Franco Accordino on Policy Making 3.0 in the EU Futurium

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Franco Accordino:

"Time to experiment with new policy making models?

The advent of social networks has opened up new perspectives for policy making. They give voice to anyone and allow their members to organise into groups and ultimately contribute to policy debates at local, national and international levels.

Entire movements such as the "occupy" would likely not come into existence without the underlying support of social networks. Though social networks are considered by many as a significant step towards democratic participation into policy debates, the actual influence they exert on policy decisions remains unclear.

The lack of structure of the data shared by the members (they can post any piece of information and in whatever form) and the consequent difficulty to automatically extract meaningful knowledge make it difficult to build evidence for actual policy decisions.

Policy Making 3.0, the participatory and evidence-based model used by Digital Futures, aims to overcome these drawbacks while valuing the self-organising and spontaneous character of social networks.

It is based on the metaphor of "collective brain" (or emergent collective intelligence), according to which stakeholders and policy makers form a social network to co-design policies on the basis of two distinct factors:

  • The scientific evidence stemming from the collective wisdom of stakeholders and policy makers. This is the collective "rational" contribution of the participants to the policy (the "left brain" of the social network). Evidence is often elicited from data and numerical models of the real world (e.g. statistics, data mining,....).
  • The sentiment stemming from the collective aspirations of stakeholders and policy makers, and measurable through the social network. This can be considered as the "emotional" contribution of the participants to the policy (the "right brain" of the social network).

Policy Making 3.0 is prototyped by a participatory foresight platform called Futurium. Futurium combines the informal character of social networks with the methodological rigour of foresights to engage stakeholders in the co-creation of the futures that we all want.

Futurium members can co-create futures (visions or long lasting trends), vote them according to their desirability (emotional reaction) and likelihood (rational reaction). Members can also develop policy ideas to underpin the futures they want. Finally, they can also associate scientific evidence to futures and policy ideas to substantiate their choices with objective arguments.

The clear and simple framing of information into futures and policy ideas and the availability of tools to extract knowledge make Futurium a useful tool to support participation and scientific evidence in a variety of policy making contexts." (