Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Andrew Hardie

I have followed with interest the published Minutes of Evidence of your Committee's investigation into Innovations in Citizen Participation in Government.

  However, on the basis of the Minutes published so far, I feel that the important topic of agent technology has been overlooked. With all Parliamentary material available online and the coming era of "always on" Internet connectivity agent technology would allow citizens automatically to scrutinise the actions of Parliament and their elected representative on matters of interest and to react to developments in real time. With our ever-busier lives and shorter attention spans, automation of the interaction between citizen and representative is an inevitable development. Being able to vote in elections or referenda on a mobile phone may not excite citizens as much as hoped but their mobile phone being able to vote for them might.

  Far from direct access to Parliament and the executive reducing the role of elected representatives, as is often feared, I feel that their role could be greatly enhanced by agent technology which has the potential to provide a new layer of "personalised" representation—in addition to "" there could be "my.MP". For those representatives willing to seize the opportunities of agent technology, the benefits in efficiency and closer constituent contact could be substantial. However, as with many new technologies, there is also a darker side. The potential for abuse of such technology by vested interests is great and it may prove necessary to legislate or, at least, draw up a code of practice and devise counter-technology.

  I would be happy to make a submission to your Committee on this subject and give evidence in person, if you think it appropriate.

Andrew Hardie

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