An AI-Determined Direct Democracy

Cesar Hidalgo, the director at the Collective Learning Group, which is part of the MIT Media Lab, recently gave a TED talk in which he proposed replacing politicians with AI that can figure out what people want, issue by issue.

The idea is a provocative one, but it’s not quite as provocative as the idea shared by Donnie Gebert on one of our shows, Visprivus.  In that show, Donnie discussed his idea of using the blockchain to allow individuals to vote with their money on funding what they support and they don’t support.

The fact, though, that people are seriously talking about this notion of an “Automatic congress” (which was a phrase Donnie Gebert had actually used previously, before settling on Direct Republic) bares paying attention to.  It seems that more and more people are recognizing the inefficiency of the current political system.

Casar Hidalgo, it would seem, has come part-way out of the delusion that the coercive enterprise model is the only realistic model for humans to govern interaction.  But, alas, he seems to have fallen a bit short and, instead of turning directly to ‘the people,’ he has chosen to turn to AI, as if humans aren’t the ones that create the AI, and thus bias, in the first place.

Watch our show with Donnie Gebert talking about his idea for a direct republic using the blockchain.


This Plan For An AI-Based Direct Democracy Outsources Votes To A Predictive Algorithm

…..The issue, says Cesar Hidalgo, director of the Collective Learning group at MIT Media Lab during his talk at TED 2018 in Vancouver, is that “democracy has a bad user interface.”

…….some researchers have suggested replacing our current representative democracy with a direct democracy–a system in which every individual gets to vote on every issue. This, however, “is a cognitive bandwidth problem,” Hidalgo says. Our senators and congresspeople assess as many as nine bills each day (or, as often seems to be the case, they don’t assess them at all). It’s their job to do so. But for everyday people, who work jobs outside of politics, this would be much too large of a cognitive lift.

Hidalgo, in his talk, suggests a solution to this issue–one powered by automation and artificial intelligence. “What if, instead of bypassing politicians, we try to automate them?” he says.

That might look something like this: Voters are connected to an individualized “digital agent” that would collect information on our needs, views, and politics via the data we feed into social platforms and search. This, Hidalgo says, would essentially work as a political Spotify. Algorithms are already very capable of recognizing patterns in our behavior and preferences, and this digital agent would read our data in such a way that it would be able to directly vote on issues on our behalf.

“A digital agent could integrate our decision-making and help us make decisions at a larger scale,” Hidalgo says. These digital agents could connect together to form an automated Congress of sorts, and “we could have a Senate that has as many Senators as citizens,” Hidalgo says.

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Watch our show with Donnie Gebert here:

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Paul Gordon is the publisher and editor of iState.TV. He has published and edited newspapers, poetry magazines and online weekly magazines. He is the director of Social Cognito, an SEO/Web Marketing Company. You can reach Paul at