Epistocracy is a social media platform designed to benefit both politicians and citizens by promoting deeper connections and communication between and within these groups.
The platform allows politicians to see who their supporters are and, even more importantly, it allows them access to the friends and supporters of their supporters via an extended network of people who agree on any given issue. This, in turn, can lead to out-of-state influence and a chance to speak to swing voters while building greater and greater consensus at the grassroots level. Any given user can take a stance on an issue. This not only matches them with politicians who hold the same view but other users as well. Politicians and leaders can access both immediate and second, third and fourth degree networks.
For users, it gives them the ability to custom-make their own ideologies by offering nuanced views on the issues, identifying policy experts within the community and bringing them together. This matches people with each other and the politicians who best represent them.
The platform caters to the majority of voters who don’t identify with every aspect of the two major political parties, ultimately promoting a richer, more authentic democracy. Politicians can more accurately target their messages and are afforded an opportunity to better explain themselves outside of common political tropes, to politically-active and aware users who are already interested.
Our societies and the political institutions that inhabit them are evolving at a pace never before experienced. Many feel that modern Western democracy is in crisis. If true, there are a variety of reasons. Some have identified:
The role of monied interests in politics and corruption
The lack of a real range of choices between parties and their candidates
Ideologically divided societies
Disenfranchisement of the voters
Increasing and unmanageable social and political complexity
Technological complexity and hyper-specialization
The crises in media due to the proliferation of cheap and effective communication technology as well as bias and the influence of monied interests in the media
Inherently flawed political systems
While nothing short of a complete re-ordering of society could hope to resolve all of these issues, epistocracy.com hopes to use the growing political power behind social media to address many of them head-on with a user-friendly, intuitive and comprehensive platform.
There are significant philosophical justifications for what we are doing, ranging from Ancient Greek ideas about an ideal democracy to modern mathematical models. We have endeavored to be as diligent as possible in addressing the problems in our democracy to the best of our ability. Our justifications are:
In Plato’s Republic, Socrates described tradesmen and craftsmen as having “real knowledge,” that is to say, they knew their craft incredibly well. He found, however, that these men often mistook their extensive knowledge of one subject to equate to extensive knowledge of another. This is, according to Socrates, a form of arrogance. In response, Socrates recommends “epistemic humility,” or essentially, the acknowledgement that we cannot all be experts at all things. It is this concept, actually, that inspired epistocracy’s name. (Epist, meaning knowledge or wisdom, and ocracy, referring to government. Thus, epistocracy would be rule of the wise.)
Epistocracy.com addresses this issue by identifying users’ core values, then methodically and logically aligning their stance for issues that personally are outside their expertise. As this fully encompassing and automated personal political platform develops over time, it will result in a statistically derived "perfect vote."Of course, users are free to question the results of these automated stances, an action that is encouraged as it only serves to assist the algorithm in better determining the user’s overall worldview.
Chinese philosopher Confucius, as well as Plato in his promotion of the concept of rule by “Philosopher Kings,” are the earliest known advocates of a meritocratic society. This means that those most knowledgeable on political matters should be the ones to make decisions regarding said matters.
Not to arrogantly think that ancient societies were in any way simple, it is still safe to say that modern societies are significantly more complex, segmented, specialized, diverse and intertwined than they were thousands of years ago. And it holds as true today as then that no one can be an expert in everything political--not even politicians themselves.
Epistocracy addresses this issue, for citizens and politicians alike, by identifying experts and opinion leaders within each and every issue and giving them a microphone and the recognition they deserve. Users unschooled on any particular issue can easily find people and information relevant to the issue and politicians can better understand the issues at play for their constituencies while potentially partnering with experts to advance their cause.
The Filter Bubble
Similarly, a very recent problem that has emerged with the rise of search engine algorithms is the concept of the filter bubble--though it could be argued that the mainstream media has long blown its own filter bubble with ideologically-based news organizations like Fox and CNN or NPR. Search engines attempt to customize searches to their users by using previous search histories to throw up results they think will more interest their users. In many ways, this can be very helpful. In politics, however, it’s resulting in the extremization of the electorate--more and more of whom are getting their information online.
If a user regularly googles “Donald Trump speech” and “Mike Huckabee radio show” combined with something like “Obama is a fascist” or “how the left is wrong about everything,” Google will eventually customize their future searches to be heavily right-leaning until the user begins to feel like the information they already agree with is, in fact, the only information there is. This is the filter bubble and, as a result, people become more extreme and more entrenched in their views.
Epistocracy seeks to evenly distribute views on the issues, offer experts a platform to present themselves and always gives users a series of well-considered, informed options from which to determine their stance on an issue. There is no filter bubble on epistocracy.com and we feel this will allow voters to eventually accept and adopt more nuanced and intelligent policy stances.
The ResultUltimately, by offering voters more and better access to information, more social support and more access to their representatives--all while offering representatives themselves more access to their supporters and their supporters’ extended networks, epistocracy.com hopes to leverage the power of social media and communication technology to enable a healthier, more authentic democracy. Combine this with the platform’s tools for developing a comprehensive worldview, the tools for offering (or rescinding) support of a candidate, expert, opinion leader or fellow user as well as the metrics and analytics available to both users and politicians, we hope to keep society abreast, informed and mobilized around issues as they arise so that voters and politicians alike can respond to our ever-changing, quickly evolving society.