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In 1931, Aldous Huxley conceived of a world unimaginable to those who lived in his time. This vision, albeit dystopian, rested on a fundamental restructuring of the foundations on which society was established. Driving the changes that upended the society he envisioned were technological advancements that humanity hadn’t seen for nearly half a century.

Until now.

We live in an age where that re-imagination is a necessity. Tech is changing the world. Now more than ever, the accelerating pace of technological change is forcing a new transformation of society, both economic and political.

Modern market dynamics can be described by this force. The newest tech startups, using software to upend industries that have spent billions of dollars and decades developing traditional business models, are becoming viable threats to seemingly dominating companies, forcing an ever increasing level of industry consolidation. …


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People hear what they want to hear. And that’s especially true with Facebook.

When I think back to my attitude towards Donald Trump, it began with my Newsfeed. I remember seeing article upon article about how he was a racist, sexist, islamophobic, sexually assaulting bigot. Many of the articles I saw were outright fake or had unsubstantiated claims. I didn’t believe them, but after a while of reading the same thing over and over and over again you begin to construct a persona of someone who seems shady.

Luckily I’m actually interested in politics so I double check and confirmed these allegations (yes, he is a racist, sexist, islamophobic, sexually assaulting bigot) but I can imagine how many people are not. After the elections, Trump claimed that millions of illegal immigrants voted in California, which is why he lost the popular vote. The shocking part was that CNN followed up and interviewed Trump supporters, and they genuinely and truly believed that that was a real, reported, substantiated fact. With claims now of election hacking, I’m sure of the outsized influence fake news had on the election. Election hacking, as we studied it, is not really hacking but rather changing the information that key people see. The fact that they call it hacking attests to how powerful of a method it can be. …


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No. Compulsory anything in America is too tough and too politically costly to implement. We just had a fight over compulsory healthcare which every other OECD country on earth has, and it’s proven to give better results, yet we still complained about it violating our fundamental freedoms.

The American way to do this would use incentives to ‘strongly convince’ them to vote, having the same effect. …


For our final project, we came up with potential innovations that would tackle the perceived overly-bureaucratic administrative system of the University of California, Berkeley.

We quickly came to the conclusion that transparency needed to be the at the center of our solution. As one of the members of the Student Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Education, and someone with an interest in understanding education policy, I’m well aware of the shared governance model that we follow. …


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Near Doe Libary from my instagram: @ali_wetrill

I want to take a second for us to stop panicking about the fact that we have a President Trump. Instead let’s think about how we have such partisan vitriol throughout our country, and not just in Washington. How did we get here? Why is it so hard for us to accept this reality (yes — sadly it is a reality) and how did no-one see this coming.

When I first came to campus last year I had just read Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, in which he talks about the ultimate manifestation of power in a prison model that had been in lost in history — known as the panopticon. Commissioned, but never actually built, it was designed by the philosopher, jurist and social reformer Jeremy Bentham. …


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Icelandic Crowdsourced Constitution — Promotional Picture

It’s not about what you do, it’s about how you do it

I’m not sure who exactly said that, but it encapsulates the theme of political (and therefore constitutional) reform. …


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A GOTV strategy is crucial. After all, it stands for ‘Get Out the Vote’ and without votes, you’d be hard pressed to win an election. But what’s surprised me from this week’s readings is the lack of coverage on the evolution of the process.

Some background: In both 2008 and 2012, Obama’s team came up with some of the best GOTV efforts this nation has ever seen. In 2008, the Obama team made a massive leap in the first step of GOTV efforts — identification. Campaigns have limited resources and have to figure out who exactly they should use their resources on. Outside of battleground counties in battleground states, there was no set strategy. However, the Obama team leveraged information from social media channels and private third party data aggregators (metrics including credit card purchases, what TV shows you watched, etc) to identify each person with a score indicating how likely they would be to vote for Obama, and how likely they would be to go to the voting booth in November. …


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Hacking an election is absurdly easy. Here’s how.

For those of us who envision voting online with the click of a button, this poses serious challenges. Although there is already plenty of voter suppression, through strict voter ID laws, lack of polling places, or unreasonable voter registration deadlines, there’s something deeply disturbing about having an outside force decide the state of our election. A good example of a country that’s dealing with this conundrum is Estonia.

This summer, I worked on a civic tech startup as part of the European Innovation Academy. Through that program I was able to talk to a lot of Estonians who have the fortune of having a fully functioning e-government platform, of which one feature was online voting. Far from being problem free, those students told me that there was no way to know if the incumbent party had rigged the elections, causing a split in public opinion over whether or not the government should scrap e-voting. …


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Are people really just not that interested? A study by Google’s Civic Innovation research group gives a more precise metric — 48.9% of American’s are ‘interested bystanders.’ …


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https://btcmanager.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Blockchain-Technologies-to-work-on-Blockchain-Based-Voting-System7.jpg

Is the future of politics a platform based technology? Blockchain technology seems to be that technological breakthrough that upends traditional representative democracy through secure direct voting. If you read enough articles by the civic tech, thinktank and public policy community, you might conclude that blockchain is in fact the future of politics.

Now consider reading the literature by the startup community. Blockchain is talked about as revolutionary, but never in the field of politics. Instead they see potential in its application to the financial system — a way of decentralizing asset purchases in order to create transparency and ultimately decrease the risk associated with purchasing derivatives, swaps, and even simpler financial products such as stocks. …

About

Ali

Just a few thoughts // aliahmed.io

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