Monday, August 20, 2007

Some thoughts on Technology and Politics

In my past I had been (and may well be again) a student for graduate studies of Political Science. As a bachelor of Computer Sciences, I thought of making my thesis about some kind of interaction between the Political and the Technology. I never got around to do it in the end, having my studies frozen once I ended my military service, but it was something I toyed with in mind many times.

Technology Affects Politics
One possible direction was to look into the way technology affects politics. Does the Internet, for one, change the way politics happens in a given state? Does it promote democracy? Dictatorship? Does it reduce or enhance citizens involvement in their political space?
Another such direction could be to study the impact that technology has on politics or socials of a developing country. For example, does the blooming outsourcing of high-tech services to India creates a new social class in that country? Will it drive the whole country upwards or will it drive the economical and social differences to even greater extreme (in a country already ripped apart by such differences).

Politics Affects Technology
A different case are questions about the way politics affects the development and usage of high-tech. Is the Internet exposure rate higher in democracies than in dictatorships? Socialists than capitalists?
How are governments affecting the nature of high-tech in the state - regulation is sometimes a huge issue, sometimes non-existent. Does government direction of high-tech research and development pays off? Does funding? How many governments do it, and by what means?

Bigger Questions Yet
And one of the most interesting options - can technology create a new method of politics? There are numerous projects abound which change the nature and mechanisms of politics. Consider the 'direct democracy' projects such as Knesset 2 in Israel, which sets an alternative to the legislation process. There is a suggestion for the World Wide Web independence, where one can be a citizen of a virtual micronation, and abide by its rules and policies. Perhaps Kant's vision of global federation can be implemented using technology. Perhaps corporations can leverage technology to an extent making them more powerful than states, making their employees into a kind of citizens in a Corporatocracy.

...But Why Am I Posting?
Simply because I became addicted to the computer game Civilization IV. It does such a good job of following human development, that it makes me thing again about technology and politics, and the question of what new types of politics can be created (like Democracy, Liberalism, Facism, Representaion etc). It also made me reread the excellent chapter about technologies in Jared Diamond's book "Guns, Germs and Steel", becuase it illustrates beautifully how the development of technology is dependent on the amount of food production, the social structure and the number of states you know.

Besides, do I need a reason to post?

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