14. Politicians and trust

This page contains the opening portion of Chapter 14 of RAFT 2035.

Copyright © 2020 David W. Wood. All rights reserved.

14. Politicians and trust

Goal 14 of RAFT 2035 is that politicians will no longer act in ways that are self-serving, untrustworthy, or incompetent.


As a result of progress towards this goal, members of the general public will hold politicians in much higher regard and respect.

This is the first in a group of two goals in the sphere of significantly improved political flourishing. With progress towards both of these goals, society will increasingly be guided by the best of human insight, in close, productive collaboration with the best of AI insight.

Politicians mistrusted and disliked

Given the key role of politics in progressing the other goals set out in this roadmap, it’s a major drawback that there is as much mistrust and dislike of politicians as is presently the case in the UK. Instead of encouraging and enabling collaboration between multiple different groups of talent and insight in the country, our politicians are creating more division and more hard-heartedness.

The 2019 Ipsos MORI “Veracity Index” poll measured the level of esteem attributed to a variety of professions by members of the British public. Respondents to the survey were asked if they generally trusted people from specified professions to tell the truth.

Politicians came at the very bottom of the list, with a positive rating of only 14%. This is worse than, for example, advertising executives (17%), journalists (26%), estate agents (30%), business leaders (35%), and bankers (43%). For comparison, the profession of nurses came out best, with a positive rating of 95%, followed by doctors on 93%, and teachers on 89%.

As a further indication of the dire state of the reputation of politicians in the UK, consider the Edelman “Trust Barometer” findings for 2019. This contains the following evaluations by members of the public of various traits of politicians in the UK:

  • “Honest with the public” – judged as a most important trait by 72% of respondents, but 58% said that “few/none of the UK’s political leaders show this trait”.
  • “A good communicator” – judged as a most important trait by 64% of respondents, but 38% said that “few/none of the UK’s political leaders show this trait”.

Positive roles for politicians

However, there’s nothing inevitable about politicians being held in such poor regard. The European Social Survey regularly evaluates the level of trust in politicians in 32 countries in and around Europe. The UK generally ranks about 12th best in this survey – well ahead of countries such as Poland, Portugal, Ukraine, Croatia, and Bulgaria, but significantly behind Denmark (the top of the list), Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland.

Let’s remember the vital role that politicians can play in society: to deliberate, speak, and act on behalf of all citizens, protecting the community from exploitation by members of powerful subgroups. Politicians establish and then regularly review the operation of laws – laws whereby members of society collectively agree to give up various potential freedoms, and to accept specific responsibilities, in order that society gains overall with greater individual flourishing too. In this vision, to be a politician is to be a servant of the community.

In times of faster change in technology and social structures, wise political action becomes even more important. This will require politicians who can absorb new information, incorporate the latest insights from multiple fields of knowledge, update their worldviews, and revise legal and political systems speedily and precisely. In short, it will require a new calibre of politician, able to take advantage of the best understanding that becomes available, rather than sticking to the slogans that have gained them some personal popularity in the past.


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RAFT 2035 – a new initiative for a new decade

The need for a better politics is more pressing than ever.

Since its formation, Transpolitica has run a number of different projects aimed at building momentum behind a technoprogressive vision for a better politics. For a new decade, it’s time to take a different approach, to build on previous initiatives.

The planned new vehicle has the name “RAFT 2035”.

RAFT is an acronym:

  • Roadmap (‘R’) – not just a lofty aspiration, but specific steps and interim targets
  • towards Abundance (‘A’) for all – beyond a world of scarcity and conflict
  • enabling Flourishing (‘F’) as never before – with life containing not just possessions, but enriched experiences, creativity, and meaning
  • via Transcendence (‘T’) – since we won’t be able to make progress by staying as we are.

RAFT is also a metaphor. Here’s a copy of the explanation:

When turbulent waters are bearing down fast, it’s very helpful to have a sturdy raft at hand.

The fifteen years from 2020 to 2035 could be the most turbulent of human history. Revolutions are gathering pace in four overlapping fields of technology: nanotech, biotech, infotech, and cognotech, or NBIC for short. In combination, these NBIC revolutions offer enormous new possibilities – enormous opportunities and enormous risks:…

Rapid technological change tends to provoke a turbulent social reaction. Old certainties fade. New winners arrive on the scene, flaunting their power, and upturning previous networks of relationships. Within the general public, a sense of alienation and disruption mingles with a sense of profound possibility. Fear and hope jostle each other. Whilst some social metrics indicate major progress, others indicate major setbacks. The claim “You’ve never had it so good” coexists with the counterclaim “It’s going to be worse than ever”. To add to the bewilderment, there seems to be lots of evidence confirming both views.

The greater the pace of change, the more intense the dislocation. Due to the increased scale, speed, and global nature of the ongoing NBIC revolutions, the disruptions that followed in the wake of previous industrial revolutions – seismic though they were – are likely to be dwarfed in comparison to what lies ahead.

Turbulent times require a space for shelter and reflection, clear navigational vision despite the mists of uncertainty, and a powerful engine for us to pursue our own direction, rather than just being carried along by forces outside our control. In short, turbulent times require a powerful “raft” – a roadmap to a future in which the extraordinary powers latent in NBIC technologies are used to raise humanity to new levels of flourishing, rather than driving us over some dreadful precipice.

The words just quoted come from the opening page of a short book that is envisioned to be published in January 2020. The chapters of this book are reworked versions of the scripts used in the recent “Technoprogressive roadmap” series of videos.

Over the next couple of weeks, all the chapters of this proposed book will be made available for review and comment:

  • As pages on the Transpolitica website, starting here
  • As shared Google documents, starting here, where comments and suggestions are welcome.

RAFT Cover 21

All being well, RAFT 2035 will also become a conference, held sometime around the middle of 2020.

You may note that, in that way that RAFT 2035 is presented to the world,

  • The word “transhumanist” has moved into the background – since that word tends to provoke many hostile reactions
  • The word “technoprogressive” also takes a backseat – since, again, that word has negative connotations in at least some circles.

If you like the basic idea of what’s being proposed, here’s how you can help:

  • Read some of the content that is already available, and provide comments
    • If you notice something that seems mistaken, or difficult to understand
    • If you think there is a gap that should be addressed
    • If you think there’s a better way to express something.

Thanks in anticipation!

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