For a “public discussion network”

Far from dictatorships and “democracies”, it is our representative democratic systems themselves that suffer: a crisis of citizen confidence, a crisis of representation, a crisis of freedom of expression, a crisis of social dialogue… And above all, a “clotting crisis”? A real and much deeper cognitive crisis, which greatly weakens public debate and the expression of citizens.

At the heart of the tensions is the largest and most accessible space for contemporary exchanges and interactions: the Internet. Fake news, cyber-attacks, manipulation of conscience, and exploitation of personal data have for several years been the points of interest of politicians and lawmakers, nationalists and Europeans. We remember the Cambridge Analytica scandals, the Russian media review, the manipulation of pre-Brexit information, and every day we witness the intense contagion of conspiracy theories, the severe outbreak of fake news or the filter bubble on social media.

However, we are entitled to wonder if this risk of abuse is not the tree that hides the forest. Because basically, neither the traditional media (the dictatorship of instantaneity, focus, and media ownership), nor social networks (community bubbles, information), nor the Internet and its search engines (the oligarchy of sites referred to by Google search for “winner” takes it all) fail. In providing citizens with impartial information that can be used in all its complexity on a social or societal issue. In other words, our public information systems do not allow the peaceful emergence of political consciousness among our citizens.

Democracy needs a new way of organizing knowledge, which requires a redesign of the way citizens educate themselves and discuss on the Web, in order to evolve towards a “network of public debate”. A basic set of web services that will provide access to all official (verified facts) and unofficial (opinions) contributions on a given political topic. Which would provide a unified database of general interest debates and tags and ratings for most content. Who would make sense come out of this massive amount of contributions and reclaim them through a common language (themes, interests, solutions, arguments). The heart of web services, in conclusion, would provide citizens, intermediary bodies, elected officials, and the media with a clear representation of current ideas and power relationships.

This web services core was not born

The web as we know it – that of GAFAM – is not built according to these main principles, it responds to other, essentially profitable goals. It has been proven that the web today favors conservative content! We therefore advocate the creation of a set of alternative web services, the main technologies of which should allow the support of at least 5 goals (others will emerge over time):

  • Goal 1: Get better information

It is a matter of inventing a system of labeling information and responding to requests to the search engine by means of a cartographic representation of the results: preparing the information label taking into account its biases and “nutritive” elements (emotions, scientific facts, etc.) based on the model of mandatory information on the food label, develop A map of links listed by the response engine to put the different dimensions of a complex topic into perspective, focusing on the relationships between reported sources (eg mind map type tree structure).

  • Goal 2: Contribute better

This includes redesigning user interfaces for mass trading and decision-making: respecting a strict interface policy based on shared principles of user experience (accessibility, inclusion, ergonomics, etc.), and promoting interfaces that respect the nuance and complexity of information (the principle of minimal complexity). ), facilitating the exchange of arguments, promoting the coexistence of distinct and complementary points of view (as opposed to filtering bubbles of social networks) in the model in particular for the network of disagreements, measuring the current balance of power, and defining opinions.

  • Goal 3: Build better

This is to enable categorization and leverage the results of all user-generated content into a public debate in order to put an end to the digital amnesia that immediately renders most citizen contributions obsolete: Automated Open Data Regulation for Raw Data Associated with Citizen Content, Open Data Regulation for Analyzed Data By algorithms, enhancing multi-repository around the same problem (as there must be several layers to read Wikipedia: Wikipedia youth layer, old age layer, so-and-so culture layer, etc., highlighting common points and differences), allowing portability of reference systems ( For example: The Great Debate Reference System – 700 proposals – or the Citoyenne pour le Climat Convention reference system – 149 actions – you should be able to use as a starting point of reference for any new online citizen consultation on a topic consistent with these two major consultations).

  • Goal 4: Build trust

It is a matter of creating a web based on algorithmic trust: favoring interpretable algorithms (those whose rules are set by humans and whose results are so obvious), ensuring double algorithm transparency (transparency in the instructions given to algorithms and their declared effects), allowing users the freedom to choose the algorithms, Intellectual property of personal data is guaranteed.

  • Goal 5: Learn better

It is a matter of allowing the democracy of competence to emerge by linking the production of citizen-generated content to the pooling of competencies by peers: identifying “regular experts”, consolidating informal knowledge, encouraging exchange within communities of interest, imagining a democratic resume or citizen’s passport or obtaining credits Attested by a school or university.

Bringing a network for public discussion means meeting at least these five goals corresponding to the digital agora ‘basics’. This project cannot be left in the hands of French civil technology alone (twelve players in 2022 represent less than €20 million in cumulative income) and must be the subject of a truly national franchise plan, with the same ambition. Hydrogen plan or plan.

That is why the state must launch a democratic plan aimed at creating a French sector of excellence around the emergence of this renewed core of web services, as an alternative to GAFAM and to meet the goal of enlightening the citizen in his democratic choices. This sector of excellence aims to highlight the critical technologies that underlie the mentioned five goals and will thus promote consultation, joint construction, joint decision-making and joint action by citizens.

In the spirit of the Internet of Enlightenment, these core technologies are digital commons, cross-sectional and unaware of the platforms you will be using. They are intended to irrigate current or future digital spaces of citizen expression (consultations, surveys, discussions, forums, petitions, votes, projects, etc.) and represent a common benefit that must be safeguarded to ensure our life together. Any platform, private, community or public (including media) can take advantage of this architecture of key technologies through an API (open system).

Such an industrial sector must be supported in terms of equity and financing capabilities that will allow, in the medium term, the emergence of the French unicorn of democracy, with a call for European and international alliances, the export of French knowledge and the defense of our cultural exception – in the digital age – for all liberal democracies of the world . We defend the premise of the integration of this France 2030 Democracy Plan, managed by the General Secretariat for Investment (SGPI). An investment plan of €500 million can be set as a target that fits the ambitions of creating this public debate network, which is decentralized, transparent, humane and championing and championing our values.

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Co-authors:

  • Frank Escobes, co-founder of bluenove, co-author of “Democracy, Otherwise” (Ed. de l’Observatoire, 2021)
  • Arno Pons, General Delegate, Digital New Deal
  • Gilles Proriol, Cognito founder, and co-author of “La Démocratie, autre” (Ed. de l’Observatoire, 2021)

Co-signers:

  • Alicia Compaz, co-founder of Make.org
  • Louis Daillencourt, General Manager, Novoville
  • Axel Dauches, co-founder of Make.org
  • Julie de Pemodan, co-founder of Fluicity
  • Isabelle Djian, CEO and Co-founder of VoxNation
  • Adrien Duguet, co-founder of Citipo
  • Cyril Lage, Founder of Parliament and Citizens / Cap Collective
  • Pierre Lévy, philosopher, sociologist, and researcher in communication and information sciences
  • Clément Mabe, Lecturer at Compiegne University of Technology
  • Chloe Pahood, founder of Civocracy
  • Benoit Raphael, founder of Flint Media
  • Mathieu Sucre, Associate Expert at the Jean Jaures Foundation
  • Benoit Theolin, Digital Entrepreneur, Former President of the National Digital Council