Open State

You've heard of Open Source, right? Why not Open State? It's a simple idea. Government is a bunch of ad-hoc, chaotic processes that are hard to follow - and politicians like it that way. Nothing does processes better than software. Let's build the software that will render governments transparent and force them to be efficient and accountable. If we the people don't do it, nobody will.

You've heard of Open Source, right? Why not Open State?


It's a simple idea.

Your average western government consists of the following four elements:

1. The Politicians

These are our elected representatives. They are members of a legislature. They are our congressmen, senators, presidents, prime ministers, ministers, members of the parliament. I say our, because, even though it is not relevant to this proposal, we should always remember they are our employees.

For the sake of simplicity, I will not address the issue of bicameral legislatures possessing a chamber of appointed, as opposed to elected, members. I hope it will become evident that such legislatures could also adopt this proposal without any problems.

2. The Beaurocrats

Barring politicians, these are all the people on the government's payroll. They consist the machinery of government.

3. The Law

With "The Law", I mean all legislation, and the constitution.

4. Operational processes

Operational processes are the processes that define the day-to-day life of the politicians, and the bueaurocrats. These processes include - by my definition - everything from purchasing paperclips for a minister, to making appointments, archiving documents, taking minutes, and so on. Every procedure and everything that leaves a paper-trail is an operational process.

That's it. That's all a government is: politicians, beaurocrats, laws, and operational processes.

If it is true that we can define a government this way, if all governments can be described by these elements, then we can work out an abstract unified government model and use it to build a single software application to automate every government function.

Here's why we would want to do that: It would allow us, the people, to easily audit the government. We would be able to see how our money is spent and why, and it would force the government to be more efficient and accountable. After all, it would be that much easier for the opposition to demonstrate that replacing workflow X with workflow Y would increase performance and decrease costs and waiting times. Also, it would allow us to simplify the law. The law is too complex. A typical article of law refers to tens of others of articles of law. With the right software, we could easily track down the references, find the dead ends, the redundancies, the cyclic references, and so on. We could actually make it possible for people to know the law.

Of course, the model and the software should be open source so that everyone can suggest improvements and corrections. I already have a name for the application: "Open State". It's short and simple and it feels appropriate. But if you have a better name for it, please let me know. Names are important.

As with all software projects, acceptance is very important. It's especially important in this case, I think. After all, this software would - by design - make the lives of people in government more difficult. To make acceptance somewhat more easier, and difficult to decline, we would have to make sure that the software is modular. It should not be an all-or-nothing deal, at least not at first. The next step would be to get an international think-tank started with the mandate to promote the acceptance of the software. The think-tank would organize international concert & media events with rock-stars and ex-politicians saying what a great idea it is, it would have a website where people can download draft letters to their congressmen and MPs - that sort of thing.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

In a first for humankind, China successfully sprouts a seed on the Moon

China's Chang'e 4 biosphere experiment marks a first for humankind.

Image source: CNSA
Surprising Science
  • China's Chang'e 4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the moon on January 3.
  • In addition to a lunar rover, the lander carried a biosphere experiment that contains five sets of plants and some insects.
  • The experiment is designed to test how astronauts might someday grow plants in space to sustain long-term settlements.
Keep reading Show less

Neuroscience confirms your subconscious shapes your reality

Groundbreaking neuroscience confirms what Sigmund Freud first theorized.

Technology & Innovation

Groundbreaking neuroscience confirms what Sigmund Freud first theorized: that what we believe to be the objective reality surrounding us is actually formed by our subconscious. David Eagleman explains:

Keep reading Show less

Love in a time of migrants: on rethinking arranged marriages

Arranged marriages and Western romantic practices have more in common than we might think.

Culture & Religion

In his book In Praise of Love (2009), the French communist philosopher Alain Badiou attacks the notion of 'risk-free love', which he sees written in the commercial language of dating services that promise their customers 'love, without falling in love'.

Keep reading Show less