Op/Ed II: The Devil we Know

A recent article by Bloomberg titled ‘Why some Nations are warming to technocracy’ gives interesting insight into how people view democracy, and what, if any alternatives to democracy people are willing to entertain. In a survey which included 41,953 respondents, spanning 38 nations, the Pew Research Center found: when asked to choose an alternative to democracy, the majority choice Technocracy. The survey also found that newer democracies, and poor nations view technocracy positively, whereas nations with long established democratic traditions view a technocratic tradition more negatively. Overall though, the idea of a technical or scientific based government is becoming more popular, and seems like a rational thing to consider.

Never before in human history have so many people had access to education, information, communications, and technology. It cannot be by chance that as the world becomes more educated, people are realizing that if we do not change how we govern ourselves we will not survive. What needs to change is current democratic institutions. Current political and legal systems are slow, and not advanced enough to face the range of problems human civilization will face in the coming decades.  If our current democratic institutions want to enjoy their continued influence, they will need to change and make choices based on the insight the scientific community can provide; if not, we will destroy this planet and all life on it, including us.

Climate change and ecological conservation, sustainable food and water security, renewable energy and sanitation, disease epidemiology, effective urban development, computers and automation, and infrastructure are all issues that we face which require specialized and technical leadership. Leadership the technocracy can provide. Canada seems to be moving towards having technocratic tendencies—is  that really a bad thing? Engineers supervise engineering, medical professionals supervise medical care, social workers supervise social welfare, and the government makes decisions based on statistical evidence and reason. This sounds like a very rational way to govern, yet people resist it still. There is a wave of unstoppable social, global, and technological development that is coming—why fight it? Current technological progress is totally unprecedented, and therefore will require unprecedented political change. We need to move towards a form of government that can effectively analyze, and incorporate ongoing technological change, and not simply stick with the devil we know.

The main argument cited against a technocracy is: there will emerge a new ruling class, and we will enter into some kind of dystopian future brought on by the unsupervised and vulgar use of technology and science. However, a lot of the resistance of technocracy seems to stem from people simply not understanding science, or not understanding how the scientific method works. We all have different strengths and talents that may not be based in science, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Not everyone has to be a particle physicist or study the mathematical underpinnings of quantum reality. However, we should make public policy based on the recommendations of the scientific community. We should elevate scientists, legal scholars, and prolific thinkers to the celebrity status of the Kardashians. If we did this, there would be absolutely nothing beyond the capacity of human potential and creativity.

In the meantime, more should be done to put technical and scientific experts in positions of authority, so they can solve scientific and technical issues they are experts in; issues that just so happen to the be critically affecting human civilization. In our increasingly globalized world, we all need to work together, support each other, and share with each other. Political decisions based on raw emotion, or cherry-picked evidence needs to stop. We need to make economic and policy based on what science or evidence tells us—not what popular opinion is at any given time. There is no reason why we, a scientific-based democracy, cannot peacefully coexist with the legal, civil, and human rights that should be enjoyed by all people. If human civilization is to survive we need to move away from the old system, and move towards a system that will better equip law makers and leaders with the information and technology needed to make informed policy; thus, we should move towards a technocracy.

One Reply to “Op/Ed II: The Devil we Know”

  1. This was the 1st time I have heard of the idea of ‘technocracy’. I love your argument that scientists, scholars, and prolific thinkers should be elevated to the level of famous people like the Kardashians. These professionals are making huge contributions to the development of mankind, yet go unnoticed next to pictures of beautiful people in provocative clothing. The fetisization of celebrities is one of the more negative aspects of technoculture. If the public paid more attention to scientific and social innovations society could increase their potential and productivity. While it is important to make political decisions based on factual evidence, I would argue that popular public opinion is also important. While not everyone is an expert, every individual contributes to society and has a right to giving input into the way they will be governed.

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