Using Collective Intelligence to address Democratic Challenges

Democracies around the world are experiencing declining trust in politicians [1]. In France this has amounted to the Yellow Vests, a complex social movement with a variety of different interests, but united around the notion that their voices have been excluded from the political process. There is general distrust in democratic institutions and a recent study shows that 60 % of the French population thinks the democratic system is dysfunctional [2].

When turning to other liberal democracies, similar patterns arise. Brexit negotiations have left the citizens of England in limbo and thousands have gone to the streets to protest. In the U.S., the Women’s March movement, held to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump, was the largest single day protest in history [3]. The inauguration of Trump has not just left female citizens in a fury, but has resulted in a crashing decline in institutional trust in the U.S. [1]

Declining trust is also an issue in Denmark were 63% of the population has expressed very little trust in politicians [4]. This distrust has amounted to the rise of new radicalized nationalist parties such as Stram Kurs and Nye Borgerlige, and has challenged the structure of the political landscape. Trust is an integral part of democracy and this recent decline can have severe consequences for the quality of representative democracies.

Citizen Crowdsourcing: An investigation of opportunities and challenges of using collective intelligence in policy-making is a new four-year research project on participatory democracy which is initiated and headed by the Collective Intelligence Unit, Department of International Economics, Governance and Business at Copenhagen Business School, in cooperation with Zealand Academy of Technologies and Business and Slagelse Municipality. The project aims to explore new ways to engage and involve citizens in political decision-making through citizen crowdsourcing and AI.

The project will explore the benefits and limitations of using crowdsourcing to engage citizens in the political decision-making process to address democratic challenges. The project will gather insights from different national and international citizen crowdsourcing projects around the world. In Madrid, the City Council has designed and launched the platform Decide, powered by open source software, Consul, which has allowed citizens to participate under the four different functions: proposals and votes for new local laws, debates, participatory budgeting, and consultations. The project has been successful in its engagement of citizen, with more than 400,000 people registered as of 2018 [5].  

Similar to Decide in Madrid, Barcelona City Council has launched platform Decidim, which allows citizens to participate directly in government. In the United States the Obama administration’s commitment to Open Government has been a driving force in public participation projects with platforms such as Citizen’s Briefing Book and We the People [6].

The Danish government has also launched a democracy participatory platform called Challenges.dk where citizens, organizations and companies can meet and create new ideas [7]. Citizen crowdsourcing is not limited to government projects. Organizations such as the United Nations are also exploring the possibilities for using citizen crowdsourcing to “crisis map” during disaster relief efforts [6].

The project Citizen Crowdsourcing: An investigation of opportunities and challenges of using collective intelligence in policy-making is based on studies of collective intelligence and the wisdom of crowds [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]. The experiences gained from this project will be used to raise awareness of the possibilities of using collective intelligence as a foundation for stronger decision-making processes, and to strengthen local and national democratic processes.

This blog will provide continuous information about the ongoing project and other topics related to collective intelligence. We hope that you will enjoy our continuous updates on topics that are at the forefront of Collective Intelligence! To stay informed about this cutting-edge research, please feel free to subscribe to our email list.

Authors

Luna Nikita Rasmussen

 

Carina Antonia Hallin

 

References

[1] Edelman Trust Barometer (2018). [Internet], Available from: https://www.edelman.com/sites/g/files/aatuss191/files/2018-10/Edelman_Trust_Barometer_Employee_Experience_2018_0.pdf [Accessed 21 May 2019].

[2] SciencePo (2018). [Internet], Available from: https://www.sciencespo.fr/cevipof/sites/sciencespo.fr.cevipof/files/Barometre_confiance_vague9.pdf [Accessed 21 May 2019].

[3] The Guardian (2019). [Internet], Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/19/womens-march-us-thousands-antisemitism-controversy [Accessed 21 May 2019].

[4] Ugebrevet A4, (2018). [Internet], Available from: https://www.ugebreveta4.dk/artikel/20331?fb_comment_id=1121750347836033_1122031284474606 [Accessed 21 May 2019].

[5] Madrid for you, (2018). [Internet], Available from: http://www.madridforyou.es/en/decide-madrid-platform-already-93-institutions-18-countries [Accessed 21 May 2019].

[6] Brabham, Darren C. (2013). Using Crowdsourcing In Government. University of Southern California [Internet], Available from: https://www.cbs.dk/files/cbs.dk/using_crowdsourcing_in_government.pdf  [Accessed 21 May 2019].

[7] Challenges, Erhvervsstyrelsen, Available from: https://challenges.dk/da [Accessed 21 May 2019].

[8] Hong, L., & Page, S. E. (2001). Problem Solving by Heterogeneous Agents. Journal of Economic Theory97(1), 123–163.

[9] Hong, L., & Page, S. E. (2004). Groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences101(46), 16385–16389.

[10] Malone, T. W. (2018). Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together (Hardcover). Hachette Book Group

[11] Woolley, A. W., Chabris, C. F., Pentland, A., Hashmi, N., & Malone, T. W. (2010). Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups. Science330(6004), 686–688.

[12] Mulgan, G. (2017). Big Mind: How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World (hardcover). Princeton University Press

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