Our world is getting ever more interconnected, globalized and complex. We as humans have achieved remarkable progress but there will always be problems to be solved.
We are today faced with ever increasing global problems spanning across countries, cultural and intellectual barriers. Such problems call for us to be able to engage in effective deliberations on a global scale. The web has enabled unprecedented opportunities for such interactions. However, large-scale online interactions have been incoherent and dispersed, contributions vary widely in quality, and there has been no clear way to converge on well-supported decisions concerning what actions humanity should take in order to solve their most pressing problems.
The problems of the world are to acute and important to be let alone solved by the elite researchers and experts of the world.
Apart from these massive global challenges there are of course all the other less pressing problems on a local, national, regional and global level that do not result in deaths and tragedy but are nonetheless social problems that hamper economic growth and the evolution of society, culture and human wellbeing.
There is also the problem of globalization. The power structures of global multinational corporations should be questioned and when needed combated with a united and globally shared political ethos and culture.
As the world is getting more intertwined, so do our problems. We are today faced with problems, more difficult than ever before.
In common for these problems is that stakes are high, there is a high degree of uncertainty, and human judgment is required.
“ …[Societal] structures of which we are unaware hold us prisoner. ”
- Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline.
Characteristics of difficult social problems
- Knowledge about the situation is incomplete. The data/facts are uncertain or missing.
- The problem situation is constantly changing.
- People have conflicting views as to what the problem is.
- Problems are entangled and their boundaries are hard to define.
- The problem is reactive (it fights back when you try to do something about it)
- Stakeholders may not understand, agree with or trust each other.
- Hidden agendas.
- Strong vested interests.
- Decisions of stakeholders are uncertain.
- Uncertainty of causes and future consequences.
- External outcomes and factors that may influence the situation are uncertain.
- There are political, economic, ideological and cultural constraints.
- Need for coordinated action across political, geographical and cultural boundaries.
- Solutions require the collaboration of many disparate parties.
- Solutions require multi-criteria decisions including moral and ethical considerations.
- Solutions are uncertain and contradictory, having unpredictable effects.
The need for problem solving of a new kind
Few institutions or individuals are capable of tackling such problems and there is not enough experts around to tackle all of them.
Why many eyes are better
With more eyes on the problem we can combat:
- Unknown unknowns. Things we don't know we don't know.
- Errors. Things we think we know but we don't.
- Unknown knowns. Things we don't know we know.
- Secrets/taboos. Things we don't dare know about.
- Denials. Things we decide to not know about because they are painful.
Inquiry on such problems is often carried out by a very limited set of persons. What these analysts decide to investigate often depend on their prior knowledge and what information is available to them at the time.
Because of limited time or resources they might not find or focus on the most important information.
Koios mitigates this by letting the entire world contribute with their information and knowledge.
The Koios platform seeks to augment the Collective Intelligence of the people around the world to tackle these types of civic challenges.
Strengthening of democracy
Research suggests that the average Joe have near-zero impact on public policy.
Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens. Martin Gilens, Princeton University, Benjamin I. Page, Northwestern University. Koios seek to empower citizens by helping to gather around important challenges and to create informed citizens.
The political system with hearings, consultations with parliament's political groups, plenary votes etc. are all very much based on rhetoric. This underlying emphasis on oral argumentation can be traced all the way back to ancient Athens and the birth of democracy. Persuading and convincing people face to face are central in this political system. From this, lobbying is a natural side effect. Lobbying, as we know, does in many countries border on corruption.
We argue that there is a need to upgrade politics to a new version enhanced for the 21st century. Koios is seen as a prototype for how to narrow the gap between the public and the elected officials. We believe Koios can make politics more inclusive, transparent and rational, keeping citizens more in the loop.
There is also the problem of dominant and unbalanced power-structures. Powerful actors push solutions into their desired direction.
Yet another problem is the short term thinking in politics. The elected officials are often more concerned about the next election than finding long terms solutions to problems.
The impacts of policies often become visible not until well beyond the duration of a government mandate, which is also the timeline with which national targets are set.
Through the adoption of Koios, awareness can be created towards systems thinking on a broader level and thereby in the future increase the use of analytic and synergetic methods at all level of politics, and especially in local governmental bodies that do not have the resources to do comprehensive research and analysis.
More on Koios for policy making.
Apathy in society
For the last 50 years there has been a decline in voter turnout in Western Europe and North America.
Democracy can be strengthened by enabling citizens to engage in problem solving of social issues. Koios might decrease the gap between policy makers (politicians), researchers and the population. Apathy can be replaced with engagement and interactions, creating a more political active and enlightened population.
Diversity in science
Research within the social sciences is often carried out by research institutions on behalf of think-tanks, governments, intergovernmental organizations or international non-profit organizations etc. In other cases research seems to be random or chosen as a result of what research institutions already exist.
Koios can increase diversity in research, it can complement research and help to cover areas that would normally not be covered.
Decline in original thinking
In our twitch-speed world, there is less time and opportunity for reflection. There's an erosion of original thinking (as students use Google to create “cut-and-paste” term papers).
Americans spend more than 5 hours a day in average passively watching TV or following social media such as Instagram and Facebook, according to emarketer.com.
Jeff Victoroff, MD, author of Saving Your Brain, notes: “Passive experience does little for the adult brain. To keep the brain learning and growing, we need to generate active responses to cognitive challenges.”
Koios is a tool where reflection, critical thinking, systems thinking and design thinking is required.