Accelerated Democracy: Scenarios from the future of technological voting

   Jason Tester, Institute for the Future

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University October 29, 2004

How might campaigns and government change if voters received personalized electronic updates as soon as politicians fulfilled or violated campaign promises? What if there was software that watched what you did on your computer-such as the Web pages you surf and the emails you send & receive-and then recommended a political candidate, even automatically voting for you?

The Accelerated Democracy project is a series of scenarios that illustrate how interactive technologies could impact political voting in 5-10 years time. Each scenario is rooted in quantifiable trends in voting and politics that are evident now and seem likely to continue into the future. The scenarios illustrate both the forms that new voting technologies & interfaces might take and, even more importantly, the potential impacts on society.

In addition to the scenarios, the Accelerated Democracy project identified several big picture potential benefits and dangers of technology-changed voting. Several of these effects can already be seen in current applications of technology to voting, while others may become more pronounced if technology and voting further integrate.

Also in this presentation will be a discussion of the new and growing role of design in long-term futures thinking. The Accelerated Democracy scenarios were created using everyday 'artifacts from the future' to help people comprehend and discuss potential futures without prior knowledge of the given field or skills in long-range analysis.

Jason Tester has pursued several paths within human-computer interaction but his underlying passion is researching and designing for the effects of technology on society. He graduated with a BS in Human-Computer Interaction Design from Stanford University, where he helped found the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, the only research & design group focused on the new field of persuasive technologies. Jason was then in the first class of graduate students at the Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea, Italy, where he undertook the Accelerated Democracy project, a series of scenarios illustrating potential futures for technological voting. This project has been featured in international TV and print and formed the basis for his focus on innovating new methods for integrating design with long-term futures thinking. Jason is currently a researcher and artifact designer with the Institute for the Future, a Menlo Park, CA-based non-profit research organization.


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