Designing a Research Network onthe Impact of Technology on Governance November 9 – 10, 2012
Problem: Challenges of Contemporary Democratic Governance; Potential: Technological and Scientific Advances and Drivers; Paradigm Shift: Contours of the Transformation in Governance; Proposal: Deepening our understanding, broadening our capacity and increasing the practice of Opening Government; Pre-Network: Connecting Disciplines and Expertise.
“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world ofsin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, ithas been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except allthose other forms that have been tried from time to time” Winston Churchill, November 11, 1947, House of Commons Legitimacy Deficit Effectiveness Deficit Percentage of bills proposed by the last US Congress that became law: 3 (2011, US Library of Congress)
•TRUST AT AN ALL-TIME LOW – JUST 9% IN THE UNITED STATES•FAILED STATES CANNOT PROVIDE ADEQUATE SERVICES•FUNCTIONING STATES ARE MIRED IN PARTISAN POLITICS•EXHAUSTED BY POLITICS, PEOPLE HAVE LOST FAITH IN DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE
“If Congress had a 9% approval ratingwhile George Washington was still alive,he would have shoved his woodendentures in his mouth, assembled amilitia and marched on the Capitol. Thenations founders werent big fans ofdysfunctional governments. Ill bet wecould solve our energy problem byconnecting a generator to John Adamsscorpse, which I assume is spinning in itsgrave.” Scott Adams, Wall Street Journal, November 5, 2011 * couldn’t resist
The systems that provide us with energy, health, social care, transport, food andknowledge are also being remade in ways as radical as those of 70 years ago…Each ofthese systems is, at present, visibly broken: energy systems designed to produce anddistribute energy, but not to use it well; a food system that generates worseningobesity; a health system dominated by hospitals ill-suited to populations sufferingfrom long-term conditions, including mental illness; social care systems whollyunprepared for rapid ageing; and, among others, economic systems that still sufferprofound imbalances of unused resources and unmet needs. In each case, thesesystems that now look broken are as much victims of success as anything else. As sooften, success repeated itself until it finally became failure, which is why those at theheart of each of these systems are often the last to understand how they need tochange.” Geoff Mulgan
Governments fund research grants; invest in broadband infrastructure; support science education. But they spend next to nothing on reinventing . government institutions What industry doesn’t regularly improve on its core business model? . Not the same as experimenting with different policies in different jurisdictions (Laboratories of Democracy) butexperimenting with how we make policies, spend money, and legislate in the first place.
BIG DATA ANDCOMPUTATIONAL TOOLS OPEN DATA LAW AND POLICY
Creating the potential for more informed and effective governance
"Open data is an important pillar of open government initiatives and those are about changing the way government and its constituencies relate and communicate.” José Manuel Alonso“..Tracking the spread of disease across regions,paying health benefits to workers who live and workin different countries, fighting crime, andmonitoring air quality in border regions, amongmany others.” Theresa Pardo
COLLABORATION AND OPEN GOVERNMENTDISTRIBUTED WORK TOOLS POLICY
Creating the potential for access to better and more innovative ideas faster “In a world marked by so much turmoil, we need open government to build trust and to revitalize the social compact between states and citizens. Openness can bring governments and citizens together, cultivate shared understandings, and help solve our practical problems…The course of human progress is never straightforward. But the human spirit is such – with our curiosity to know, our impulse to speak out, our tenacity to get things done, and our deep rooted desire for freedom and dignity – that in the end we will settle for nothing less than open government.” Rakesh Rajani
“Giving citizens a voice is only one part of the equation.Often overlooked is the process of institutional changethat must pave the way and which ultimately enablesgovernments to be responsive to citizens.” Tiago Peixoto “The open government movement—which has emphasized transparency, collaboration, and participation at the Federal, state, and local levels—is finding increasing application on the international and diplomatic stage, as evidenced most recently by the launch of the Open Government Platform.” Chris Vein
What is the Shift Technology Enables?:Radical Change in Information Production
“In the past decade and a half, we havebegun to see a radical change in theorganization of information production.Enabled by technological change, we arebeginning to see a series of economic,social, and cultural adaptations that makepossible a radical transformation of how wemake the information environment weoccupy as autonomous individuals, citizens,and members of cultural and social groups.” Yochai Benkler
“We ‘simply do not have enough genesto program the brain fully in advance,”we must work together, extending andsupporting our own intelligence with“social prosthetic” systems that makeup for our missing cognitive andemotional capacities: “Evolution hasallowed our brains to be configuredduring development so that we are ‘plugcompatible’ with other humans, so thatothers can help us extend ourselves.” Steven Kosslyn
It is intuitive to want to get rid of hidebound institutions and partisan politics but what do we replace them with? What happens the Day After the Arab Spring? What works?
Why a research initiative?We could create governance that is:1) Smarter: Yet we don’t know yet how to leverage collectiveintelligence well or how to balance participation with efficiency.2) More collaborative: Yet we don’t know yet how to coordinatedistributed work to produce the most effective results.3) More decentralized: Yet we don’t know yet how to cede controlwhile safeguarding the public interest.
Silo/Disciplinary Organized Issue Focused (e.g. Democracy vs Performance) Technology Focused (e.g. Big Data vs Social media) Little transfer to the field and exchange Building an open and networked (can’t be 40 people around a table) Research Infrastructure to accelerate understanding and emergence of the governance paradigm shift
“If we are to make use of these impressive new capabilities toaddress the kinds of problems that governments havehistorically failed to solve, we also need to think differentlyabout the problems themselves. Social problems, that is, mustbe viewed not as the subject of rhetorical debates, but asscientific problems, in the sense that some combination oftheory, data, and experiment can provide useful insights beyondthat which can be derived through intuition and experiencealone.“ Duncan Watts
Causal Hypotheses - With the growth of big data and social media, governance will become more open and collaborative. Normative Hypotheses - Closed ways of making and implementing decisions leads to ineffective outcomes and distrust in public institutions. Openness and collaboration lead to economic growth, greater trust in government and an increase in participatory practices. Policy Hypotheses - Existing laws and policy will need to be changed and new initiatives undertaken in order to overcome impediments and realize the positive benefits of open and collaborative governance.
How to Use Data to Make Government Smarter? “We want to explore how Web 2.0-like tools can allow the citizenry and the government to engage in a conversation about the information the data represents. Much as systems have evolved to harness the “wisdom of the crowd,” social data networks, to coin a phrase, will enable the government to get better information, and the citizens to be more trusting of the data produced.” Jim Hendler
Does Transparency Create Greater Accountability? Decrease Corruption? “I think that we have a world where those in power have secrecy and citizen are forced to be transparent. I think that modern technology has made this increasingly so. I think that fundamentally, it should be the opposite. Public figures and institutions in power should be forced to be transparent and private citizen should have privacy and the right to speak without fear of retribution or persecution. I think this is essential for democracy and open society and we need to push for and enable this to happen.“ Joi Ito
Participation should provide ordinary citizens with the opportunity to have a voice in the making ofdecisions by which they are affected but how? And does participation lead to improved quality of decisions,policies and services?
“People should feel empowered by theidea of a science of team building, Theidea that we can transmute the guesswork of putting a team together into arigorous methodology, and thencontinuously improve teams is exciting.Nothing will be more powerful, I believe,in eventually changing howorganizations work.” Sandy Pentland
How to Create Incentives for Participation?“We have a connection here that’s broken in the larger scheme, but it works atthe local level. We care, and it’s important that we care about government,because government really is the way we do things collectively that we can’tdo individually” Jenn Pahlka
A model of the way a democracy should tacklethe kind of challenges that it confronts when itcomes to accountability. You have politicalleadership from governments at the highestlevel, you have governments working with civilsociety to develop a reform agenda, and thenyou have objective metrics of progress on thedelivery of that agenda.” Jeremy Weinstein