In yesterday’s article, Beware the Myth of the Noble Researcher, I posited something controversial:
To prevent a future where an egomaniac researcher unleashes a dangerous technology upon humanity, we should consider stricter regulation of research and development.
On the surface, this is a scary concept. But it’s a wonderful thing for humanity.
In this article, I will explain how innovation can—and should—and probably will—be regulated. I will also share who is truly fit for the role.
Kidding. Not me. Nor you. Nor politicians or bureaucrats. Read on.
Firstly, why does regulation have a bad reputation?
We’re scarred when it comes to regulation. We have baggage.
Think of a hot topic today. Gun control. Healthcare. It doesn’t matter if you’re pro- or anti-regulation; whatever the topic, I bet you’re pessimistic about whether that regulation will work.
Why? Obviously we’re jaded because it doesn’t usually work, especially in high-profile, public-facing topics where everyone has an opinion.
But why doesn’t it work?
Regulation often doesn’t work because of improper resource allocation caused by shortsightedness.
Bureaucrats afflicted with legacy thinking and power-related psychosis underestimated how much resources would be needed to achieve something.
Or they actually didn’t care about accomplishing something big; they just wanted to put on a show to keep the salary flowing.
But even when you have proper resource allocation, regulation is still a crapshoot. Why?
Regulation primarily doesn’t work because individual humans are not good representatives for humanity.
You are biases, fears, conditioning, and genetic disposition bundled up in a nice, unfit-for-representation package.
Currently, the way society is built, we have individuals representing—making crucial decisions on behalf of—groups of people. These individuals are not particularly empathic. They are not emotional geniuses. They are bundles of biases and fears, and they are making decisions on behalf of YOU.
Isn’t this archaic!?!
So…who IS a good representative for humanity?
Who? Think about it.
There is only one entity that is fit to represent humanity.
The trick to creating regulation which works is to allow humanity to govern itself. Crowd-sourcing laws, and technological funding, and commercial loans. Crowd-sourcing choices about humanity’s future.
No, bureaucrats will not be eliminated. They will evolve to serve a different role. More like… caretakers.
Policy-making will be made by crowds.
This isn’t a crazy idea. It’s already happening on a relatively small scale: Kickstarter for funding. Change.org for social change.
Imagine if we had a Change.org for laws. How incredible would that be? It would certainly cull the tangled mess of obsolete, ridiculous laws that congest the legal system today.
Uhh… My dream is to open a muffin shop. You mean I can’t open it if people vote against it? Fuck that.
I mean exactly that. You’d need their approval.
And here’s why you shouldn’t feel threatened by what I’m saying.
Let’s say you open a muffin shop tomorrow—with NO crowd-sourced policy-making infrastructure in place. Turns out 95% of the people in your neighborhood hate muffins. But you don’t know that. You take out a big loan. You go bankrupt in 6 months.
Here’s the point. Don’t be deluded: your business is already at the mercy of a horde of people. That “horde” is your customer base.
Now imagine the same scenario if crowd-sourced regulation was in place. You’d realize oh, looks like my neighbors like doughnuts instead. Then you’d get rich. See how this kind of regulation can be a wonderful thing?
How would crowd-sourced regulation work?
Imagine a government-run website portal or virtual reality environment which is the hub for all laws. Another for all emerging technologies seeking funding. Another for all entities seeking commercial loans. Etc.
These programs would be accessible to all U.S. citizens and accommodate all languages. If you’re leery about it being government-run, well, keep in mind that the management of the portal could be crowd-sourced as well. Alternatively, the government’s management could be regulated by the crowd. It would simply be a modern, more transparent version of Checks and Balances.
You might “walk” into this virtual reality building, and say, “I’d like to learn more about prosthetic limbs. Specifically, which technologies are currently being voted on? Sort by ending soonest. Exclude projects seeking less than $5 million in funding. Include only projects based in California.”
You could scan through a summarized video history of prosthetic limbs, played back at 3x speed. You could see who in your network of friends and family voted for or against funding a particular technology, and see their explanations. You could get as granular as you wanted to seek information about a specific project.
The point is, if there existed an infrastructure which allowed crowds to regulate R&D, to regulate humanity’s future… wouldn’t that be a better methodology than what we’re using today?
Shouldn’t humanity as a whole—not a handful of humans, not the privileged few—choose what’s best for humanity?