Techdirt Podcast Episode 39: Technology's Impact On Democracy

from the voice-of-the-people dept

From e-voting and online petitions to broad new avenues of communication between politicians and the public, technology is changing democracy, and has the potential to do so even more. This week we're joined by Catherine Bracy, the Technology Field Officer for Obama For America in 2012, to discuss the current and future impact of rapidly changing technology on the democratic process and whether these impacts have been "good" or "bad."

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Filed Under: catherine bracy, democracy, podcast, politics, technology


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2015 @ 1:43pm

    "E-voting" and "online polls" wide open to outright fraud by the State besides "hacking".

    You are actually advocating the death of democracy. Anything that can't be verified with a paper trail is perfect for dictators.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 25 Aug 2015 @ 1:45pm

    "Non-transparent, deterministic things that basically have a huge influence on your life that you have no ability to inspect, that's..."
    "...that's absurd."
    "...that's like science fiction."

    That's like a credit score. The standard FICO credit score is determined by a secret algorithm that they protect via abuse of copyright and trade secret laws, and no matter how much it impacts your life, you have no legal recourse to see what goes on inside the calculation of your credit score.

    You have a right to see your credit score estimates by the three major credit bureaus, and they have to pass on to you reports of specific factors that are impacting it, but their reports are not your official credit score, and they're based on attempts to reverse-engineer the FICO algorithm. They can vary quite widely between the three for a number of reasons.

    Think about that. It's not just teachers, or convicted criminals. Everyone who's ever needed to take out a loan to buy a house or a car--pretty much everyone, that is, because if you haven't, you're likely still young enough that it's directly affecting you because it directly affects your parents--their lives are immensely influenced by a secret algorithm that they have zero insight into or power over.
    "Putting the power back in the hands of citizens, as opposed to just relying on the government. And that actually speaks directly to the concept of democracy, right?"

    Wrong. The concept of democracy, particularly American democracy, is "We the People ... do ordain and establish this [government structure]." The concept is that the dichotomy expressed here of "citizens instead of government" does not exist; in democracy, government is "us", not "them".

    That concept's been badly corrupted over the last several decades, due largely to Libertarian influence, but it's how the system is supposed to work, and it's no surprise that when the system stops working that way, people by and large perceive that it's simply stopped working.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 25 Aug 2015 @ 2:06pm

      Re:

      Everyone who's ever needed to take out a loan to buy a house or a car--pretty much everyone, that is, because if you haven't, you're likely still young enough that it's directly affecting you because it directly affects your parents--their lives are immensely influenced by a secret algorithm that they have zero insight into or power over.

      I haven't given a shit about my credit score since about 2001 when I defaulted on some credit card debt because I was unemployed at the time. The only credit I carry now is my house note, which I refinanced in 2005 without any problems. I simply told them I didn't give a crap about credit scores, this is what my property is worth, this is what I have in equity and this is what I still owe, do you want to give me loan or not. They did. Everything else I pay cash for. If I can't afford it, I don't buy it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2015 @ 2:11pm

      Re:

      ...That concept's been badly corrupted over the last several decades, due largely to Libertarian influence...

      Socialist influence has been more impacting, and it is those two influences that have been polarizing Congress and the rest of the US.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2015 @ 1:58pm

    Anything done online is ripe for fraud, especially "politics".

    That's all is to say here, unless you're insane.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anonymy, 25 Aug 2015 @ 2:53pm

    hope as masses' opiate

    Obama's such a freaking hypocrite. Made all manner of lefty promises during campaign, not 1 of which I believed for 1 minute. (I'm a seasoned lefty and had given up progressive hopes for the Dems years prior. (Their stealing of our meme, "vote your hopes not your fears!" -- twisted into just "Hope (TM)" was most insidious.) Many of us realize that a society run by honest union organizing -- the genuine left -- would in the age of present computer power amount to direct democracy-- eminently possible at this point but absolutely not something the 2 huge, crooked, power-drunk Parties want anything to do with. In any honest way anyway-- lipservice, OH yeah!
    .
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    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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