Chapter 11. Futurepedia – A Platform for Crowd Foresight

9. Political Technologies Overview

Main concept: Political technologies, aided by accelerating IT and nanotech, will be increasingly powerful servants of both elites and the average citizen. Comparative political science will demonstrate that the most productive societies have republics structured to avoid both corrupting plutocracy and stagnating socialism. They will have basic income, free education, strong social contracts and safety nets, open trade, minimally obstructive IP, fair laws, competitive markets, strong privacy and property laws, and moderate (not extreme) levels of income inequality.

Leader’s challenge: Balancing Plutocratic and Democratic Control, growing Pluralism and Globalism.

Summary sentence:

“Plutocracy and democracy are on a pendulum. We need both. Groupnets and sims will swing us back toward democracy.”

Area topics:

Military Power. Classic issues of force development, management, deployment. New Scenarios: Peer China, Resurgent Russia, Failing States, Recurrent Nationalism/Fundamentalism, Counterinsurgency, Terrorism, Transnational Crime.

Political Freedom and Representation. Levels of institutional and political pluralism (competitiveness) must be kept high (Acemoglu). Post 2020, social networks and lobbytwins will likely bring much greater participatory/inititive politics, mass actions, reform. Developing nations will push through J-curve of initial instability to security via reciprocal transparency.

Globalism, Openness, and Power Politics. Vision, comparative political science, competitive intelligence, rulesets, policy flexibility are leadership assets. US must maintain strength on multilateral issues (nonproliferation, state aggression, terrorism, civilian rights)  and perception of fairness (e.g., agreed criteria for drones and transnational security ops). Democracy must be championed to limit opportunistic autocratic actors (Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Small States).

Laws, Justice, Corruption. The better the web can visualize and benchmark performance of key actors, the more overlap of services, and the more the client public can give feedback and steer resources to  favored actors, the easier it is to control corruption (Klitgaard). Empowered prosecutors can eliminate mid-level corruption (The Singapore Story)

Social Services, Fiscal Policy, and Debt.  US has a large (bloated) social safety net, with low personal responsibility. We’ve had poor fiscal policy (no countercyclical saving). Federal debt is nearly in runaway. We’ll have to keep devaluing to avoid default.  Strengthening our alliances and agreements will be key, as this problem is faced by most of the developed world.

Books:  Pentagon’s New Map, 2004; The J-Curve, 2007; Future of Power, Nye, 2011; Why Nations Fail, Acemoglu, 2012

Leadership Questions:

  1. What are your political technologies research, acquisition, R&D, hiring, training, measuring, & mgmt strategies?
  2. What key disruptions or threats must you anticipate from increasing pluralism, competitiveness and globalism?
  3. What problems could be addressed and opportunities taken if you had better political relationships with key partners in other departments, government, media, and the public? How can you build those relationships?
  4. How can you get measurably more of the most valuable political capabilities, at an efficient ROI?