Koios for policy making

We support policy makers in making better decisions. We find the best solutions, not the solutions that seem the most compatible or satisfying.

Policy making under 
representative democracy
Figure 1. A simplified view of policy making and how we see our role.

In our democratic societies we have elected officials and public agencies that act on behalf of the people. However, public policy decision-makers often have a difficult time knowing what the public want. Policy decision-makers are typically infuenced by lobbyists, activists and public opinion polls, but the polls are often uninformed responses from a minute long telephone call.

The actual "will of the people" could turn out to be something very different if the people had access to something like Koios, an open deliberative process for understanding problems and their long term implications.

Evidence based public policy

Policy makers are sometimes not able to use in-depth analysis and research-based evidence when making decisions.

Typical 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 often don’t appreciate enough the scientific concept of testing a hypothesis.

So how can Koios help decision makers to make better decisions?

  • Speed - With crowdsourcing 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 institutions 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 help both the public and decision makers understand the results.

Other typical problems in policy making

  • Evidence is seldom completely clear and unambiguous. It is never produced in a perfect state of neutrality. Again crowdsourcing 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 blind spots.
  • 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 wrong path.
  • 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 are 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 that can 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 research, users of Koios are more numerous and nimble. Koios users can test the results of scientists, they can fill in the data that are missing or debunk contradictory data, they can test hypotheses and they can look at the problem from many different angles as well as go deeper into the issues or look at the problem more holistically by viewing it in relation to other problems.

Instead of a small group of experts acting on behalf of policy makers we enable diverse and dynamic citizens to extend and scrutinize the work of civil servants.

Koios can be seen as complementing the work of researchers, analysts, bureaucrats and technocrats in governments. Together and over time, the symbiosis of Collective Intelligence of users and the Koios platform creates Collective Wisdom.

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