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" representationin addition to
"my.gov" 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.