Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Governance Through Technology

Princeton University Press
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Successful democracies throughout history--from ancient Athens to Britain on the cusp of the industrial age--have used the technology of their time to gather information for better governance. Our challenge is no different today, but it is more urgent because the accelerating pace of technological change creates potentially enormous dangers as well as benefits. Accelerating Democracy shows how to adapt democracy to new information technologies that can enhance political decision making and enable us to navigate the social rapids ahead.

John O. McGinnis demonstrates how these new technologies combine to address a problem as old as democracy itself--how to help citizens better evaluate the consequences of their political choices. As society became more complex in the nineteenth century, social planning became a top-down enterprise delegated to experts and bureaucrats. Today, technology increasingly permits information to bubble up from below and filter through more dispersed and competitive sources. McGinnis explains how to use fast-evolving information technologies to more effectively analyze past public policy, bring unprecedented intensity of scrutiny to current policy proposals, and more accurately predict the results of future policy. But he argues that we can do so only if government keeps pace with technological change. For instance, it must revive federalism to permit different jurisdictions to test different policies so that their results can be evaluated, and it must legalize information markets to permit people to bet on what the consequences of a policy will be even before that policy is implemented.

Accelerating Democracy reveals how we can achieve a democracy that is informed by expertise and social-scientific knowledge while shedding the arrogance and insularity of a technocracy.

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About the author

John O. McGinnis is the George C. Dix Professor of Constitutional Law at Northwestern University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Dec 9, 2012
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9781400845453
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Science & Technology
Political Science / General
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Democracy
Political Science / Political Process / General
Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects
Social Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Jeffrey Rosen
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, breathtaking changes in technology are posing stark challenges to our constitutional values. From free speech to privacy, from liberty and personal autonomy to the right against self-incrimination, basic constitutional principles are under stress from technological advances unimaginable even a few decades ago, let alone during the founding era. In this provocative collection, America's leading scholars of technology, law, and ethics imagine how to translate and preserve constitutional and legal values at a time of dizzying technological change.

Constitution 3.0 explores some of the most urgent constitutional questions of the near future. Will privacy become obsolete, for example, in a world where ubiquitous surveillance is becoming the norm? Imagine that Facebook and Google post live feeds from public and private surveillance cameras, allowing 24/7 tracking of any citizen in the world. How can we protect free speech now that Facebook and Google have more power than any king, president, or Supreme Court justice to decide who can speak and who can be heard? How will advanced brain-scan technology affect the constitutional right against self-incrimination? And on a more elemental level, should people have the right to manipulate their genes and design their own babies? Should we be allowed to patent new forms of life that seem virtually human? The constitutional challenges posed by technological progress are wide-ranging, with potential impacts on nearly every aspect of life in America and around the world.

The authors include Jamie Boyle, Duke Law School; Eric Cohen and Robert George, Princeton University; Jack Goldsmith, Harvard Law School; Orin Kerr, George Washington University Law School; Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School; Stephen Morse, University of Pennsylvania Law School; John Robertson, University of Texas Law School; Christopher Slobogin, Vanderbilt Law School; O. Carter Snead, Notre Dame Law School; Jeffrey Rosen, George Washington University Law School; Benjamin Wittes, Brookings Institution; Tim Wu, Columbia Law School; and Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard Law School.

Jonathan Zittrain
This extraordinary book explains the engine that has catapulted the Internet from backwater to ubiquity—and reveals that it is sputtering precisely because of its runaway success. With the unwitting help of its users, the generative Internet is on a path to a lockdown, ending its cycle of innovation—and facilitating unsettling new kinds of control.

 

IPods, iPhones, Xboxes, and TiVos represent the first wave of Internet-centered products that can't be easily modified by anyone except their vendors or selected partners. These “tethered appliances” have already been used in remarkable but little-known ways: car GPS systems have been reconfigured at the demand of law enforcement to eavesdrop on the occupants at all times, and digital video recorders have been ordered to self-destruct thanks to a lawsuit against the manufacturer thousands of miles away. New Web 2.0 platforms like Google mash-ups and Facebook are rightly touted—but their applications can be similarly monitored and eliminated from a central source. As tethered appliances and applications eclipse the PC, the very nature of the Internet—its “generativity,” or innovative character—is at risk.

 

The Internet's current trajectory is one of lost opportunity. Its salvation, Zittrain argues, lies in the hands of its millions of users. Drawing on generative technologies like Wikipedia that have so far survived their own successes, this book shows how to develop new technologies and social structures that allow users to work creatively and collaboratively, participate in solutions, and become true “netizens.”

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