The OSET Institute was pleased to help underwrite a gathering of 170+ (over 100 actually were able to be there in person) ...true thought leaders on our home turf of Palo Alto this weekend (thanks to the Institute For The Future down the street for providing the awesome space to meet.) 

The thesis of this gathering is that incremental changes are insufficient to address the deeper challenges to democracy that we now confront. Consequently, the focus was on the following interdependent areas of inquiry, each of which require non-linear thinking.

  1. Sense-making: how do we build a robust social architecture that allows a common situational awareness in the body politic? (i.e., discernment between lies, conjecture, propaganda, peer-reviewed science, etc)
  2. Collective decision-making: how do we design mechanics that effectively harnesses our collective intelligence? (e.g., ranked choice voting, liquid democracy)
  3. Core Infrastructure: how do we build a technical foundation for our democracy that is verifiable, accurate, secure, and transparent (e.g., govtech, blockchain)
  4. Adoption strategies: how do we rapidly roll out innovations in a way that optimizes uptake and avoids getting stuck in political quagmires (e.g., through local grassroots movements, national political parties, etc)

To be sure, this is big thinking, and our work at the Institute (e.g., the TrustTheVote Project) only plays a more immediate and practical role under the 3rd point, Core Infrastructure.  We have plenty to say with regard to Adoption Strategies given our long history in navigating the challenges of Gov Tech procurement and open source, but this was a more stratified conversation and necessarily needed to pin the details for now.  Good move; it (gov-tech procurement) is a quagmire.

The main thing is today produced a rich pool of concepts, ideas, updates on real projects, and vision for what the future can hold.  For example and this project.  There is a Facebook Group that you can ask to join, which will engage you in the many discussions of the day.  For us, we're thinking big for sure, and we have a mandates to deliver against in a very real and present time frame.  But as an Institute, we also believe its important to keep an eye just over the horizon while grappling with the near term.  Today's gathering did just that. 

This is the first of what is anticipated to be several UnConference gatherings around the country on this topic of "Upgrading Our Democracy."  The goal is to create fundamental improvements to the structure of our democracy so we can solve the greatest challenges before us.

We're grateful for the opportunity to have participated and provide some of the underwriting to make the physical gathering possible.