There was an interesting discussion on IO9 about a month ago, inspired by a post that sought to define a technocrat. The discussion, begun by me, was in response to the notion that technocrats could create a “technocracy,” a technocrat-run government:
Though technocracy may not be capable of wholesale operation of an entire country—and I’m not so sure it would be much worse than the systems that operate today—it should at the very least be more of a part of existing political systems, more heavily factoring into some decisions. I’d go so far as to suggest it take an equal place in American government, placed beside the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. (And maybe outright replace the Legislative branch.)
Presently our U.S. government consists of three branches, Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Carefully designed by our Founding Fathers, the system was designed to allow laws to be created, but with a set of checks and balances in place to make sure no one group could completely dominate the government system. They also designed the system to be evolving, as the country grew and attitudes changed.
The Democratic system designed by our Founding Fathers mostly works… but in the last century or so, it has increasingly fallen into a pattern of outside influence and internal corruption causing the wheels of government to come almost to a standstill. Most of the seized wheels are in Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, whose members have increasingly been chosen according to who could wage the most successful media attacks on their competitors, and who make more of their decisions according to the wishes of wealthy lobbyists and their desires for comfortable retirement packages.
As well, the U.S. has become an increasingly populous, busy and complicated country, making the passage of laws and bills a much more intricate and involved process. Congresspeople do not have the time (nor, apparently, the inclination) to properly analyze and consider the laws that pass in front of them; as a result, bad laws are passed, or bad riders are added to laws, going unnoticed by politicians and eventually doing damage and making the system of laws even more convoluted than they need to be.
This sounds, to me, like an area of government in need of serious evolution in order to remain viable. And so, I proposed a system utilizing the full capacity of an invention originally created in wartime, which has served our government well for many years: The computer.
I suggested the replacement of the Legislative branch, specifically, the representatives in the House and the Senate, with a computer system, a logocratic system that would assume the voting role of the leaders of Congress. A Congressional Computer (or CC) would be placed in the position of enacting laws for the country, based on the country’s set goals of maintaining the general welfare of the People and supporting the infrastructure of the nation and its impact on the world. The computer would make up the new Logocrative branch of the government, taking its place alongside the Executive and Judicial branches.
To keep We The People connected, citizens would vote for the people in Logocratic Support who would supervise the state personnel who would collect and input data on each state’s conditions, resources, issues, needs, etc (data collectors and programmers, basically). The data they collect and process would be input into the CC, which would then evaluate the data from each state against those of all other states and territories. Then the CC, capable of analyzing that ocean of data better than any group of human politicians, would make the decisions and pass the laws for our country, much faster, much more fair and more impartial.
The administration of data collection and analysis would still be in The People’s hands to monitor and control by vote. This means the dangers of lobbying, bribery and corruption would still be a risk; but with the proper checks and balances to allow public analysis of the data input to the CC, it would be much harder to get away with “cooking the books.” And accuracy (or lack thereof) would directly impact the salaries, pensions and benefits of those in the data offices, who could be removed immediately if found to be underperforming by a set level.
And the President and the Judicial system would still be able to veto CC laws, much as they do Congressional laws, mostly based on whether the law was too far afield of the spirit of the union or did not properly address some issue that the CC’s programming was incapable of handling properly (such as the social or psychological impacts of a law, for instance). Most likely, there would be some additional office in Logocratic Support tasked with codifying the reasons for the vetoes to feed back into the CC, so it would add that data to its law-writing directives (or perhaps provide logical challenges of the vetoes for the Executive and Judicial branches to reconsider).
Of the existing government branches that could potentially be replaced with a computer-based system, this strikes me as the most workable and providing the best improvement to the U.S. government system. This new Logocratic system, with humans overseeing a computer-run process of analyzing data and making laws, could be the next logical step in the evolution of the U.S. government.
The next step could be to begin development of such a computer system, a Congressional Computer that could be tested against the performance of the existing legislative branch until the achievement of certain performance milestones indicated the CC could do the job better than the existing Congress; whereupon, the reins of voting would be transferred from the representatives to the CC in short order.
I would not expect an idea like this to not be controversial; indeed, it’s a very significant step in the improvement of the U.S. government, but it would seem on its face to go against the idea of government “Of the People, By the People and For the People.” In fact, the application of a CC is merely an extension of the wealth of computers we use to run the country now; we’re simply giving the computers a higher role in the process, and still keeping it under our control. That’s why I think that evaluating it against the existing Congress would be crucial to establishing that the CC could indeed do the job better than a building full of professional politicians.
A story based on these notions has been in my notes for quite some time… a shame that I may never write it, because I think it would make for some interesting reading. I also saw no responses when I proposed this Logocratic system on IO9; so I wouldn’t mind hearing anyone’s opinion on the matter (consider this one of those rare times when it’s okay to discuss politics in polite company).