Democracy is the (never perfectly attained) collective endeavour to provide all participants with a fair and equal opportunity to contribute to governance; this implies that the aforementioned power-regulation related collaboration mechanisms allow minorities to defend their rights and interests, but also allow majorities to achieve their objectives, within the realm of mutual respect. ALC can make a substantial contribution to progressing governance, politics and democracy, indirectly through more informative media, more effective education, better working public institutions, but also directly by helping to develop new practices for governance, politics and democracy.
Any community (at any scale and for any purpose) is a cooperation that needs mechanisms for governance to balance common versus individual interests; to organise common activities; to set common goals and priorities; to allocate resources; to define and to apply rules and norms; to resolve conflicts... Any governance structure implies a dynamic power system, i.e., the (changing) ability or capacity to influence or control behaviour. This power is never equally distributed, because the preferences of the cooperating members are different; there will be majorities and minorities, which have to find practices to resolve conflicting interests; and to avoid that the worldview (of a group within the community) does not crush or overpower those of others. Power and collaboration are intimately linked. To start with the exercise of power happens through collaboration (nobody is powerful alone) and only makes sense in the context of collaboration. Also, collaboration-based mechanisms are indispensable to regulate power and take balanced decisions, to arbitrate between different interests and to make emerge a shared basis on which society can cooperate to their best interest and the common good. Politics are about collaborating to gain power. Different forms of governance, politics, and democracy are characterised by the “how” of power-related collaboration, i.e., the respective collaboration practices.
It is useful to distinguish between three levels in politics and governance: the micro-level, which focuses on individual involvement and where ideas, opinions, and actions shape outcomes; the meso-level, encompassing political parties, civil society organisations, and local government bodies, where policies are advocated, coalitions are built, and collective action is coordinated; and the macro-level, involving governments, intergovernmental relations, legal systems, constitutions, and global institutions. Politics occurs through the interplay of individual agency, group dynamics, and societal structures. As the world becomes more globally complex, the interactions between these levels become increasingly intricate. During times of crises, these interactions can sometimes become chaotic, potentially affecting the stability of political systems. Many global risks arise from the challenges of coordinating national interests and geopolitical priorities.
Better educated citizens demand greater involvement in public decision-making processes. However, this desire for involvement faces obstacles in an ever-changing and complex world. The growing gap between expectations and reality poses a threat to democracy, creating opportunities for mass manipulation, polarization, and corruption. Modern representative democracy, as we have progressively developed it since a couple of centuries, is increasingly at risk. And the autocratic alternatives are not particularly palatable.
To address these challenges, it is important to foster inclusive and meaningful citizen participation, ensuring that decision-making processes are transparent and accessible. By promoting a balance between individual voices, collective action, and systemic integrity, we can strive for a resilient and vibrant democracy. Easily said, but difficult to achieve, because of the complexity and the inertia of the necessary processes, and the challenge to make them evolve. The problem of collaboration overhead and inefficiencies is particularly strong in the field of governance, politics, and democracy. The larger and more diverse the community, the more this complexity and overhead induces inertia and difficulties to cope with a changing world.
To put it differently, we can see governance, politics, and the exercise of democracy as forms of ALC. New, more effective forms of ALC can enable new practices, which embody progressing collective values in terms of governance, politics and democracy.
Some examples of future symBots and symFlos:
We also asked ChatGPT for suggestions:
Author: how can ALC have a transformative impact on politics, governance and democracy? Could you in this sense suggest transformative symFlos / symBots?
ChatGPT: Augmented Learning Collaboration (ALC) has the potential to have a transformative impact on politics, governance, and democracy by enhancing participation, transparency, and accountability. Here are some transformative symFlos and symBots that can contribute to this impact:
These transformative symFlos and symBots in ALC can empower citizens, enhance transparency, and foster inclusive participation in politics, governance, and democracy. By leveraging technology and collaboration platforms, ALC can facilitate informed decision-making, bridge the gap between citizens and government, and promote the values of democracy such as transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement.
ChatGPT: Certainly! Here are some additional transformative symFlos and symBots in ALC that can have a positive impact on politics, governance, and democracy:
Inversely, politics, democracy and governance are key to ALC. How will collaboration practices in a given community (a family, a village, a corporation, a government, an international institution, the SymPlace Community of users…) be decided upon? Who evaluates them how? How do new practices emerge? How are they evaluated from different perspectives, and if needed, regularly revised and adapted?
This is the point where we need to stress that ALC needs governance! ALC offers an immense potential, but that implies that it also carries huge risks, most of which are probably unknown or, at best, at partly known. ALC and “artificial intelligence”, and even more so the combination of both, has dark sides. Governance and politics are areas which represent a particular need to monitor, to alert to dysfunctions, to be able to prove critical safety properties of system. These aspects are interesting for all domains, but particularly relevant and instructive in this one.