Koios for policy making
Koios - supporting policy makers in making better decisions.
|Figure 1. A simplified wiew of policy making and how we see our role.
Policy makers may often be incapable of using in-depth analysis and research-based
evidence when making decisions.
The reasons, as described by
Dr Vincent Cable, are often referred to as the 5 S's:
- Speed - they have to make decisions fast.
- Superficiality - they cover a wide brief.
- Spin - Perception often guides political decisions and they have to stick to a decision, at least for a reasonable
period of time.
- Secrecy - many policy discussions have to be held in secret.
- Scientific Ignorance - few policy makers are scientists, and don’t
understand the scientific concept of testing a hypothesis.
So how can Koios help decision makers to make better decisions?
- Speed - With crowdsouring thousands of people can contribute by
gathering facts and do analysis that will save policy makers and their scientific
advisors lots of time. They can have evidence and proposals available earlier than
would otherwise be possible if they had to rely on formal bureaucratic insitutions
to do the work. Koios users may also have been working on a particular problem for
several years, so when a policy maker needs evidence on that topic it might just
be readily available.
- Superficiality - when thousands contribute you can have people
digging into the most detailed and difficult areas.
- Spin - Policy makers who are recognized for changing their policies
and breaking their promises are not very popular. On Koios, people can organize and
convince decision makers to change their stance. Those who do change will be credited
for listening to the public which in this case might just know best. Koios enables
collective wisdom. The other side of this issue is that public perception guides political decisions.
This means that policy makers sometimes make choices that are popular but may not be very sound.
Politicians wants to be (re-)elected.
Koios helps to increase public understanding so that there will be less need for politicians to make poor but popular decisions/promises.
- Secrecy - Although some evidence has to be secret such as for national security reasons,
Koios is completely transparent and can be used to map out different scenarios so that it covers all the issues without revealing secret information.
This point is also related to the above point. Politicians who make unsound but popular decisions needs to be held responsible. These politicians have a
strong interest in hiding poor politics from the public. Koios helps to trace the effects of a policy back to the decision maker.
- Scientific Ignorance - Koios helps you create visualizations and
summaries of the results that helps both the public and decision makers understand
Other typical problems in policy making
- Evidence is seldom completely clear and unambiguous. It is never produced in a perfect state of neutrality.
Again crowdsouring with Koios can be used to scrutinize and dig into the
matter to strengthen or disprove the evidence.
- Bureaucrats, advisors etc does not always let policy makers know the whole story. Koios strengthens knowledge in society and encourages transparency.
- The science is sometimes misrepresented to the public. With Koios there is complete
transparency which makes it more difficult to hide information.
- There are blind spots. Knowledge we don't know we don't know. Koios will find the
- Elites and vested interests affect whether evidence is used or not and, if so, what
evidence is used. Koios enables you to map out these players so you can become more
aware of their powers and how they affect how evidence is used.
- Who is an expert? Today in policy making we often resort to ‘cults of expertise’.
Koios enables a more diverse view with multiple perspectives. With the scalability of Koios we are also able to investigate a wider set of issues and options.
- Public opinion increasingly matters in policy making. Policy change often occurs
when the public understand issues. It is therefore important to de-mystify scientific
advice. Koios can help to present the evidence in a way that people understand as
Koios is not mainly a tool for experts and scientists.
Koios also helps to gather people to create a stronger voice when that is needed.
- Policy makers often have to make
- In some cases policy makers decide the policy first and then gather the evidence
to support and implement the policy. In these cases Koios might already have completed
analysis that shows that a particular policy is likely to fail. This knowledge can
then be used to revert the policy decision before one has gone too far down the
- In other cases it might be that evidence produced by experts advisors are so inconclusive
that a policy maker is not able to make a decision. Again Koios can be the entity
that complements the experts and find the data or insight that can help policy makers
do sound decisions.
- Scientific inquiry for policy making is something that often takes place outside
of the socio-economic and political context. It is sometimes abstracted away in
academic ivory towers, uninfluenced by external forces. The research results is then
in danger of being out of touch with the context it is supposed to be applied to.
Koios can mitigate this by providing people on the ground who cam make the connection
between hard science and the real world context.
Collective intelligence in policy making
While scientists employed by the government do solid long term studies, users of
Koios are much more agile and can test the results of scientists, they can fill
in the data that are missing or debunk contradictory data, they can test other hypotheses
and they can look at the problem from many different angles. Instead of small group
of experts acting on behalf of policy makers we have the population extending and
scrutinizing the civil servants.
Koios can be seen as complementing the work of scientific civil servants, analysts,
bureaucrats and technocrats in governments. Together they form a collective intelligence
that was not possible before.