Augmented Democracy

© Mattheus Bertelli, Pexels


Executive Summary


  • Democracy is in danger. Mistrust in democracy calls for renewed thinking.
  • This can be addressed by tapping into our collective intelligence more effectively, as doing so can both enhance our democracies’ legitimacy and effectiveness.
  • While we have moved on for a pure model of representative democracy, the complementary approaches developed to date do not maximise the potential of collective intelligence to solve pressing issues more effectively, for six reasons at least: 
    1. Lack of trust in collective intelligence.
    2. Public officials believe that the direct cost of convening stakeholders properly is too high and don’t invest in quality processes.
    3. Fragmented conversations throughout the political cycle, involving a narrow set of actors and in silos.
    4. The technologies meant to address these shortcomings do not build on one another.
    5. Insufficient integration of opposing parties.
    6. Deliberation most often does not ask of the participants external to decision-making structures to co-build new solutions. Therefore we do not fully tap into the cognitive diversity of relevant populations. The lessons learnt in terms of how to foster creativity and innovation in other fields have only been applied marginally in the public sphere.
  • Yet, however limited and insufficient, experience to date tells us some useful lessons. Combining those, we know how to involve a diverse set of stakeholders, from citizens to lobby groups to public officials, to come up faster with new, better and less resource-intensive solutions, that are welcomed by the people affected.
  • We therefore propose an original combination of governance technologies that have proven their effectiveness and to apply it to emerging societal issues which will unfold over the coming years and have not yet resulted in solidified lines of fracture in society.
  • We call this approach – as a working title – ‘Augmented Democracy’ to convey the notion that it builds on representative democracy and is thinking in progress that deserves to be tested.
  • We sketch out how the approach could be applied to an upcoming policy challenge: the multidimensional impacts that autonomous mobility will have on our cities, economies, lifestyles.


Read the full Policy Paper: ‘Augmented Democracy: How to maximise collective intelligence  to solve pressing issues more effectively’. Or download it.