The Foundation for

Digital Democracy

digital democracy

Elon Musk

Elon Musk has a big investment in Mars, having recently sent a SpaceX rocket, complete with red Tesla, towards Mars and beyond. He has said that he is making plans for a human colony to settle on Mars.

Democracy on Mars might seem like a strange concept for anyone to discuss or even think about but this is something that Elon Musk has already been talking about.

In 2016, at the International Astronautical Congress, Elon Musk talked about his plans to build the necessary rocket infrastructure and what step changes he believed were needed to achieve affordable transport of humans and cargo to Mars to start a colony. Musk stated that a colony of 1 Million people would be about the size that was self sustainable. He also talked in 2016 how he imagined democracy would work on Mars.

Elon Musk said “Given the great distance and time taken to travel from Earth to Mars, it is more like an 1800s civilisation but with modern technology. Distances are large and things that make sense on Earth would not make sense on Mars.”

Elon Musk said “Most likely the form of government on Mars would be a direct democracy, not representative, so it would be people voting directly on issues. And I think that's probably better, because the potential for corruption is substantially diminished in a direct versus a representative democracy."

Elon Musk also suggested that on Mars it should be harder to create laws than it is to get rid of ones that aren't working well. "I think I would recommend some adjustment for the inertia of laws would be wise. It should probably be easier to remove a law than create one," said Musk. "I think that's probably good, because laws have infinite life unless they're taken away."

Elon Musk's views on Martian democracy and the reasons for such a democracy can also be applied to our current home, Earth. Laws written over hundreds of pages can be used to hide the overall intent from the voters and due to the complexity of most laws, there are few voters who have the time or inclination to study new laws to the extent that is required to understand their intricacies.

Elon Musk stated that in his opinion a direct government model seems to make the most sense.

Given the unknown problems that would occur on a newly founded Mars colony, the view that Musk takes of a direct democracy is pragmatic. Direct democracy would allow the colonists on Mars to make short laws that were more applicable to the day by day situation on Mars and get rid of laws that either did not work or were not needed any more.

ELON MUSK, 2 June 2016, ReCode Code Conference

In addition, Direct Democracies do limit the centralisation of power inherent in representative democracies as well as limiting the possibility of corruption. Within a representative democracy, corrupting one person creates a disproportionate effect on the system, whereas with a direct democracy, far more people need to be corrupted to create a similarly powerful effect.

It is hard to tell whether the Elon Musk direct democracy view would survive the actual creation of a Mars colony, but technologies such as the iGov.Direct app would make this simple, transparent and low cost to implement. It would give all inhabitants direct access to a system designed to allow proposals to be put forward by any of them and allow those proposals to be be as short or long as is appropriate. Mars inhabitants could then quickly and easily vote on these proposals to turn them into laws as long as a majority voted for them.

There are many challenges in starting a colony on Mars and building many parts of the infrastructure from scratch. As the colony grows it is going to have to have some system of democracy in place and using a system such as the iGov.Direct voting app in the Mars colony for direct democracy when voters may already be familiar with the iGov.Direct app on earth will give the colonists one less thing to think about. Elon Musk has already started the conversation about Mars democracy in particular direct democracy.

Given Elon Musk's aim to be one of the largest private funders of the drive to reach Mars and colonise it, and his involvement in disruptive technologies such as Tesla, the Boring Company and SpaceX, it is almost inevitable that he will have some influence on the colonisation of Mars even if he does not achieve all his aims in the timescales he talks about.

So, with SpaceX and Elon Musk creating technology to reach Mars, iGov.Direct is creating the technology to allow simple fast direct democracy voting on Earth, starting with Sweden, and maybe ending on Mars.

Digital democracy can combine both direct and representative democracy. Read more about iGov.Direct and digital democracy.


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United Kingdom

45MEligible to vote
30MVoted 2015