For years, David Lazer has been studying the ways technology shapes Democracy in the United States. It’s not looking good—political polarization is on the rise, trust in the media is down, and the inequalities in income and wealth are more drastic than they’ve been in at least the last 40 years, he’s found.
But Lazer, University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Sciences, sees the challenges as opportunities for change.
To engage a constituency that is increasingly entrenched in one political camp or another, and that is being served up information based on algorithms rather than by traditional, trustworthy news sources, Lazer suggests politicians meet with citizens in online town hall-style meetings. His recommendation is based on a series of experiments he and two other researchers describe in a new book called Politics with the People: Building a Directly Representative Democracy.