1. Blockchain Election Scenario – The Birth of Electronic Voting
We will start with a bit of a technical description. Blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of ordered records called blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block. Through this rather simple design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data, and once recorded, the data in each block cannot be altered retroactively.
For this reason, there is a strong likelihood that blockchain can be used to develop an electronic voting system, where votes can be cast easily through any electronic device, and each vote can be crosschecked and verified through a number of algorithms, opening the doors for an entirely different kind of election process.
To help expand our thinking, I’ve created this scenario.
Ten years from now the Norwegian Nobel Committee decides to use a different process for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize. After receiving roughly 250 nominations for the award, the committee narrows down the field to just four names.
Working with a new super-secure blockchain voting system, the Committee embarks on holding the world’s first global election to not only select the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize but also promote peace around the world. The election process will help draw attention to their efforts.
PRE-TESTING: Electronic voting will open the doors for pre-testing the voters. The voting process will still be based on one-person-one-vote, but the votes only count if people understand what they are voting on. By using a series of rudimentary questions to demonstrate subject matter competency, people will be qualified to vote. In this scenario, two simple questions are asked about each candidate to demonstrate basic subject matter proficiency. Pretesting also serves as an extra security measure against hackers.
Allowing a 60 day period for “campaigning” to occur, all votes are cast within a one-day period, with the winner announced the day after all of the votes are in. During this time, people in 84 different countries cast a total of 750 million votes.
As a result of this process, the winner instantly becomes the most recognizable person on the planet…. more famous than presidents, kings, or other world leaders.
Also, as a consequence of this process, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is dramatically elevated in stature and influence, the Peace Prize has become the most coveted award on earth, and the pursuit of peace becomes a global obsession.
With this use-case scenario in mind, how will an electronic voting process such as this change the world over the next 20 years?
NOTE: The answers below are intended to reflect the brainstorming process. Responses will range from comments, to half-baked ideas, to questions that serve as placeholders for more thinking in the future. If you can’t think of an answer at the moment, or think nothing will change, make a statement to that effect. Best done in groups with other creative thinkers.
What Happens to Entrepreneurs?
- Entrepreneurs will view online elections as a new form of marketing to expand awareness.
- Voting will be used to decide on products, policies, institutions, cities, and a wide variety of other issues.
What Happens to Students?
- Will students be more likely or less likely to vote?
- Will pretesting be too controversial to implement? Will it replace age requirements for voting?
What Happens to Personal Relationships?
- In much the same way the “like” button revolutionized social media, voting on real-life issues will become a common daily ritual.
- Rather than just selecting a candidate or saying “yes” or “no,” will it be possible to vote on a sliding scale or with a wide range of emoticons in the future?
- Will it someday be possible to see how your friends voted in the future? (As in Facebook or Twitter friends)
What Happens to Employment and Earning a Living?
- Since everyone approaches each question from a “what’s-in-it-for-me” perspective, employment and personal income issues will always rise to the top.
- Will electronic voting create more jobs or fewer jobs?
What Happens to Parenting and Childhood
- Campaigning has evolved into a form of open expression often tapping into anger, hate-speech, and divisive sentiments. Will we want to protect our children from that in the future?
- How do these campaigns affect early childhood development?
What Happens to Governmental Systems
- Governments will need to develop rules and systems to create a level playing field for electronic voting.
- Who gets to decide on which issues get voted on?
- We will likely see national and global referendums that we all vote on in the future.
- How will local, regional, national, and global elections evolve over the coming years?
- Since the cost of holding an election will plummet, will the number of elections begin to increase exponentially? Too many elections will mean that many will not get enough attention.
What Happens to Personal Health?
- Will we suffer from “voter fatigue” in the future? Too many issues, too many campaigns, too much rhetoric?
- Will electronic voting give a voice to those who feel oppressed?
What Happens to Spirituality?
- Spirituality is foundational to every voting process because it attempts to tap into your belief system.
- Voting becomes an expression of who we are and how we participate in society
What Happens to our Natural Environment?
- In the past, environmental issues took second place to personal and business interests? Will that be the same in the future?
- Very likely we will find ourselves voting on a host of environmental issues.
What Happens to Personal safety?
- Personal safety issues are easy to turn into emotionally charged topics that sway public opinion.
- Since voting will take place with electronic devices in private, there should be less intimidation.