GovAI Webinar: The Frontier of Democracy, Audrey Tang

GovAI Webinar: The Frontier of Democracy, Audrey Tang

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welcome i'm alan defoe the director of the center for the governance of ai which is organizing this talk series we are based at the future of humanity institute at the university of oxford we research the opportunities and challenges brought by advances in ai and related technologies so as to advise policy to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks from advanced ai governance this key term in our name refers both descriptively to the ways that the decisions are made about the development and deployment of
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ai but also the normative aspiration that those decisions emerge from institutions that are effective equitable and legitimate if you want to learn more about our work you can go to governance.ai i'm delighted today to introduce our conversation featuring audrey tang helen and ben garfinkel helen lanmar is my former colleague from yale university where she is an associate professor of political science she is halfway through a four volume
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examination of democracy in which she provides a justification for democracy clarifies its meaning and suggests ways to innovate on it helen has been thinking about the meaning of democracy for as long as i've known her and she is that especially valuable kind of political theorist who is trying to solve pressing real world problems and in so doing exposes her thinking to the mess of empirical reality ben garfinkel is a research fellow at the center for the governance of ai and a default student at oxford's department of politics and international relations
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ben's intellectual contributions span many topic areas including the implications for democracy of cryptography and of ai i'm always eager to read ben's analyses as he has a gift for distilling out the key issues from large messy topics audrey tang is taiwan's digital minister taiwan's youngest minister in the country's history and also the world's first openly transgender minister audrey's contributions are hard to summarize audrey at various points has been a startup entrepreneur open source
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software hacker political activist and poet audrey is one of those rare people who is innovating in governance in a major way in the real world at the cutting edge of contemporary culture and technology audrey is doing this through big reasons such as through collaborative civic technologies in taiwan combating disinformation campaigns and globally exemplary policies for addressing kovid but also through simple innovations such as being attentive to the virtues of sometimes removing features from apps and devices
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to better steer our use of them audrey reminds us that some of the greatest positive impacts from digital technologies come not from what they do but from what they enable us to do to quote in part from wired while the ward while the world is torn between twin dystopias of post-trust information chaos among some democracies and the other dystopia of authoritarian technologically mediated surveillance and censorship regime audrey is making and demonstrating the
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radical argument that digital tools can be used to build stronger more open more accountable democracies for those of us who believe that improved governance is as much about empirical learning as it is about theory real world policy experiments such as audrey's and those of the people of taiwan are the critical input to governance innovation today we will aim for a conversational format and part where helen and ben will offer comments and pose questions i also want to encourage all audience members to type your questions in the future below we can't promise
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that your questions will be answered but we will see them and try to integrate them into the conversation so with that audrey we look forward to learning from you the floor is ears good local time everyone really happy to be here and sharing what we have learned in the past few years in taiwan about digital democracy and i will begin with a quite short 15-20 minutes at most presentation that walks through first how we counter the pandemic with no lockdown and counter the info
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damage with no takedown and then all the while increasing uh the power of the social sector through what we call the people public private partnership but i will go through the material very quickly and only revisit it after our q a session as part of a conversational format as our moderator have just introduced so to me participatory democracy deliberative democracy they are great but there are too many syllables so uh as a poet i try to use monosyllabic
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introductions at the beginning so i usually just say uh it's democracy that's fast that's fair that's fun so fast fair fun are the three principles of conversation in a society that enable us to counter the covet for example last year for example we have a social sector run reddit equivalent that has no advertisers or shareholders it's called ptt uh it's an open source project co-governed by national tower university students and so on who triaged uh dr lee will announce
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whistleblowing uh in 2019 actually kobe 19. what does early ones message reached a lot of people in taiwan after being triaged and within 24 hours enable us to begin health inspections for all five passengers coming in from one because in time when we enjoy the according to civica's monitor only open fully open society in all of asia meaning that is freedom of speech of assembly and so on are total uh that a journalist would uh holds the
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same currency as administers were actually rather higher and because of that people were able to talk about stars openly and triage such emerging collective intelligence and we add to that a real-time response system the central epidemic command sensor so it's actually not a cutting-edge digital technology this is simple technology called call center so anyone uh throughout 2020 can pick up their phone and call 1922 and ask to their hearts content
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anything about the epidemic and they can also suggest um like concrete innovations uh for example last april there was a young boy who called saying i don't want to go to school because you're originally on mask all i get is these pink medical masks and i don't want to wear it to school if i'm a boy or the boys in my class have navy blue and things like that and because of that on the very next day the daily 2 pm press conference all the medical offices were pink uh regardless of their agenda and so the boy become the most hit boy
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in the class where only he has the color that the heroes wear and administration even said pink panther was the childhood idol uh so also hero's hero where and so through this two very simple things like daily press conference that goes livestream and a hotline that receives suggestions from each and everyone more than two million calls throughout 2020 we enable this very quick um response system that ensures the collective intelligence gets into the decision cycle and wrote out every thursday because we use the agile methodology to
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order like ppe distribution and vaccination um and quarantine policies and you name it so this is another example we have a civic technologist named from tainan who early february last year wrote this thing out without asking anyone's permission which is a crowdsource map that displays availability of medical marks in pharmacies and i look at this app and talk to the head of cabinet our premier saying we need to trust citizens with open data but this is not open data that's pre-approved by public servants
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this is real-time open data or open api that's published as soon as anyone uh swaps um the uh like the swipes the national health identity cards the ic cards in exchange for the medical grade mastering any pharmacies the real time count decreased by two at the time nowadays by 10 and everyone queuing in line can check for themselves that this system is performing as expected this also enabled evidence-based um interpolations like in our parliament
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by a uh previous vp of data analytics at foxconn and pikachu and she interpolated saying your rural and urban distribution looks fair on the map there's actually unfair if you take into the time opportunity cost and that prompted us to co-create the next distribution mechanism using pre-ordering convenience stores and so on within the next 24 hours so the idea is that it's everyone's business with everyone's help anyone who makes a evidence-based suggestion then the ministry will simply say okay legislator teach us and then we roll out
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the next thursday so again a very agile mindset that ensures fairness of all kinds that this is ahead of the cabinet our premier now of course during covets uh people are anxious there's a lot of conspiracy theories this information for example there was a popular rumor that said in a quote the state is confiscating all the tissue paper material to make medical grade masks unquote but we detect such disinformation within a couple hours and always within two hours we wrote out
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two different pictures uh each 200 characters or less that dispel these rumors uh by turning the outrage into humor this is called humor over rumor um so this communication style uh you see the backside of our premiere now and says in very large phones each of us only have one pair of bottoms because in mandarin bottoms twins sounds the same as stockpiling twin and so this is reminding us that of course first it doesn't make sense to stockpile and then uh the south american
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materials that makes the tissue papers are actually very different from the medical mask material which are domestic because it went absolutely viral people who see this and laugh about it um actually becomes immune from the disinformation so people get vaccinated against the virus of the mind and this is doubly useful if we have a cute dog that spoke stalker shiba inu talking about physical distancing when you're out there keep two sheba's away indoor three she passed away whereabouts to protect your own face against your own unwashed hand and so on again in a way
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that makes this means this idea was spreading spread and once people laughed about it they get into this co-creative mood and we've documented this part uh the taiwan model in taiwan can help that us which is also a clusters and crowdfunded website now let's dive in a little bit more how do we get the 60 minutes on average time timely response from each and every ministry and why would a cabinet uh premiere makes fun of his own head because there was a popular rumor that
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says perming your head multiple times a week will start to be subject to 1 million fight of course that's not true and he said i may be both now but i would not punish people with hair it's just a labeling requirement and the premiere as he looks now says if you pump your hair multiple times a week uh you will not um you know damage your bank account but you will damage your hair and just look at me for what will happen so what we actually do is it's like creating a vaccine we take this this information
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this popular rumor and then we bracket it in a notice in public notice way and make sure that there's a very funny mimetic payload and this is empowered by civic tech the same gov zero g 0 v community that supported the masquerading map in this case also supports the collaborative fact checking so that people in even end-to-end encrypted channels like whatsapp is called line here can long press a message and flag it as spot as potential disinformation and because at any given point there's maybe only total societal
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bandwidth for like three popular this information that has a r value of uh more than one that is to say going viral so we focus uh our energy the international fact-checking network's energy uh on these uh like trending rumors and then they fact-checked it this is an independent organization that also fact-checks the administration but upshot is that once they did their journalistic work now with the contribution from like young primary school or middle school people we just uh wrote this meme out so that people
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understand that hey this is um actually something that you can laugh at and then co-create but then the outrage is spent off and then people don't get this into this conspiracy theory field thinking anymore and this uh very strong social sector mandates also enabled us to negotiate with the more anti-social corner of social media namely facebook and many other platforms saying hey the social sector already pressured the public sector into disclosing for example the political
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expenditure and donations and so on and the political advertisement on facebook need to be treated the same publishing as open data banning foreign sponsored ones for the investigative journalists to do their work otherwise they may face social sanction and facebook relented in 2019 and for our presidential election we then have a market of ideas that's uh remarkably free from either for interference or um specialized advertisements and this is a really good example because hong kong situation uh was shaping up to be a deciding factor in
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our presidential election and this is a actual disinformation campaign that's being spread there and so the fact checkers uh uh unveiled uh that uh this alternate caption on the right is actually based on a real reuters photo but the ultimate caption is probably sponsored by the state organ the central political and law units of the beijing regime but we didn't take anything down we rather put a public notice so that people understand the framing anytime they share it and therefore develop
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things like the antibodies of the mind and the same applies to the like voting the voting is rigged uh rumors again we counter this by inviting youtubers to come to the accounting process and they have different apps in each different parties but it counts the paying process in real time so people choose to receive information from their affiliated party of course there's four major parties but all of them are working with the same uh crowdsource
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accountability mechanism that detects anything like invisible inc or whatever in real time so again the conspiracy theory have no room to grow their trolls also have no room to grow and this i already mentioned this this information about medical mosque um is countered very quickly by people going to the pharmacy and checking for themselves in more than 100 different tools based on the same open api so this part i would like to say that we treat the info damage as the epidemic making sure there's
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broadband as a human right the digital competence not just literacy media competence classes in middle school and primary school so they can uh check all the presidential candidates forums and debates and so on and then we innovate to flag the trending disinformation and also then like uh precision advertisement fields money field uh more anti-social corner of social platform conversations and all this is to create the necessary condition for um digital democracy um and as dr simon our president said in her
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inauguration speech 2016 she said uh before we think of democracy as a showdown between two opposing values but now democracy must become a conversation between many diverse values and to me uh this symbolizes this thinking that instead of letting 49 percent of people feeling they have lost every four years or two years depending uh by uploading three bits of information per voter per four years which is fairly bandwidth um we would indeed see democracy as a
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type of technology and increase the bandwidth of democracy so this is literally my office where i hold my wednesday office hours and it's in the middle of typing heart of type city called the social innovation lab and we invite all the social innovators to present their work like uh for self-driving vehicles even before we have lost for self-driving vehicles but there are tricycles uh they're open source open data from mit media lab so people modify it to fit the local community's needs
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thereby co-domesticating with ai so that people can see ai as assistive intelligence instead of authoritarian intelligence and therefore build effective partnerships so a lot of our work is to make sure there's an institutionalized way for such co-creation to happen outside of the election cycle for example every year we have the presidential hackathon where we invite people to innovate digitally like building assistive intelligence to save water because we are facing a water shortage this year we had no typhoon last year
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thanks to climate change and so they use ai system to detect water leaks very effectively and while they only have the budget to try it out with the social sector in the g-long region because they want the championship um we give out five of those awards uh in the presidential hackathon uh it's a trophy that's also a microprojector if you turn it on it projects dr tying when handing you the trophy saying that whatever you did on a local small scale in three months um the president promised that it's as good as an
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executive promise and will make it into national level policy with all the budget personnel and law required within the next 12 months but where is the democratic mandate well it turns out each of the five winning teams all need to go through incubation period where we make the social private and public sector partnered data collisions so we collaboratively make such um like air boxes this is a good example where people in primary school measure pm 2.5 air qualities write it into a distributed ledger and
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then uh show that uh people even as young as uh seven years old can be good data stewards and contribute to environmental sensing and because we um are a very open democracy we can't uh beat the environmental activists so we must join them so the government dedicated the resource to make such uh climate uh sensing community and networks a reality so it's almost all with collective intelligence or assistive intelligence and more often than not is assistive
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collective intelligence to solve one or more of the global goals using this co-creation so i mentioned to like choosing a small area to experiment but how do we discover people's needs well we go on social innovation tours using the video conferencing so that i'm the only facilitator that travels by the 12 ministries in the central government in the social innovation lab uh look at the rural places and where i facilitate the conversation so they respond to the uh people's needs in the here and now and make sure that the ministries do not
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copy each other but rather concrete with each other in the idea of sandbox where we try out such solutions for like six months three months and so on and see whether people likes it or not but how do we listen at scale and find out whether people like it or not or for substring vehicles and the 5g spectrum allocation for the local 5g sandboxes as well as this is the original one from 2015 about uberx some people call it gig economy some people call it sharing economy some people call it platform
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economy we don't dwell on this abstract conversations we ask what people feel about the fact that there's some unprofessionally licensed private vehicles speaking of strangers and charging them for it now of course there's no right or wrong about feelings you may feel happy they may feel upset it's all okay but with this pro-social digital public infrastructure which is called polis is open source uh we make sure that the ideas that reflects people's common feeling what we call rough consensus
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translate into the agenda of a face-to-face uh real-time deliberation is also live stream so the experience is like this um someone says i feel passenger liability insurance is very important you may agree or disagree if you agree you move toward me if you disagree you move farther away from me but there's no replacement so there's no way for true to grow and after three weeks of such conversation we always see that ideological or divisive statements are there but people don't spend calories on it and then the rough consensus as uh revealed by the police conversation
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these are the statements that then we hold ourselves accountable to deliberate with the stakeholders as the agenda that we understand that everybody can live with it right so this is the consensus statement that drives the multi-purpose taxi so uh the law is now that uber is a legal q taxi fleet but it also enables platform co-ops and line tax and many other taxi companies do not undercut existing meters but also work in a way that reflects new innovation like search pricing and so on so this is like kpi measurement programs
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but it's also crowd source this is crowdsourced agenda setting so the upshot is that with this way people discover there's far more in common when we look at things like a rough consensus than we originally imagined a more anti-social corner of social media so that we can find common values and deliver an innovation that fulfills those common values so that's my opening and i look forward to the discussion thank you so much audrey uh helen would you like to share your thoughts can you hear me yes okay
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so first i'd like to uh thank my former yale colleague ellen defoe for including me in this conversation and and for the kind introduction it's a great honor to um and an immense pleasure uh to be able to meet audrey tang whose work has been admiring for a long time from a distance for its incredibly technologically visionary aspects certainly but even more so for the philosophical principles of openness transparency fairness and fun behind it as she presented them which very much
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resonates with the the philosophy of politics i have tried to develop in my own work including in my recent book open democracy so i first heard of audrey when i was visiting stanford in 2012-13 i think the silicon valley was perhaps more um uh you know aware of what was going on in taiwan at the time though i can't exactly remember who first pointed out her work to me around that time i was discovering and exploring myself the merits of practices like crowdsourcing
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i was involved in the design and running an analysis of an experiment in finland um on a crowdsource law reform of off-road traffic regulation involving the regulation of snowmobile in northern finland and that really taught me something important about how radical principles like openness and transparency can generate a free flow of ideas collaboration and genuine creativity in a way that much more traditional top-down rational
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plan centralized methods actually can't fro so from my perspective there's a magic to these kinds of principles that it's actually hard to explain and understand unless you've you've seen them deployed and at work i think only then you can fully appreciate um that that it's uh it's something worth pursuing and i how how hard it is at least in my home uh in my in my own country of france uh and and i think in the us as well uh how hard it is to sell these principles and the technologies that try to to
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implement them to government representatives who only believe in familiar rational top-downs or peak structures where most of the control is in their hands most politicians it turns out are deathly afraid of losing control audrey sang from that point of view is a rare politician or politician as she probably uh is better labeled um whose ambition seems to want to give control away and empower other people again i think you cannot only fully understand the the radicalness and
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potential of that approach when when you see it um uh working firsthand on on uh in some of those experiments so for those of you who may not know uh fully who audrey is and despite the brilliant presentation she just gave i thought i would summarize briefly what i take our work to be about um because it's so wide-ranging that maybe the the the her presentation didn't quite um cover it all so i knew some of it uh myself but i discovered a lot more while preparing for this for this um encounter
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so the first aspect is definitely the technological aspect as digital minister of taiwan audrey is famous for using very innovative technological methods to bring legislative agenda questions from the periphery of power to the center and helping solve identified issues in consultative efficient fair and fun and legitimate ways many of you um have had probably already heard of v taiwan so v taiwan is this process that
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combines a website where anyone can register and and uh put forward an issue and try to gather votes to push it on on the deliberation plate of audrey on our team but it's also a series of meetings and hackathons for problem solving and it's also the taiwan um the use of an ai-powered system called police as she presented just before that allows them to identify the preferences judgments and in fact underlying evolving consensus among large groups of people and the goal is both to allow more
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access for ordinary citizens especially the youth into the process of shaping the legislative agenda and to tap the collective intelligence and creativity of the group to offer better solutions to collective problems she mentioned uh the pandemic obviously but um uh one of our big successes prior to that was the the management of uber and uh airbnb's arrival in uh in taiwan's economic ecology and i love the tagline of that of that of the v website it says where do we go as a society let's go and
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think together and to me that that's really the spirit of my own vision for open democracy which is well as a first take on on the problems that the world throw at us we have to ask ourselves collectively where do we go as a society and involve absolutely everyone in the conversation so beyond this technological aspect she's indeed pushing for new design principles which double as governance principles and that's what where i think that the radical potential is the most um uh visible so among those are radical
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transparency um what you could call anarchy or at least flat hierarchy pluralism decentralization and fun so in terms of transparency as a minister unlike most of her peers in advanced democracies she um she really makes a habit of posting all our talks online so there's no secret conversations that only some people are private to too anarchy or flat hierarchy um as far as you can tell from the pictures whole mystery in history is is not really um headed by her as much as
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inspired by her this reminds me a little bit of the the philosophy of the former leader of the pirate party in iceland berg italians who herself called herself a poetician uh meaning a a uh crossbreed of a poet and a politician and and refused to to be seen as the head or representative of the party um so it's it's really in in in these figures audrey or um or um vergita we see a different kind of leadership it's leadership by example
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leadership by kindness as to pluralism it's this idea that there should not be a monopoly of authority in any area of life that polyphony is essential in any decision process which doesn't mean conflict and even as we are sort of aiming for a consensus or a consensual solution we don't want to silence any voice so it's important for her to always include an alternative to the mainstream narrative or the main algorithm or the main source of authority and all of that seems to me it seems to translate in a further principle that of
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decentralization there's not one path to the center of power in fact there should be many paths and many centers that sort of uh self-manage and develop their own their own logics uh which feeds in in turn into the plur the pluralism and finally fun is a huge part of her design both for instrumental and intrinsic reasons she showed you cute dog pictures um she uses cute cat gifts because they make people happy but also because they can help make viral a government's tweet about say
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they need to wash your hands frequently or because fun is the best way to incentivize or rather spur creativity as well as fulfillment and the sense of community there's a third prong to address work which i think is also essential which is education in a world where we know that um online experiences are going to be more and more threatened by the presence of deep fakes technologies that create addictions and manipulate people's attention et cetera et cetera she aims to inca
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inculcate and cultivate digital competence as she calls it not literacy among children uh from kindergarten basically to equip them with the right cognitive capacities for the world they are going to live in so it's very much a revolutionary form of education that they've piloted in taiwan and they've tried different uh kinds of approaches uh many is basically um promoting autonomy and self-reliance and the pursuit of one's
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um personal projects from a very early age on so she talks also in other presentations of a pluralism of ai mentors if we're going to now live our lives with the help of a personalized ai mentors in the sense that we need to have uh a way to forge and refine the values that we want including by playing one set of advice against another a little bit like we can play one parent against another so i now turn
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to some questions i have for audrey there are some questions around design that uh you know uses dichotomies of deliberation versus aggregation random selection versus self-selection anonymity versus publicity i understand that that v taiwan and the other processes she uses um blend those things and and have different components at different stages but i have to say still for me as a deliberative democrat so someone who's committed to the view that um
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the quality of deliberation crucially matters to the legitimacy of laws and policies i i i have tended to prefer in my own conceptualization the central structure of a large randomly selected assembly of citizens such as for example the one that just concluded in france a body is called a citizens convention for climate which it was a body of 150 randomly selected citizens who spent around 12 months at this point carefully
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debating ways to curb french green gas emissions in a socially fair way with a long costly process can't say it was a sort of fast iteration 48 hours hackaton that audrey is familiar with much of it was face to face until basically the pandemic forced the group to move on zoom and overall it was quite low tech apart from indeed the use of zoom and and some a platform where they could exchange some some ideas
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and it also only involved the larger population in an indirect way in the v taiwan process for example by contrast audrey relies on the participation of a much larger but essentially self-selected group whose demographic representativeness is questionable additionally whatever deliberation happens is of a more decentralized anarchical and distributed nature taking place over several months between often anonymous participants who come and go on the platform so there's no guarantee that the
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viewpoints represented are those of the larger population i think she showed us a slide where i think the number of participants was something like 2 000 people so a far cry from the 27 million people in taiwan and yet i have to say this seems to work beautifully to generate consensus to um to work basically the same way that the the process that i observed in finland worked um even though it was also based on self-selection and sort of uh little bits of deliberation here and there but nothing like a centrally
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centralized movement of actual exchange of arguments so i have a question for audrey which is how do you account for that magic and what would you say are the benefits of your model compared to a more centralized citizens assembly model if you had used a citizens assembly model to deal with the uber case for example or the pandemic how do you think things would have turned out differently if at all and finally what's the value of anonymity of participants versus transparency about their identity
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in online platforms like v taiwan or or police especially regarding the resulting quality of their exchanges because in my experience on the on in the finish experiment uh we didn't have too many issues with um with a lack of civility because there was um facilitation but we know that anonymity can trigger behaviors that are largely reprehensible and detrimental to the quality of other people's engagement so how do you decide yourself whether to require anonymity or publicity on any given
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platform i've now another set of questions about accountability commands who citizens assemblies use is their assumed lack of accountability because members that are randomly selected are not uh under the threats or the sanction of elections so i suppose you must hear the same type of objections to v taiwan who are those people on the internet what gives them the right to influence policy making when we hardly know who they are they don't have a mandate they can be
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sanctioned and made accountable by the threat of elections who says who knows if they're not being captured by large corporations etc what do you say to people who have this doubts about the process on a related note one hour in a talk with a historian yuval aary which i just recently watched you mentioned the idea of a distributed accountability whereby every one of us is responsible for keeping track of uh masked stocks for example and all together our collective efforts
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end up tracking reality quite efficiently and i would like you to elaborate on this idea because it's very hard to um to sell to for example french officials who only trust in electoral accountability and very long chains of commands with a final arbiter at the top et cetera et cetera so how do we guarantee that individual citizens will do their job instead of free riding on the work or that of um of others sorry instead of free writing on the work of others is there something perhaps peculiar to
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taser in his culture that makes it so that people are responsible and invested and how do you jumpstart such a culture where it's lacking or assumed to be lacking as in france for example i have a question about plurality as well which is related to this question of accountability as a design principle in various talks you you mentioned the value of plurality as a design value to encode in institutions and algorithms and i would like just to hear more about concrete example of how that works in practice
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or even better of aha it sometimes doesn't work or when it creates new kinds of problems because i have a hard time imagining it doesn't sometimes um is it the way the way i i hear you describe it i think of plurality as something somewhat similar to the idea of separation of powers or the checks and balances in the american constitution the idea is that if we create multiple polls with equal power and we allow them to check each other we save ourselves from totalitarian risks or capture by one algorithm
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one algorithm or viewpoint but at the same time in the american context this pluralism or this uh divide-to-rule kind of of approach has also been a recipe for institutional paralysis and status quo bias so how does your design pluralism avoid such outcomes now i turn to a question about the relationship of many publics to maxi publics so you say in one of your talks and in the one you just gave that if there's a sufficient amount of cute cats and memes the ideas worth spreading will spread
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and i suppose that's been true in your experience and that's absolutely wonderful but again what accounts for this experience on um on a causal theoretical level what's the theory that explains that ideas worth spreading will actually spread when we know that bad ideas and wrong ideas and falsehoods and fake news also spread so there's an optimism running through your work which is very reminiscent of john starsmill's faith that the truth will eventually emerge from the free exchange of views um in a you know in a free market of
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ideas or or harbor mice ideal of deliberation in the wild being magically able to set the agenda for the deliberation of officials um in the central decision track of the public sphere or i should say my own optimism in habermas idea that um the forceless force of the better argument will triumph so obviously i buy this vision myself but i'd like to hear your explanation of of that magic and and how how we can convince people that this can be expected um so in other words in your experience
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what else what else explains the failure of good ideas to spread besides the absence of cute cats what's the key ingredient for this for this spreading of good ideas to work um i have another a couple of questions and then promise i'm done a question on the on the transition from here to there so how do we get from where we most of us are not taiwan obviously meaning stuck in dated representative governments that are quite closed in their operational principles
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to the there of open systems like taiwan's or open democracies as i like to call them you um once said that instead of fighting an old system you have to make a new system that will make the old system feel obsolete you don't have to convince everybody that the old system is obsolete it's enough that you convince just a few people i like that answer but at the same time if we look at the us these few people uh have so much power that and such a massive conflict of interest in promoting um
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a a reform of the status quo that this is not going to happen we are not going to convince um zuckerberg or the gop or or economic elites to relinquish power or at least share it um because they just don't have an incentive to so how did you do it in your own country how did you get past those hurdles and um and and get to involve people that were not included in originally similarly there's another more psychological obstacle i guess among people sometimes of older generations who fear technology
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or among groups that fear technology sometimes for very good reason because technology can be a racist can be uh exclusionary uh and so there's there's a whole category of people who very for very different reasons some of them very reasonable uh refused to engage in this participatory modes um so what do we say to them um i have um a trans a question about the translation excuse me i apologize my kids are back from school and i told them not to rush in but they did
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anyway so a question about translation to developing societies many of your recommendations seem to apply to advanced societies with a tech savvy population so how do your ideals translate to developing countries with fewer resources and greater digital divides and illiteracies finally and this is the last question i promise um i was thinking of the kind of advice you could perhaps give to a government like the french government or perhaps the organizers of this upcoming global
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citizens convention for climate which will gather a thousand people online in parallel to the cup 26 in glasgow i believe this year how would you design a citizen's assembly in a way that connects it to the larger public the french public in one case the entire uh you know humanity uh in the other um in a way that that builds on what you what you're familiar with basically all these ai assisted technologies um can can we have at this point ai
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facilitators for the deliberations among smaller groups on zoom or in breakout rooms and more importantly what should a governance platform for a self-ruling body that can't rely on the classic structures and hierarchies of parties look like because a big puzzle for deliberative democrats is how do we get this citizens assembly to self-rule as opposed to be managed from the outside by either professional companies that organize these things or a body of outside
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of outsiders appointed by government in the case for example of the the french convention for climate so if you have any idea about how to facilitate the autonomy and independence and basically sovereignty of these uh randomly selected assemblies i'd be really really curious so i'll stop here thank you so much so um do i just answer them in reverse chronological order because i'm a reverse chrome or do we first move to to ben i think you should probably uh start
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discussing okay right so um and and i really am a reverse crown so i will do it the the reverse object so i think uh theoretically when i say plurality and when i say social sector it means that literally any civil society organization can run such deliberation spaces uh just like nonviolent communication open space technology facility dynamic facilitation and things like that these are not monopolies but these are technologies these are
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social technology just as social science is science uh we make sure that people who are civil society organizations for example during our occupy of the parliament uh in the sunflower movement in 2014 there's more than 20 ngos that occupy the parliament together and each one occupying a corner near the parliament and all we did is making sure that it's a safe space safe not only from police because people counter surrounding police but also safe from this information and from rumors but from
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that point onward each csos take their own open space technology conversation their own facilitated dynamic facilitation without any centrality of it and that in a large amount is thanks to the wide availability of broadband so there's no marginal cost in live streaming uh people's speech all the time and there's also a reliance on free software uh like this course and later on police and so on which could be easily self-hosted and then just forked if a group of people doesn't like the way it's governed they don't
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have to convince some central authority in order to change the way that the delegation is done they can just take the deliberation because all open data anyway into a clone or a fork of a conversation and bring it into another direction and so in that sense people uh are in a non-rival situation when it comes to those mini republics if you don't like a particular way that a deliberation is done you can always fork into a different mini republic until it feels more cohesive and more sovereign and
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um chaotic and swarm like that it may feel like from my description it actually works and with half a million people on the street many more online i think we've proven uh quite conclusively to all the major parties in taiwan that um well this way actually works we can scale the liberation at scale and we did deliver the cross-strait service and trade agreement deliberation into five very concrete demands not one less and all of them gets accepted by the habit of the parliaments and so i think my main suggestion is just to
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um make it very simple to start such kits of conversation in a very small meaning republic maybe um as small as like 20 people or even five people and then just uh scale out and deeply instead of scaling up on the first principles and for developing societies um as i mentioned the toll-free number the tv or radio uh daily live streaming these are appropriate technology i wouldn't call them low-tech by the way
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they're appropriate technologies uh for the people there and the memes uh well they are digital but we also have young people just drawing them or printing them on posters or graffiti on walls and things like so the nature of memes is that is adaptive to the format so i'm never prescribing any particular broadband requiring um like uh video conferencing that's where we're doing now we only do that when the people are comfortable with that so we bring technology to the people we never ask people to come to technology knowledge or to
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fit the way the technology works and that addressed the psychological fear uncertainty and delta technology because people feel just like the very cute uh self-driving tricycles that i showed middle of my presentation people feel that this is something like a like a shopping cart that they can also just modify it never runs very fast they never run someone over so instead of the you know platooning trucks or things that looks very scary people feel that self-driving vehicles is something that they can co-domesticate and this feeling of
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participatory design also very important and this also ties into the but mr fuller quote i didn't invent a quote about building a new system that makes the old one obsolete because you're uh absolutely correct that there were uh just as in taiwan when we occupied the parliament there were powers that be uh that really didn't like this new form of deliberation but we didn't quite convince them though we worked with the mayoral candidates just like with 15m and other large-scale movements and
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basically all the mayoral candidate that didn't supply their support to open government principles lost the election at the end of 2014. um and so there's always an outside game which is like in mayor elections in referenda or whatever if people don't play by the open democracy rules then because this is a social sector norm that people already felt um well if you have participated in a real occupy you know what i'm talking about they get transformed from within so that they will actively bring down any candidate that
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didn't continue pushing forward the open democracy idea so just today this morning and in the parliament and all the major four parties uh just threw their weight behind the open parliament national action plan so each party competes on being more open to others on open democracy because after 2014 they understand if they advocate a platform that is stuck in the old uh slow bit rate like dial up speed of democracy well they will get no votes whatsoever so a outside game is
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always very important it's not about convincing this is about just bringing down people who didn't uh support that and um the meaning public to mexi public i think that the theory is a simple theory of um really epidemiology right the idea was spread if they have a high basic transmission value it means that people can willingly share it out of altruism but also out of showing status out of creativity and things like that but if we hold
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the deliberative quality bar uh to a very fine consensus it's almost impossible it's definitely impossible on the internet if on internet you want a very fine consensus by definition people with too much time on their hand when the arguments and everybody else gets burned out uh and even in phase two phase is a very um exhausting uh process but if you're only aiming for rough consensus meaning are there something that we can all live with then you actually get to that point very quickly either online or offline and based on that it creates this how might we questions
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that analyze this wicked problem uh problem requiring a coordinated action in a way that people very easily remember like when we're doing marriage equality deliberation uh we eventually collect saying that same-sex couples when they wet they're wet as individuals with all the same rights and duties but their families don't wet so the old style familiar kinship relationship is not disrupted we say we married in uh the bylaws but not the in-laws now this is very easy to remember and
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it's a rough consensus it's definitely not something people sign right but with this meme each community can bring it back to their maxi public and uh remix this meme into a message that they understand just as our uh youtube uh counters right they uh actually all the people who vote uh suspect the other parties of um you know meddling with the election but they do listen to their party's favorite youtubers but when other youtubers share the same rough consensus
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about counting elections then this problem solved because people just listen to the youtuber that is more politically aligned with them but they already have the same rough consensus as i mentioned about the mini uh publics now the plural algorithms and very rarely work uh and not not on the first try uh when we wrote out the masquerading map um some pharmacists invented this message that people trade in their national health cards
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to some numbers take a number system in the morning and they process and swipe those national health cards during lunch break and at evening people will come back with numbers in exchange to mosque and the icy cot now this of course saves queuing time while a mass racing map also saves securing time because you're not supposed to go to the pharmacy that have run out of musk but together these two social innovations are like mentos to coca-cola they explode because people who use ticket number system in the pharmacies they uh don't reflect
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on the map anymore right other rational map they will look as if they sell nothing until lunch break where they sell everything which it really looks like is rigged uh and so the pharmacists get a lot of angry calls and one of the nearby farmers even said a very large banner a4 paper that said don't trust the app exclamation mark and so i i took a deep deep breath and walked in and asked the pharmacy this very important question if you are the digital minister what would you do and then they just brainstormed in their
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own pharmacies group and they got back to me saying what if you just invent a button pressing a button let us disappear from the map and i'm like um this is a really good idea but we may take a week or two to change the code and they're like you don't actually need to change the code because we hacked the system just like white hat hacking they invented such a way that on the morning they would usually say uh i have received 500 months variationing uh their discovery if they input minus one thousand
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then it gets into negative stock and it disappears from the from the map because we can't handle negative numbers uh and that's uh hack actually solved the problem as soon as they run out of the numbers they just go minus one one thousand of course this is forking the digital service this is essentially taking it into a very different direction and now the pressure is on us so we immediately institutionalize that so after two three weeks of iterations we get into a point where the two social innovations finally work together but this is
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thanking to the weekly deployment cycle and also this key question if you're the digital minister what would you do and this also solves the free writing problem because it's a discord non-rival you can have more than 100 different visualization or co-creation systems it doesn't hurt to have another one so that's by definition uh takes it outside of the tragedy of a common case because people can fork uh but they don't have to start from scratch um those distribution methods and indeed the 6 000 pharmacies
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each one i guess serve as a sandbox of how to manage this co-creation together and the best one of course just amplifies now the lack of accountability and sanction of election i think is a core issue indeed we're piggybacking on existing um representative democracy as i said the threat of you know uh just not voting in mayors that didn't support open government the same for presidents legislators and so on um and so i think uh for the foreseeable future will still coexist for a while
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and the main selling point um to that i understand you already by our ideas but the main selling point is that for the representatives uh it improved the signal to noise ratio they no longer need uh to do all the discovery uh of the you know principal agent uh problems uh by themselves solving that wicked problem by themselves we do have people in the career public service who are very capable people what we call the participation officers and there's one in each and every
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ministry in taiwan all 32 of them the minister of health one actually lived with that cute dog and so that explains the quick mimetic generation because they just walk back home and take new photos and so for each new case like how do we open up uh the mountains to mountaineering and hiking uh then of course it's at first self-selected is the pos talking to people related to hiking and we do mostly the discovery part which is by polis but once we have
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discovered the common interests the common values and so on we enter this collaborative meeting which is always face to face and almost always live streamed and then we move to a more representative part uh where there's a traditional overseas cycle for budget implementations and things like that and because of this double diamond we don't confuse the discover and define which is great for participatory democracy and this develop and deliver which is best left for korea public service and the system integrators and the legislators and the
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representative system can take care of the next diamond understanding the first diamond will cost them essentially nothing and save their time getting quality input from the stakeholder that's involved so we use the traditional deliberative methods and brainstorming and so on um moving from the challenge to the definition but the implementation is still using uh classic methods uh for for the time being and so i think this uh answers also your question about sortation based civic assemblies if people are motivated enough we can substitute this
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self selection with civic assemblies um of course we will take more time i guess uh maybe one or two week more to bring them up to speed because after all they're not self selecting they may know they have no hiking experience for example but i'm aware that we also have that for the ministry of culture of economy um and actually the national palace museum and the healthcare system universal healthcare they were based on civic assembly model so we basically augment that with a self-selected network inputs but we
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don't actually replace that we augment this existing system of collaborative media and civic assemblies but with the agenda set by sourcing because in the agenda setting phase again it's not rival so i'll um like this are very simple like one night one-liner answers and i look forward to explain that more thank you yes thanks audrey that was fantastic um i i suspect as we continue uh helene
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if you want to also pull on some of these threads further we can do that uh but now we'll turn it over to ben for your thoughts and questions great yeah thank you so much um let me see if i can successfully share my screen great so i will keep my comments pretty short just leave more room for discussion um but a thread i thought would be interesting to pull on a little bit is that it seems like um you know sort of a unifying theme of a lot of uh the digital democracy projects happening in taiwan like taiwan is that they're aiming to look
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for opportunities to move beyond you know pure representative democracy so no longer as audrey put it just you know sending a bit of information every four years but um really actively engaging the public and giving them a more active role in shaping legislation and shaping policy between election years not just voting um there's also the same time a really long intellectual tradition which actually um uh i should say helen's recent book does a really good job of summarizing in some ways refuting but there's a a long intellectual tradition defending
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uh limits to public participation or defending the idea of representative democracy against forms of democracy that involve more active participation so i thought it'd be interesting to explore a little bit how um some direct democracy initiatives like feed taiwan um address or don't address these sorts of classic concerns that political scientists and political theorists have you know brought up from time to time uh before david i think it's also just worth making the sort of um you know very basic case for why we should have a strong prior
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that public participation is good and really simplest argument for involving the public more in policymaking and legislation is that members of the public typically know a lot more about their own preferences and concerns than the representatives do so we should have a strong inclination to think that if you involve the public more and the preferences and concerns feed directly into decision-making processes then we should often expect the outcomes to be policies that better reflect the public's preferences relative to you know just sending some bits of information you know who did you vote for and then your representatives uh you know try and figure out what
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would be good for you or what you would want there are also some other um you know potentially pretty compelling arguments for why more participation tends to be good in democracy so a lot of people have the intuition that there's something intrinsically valuable um about people participating in democracy and policies actually in some more direct way reflecting or flowing from the actions or the preferences of the people who are affected by the policies uh decisions are more likely to achieve public bind or be perceived as legitimate if the public participates more actively in producing policies
01:00:13
if you involve more people you often get wisdom of the crowd effects um you can actually avoid corruption by having people keep an eye on the process or have the process be more open and public there's also potentially positive social effects of having people really actively have a role in their government um that can um you know affect things like um a sense of unity or uh you know a sense of understanding um at the same time though there are also lots of classic arguments uh for limits on participation i'll divide these into two categories one are pragmatic arguments the idea
01:00:46
behind these is basically that greater participation would in principle be valuable but just really hard to achieve outside of you know certain specific domains so one argument is just as hard for large groups to meaningfully liberate um if you take you know group of ten people and you set them down you have them sort of share each other's viewpoints in a respectful good faith way and try to come to consensus um there's some intuition this is a naturally you know easier thing to do than having a million people do this um it's also easier to ask you know let's say 10 people 100 people
01:01:16
to take the time to really sit down and learn about an issue and think through the objections and counter objections and come to some sort of conclusion about it um you know this is sort of in some sense the point of representatives is you know it's their whole job to do this and it's it's hard often to get um you know people who have you know other full-time jobs and interests and concerns to take the time to do this um in some contexts it can also be hard just to get people motivated to participate if they you know don't feel like their individual participation will make that large of a difference or it's unappealing for various reasons um then on the other hand there are
01:01:47
desirability arguments so there are also concerns that people often put forward that at least in certain domains greater participation would actually lead to worse outcomes it's not just that participation is desirable but hard to achieve but that you actually want to have certain limits on how much people participate between elections there's a really long history of people um from neopolitical scientists to uh you know ancient political philosophers um perceiving that the need to insulate certain decisions from the public to to differing degrees which is of course you know classic writing by people like
01:02:19
aristotle expressing concern about um sort of unmitigated democracy of course people like james madison who were involved in you know drafting the um the the constitution of the united states um you know we're very pointedly you know trying to frame what they were doing as building a republican government as opposed to a purely democratic government uh based on the year that there were certain um certain risks with direct democracy or really heavy involvement um that's not that doesn't involve some degree of of indirectness between the will of voters and what actually happens and there's a range of concerns that
01:02:50
people have uh brought forward so classical concern is the idea that voters often have limited expertise on certain issues or lack far sidedness especially in the context of ancient philosophers or you know work from previous centuries is often um a uh a much more uncomfortable notion that elites are just somehow um you know better suited to making you know certain decisions is of course you know this sort of string and work people like plato uh another concern people bring up is a risk of politicizing certain issues in some sense that there's certain decisions where um if you have a large public debate
01:03:22
about them there's some risk that um it'll become polarized or in some other way decision-making process will and break down concerns people brought up about tyrannical majority stadia that um you naturally want to protect liberties and rights and if you lean too far into democracy if you lean too far into giving the public direct involvement in decisions without various levels of indirectness then there's a higher chance of liberties being violated a lot of these concerns um have faded
01:03:53
over time so i think you're going to find very few people defending the sorts of critiques of democracy people like plato had and i think we rightly view a lot of them as um you know based on uh you know an unjustifiably strong form of elitism at the same time though a lot of these concerns even if not voiced very frequently are still reflected in the way that the governments of most democracies work so i think the most obvious example of this is probably judicial independence in most democracies um there's a really strong principle that judges are appointed or elected for
01:04:23
like quite long terms and then the decisions they make you can't really be directly influenced by voters so in the context of something like the us supreme court obviously supreme court justices are appointed as opposed to directly chosen by voters and they have lifetime appointments so they're just basically you know fixed for life and they're basically insulated from um any sort of democratic accountability um and these sorts of institutional designs are you know are sometimes questioned but they're often taken for granted in a way that i think suggests a lot of people at least implicitly have the notion that
01:04:55
you know there's some areas where um it's good to have a bit of insulation there aren't that many people who actively defend for example the idea of um having the public directly vote on what's constitutional not constitutional or directly vote on the outcomes of supreme court cases um there's also um some more recent you know arguments in spain i've had a more empirical character so i think the most extreme version of this is a book that came out last year called 10 less democracy by an economist garrett jones um who basically argues uh that um
01:05:27
the sort of madisonian you know idea of uh trying to place limits on on democracy or limits on participation does actually have some merit to it um and there's some examples that are brought up as especially for evidence in favor of this position so another really classic case is that most economists tend to think it's good for central banks to be independent um it's good for elected officials to not be able to very directly influence monetary policy and it's good for central bank officials to not be directly elected by voters and yes the thought process here is that if you allow for more democratic control
01:05:58
over central banks then this is more likely to lead to short-sighted decisions about printing money which are more likely to lead to runaway inflation and there is some empirical evidence here that central banks are independent do actually seem to manage inflation better at least if we assume that inflation is a thing that you don't want to have that much of um it seems to be the case that um appointed judges um perform better on certain metrics and elect the judges including metrics of impartiality for example at the state level judges who are appointed show less evidence of bias in terms of deciding in favor of people who are
01:06:30
residents of the state or voters in the states versus out of state people politicians also seem to be more likely to vote against academic consensus when they're close to election as opposed to when they've just been reelected or they're about to retire so uh politicians are more likely to for example um oppose policies like rent control um which are sometimes popular but most economists think would have serious negative indirect effects although it can of course be debated whether policies like rent control action in fact are bad um and so another just you
01:07:00
know very certain example of this is uh recently during the the impeachment hearing um for for donald trump uh a number of republican senators voted to impeach and it's really striking that um this was made up of a couple of senators um who are about to retire um then a few senators who have just been reelected and so won't have to face re-election for for six years and two senators uh who are in very uh safe seats um and there's some suggestion that you know more people would have voted for impeachment but um based on uh potentially accurate beliefs
01:07:31
about what happened in that context and you know their own consciences um but due to sort of like lack of um you know i guess insulation from uh electoral politics they were more inclined to to vote in a direction at least from a subjective standpoint um seems to advised um there's also some evidence as well that when media starts to cover certain political issues at least in the united states it can increase polarization um and it can make it actually harder for congress to pass um consensus-based legislation on it um so there's at least the i think the
01:08:01
the arguments which have been more recently made and i think it's sort of interesting to um reflect on what these arguments imply for digital democracy um it seems to my mind that some initiatives like v taiwan and join which have just been discussed seem to actually partly refute some of the pragmatic arguments against participation um so you know one just you know very basic point is that these initiatives exist they have in fact you know involved huge numbers of people and in taiwan and they have actually seemed to produce outcomes which are actually uh good and
01:08:32
sensible um like legislation um regulating uber and taiwan in a way that's um like broadly amenable to large groups of people um and it doesn't in fact seem like some of the tools that the taiwan initiative uses um actually do resolve some of the classic issues with scaling up liberation um so just as some examples um which i think have already been mentioned um the initiative uses software to automatically map points of agreement and disagreement based on upvoting and downloading patterns and tries to figure out where people cluster or sort of the different dimensions of agreement and
01:09:02
disagreement which makes it really efficient to take large amounts of sort of initially unstructured inputs and then give people actually land and actually see you know where do we agree and disagree um it removes the ability to reply directly to people which reduces sort of trolling issues and essentially upvotes um um comments or questions which is a broad consensus around if um if there doesn't seem to be a strong polarization around whether a question or suggestion is good it gets highlighted more strongly which reduces this risk of you know if people pay attention they'll
01:09:34
get more polarized and this whole thing seems to make the process much more efficient um it also seems to me as well these classic sort of desirability arguments don't bite very strongly um so again the fact that these platforms really focus on discovering points of consensus seems to reduce risks around issues becoming politicized if the public gets really engaged in them it also reduces this risk of tyrannical majorities i think it also reduces this risk of extreme divergence from from expert views if it's a point that you actually need to get like pretty broad consensus around um i think there's less reason to worry that you know something basically very
01:10:04
you know wacky will come out of it i do still think that it is sort of interesting to um to think about these classic arguments um you know regardless of exactly the level of merit you think they have and sort of look at you know taiwan and and and these other projects and sort of think about you know do these actually imply limits or do projects like v taiwan actually show that there's you know these serious flaws and um these arguments which were harder to point out when the arguments abstract but maybe easier when you actually have concrete cases of things that work in spite of them um and so i just have some questions for both um helen and
01:10:36
and audrey um so uh one is you know how seriously should we take these sorts of classic concerns about um sort of downsides or limits to participation so i know um she's you know her most recent book and her other work actually engages a lot of these questions so i'm sure she has a lot of thoughts uh then more concretely you know what are the limits limits of initiatives like v taiwan um there are actually any domains where they might be ineffective or undesirable you know for example would something like um you know using vita i want to set monetary policy would that actually be a bad idea is that actually you know
01:11:07
something that could you know quite plausibly work um and then just more generally and sort of um you know zooming out what are the actual limits of participatory democracy so regardless of you know uh what you think the limits are at the present day um with enough uh technological and institutional innovation um i'm curious especially whether audrey thinks might be possible to just almost completely move beyond representative democracy altogether um and sort of get the benefits of much higher participation without the you know some of the downsides or limits
01:11:35
that people believe exists today uh wonderful so uh audrey and helen feel free to um respond um so and i'll defer to helen on the more um theoretical points uh i would just again in a reverse chronological order um answer this thing about um our relationship to representative democracy um i i don't uh think about representative democracy that much uh because i work on the new system it may or may not make the old system
01:12:14
obsolete but we do have a process as i mentioned the participation office of the po process and we have our monthly votes because our bandwidth to process uh such open deliberation um meetings including police and a joint platform although it has already enabled like scaling this out a lot we still have to survey the stakeholders they'll have to do the research still have to uh prepare this preparatory material this informed uh handbook of deliberation and so on like
01:12:46
all the classic deliberative democracies do and so because we only have bandwidth in our national team of around 100 participation officer to take a case or two at most um every couple of weeks so on average our bandwidth we're now almost on our 100s case now so on average would process around two to three cases per month so we vote on it each participation officer can every month bring a case that they think need cross
01:13:16
departmental deliberation or people after they join the petition on the joint platform and collecting 5 000 signatures or more also automatically nominate for the participation officer voting and we ask the participation officers to evaluate on three things and this is a national principle on processing the collaborative topics and open government collaborative meetings at podpds.pw and the three pillars uh is
01:13:46
that it must have a broad complex stakeholder groups uh with diverging views and also it needs uh enthusiastic published participation and also interdepartmental collaboration seems warranted and this part is i think the most important because this is a very technical subject and central bank very good example at that then the central bank participation officer would say this is monetary policy and there's nothing interdepartmental about that and that will actually just uh move it back to korea public
01:14:18
um service we don't insist that they have to deliberate monetary policy um on the other hand if they are now evaluating cbdc's uh cryptocurrencies and things like that then that is actually interdepartmental i can easily think of five ministries related to it and then that becomes more animal for this kind of participatory democracy again if the stakeholders they don't have diverging views then this is a waste of calories of of us doing the discovery process and also if the stakes are simple
01:14:48
and especially if it's uh like a zero-sum dial uh then we don't usually um use this process because there's very small chance that we can actually generally discover something that is of common value that people can move forward and so a lot of the other points could be answered simply by saying we're just setting the agenda we're not doing actually binding the sessions um but that's my like first like zeros take and would really want to hear um helen's take on it [Music] uh can you hear me yeah okay great so i
01:15:22
just wanted to to consider the objections to participatory democracy um you know on the ground that people are irrational ignorance i mean it's it's a very common objection but to me it's really premised on on a vision of participation that takes place within the uh an existing system which is designed almost to to produce ignorance and apathy and uh and lack of participation so i don't think you can reason um you can infer the the competence or or
01:15:53
promise of participatory democracy based on the existing system where there's very little participation and so so when when people think of including um people they think of including voters that are tribal partisan ignorant misinformed manipulated et cetera et cetera well that's not what we're talking about we're talking about a different ecology a different set of institutions where people are incentivized to act in a very different way than they are incentivized to to um to act under you know the current electoral system
01:16:24
probably speaking so so i'm less worried um and i think in fact uh it's always this very theoretical objection that sort of dissolved when confronted with the empirical reality of success you know as demonstrated by audrey's work um that said um the limits to participatory democracy i'm willing to believe there are some it's just that we have so much more to discover before we have to ask this question i feel that maybe it's a little uh stifling to start with this question i would say um that said again uh
01:16:56
one limit could be the time that's required of participants it's it is time consuming to be invested in this um activities and we don't have an economy or an ecological sort of environment that necessarily gives people the time they need to do that i mean they still do you know wikipedia is basically born out of free labor uh you know the and all these people who participated in the finnish experiment or or on the uber deliberations i mean they did it i don't know what you know how between the cracks between preparing meals for
01:17:27
the kids between going to work uh while waiting for the doctor and you know who knows but they do it so so we don't want to tax that too much however so we have to rethink perhaps compensation schemes um maybe we need a universal basic income for this to be truly feasible and truly inclusive so so there are there are limits but i don't know if they're inherent to participation so much um as to the the environment in which we place this participatory idea um
01:17:59
so yeah i'll stop here about the one more thing maybe um i i i'm not totally familiar with the book by uh uh 10 less democracy but i think the worry is about referenda and uh this kind of like purely aggregative judgment elicitation uh on very specific issues where the the citizens do not control the agenda but i think there are you know these methods of generating an agenda on the basis of a sort of a consensus that you sense and build you
01:18:32
know through technologies it's very different i mean you you it's it there's still the possibility of capture i'm not saying it's not there but it's it's less um the case than in the californian system where indeed the agenda is pretty much in the in the hands of whoever can buy the most signatures so so i think it's a little different that's it i would i would be curious to hear um audrey talk about the danger of capture for example in the v taiwan process around uber how did you make sure that you know uber didn't come in the
01:19:03
way they kind of did it in california on the on the in the referendum on the giga economy to to push for their own interests against the the interest of the other stakeholders so how does your design prevent that kind of capture right after the uberx case we deliberate the airbnb case uh again in 2015 and airbnb sent a newsletter email to each and every taiwanese member saying go to this polish site and support our company platform so so this empirically
01:19:34
actually happened um then there's two features uh in the vitamin process that uh and broadly the police process that uh guards against this kind of attack uh one is very simple uh in doubt the area uh calculated by k-means clustering and shaped by principal component analysis is actually not measuring the number of people if you get two thousand people voting exactly as i do then you see an extra zero here on group d but the area do not change
01:20:04
and it actually changes nothing about the binding agenda because the binding agenda need to have cross group super majority meaning that you actually what matters is convincing people of different ideas of different aisles of different clusters and so um it doesn't really pay to mobilize 5000 people voting exactly the same that's the first thing and also the second thing is the crowdsourcing is actually a weekly survey um most ways of capturing astroturfing and so on only works if the bit rate is low like referendum just one bit literally
01:20:36
and then it's easy to to uh distract but according to our numbers people who get motivated by airbnb lobbied mobilized by airbnb they get to the polis website they see a bunch of really reasonable ideas about airbnb and only a third of them actually agree on all the core things petitioned by airbnb uh and the other two third discover more nuanced more balanced way of expressing their preference because the 99 statements are literally
01:21:07
99 dimensions and they very quickly gravitate toward the dimension that are more dialected more nuanced and not at all the airbnb position and so increasing the bitrate allowing people after voting for a while saying okay i don't like any of these feelings i will share my own feelings for other people to vote um again just costing them i guess a minute because it's tweet lens literally tweet lens so however long you compose a tweet that's the uh time constraint uh time burden put on you and and just like tweets being shared
01:21:38
motivates people to share more people are motivated to think of more new statements because they they win that way right because the only such statements that convince across the isles did get into the final agenda that is uh binding in a multi-stakeholder face-to-face celebration so uh to to recap the first thing is measuring diversity the plurality instead of the numbers the head count the second is that a higher bit rate a higher dimension for people's preference to be expressed
01:22:10
yeah i may add i it's exactly what we did as well in the finish experiment we had a way to cluster um you know groups and and and to identify where they overlapped in suspicious ways and and so it was about the diversity rather than the the accounts indeed because especially in in our issue it was uh regulating snowmobiles and so eighty percent of people on the platform were men very libertarian very anti-regulations and so we had a you know if we had gone by by headcounts the the views were really one-sided but we are also some women
01:22:42
mothers of young teenagers who are really worried about the speed limits and age restrictions and and so we were able to visualize the different groups since we are much more focused on on diversity of arguments and perspectives and headcounts absolutely i am now coming to think that the difference between uh the you know the nightlife district of the internet anti-social addictive toxic addictor drink private bouncer part of social media the anti-social part and the digital public infrastructure
01:23:12
the pro-social part like polis i think is whether those credibility or importance unmeasured by artificial engagement scores which is the norm if people want to sell advertisement or surveillance capitalism or whether they're actually measured by diversity and plurality if they get uh measured by plurality it means that people spend time on the platform in order to empathize with each other more and on the anti-social corner it's almost as if people engage to emphasize less
01:23:45
and that is what enable bad actor to gain money and views by publishing content to exploit the biases they will change the scoring mechanism there's no such incentive anymore yeah and i think it's also worse and faster because we got that that objection a lot about the self selection and the bias and all that but they're not deciding so it's really like what's really neat about what you're doing and what can be done in that space that you can really segment the the the the process so that there are different steps there's ideation there's
01:24:16
uh problem solving and then there's decision and when it comes to the decision phase that's probably where we still rely as you said on the traditional accountability mechanism of elected officials who are going to have to endorse this input which is so much richer than what they get through elections so so but at the end of the day there's still this moment where they have to decide my addendum would be to say well okay but we don't necessarily need to have um i mean it's going to be debatable but even that final
01:24:47
step need not be in the hands of elected officials if we can figuring out a way for um randomly selected assemblies for example which to my mind are our authentic form of democracy or presentation can also be made accountable in some non-electoral ways so i think you know if you combine your ideas and innovations and and some of like the theoretical constructs i i propose i think we we have a completely different democracy we we're we're outside the representative
01:25:18
um government model which which is that's true yeah i totally agree the second diamond it could be a sortation-based back-end it could be a liquid democracy-based back-end or it could be you know traditional uh voted in uh electoral rates but as long as we talk about rough consensus and the common how might we questions then it's compatible to each one of those back ends of those second diamond [Music] so just in terms of process uh we are at the nominal ending of our uh event um but audrey has
01:25:50
mentioned that um yeah i don't really have anything after this but i can't i can do this for hours uh so i don't know about ben and helen's availability uh but i thought that conversation was was very interesting so maybe we can continue for a bit uh and i'll start by posing um maybe a skeptical question to audrey and helen so uh you know i thought ben laid out you know some of the concerns with direct democracy uh pretty effectively and i'll just flag you know it's hard maybe uh exposed to western
01:26:20
media and social media to not be concerned about the you know any or or various proposals of uh enabling the public to be more engaged in political discourse it's easy to imagine ways that that can go awry um but rather than debate it on theory uh which is also useful uh i am ultimately more persuaded by empirics and so this is why i'm so excited about the achievements that have happened in taiwan and then my question for uh i guess the panel is what are the sort of lowest hanging fruit the highest impact but most likely
01:26:52
to succeed uh um deployments of civic technology of the kinds we've been discussing in say the united states or the uk or other countries that that you know could be achievable and upon being achieved would represent a hard test of of what's possible uh and helen for example to your kind of argument that we don't know how capable say americans are of uh participatory democracy because they're not given a chance um you know my skepticism is it may be that that
01:27:22
it takes years decades of maturation and practice and sort of development of the culture and national consensus and national identity and sort of a range of things to have a civic community that's that's able to do this well um but let's turn this into an empirical test what would be uh sort of a high stakes uh rollout of civic technology where we could see how capable say americans are of this kind of pluralistic uh direct participatory democracy do you want a hard test and not an easy
01:27:54
test well the hardest test that you think civic technology can pass right because because the harder the test the more persuaded skeptics will be that this connection i have some ideas i wouldn't recommend starting there because i actually think that we want to go step by step but i think that the probably the hardest um step in in europe for example would be around issues of immigration immigration um european identity the place of um you know islam in europe it's it's a
01:28:24
huge issue right now that it's like the third rail of politics you know and and it's going to be defining of the kind of communities we build um but we don't let people talk about it it's too dangerous there's a total fear and distrust of uh ordinary citizens around those issues uh accusation of you know fascism racism islamo leftism what not in france it is awful so that would be the hardest test for me i don't think i would recommend starting there but i actually believe that
01:28:54
you know if we um road tested this format on other issues like we currently are in france for example with uh climate change i think eventually we could get there and and get to a much more satisfactory solution for example around um uh separatism you know between the muslim community and the french community right now so the only solution that the government has come up with is some kind of like um redistricting of schools to make sure populations are mixed so basically we're forcing the kids who have asked you know for nothing to change school to
01:29:26
be reallocated meanwhile the parents don't talk to each other like why don't we start with a conversation between the parents but ways they could live better in in you know together in in a neighborhoods that are 50 percent muslim but um and then asking people who are you know in a neighborhood that are very white like why is that and having an open trustful considerate respectful conversation about what it means to be french what it is to live together what it is to live in a plural society i suspect similar issues around
01:29:57
race in in the us would be really uh complicated and uh issues of reparation issues of you know like all that legacy is still sorrow so i think for me this would be the hardest test i so i wouldn't necessarily start there i'll continue this line of thought um i guess in in many cases the sunflower movement is a really really good heart test uh because the thing that we deliberated on was whether we um deepen our service related ties
01:30:32
to the beijing regime and this has like 20 different aspects one of which is whether we allow beijing based companies uh to manufacture our then new 4g deployment telecommunication equipment that was in 2014 but it's very on topic now in other places as well for 5g uh deployments and this has the the nature of first it's uh specific enough that people who have good arguments on all the different sites can contribute but also this is of a shape that it's
01:31:04
unclear how traditional representation may work just as there's no you know teleworkers union there's no um you know association of people who set up companies in cayman islands and so on which by the way are the first two cases that vitamin processed and there is no easy way to discover in traditional representatives like union association means exactly who are the stakeholders of um you know prc manufactured uh 4g components uh but on the other hand this uh is a very
01:31:35
uh serious uh cultural issue as well it pertains to trust and trustworthiness and so on uh and but uh there's also economic arguments i would say that a broad like wicked problem with no uh traditional representative solutions but was specific enough like people could actually feel it um like lived in experiences which allows the sharing of feelings not jumping to solutions i think these two criteria together uh whatever fits the criteria in any given policy would be my suggestion and that
01:32:06
will actually make uh our implementations very easily uh translatable in circumstances uh like i mentioned because then people would just demand whatever existing data remember the facts before the feelings whatever existing data about the situation being made publicly addressable with is permalink saying urls and so on uh my my answer is also probably to answer uh step clear's highest rated top questions because um without answering questions we might as well uh be
01:32:36
feeding uh the people at pre-recording and i would say also that um one hard question that was a high priority for for example the french public was um the environment and climate change and that's actually a hard test that was kind of i mean to my mind successfully passed by the the french convention for climate um just recently the the they came up with 149 very elaborate proposals almost um bills you know not not technically because they they constitutionally
01:33:08
cannot pass bills but they were like bills uh on ways to cut green gas emissions you know uh by 40 percent uh in a socially fair way and so they they were able to do that even though we have a lot of climate skeptics in our population even though they came from all kinds of horizons and and and partly you know partisan beliefs and so so it's been done what's what's not been so successful is the articulation of the recommendations and their work to the traditional representative system
01:33:40
because what happened is that once there are proposals went to parliament and to the government ministers and and and now parliament uh they basically diluted and what's down the the content of the law so it's really this question of how to reconcile the two logics the new participatory logic and the establish you know group interest-based logic the lobbies the the it's much it's it's not quite i mean it seems to be quite successful in taiwan but in france we haven't cracked that night
01:34:10
yet and i would just add on the trans-cultural or global scale uh part uh it just occurred to me that uh for example coronavirus is a really good example here because we did run a polish base actually five police-based conversations at cohack.tw which has participation from seven countries and many different things and the polis rough consensus was centered around what's the acceptable privacy and ethics boundary to the responses to pandemic including
01:34:42
of course digital surveillance but also um you know uh making uh the ppes protecting the vulnerable groups uh making sure that icu are at capacity supporting frontline essential workers and before the pandemic we couldn't even dream of having a five-country deliberation of this kind because people have very different time scales and urgency but because of pandemic everybody has the same urgency and then we can deliberate on how exactly is the norm uh when a digital tool and what's the privacy acceptable
01:35:12
uh trade-offs and boundaries so that we can actually innovate into say participatory self-surveillance to not be captured into surveillance state or capitalism in our response to the pandemic so this is a very recent example that kind of transcends um this uh cultural barrier because of a shared urgency so yeah and i would say there's a trade-off between you know we want to go slow enough that we can convince everyone that these things work and we can transition smoothly from one system to the other the same
01:35:43
time on some issues you might say there's no time and so we need to do this right away and for example i'm thinking this climate change um you know stuff um there is as i said a global climate assembly in the works that's going to meet starting in september i believe with a thousand people we need this needs to be successful because ideally this would become part of the um political institutional uh inter-institutionalized apparatus of a global governance
01:36:15
if it proves successful and then they would reiterate it every year um until you know it's it's it's smoothly running well articulated to the other governance um you know paths so so yeah i think it's it's hard you you want to go find the right piece and meet the right trade-offs yeah so one maybe takeaway is it'd be great to have a list of policy domains or areas where civic
01:36:46
technologies could be rolled out and you can score them by the importance or urgency and then times the probability that uh the civic technologies will will will succeed or improve the deliberative process um and then you know sort by that and work your way down yeah i think there are also different issues where be interesting to you know there's like different potential pitfalls of it so if i imagine for example uh something um you know like v taiwan being used united states i imagine a bunch of failure modes for
01:37:17
let's say it being used to talk about reparations you know being different than the potential fairy modes for being used to talk about something like the minimum wage where in one case it's you know an issue with huge value disagreements and huge disagreements about you know how you ought to interpret history and things like that and then something like the minimum wage it's you know this this you know actually like quite technical issue where economists super disagree about you know like with the 15 minimum wage actually having employment effects how large the welfare impacts of employment effects how was your welfare you know like and and so there's yeah and so there's you know interesting
01:37:48
you might have about how well can this actually integrate technical academic disagreements there's concerns you might have about does it just break down people have like very different values and it's you know really polarized to begin with and so i think different issues might be interesting test cases for different sorts of concerns can i actually on this i think that there's a difference between issues where there's an actual disagreement and one where there's just a capture of the issue by your interest groups that make it look as if there's a disagreement when in fact the vast majority in fact the vast majority of
01:38:18
people have already made up their mind gun regulation in the u.s there's a vast majority in favor of much more aggressive regulation but it's not happening because the system doesn't allow for it so here that's a low-hanging fruit for me i'm sure if you um a vita one type of process on this combined with a deliberative assembly it's done it's a done deal in three months uh if a congress commits to passing whatever recommendation they make of course which again is going to be the key problem in the key bottleneck then there's a question of real disagreement maybe on
01:38:50
on you know reparations or something like that at the same time we know from from experiments in in ireland recently on abortion very divisive issue very about very fundamental values when confronted when the problem is framed as um as a problem rather rather than as a valued disagreement even pro-life can converge on on the idea that well you know what when it comes to the law we should decriminalize abortion i'm still against it i still think it's a tragedy it's a crime
01:39:21
this and that but the life of women you know is in the balance and i i have to set the size of my private belief is to you know converge towards the the this position so if we can do that on on a fundamental value like that or you know a set of questions like that why can't we do it on almost anything else i just think that we have we have yet to touch the the frontier where it's possible okay uh well let's see if there's any uh last questions um but otherwise we should probably uh
01:40:02
excuse our our many brains that have contributed here so i'm just scrolling through some of the top voted questions um i think most of these have been partly addressed uh uh one oh audrey i see you replied yes it would be great to get the slides um shared which of course with openness as a principle uh what it would be the case okay maybe i'll just these are sort of relatively narrow questions but i'll post these uh um one is from shivangi
01:40:36
rajora which asks about the tension between uh the principle of something decisions being fast or processes being fast and the processes being inclusive so so we'll put that one and then there's a related sort of narrow question which is uh which all has already been slightly addressed but the trade-off between um i guess different processes and selection biases and representativeness uh so to the extent that there's a bit more you either of you would like to say on that that'd be great yeah when i say uh
01:41:07
our process agel uh it has a specific software development meaning uh it doesn't only mean that it's fast but it also means there's a continuous integration of feedbacks so when we say we fix the system we deploy a new version every thursday it means that we go through this mini diamond like people calling 1922 saying that there's something wrong with mass distribution or the mp is making uh interpolations and so on so we do uh approach a fast decision quote unquote
01:41:38
lowercase d decision um every week but then that decision lowercase d is open to be forked by the social sector and also any good ideas gets amplified in real time and we schedule it for next week's deployment and we continue to do that it's more than one year now uh our central epidemic come on sunset so this continuous delivery continuous integration is the backbone of being inclusive while being fast yeah on this i i would say that it sounds like a you know either or type of
01:42:10
question either you're fast or inclusive but oftentimes processes that claim to be fast and and sacrifice inclusiveness in the name of uh of speed end up delivering terrible results so so it's perhaps better to be a little slower and making sure everybody's on board and and in the end save time compared because you will deliver better results uh in the end i i see it a little bit uh in um why i mean the contrast between taiwan and france on the on the on the
01:42:40
management of the pandemic is very telling oh we have a very you know active uh vertical sort of government which took charge and and like you know implemented uh without any kind of deliberation confinement after confinement curfews this and that followed the experts very differentially for a while well in the end we're doing much worse than taiwan did so high that you know high how has speed so great in our case um
01:43:10
maybe we had some other issues i'm sure it's not all things equal otherwise the comparison but still i suspect that had we been a lot more deliberative slow and inclusive in the beginning had we sort of taken the temperature of various communities listened to different groups instead of just following experts i think we'd be in a better shape now same on the vaccination campaign so i actually have one more question that hasn't really been asked so you know we are the center for the governance of ai we're often looking especially towards ai technologies um so you know i don't know how much uh anyone
01:43:44
on this seminar has thoughts on it but what are your views about what machine language understanding uh could do to civic technologies um or um you know some of you mentioned ai facilitators for deliberation uh so is this you know is this sort of overhyped that that it's unlikely that we're going to have meaningful useful tools anytime soon or do you see in the coming years uh the rollout of um ai tools that are are sufficiently
01:44:15
competent with language understanding that they can really uh amplify the benefits here um in my uh experience um anything that we can very easily explain to six years olds or i guess eoi five five years out it is is good for facilitation and i mean it by for example polis is a kind of ai but it's not deep learning um it's just principal component analysis and you can actually explain chemist clustering and principle component analysis
01:44:44
quite easily as opposed to you know the the latest convolutional or transformer models of deep learning so that's already a quick easy win um the other thing is about the modality for engagement for there's some people who prefer text based conversation there's some people who prefer a visual um like mind map and so on there's people who couldn't really think through without a back and forth conversation and so on um and um machine translation as well we run the
01:45:16
uh co-hector tw with the mission translation powering mandarin english uh bi-directional conversations as well but all these functions are very very simple to explain they're very very simple to correct if there's any biases it doesn't really substitute judgment so as long as the machine learning is for collaborative learning assisted collaborative intelligence i think is a boon but as long as we spend more time explaining it then the time is safe by automating away then i don't think it's a good idea
01:45:48
so my own view is that i think it's going to be unavoidable to use um some kind of automated facilitators at some point because if we're going to have conversation at the planet scale the cost of micro facilitating each group of six or seven people is it's just too much and this task doesn't seem too hard to automate i think so well i imagine this this would be a great way to augment a democracy in the future and then the way i see ai i mean again i'm not an expert at all but to me it's like an improved mirror that
01:46:19
we can hold to ourselves to explore our collective psyche a lot better and and you know our history our our the facts about our culture in relation to other cultures the the i i think it's an amazing tool that as long as we keep it as an as a tool is you know um same way that experts should be on top uh and not on top i think ai should be available but not com not in control of our lives so i think this is the fit of every technology from that point of view i don't think it's
01:46:49
very different yeah i'd also um it's the not something which will be available in the next decade but the the long run sci-fi thing suppose i'm excited about is if um you know we ever get to the point where you can actually really communicate you know your values to machine learning systems you can really have machine learning systems have a good understanding of what your preferences are that seems like something that could really um seriously overcome a lot of the issues with participatory democracy like especially the time cost like if you can in some way automate the process of giving feedback about oh i would like this or i wouldn't like this
01:47:22
then uh that also seems like you know something we're not about to have but something in the long run we might look forward to that could really um allow for much more you know meaningful representation of viewpoints in the political process i think that's great as long as it's democratized and i don't mean it as cheap and accessible like the 21st century use of democratization i mean the old meaning of democratization meaning citizens control and also co-governance great uh well with that i think it's a
01:47:53
excellent place to conclude um i just want to thank our panelists again uh thank you audrey helen ben for this wonderful conversation uh really exciting ideas um i do think this is the frontier of uh democracy that that's being theoretically and empirically explored and i'm extremely excited to see the continued uh empirical evidence of your innovations rolling in so we can see what's possible uh for the future of democracy thank you thank you yeah thanks so much thank you live loyal
01:48:24
and prosper bye clinton prosperity yes

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