Netflix recently released “The Great Hack” which is causing people to worry – and rightfully so. What should have been an episode of Black Mirror, was actually a documentary.
In the past decade, many probably had a sneaking suspicion that something was happening to our elections, as the message of hate, division and isolation quickly became prevalent around the world.
The Great Hack depicts our new reality, where data is being used to manipulate elections with highly targeted fearmongering and propaganda campaigns. Most notably with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.
A vast majority of long-term statistics show that the world is actually becoming a better place to live, with less extreme poverty, violence and war. (If this is news to you, I would suggest reading Steven Pinker’s book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” or “Enlightenment Now”.)
Under those circumstances you might be tempted to think that running an election fueled by hate, fear and division would be difficult, but unfortunately it became a lot easier with the use of data harvested from social media and campaign tactics described as a “weapons-grade communication technique”.
The change in the election process is just one of the many ways that society has fundamentally changed in the last decade, and many politicians are struggling to understand why it is happening on a fundamental level.
While some are offering solutions tailored for the 20th century, others are simply out of ideas and resort to telling companies to “Do the right thing!”. Neither has promising prospects for the future.
While most politicians are busy chasing the symptoms and effects of the new reality, Andrew Yang has proposed a policy that would establish “Data as a Property Right” (follow the link to read the proposal), to fix the fundamental flaws and incentives attached to data, in order to get to the root cause.
Andrew Yang is also proposing several ways to boost journalism to combat other aspects of the same problem.
In a democracy, it’s vital that people have access to quality information. The fact that journalism is no longer market supported doesn’t change the fact that it serves a crucial public function.
What’s happening to journalism is a microcosm of other changes in our economy. The market has reduced the value of investigative reporting while rewarding ‘clickbait’ articles and bids for web traffic. Our trust in media is eroding in part because media companies are responding to financial incentives that debase the quality of their reporting.Andrew Yang – The future of journalism
If “doing the right thing” is not incentivized, it probably won’t happen. This simple truth should be at the heart of any political campaign.
Data is not an evil entity. It can be used in many productive ways to make life better and easier, but we cannot allow the blatant misuse of data to corrupt the system, and the only way to avoid that is to elect leaders who understands the issue at a fundamental level, and also how to fight it.
So far, Andrew Yang is the only candidate to fit that description, as we get closer to the election where Donald Trump will once again use any means necessary to win.