Decentralized online participatory democracy in smart cities

Wired:

Barcelona is leading the fightback against smart city surveillance

“Now we have a big contract with Vodafone, and every month Vodafone has to give machine readable data to city hall. Before, that didn’t happen. They just took all the data and used it for their own benefit”

Noema:

The Frontiers Of Digital Democracy

“Taiwan is reinventing the consent of the governed.”

Firstly, if you live a simple life in a Jeffersonian republic in the countryside your community doesn’t need the Internet. A town hall is enough.

Secondly, urbanization is increasing worldwide, so I have no illusions regarding the possibility of getting countries like Taiwan to stop using online solutions. The following objections to smart cities are therefore just an “academic” exercise, with probably no impact in real life (in the long run).

Taiwan is a homogenous society with 95% Han Chinese, with internal cohesion because of the mainland China threat. It’s therefore not strange that online solutions can work better in a state where citizens are descendants of nationalists escaping from Mao. When trust is deep and widespread, because of shared values, government is easier.

My worry is the tyranny of majority rule. Common people are sheep with little time to study the intricacies of highly complex societies, as described here:

https://drone-surveillance.info/2021/01/30/big-techs-post-democracy-elites-fighting-each-other

It’s easy for corporate and/or government media to influence the opinions of common people, cf Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky, and Primetime Propaganda by Ben Shapiro, or read this article from The Independent.

In polarized societies, like in America today, people will not trust online voting, as seen in the chaos that followed after mail-in ballot and computerized voting in the 2020 presidential election.

In the US and Europe there is a culture war. Getting libertine woke globalists and culturally conservative nationalists to compromise is impossible if ultra-liberals don’t return to moderate liberality, so no matter what kind of voting system you have in a state it will not lead to harmony and unity in a very polarized society.

What if China or another highly sophisticated actor hacks the online system of participatory democracy? It’s open source code, but when hackers managed to sabotage Iran’s nuclear capability using Stuxnet, how can ordinary citizens ever feel reassured that nobody manipulates online voting systems?

Furthermore, when citizens have been habituated to living in decentralized smart cities the majority will accept digital centralization if it’s introduced slowly (or quickly in an emergency, cf The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein).

In maybe 50-100 years it’s likely that very advanced multi-domain AI or even true AGI will subtly control “decentralized” smart cities, if they have been allowed to grow. Superior AI from Big Tech can bulldoze decentralized smart cities and hijack them, without people noticing the takeover, as described in the prelude to Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark.

Wired about the emerging smart city of Barcelona: “Now we have a big contract with Vodafone, and every month Vodafone has to give machine readable data to city hall. Before, that didn’t happen. They just took all the data and used it for their own benefit”

In Cold War 2 it’s naive to think that NSA or GCHQ will not find a way to get data from providers such as Vodafone, in order to aqcuire all the data needed to teach militarized AI how to beat China and Russia.

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