Vision and roadmap

An extract from Chapter 1 of the book Transcending Politics:

1. Vision and roadmap

There’s no escape: the journey to a healthier society inevitably involves politics.

That’s a message many technologists and entrepreneurs are unwilling to hear. They would prefer to ignore politics. They wish, instead, to keep their focus on creating remarkable new technology or on building vibrant new business. Politics is messy and ugly, they say. It’s raucous and uncouth. It’s unproductive. Some would even say that politics is unnecessary.

But putting our heads in the sand about politics is a gamble fraught with danger. Looking the other way won’t prevent our necks from being snapped when the axe falls. As eruptions from broken politics grow more intense, they will afflict everyone, everywhere.

On their present trajectory, technology and business are actually making politics worse, rather than better. Together, without intending it, they are fuelling increasing dysfunction within politics. In such a setting, technological innovations and aggressive business corporations might end up harming humanity much more than they help us.

You’ll find many examples in the pages ahead of how flawed politics leads to a string of bad outcomes. You’ll hear about perverse economic incentives, regulatory institutions that are caught in lethargy and inertia, vested interests that hold disproportionate power, self-perpetuating industrial complexes, spiralling arms races, and much more. These outcomes, exacerbated by almighty technology put to sinister use, are likely to lead in turn to a hurricane of adverse consequences – to an epic disaster of social disintegration and humanitarian tragedy.

Indeed, fixing politics is the central challenge of our time – and hence the central theme of this book. If we can fix politics – if we can transcend its messiness and ugliness to enable its true purpose – we can facilitate profound positive progress in many other areas of life. But if politics remains broken, it could lead us to collective ruin.

The necessity of politics

There’s no intrinsic reason for politics to be messy or ugly, raucous or uncouth. Nor should it be seen as some kind of unnecessary activity.

Politics arises wherever people gather together. Whenever we collectively decide the constraints we put on each other’s freedom, we’re taking part in politics.

Consider some examples where constraints on freedom are needed…

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Tools for better politics?

Which solutions most deserve mention, in a list of “tools for better politics”?

Tools for better politics

As I’m reflecting on comments from reviewers of the draft chapters of the forthcoming book Transcending Politics, I’ve reached the view that I should add a new section, towards the end of the book, entitled “Tools well worth watching”.

This will fit well into Chapter 14, “Afterword”, which already contains a similarly-themed section “Communities well worth joining”.

If you have any suggestions or comments, either leave them in the Google Doc for Chapter 14, or as replies to this blogpost.

Ideally the list will include tools applicable to one or more of the systems described below (this is an extract from Chapter 1).

  • Transparency systems, so that the activity of public organisations and decisions are visible, and can be judged more easily and accurately
  • Fact-checking systems to determine more quickly and clearly, via an online lookup, if some information is misleading, deceptive, biased, or in any other way suspect or substandard
  • Thinking training systems to help everyone understand and routinely practice the skills of critical thinking, hypothesis formulation and testing, and independent evaluation of sources
  • Accountability systems to hold people and organisations to account whenever they pass on damaging misinformation – similar to how codes of conduct already operate in the fields of advertising and investment communications
  • Bridging systems to encourage people with strong disagreements to nevertheless explore and appreciate each other’s points of view, so that shared values can be identified and a constructive dialog established
  • Educational systems to keep politicians of all sorts informed, succinctly yet reliably, in timely fashion, about the trends that could require changes in regulations
  • Simulation systems to help politicians of all sorts creatively explore possible new policy frameworks – and to gain a better idea in advance of likely positive and negative consequence of these new ideas
  • Monitoring systems to report objectively on whether regulatory policies are having their desired effect
  • Concentration systems to boost the ability of individual politicians to concentrate on key decisions, and to reach decisions free from adverse tiredness, distraction, bias, or prejudice
  • Encouragement systems to encourage greater positive participation in the political and regulatory processes by people who have a lot to contribute, but who are currently feeling pressure to participate instead in different fields of activity.

One source of ideas, by the way, is the H+Pedia article on “Politics 2.0”.

 

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