Political decisions and wisdom of the crowd: from dispersed knowledge to ‘CrowdLaw’

In the past the best examples of collective intelligence involved groups of people who gathered in a physical space. Today, thanks to the internet, humans, machines, organizations, and networks can meet at a distance. A classic example of crowd wisdom is Wikipedia, the collective intelligence platform that we have all used. Other examples include YouTube and Quora.


The use of the internet for sharing information and connecting people is obvious to us, but there are many examples of collective intelligence that use less collaboration. The networking of a large number of people who share their experiences, skills, or individual actions often does not have the main purpose of collaboration.


Despite the many achievements of collective intelligence, most governments and key stakeholders continue to make decisions following top-down and behind-the-scenes logic. But what if the technologies behind collective intelligence allowed more individuals, not just interest groups, to intervene in legislative and political processes? What if collective intelligence was used to make our cities smarter and give us the opportunity to participate in public affairs?


Today, there are numerous examples of CrowdLaws carried out by public institutions that believe in the wisdom of the crowd. In China, the vTaiwan consultation platform allows a broad audience to participate in the process of identifying problems. So far, some national issues, including the regulation of telemedicine, online education, and Uber have been discussed.


In Iceland, Better Reykjavik is a CrowdLaw web platform for “idea generation” and “policy crowdsourcing” that allows citizens to present and discuss ideas related to the services and operations of the city of Reykjavik. Madrid, Spain and Turin, Italy have implemented similar platforms.


In the next fifty years we will face bigger challenges than our predecessors and we will need to manage our institutions differently to prepare for future challenges. Individual citizens have shown that they have the passion and know-how to participate. These platforms make it possible