if a picture is worth 1000 words. ;) ) Then imagine if millions of direct-from-mind decisions could be pooled planet-wide in enough detail to say, design a star ship, or refine a fusion battery, or decode a SETI signal. (The FUN Borg: angryflower.com/349.html)

    I would agree that the core danger to democracy today is the disintegration of communities of people.
    Once we are all isolated from each other by overwork and fear, our whole concept of the world comes only from electronic media, which are heavily gamed by centralized power and money. Voting is just the motor function of our body politic. Without verifiable sensory systems to relay what is really happening we will, as a civilization, walk blindly off a cliff.

    So I don't think democracy is obsolete any more than efficiency and survival itself are obsolete. Our fragmentation is not 'the new normal'; it is a step toward collapse.

  • Oct. 12, 2019, 11:11 p.m.

    The problem with Democracies is that they'll let anyone vote. I think passing a minimal knowledge test on an issue or an election should be required. But, good luck with that.

  • Oct. 13, 2019, 5:18 a.m.

    Anyone? No. There are many countries out there in the world that preclude individuals within their borders from voting based a variety of legal grounds. The very fact that you need to be a registered voter in addition to being a certain age already makes those systems selective democracies. This theme is further diluted when you consider delegative democratic systems, wherein an average citizen's vote is worth less than his elected representative. Yes, "anybody" who forfills the above criteria can vote, but that is the point of a democracy - to represent the citizenry of a particular group (in this case, adults) whose majority vote will elect either a leader or perhaps a law.

  • Oct. 13, 2019, 12:04 p.m.

    How about just requiring the candidates to pass a minimal knowledge test?

    "I want to be President of Freedonia!"

    "Great, first pass Presidenting 101 with a B+ or better, then you can hit the campaign trail."

  • Oct. 13, 2019, 2:46 p.m.

    Good point on on the limiting criteria already in place for most current democracies. But, again it would be beneficial to the process as a whole (moreso to the outcome of better decisions) to further require minimum knowledge of an issue to vote on it. Elected representatives should be the first required to do so.

  • Oct. 14, 2019, 6:46 a.m.

    Sad, but true XD.

    Yes, more knowledge of the system along with other prerequisites would certainly further the notion of responsible citizens voting in a system they believe in. Then again, applying more filters on the voting process could lead to self-serving legal bodies pushing for only a select group of individuals having the right to vote, thus defeating the point of a democracy. Not saying that will happen, of course, but it's a slippery slope. Still, there are many ways our democracies could be improved in a good way.

  • Oct. 22, 2019, 6:05 a.m.

    This book discusses what a future democracy could look like.


  • Nov. 23, 2019, 4:18 a.m.

    I expect heavy fragmentation;
    I find it hard to get along with my neighbors. If I could move to a new planet (orbital habitat, etc) I would do so provided that my old neighbors no longer have any say in how I live or what I do / don't do. (Ex: I won't cut my grass, or if I do, I will decide how high.)

    Thus, I expect every faction presently in existence (and numerous more not yet created/established) to each want to create their own Fully Independent Nation as soon as they could do so. (Independence generally requires Industrial, economic and cultural self-sufficiency. It likely also requires an expensive standing army and a willingness to use it. Thus it will take some time for each group to work out the details of greatest concern to them).

    I expect even heavier fragmentation over stellar distances;
    If it takes ~6 years for a message to and from Alpha Centauri, then they will never be able to participate in Earth politics (as citizens), even if they want to. The distance would overcome any "unity" that may be generated by (clever politicians, propaganda, etc.).
    Also, I expect that most of the people who jump into space colonization will do so for the express purpose of founding a new nation and declaring their political independence from Earth.

  • Nov. 23, 2019, 11:23 a.m.

    Here's my take:

    1. When people get together they need a system of government - it can't be completely anarchistic.
    2. Democracy for all it's failings is still the best and I cannot see it being surpassed in the future even with technology. In fact it would likely be enhanced by it, and even more desirable.
    3. The democracy must be based on principle. That means all inclusive, seen as a basic right, and must have genuine regard to people/humans.

    So in detail:

    1. I am a member of a series of organisations, both commercial and charitable, and have realised that in any situation where more than one person (ie. yourself) is required to do something, you need a system of government. Things get political because of the nature of command, labour, and not just because we are mammals.
    2. Even in small groups, say 2 people up to 5, a default 'subliminal' form of government happens. Either someone takes command, or there is a 'level chat' about what to do and mutual agreement. Ie. A democracy.
    3. This would be the same regardless of distance, or of task, or of type of communication. Online communities are the same - although most currently are simply 'autocratic', some do take efforts to be open and 'democratic'.
    4. So anarchy doesn't really exist. Either you are in a group with a strong leader, or a strong system of democratic principle, or simply not in a group and by yourself.
    5. Can a society exist without 'being in a group?' Only if there is no interaction whatsoever. Which is only possible if either there is no one else, or we cannot relate to one-another at all (either in person, online, physically or mentally).

    6. Because I live in Australia, a democratic nation, it was hard to conceive of how 'good I had it', until I started to do business overseas. In non-democratic countries you just don't know what you miss. The ability to have (even the slightest) say in who is in command is priceless. Without it, it is easy to imagine feeling disillusioned, inhibited, or disenchanted or simply repressed. So:

    7. For all it's problems, such as ineptitude, incompetence, slowness, bad-decision making, it is still the best option because all or any people in a group won't feel the above way. Otherwise you need to resort to violent means to keep everyone in line. Even a military run society, the threat of violence (or court martial) must be there to prevent mutiny of disgruntled subordinates. People will feel what they feel.
    8. Why should we take into account people's feelings? Because historically feelings matter - there would be a revolution if repression or inhibition are allowed to fester. And it's good for society: a less repressed nation tends to make better headway in terms of innovation, progress, communication, and have better economies.
    9. Yes people are impressionable, but that's ok. Sure someone who can 'sell' can be President or Prime Minister, but in the end at least people had a say, and later they have another say. Actually, even using the word 'they' in this context has special meaning: you cannot really use this in a communist, dictatorship or feudal type society as there really isn't a 'they' when it comes to talking about people - they are seen as subjects/automatons/labourers/means-to-an-end instead.
    10. So can you eliminate this feeling with technology? Yes you could brain-wash or mind-alter people, but is this really beneficial to the government? Might as well not have people then, might as well just be in command of machines, which are likely better at menial non-creative tasks anyway. Or in command of AI's, where you can mould them to your will.

    11. So what is it about democracy? Better than the system, or the particulars, of the word is the Principle. For it to be a 'democracy' it really must be completely democratic.

    12. So can we have a partial democracy? No. It really is 'all or nothing'. Communism is really a partial democracy - ie. the 4 billion or so people of China don't really matter, they are just effectively 'machines'. The democracy actually is in the Party Room of several hundred individuals, when they elect a chairman. And here, the Party Room is actually the country, and the chairman is the government, elected on a regular basis.
    13. The pertinent thing to consider here is: Individuals must be equal for a democracy to have any meaning. Excluding anyone simply excludes them from being considered as an individual - in any sense. They disappear and might as well be a machine.

    So what will happen to democracies in the future? Actually, they would get MORE important because they have to. Otherwise it's not a democracy, and would simply be a one-person society, with automatons. But what use essentially are mindless automatons? What is the point of people then? For any meaningful interaction between people they need to be seen 'evenly' or democratically. Otherwise yes - it would be better for a government to simply have machines as its people.

    And so even militaries are getting 'flatter'. Why bother with so many hierarchal layers of subordinates, when an individual could simply command a cloud of drones coordinated by an AI? A flight crew in old planes used to have half a dozen officers, but with the advent of better tech, computer systems and even interface, there is now only typically two. And that is so a Captain has a backup in case he makes a mistake or falls asleep, otherwise likely there would only be one person in command, and quite sufficiently. Apply this thinking to a whole population of people - and you realise societies CANNOT be more militaristic, they MUST be more democratic instead.

    And when everyone is 'feeling' equal? They become better, at thinking 'outside the box', stuff which AI might not be able to accomplish yet. That is the real worth of having people together, of having a society in the first place. Otherwise we are alone, with a field of mindless automatons doing our bidding below us, with no meaning to our lives.

  • Nov. 23, 2019, 3:04 p.m.

    You live in Australia? With a responsible and functional government? Lucky you. -> I live in America.

    I have experienced numerous moments where I wanted to do something which would only affect me (the neighbors might not even know that I did it, unless I told them) and the local government refused to authorize me. Why? What is the purpose of "Democracy" when you are oppressed at even the village level? (and this ignores the innumerable complaints I have for every other level of American government.)

    It is obvious to me that the Fragmentation will someday, inevitably, proceed to 1 person "nations" where each individual person has an army of robots, automatons and AI (of various types and abilities) to provide for that individual's needs & wants & military safety.

    Industrially: Mining robots, material processing robots, manufacturing robots, assembly robots. Automatically maintained and operated power stations.
    Foodwise: automated greenhouses, automated underground farms/ranches, automated butcher shops and other automated food processing/preparing systems.
    Maintenance: automated cleaning robots, automated maintenance robots.
    Safety: AI & Human (of whatever level was both trusted and needed) controlled weapons (missiles, lasers, railguns, tanks, etc.) to keep intruders and trespassers at bay.
    Control: Human then AI (of whatever level was both trusted and needed) to manage a "blueprint" and "instructions" repository, which then sends relevant data to each robot/automaton as needed (or as the person instructs).
    Reproduction: Genetic Engineering and a Machine "Uterus" with an AI-operated robotic nanny. (Single parenting is already popular, it would be similar here too. The parent would likely give their child(ren) a full copy of their setup, so long as Land was available, somewhere.).
    Other: robots, automatons and AI to provide for any other "mundane" or "repeatable via instruction set" tasks not yet covered or identified.
    Thinking & Designing: the (human) who owns and controls the operation, who may have "radio friends" with which to trade information and occasionally meet up with for parties (or other socializing).

    It may be impossible to separate (Humans) from "Culture" and "Social Interactions" however, there is no reason why "governments" should persist in a post-scarcity civilization. (and remember, a civilization is usually, if not always, a collection of separate nations. A civilization of a Trillion Trillion 1-man republics is still a Civilization and most of the individuals would cooperate with fellow's of similar mindset.)

  • Nov. 23, 2019, 5:38 p.m.

    And that's the crux of it isn't it? Excluding someone from voting is effectively ruling them out of society. It's a form of excommunication.

    Young people are excluded historically as they are seen as incapable of making a decision themselves - it's a fine line though to demand this for others due to their circumstances, education or even attitude. Exclusion from voting due to a perception or lack of 'smartness' means they are not allowed to have a say in who rules them. If that is the case, they may as well not exist.

    Keep in mind 'society' is the term here. We are social creatures, we need each other (as equals), even the 'bums'. Excluding them is to exclude a part of ourselves.

    Personally I also think the voting age should decrease, and should start right from when a person can put pen to paper, ie. around about 4 years old. Antiquated notions of 'maturity' only occurring at 18 years of age are relics of old traditions, we start making decisions that affect our lives (and have people who make decisions for us that affect it equally as much) right from year 0. And we need to include prisoners, cleaners, uneducated, mentally ill, we need to include all of these people in voting too. To remove the right to vote is to remove their right of existence, the right to influence their rulers, the right to even be considered in any discussion by a government with any sense of consequence.

  • Nov. 25, 2019, 7:17 p.m.

    There is a common misunderstanding as to what allowed Western Europe to accelerate past the rest of the world in technology, specifically that democracy gave people the freedom to "experiment". The US was intentionally NOT set up as a democracy, nor can you claim any nation which has a supreme court that is able to overturn ANY decision made by the majority as a democracy. Western civilization obtained technological and economic dominance due to the ability of individual to ignore the precepts of the majority. Freedom, specifically of movement and ideas, is what allows advancement, and democracies are horrible at maintaining freedom, since deviancy from the norm tends to upend the majorities comfort. Keep in mind that Democratic Athens put Socrates on trial, and then sentenced him to death.
    To Hub
    "Excluding someone from voting is effectively ruling them out of society. It's a form of excommunication." Not really - Any time a person's Point of View is voted down by the majority, the majority is effectively ruling the minority out of society, even if only partially. Voting is immaterial to the excommunication. Nor is voting on a subject always the best way of deciding something. Every advanced society has an excessive number of decisions to make every day, and most are made without considering the longer term consequences. having people vote on a subject without understanding it or it's longer term consequences is a way to almost guarantee the most pain for the most people. Which is why actual democracies have never lasted longer than a few generations.

  • Nov. 25, 2019, 8:29 p.m.

    Australia is not a "Democracy", even though it is a democratic nation. It is a republic (with a tiny bit of feudal baggage), which is where a select group of residents ("adult citizens") get to choose the autocrats who will be in charge for the next period of time. A "democracy" is a group of people who vote on every single issue that may affect the group (and yes, whether you choose to cut the grass every week or just once a month can be seen to affect the entire group), with no intervening autocrats. Democracies can, but don't always, work in very small groups where everyone actually knows each other, but always break down in larger groups.

    In larger groups Democracies fall in to anarchy as minority groups refuse to accept the majority rule, which then turn to dictatorships, which (unless outside forces interfere) turn into monarchies, which turn into oligarchies as other powerful people demand a say in the government, which then result in revolution and a return to democracy to start the circle over. Unless you can eliminate all competitiveness in the human psyche, this is the pattern that happens.

    Republics are as autocratic as any feudal system, but force the autocrats to care what enough citizens think about them in order to stay in power. Since those running for office are volunteers, this creates a self selection mechanism which puts the most autocratic people available in those positions. There are two separate mechanisms which prevent this from defaulting into a fully feudal systems. One is the egos of the autocrats themselves. Few of them are willing to limit their own potential power just to guarantee that they stay in power. The second is the physical, violent, power of the electorate. If the autocrats violate too many of the rights and privileges of too many of the citizens, those citizens may rise up and kill them. Note that this is unlikely to occur in any political system as long as the rights of the citizens are not violated too badly - see England pre-1776 and China for millennia.

    Can Democracy actually work in the future? Possibly, as long as every selection on the ballot is preceded by a test of understanding of the consequences of each selection, which is, of course, dependent on the quality of the tester. Dictatorships can work for short periods of time. Republics are better than both of these, because they incorporate the useful parts of both. But are republics better than constitutional (to let the citizenry have a guideline to know when to rise up) monarchies? History hasn't shown that to be the case. Both of the above feudal systems lasted a lot longer than any republic, and both had periods of exceptional technological progress, even if uneven levels of freedom.

    Government is indeed necessary for any group larger than a small family. However, since all governments must enforce (requiring the use of force) its decisions, they are all, in my opinion, evil, and should be minimized to the extent possible, and, as long as that is done, any type of government (including absolute dictatorship) is acceptable.

  • Dec. 1, 2019, 3:31 p.m.

    I feel the exact opposite, that the only problem with democracy is that there isn't enough of it.

    Democracy is the free market of political ideas.

    More democracy is less government, because that which government does, which is decision-making, is now decentralized to the population as a whole. Abdicate from democracy, and government increases in size and overreach.

    As for the tyranny of the majority, it only looks bad until you've lived in a tyranny of the minority.


    I will say, as a futurist, I don't think democracy has finished evolving by a long shot. It is a technology, it involves math, and there are a lot of different ways to do it.

  • Dec. 17, 2019, 6:57 p.m.

    Tests are a bad idea, because whoever makes the tests basically gets to decide who can vote. This is something which is easily manipulated.

    A better solution is to make it meritocratic based on some easily measured objective property, like how much the person paid in taxes. Actually that's pretty much the only feasible measure. Rather than votes being a pass/fail kind of deal though, voting power would just scale fluidly. That's not to say that the scale should be linear though, unless you really like living in a plutocratic dystopia.

  • Dec. 23, 2019, 3:29 p.m.

    If you make a technocracy, then those who like being stupid will revolt at some point. Whether they limit themselves to riots, or whether they get genocidal, you will still have trouble.

    If you make it a meritocracy, then those who lack merits will rebel at some point. Whether they limit themselves to riots, or whether they get genocidal, you will still have trouble.

    If you make it a X-ocracy, then those who feel like it's not for them will complain (or rebel) at some point. Whether they limit themselves to riots, or whether they get genocidal, you will still have trouble.

    The only way to make a "Democracy" work, is if it is very very small & easy for dissenters to leave for a place more favorable for them.
    Of course, if the dissenters always pack up and leave, how much "Democracy" do you really have? Isn't it just a small social club at this point? (a few thousand or so?)

    I still say that the future is "1 man republics" maybe with a few "social clubs" every so often.

  • Oct. 11, 2021, 1:57 p.m.

    This article almost seems written for this thread.

    Designing democracy on Mars can improve how it works on Earth


    (Highlights my own.)
    "But its most distinctive feature was that it implicitly rejected the electoral model of democratic politics, establishing six standing “mini-publics” of 250 randomly selected Martian citizens to legislate in areas of economic, social and environmental policy, civil rights, government oversight and interstellar relations. Fifty representatives from each of these mini-publics would then sit in the overarching central chamber, which would approve the government’s budget and have veto powers over legislation.

    The students have clearly been staying awake in class because Landemore is one of the most compelling advocates for this kind of “open democracy”. Her argument is that traditional electoral politics has all too often been captured by the rich and networked and dominated by narrow elites who fail to deliver. “At some point you have to be honest and say there is not much that can be salvaged from this electoral model,” she says. "

    So it is a statistical democracy where the lawmakers are the same demographic(s) as the rest of the country, but no one can buy or con their way in to power, because it is a lottery.

  • Nov. 2, 2021, 5:05 a.m.

    The issue with that is someone would have to dictate what information constitutes a minimum set of knowledge large enough to be eligible to vote. How would this be decided? I guarantee that any test designed would be flawed as it would make people ineligible that are more than capable of being an effective voter but are simply "not intelligent" by the test's metrics. Intelligence comes in many forms, so trying to gauge such a complex thing for something so important is next to impossible.

  • Nov. 2, 2021, 11:13 p.m.

    I don't think you have to worry about morons voting because there are so many of them with such a wide spectrum of beliefs that what ever errors they make will tend to cancel each other out. Dwelling on Idiots being allowed to vote is waste of time because what ever problem it might cause will just self corrected in the long run. Making sure elections are free and fair is a much a better use of ones time and efforts.