Techno-democracy

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Direct democracy is a form of government in which all citizens can directly participate in the decision-making process. This was first experimented with in ancient Athens, which was governed for some time by a council of representatives and a general assembly of all citizens. The restrictive conditions for citizenship (only a very small male elite could participate) and small size of the Athens city-state minimized the logistical difficulties inherent to this form of government. Since then, however, this form of government has not been used. Modern mass-suffrage democracy generally rely on representatives elected by citizens.

Techno-democracy is a movement that seeks to leverage use of technology (including computers and the Internet) to help eliminate the logistical obstacles of direct democracy, in the belief that by doing so, it will allow democratic republics to more accurately represent the preferences of their citizens. Ross Perot was for a time the most prominent advocate of this concept when he advocated "electronic town halls" during his 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns in the US.

The traditional objection to democracy, however, also applies to Techno-democracy: both systems of government are open to demagoguery. More generally, the potential lack of deliberation is a serious problem, however recent developments in peer-to-peer communication, collaborative discussion forums (like Wikipedia), and weblogs offer intriguingly successful solutions to the issue of deliberation, once the various issues (spam, populism, and verbal vandalism) are solved. In addition, there are numerous practical and theoretical issues revolving around electronic voting which are yet to be solved, but fortunately a wide and diverse set of experiments and trials into electronic voting are underway around the world.