Saturday, November 23, 2013

Audacious Idea 1: Oath of Transparency and FMRI for Policymakers


Audacious idea #1:


              Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and a New Political Oath.

Current oath:

" I  _____, do solemnly and sincerely promise and swear (or declare) that I will truly and faithfully, and to the best of my skill and knowledge,execute the powers and trust reposed in me as Prime Minister, so help me God"

OK, lets first talk about what's wrong with the first oath.

1 "to the best of my skill and knowledge" is implied in the electoral process - you aren't elected because of your fashion sense.

2 Powers and Trust are too vague, and don't really embody any specific principle.  Not to mention if a Prime Minster's powers are suddenly expanded, the oath really doesn't constrain them from executing that power unjustly.

My rough oath:

"I _____, swear to uphold this duty sincerely, entrusted to me by the Canadian people.  I swear to advance their interests and well-being - while upholding the laws of Canada. I will conduct myself domestically and internationally in a manner representative of Canadian values: altruism, cooperation, freedom, justice, peace, prosperity, sovereignty and wisdom.

I also henceforth and until the end of my term, revoke my rights to privacy as it relates to the execution of this office; and agree to be subject to the reasonable scrutiny of the Canadian people."

I have crafted this oath as being more a legal contract than a ceremonial oath for a reason. The emboldened (heh) words represent important provisions of office.

I further propose that functional magnetic resonance imaging be used as an advanced polygraph to keep government transparent. As neuroimaging techniques improve, the degree of accuracy can be further assured, while also combating the possibility of tampering or corruption.

 Note: similar to polygraph, the illumination for areas of the brain associated with categories of stimuli such as belief judgments of truth versus judgments of falsehood,  have greater signal in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. This is an area important for self-representation, emotional associations, reward, and goal-driven behavior [1]. 

What this means is we can see if they believe something or not.  That does not necessarily mean it's true either.  FMRI offers the potential to act as an indisputable lie detector test.  However, there are also studies that have proposed MRI can affect memory. [2]

Would it be acceptable, as a matter of practice, that all possible conflicts of interest a candidate may entertain, can be examined thoroughly before they take office?

I would be willing to subject myself to rigorous truth-detection (personally) if I were running.

Now that the internet is a massive surveillance black hole, I often hear the argument "if you have nothing to hide, why do you care?"

I think this question should apply to those in office.  If you do have something to hide, well, don't run for office, because you clearly have something sketchy going on.  Maybe it isn't celebrities who should fear having their lives scrutinized, and it certainly shouldn't be Canadian citizens.

In order to retain a balanced and effective use of this technology and ideological framework; it helps to delineate the scope of investigation, so that someone's personal life isn't part of the questioning.

Topics that should be excluded:

- Sexuality
- Gender
- Sexual orientation
- Religious belief
- Intellectual property secrets (room for abuse here, needs mediation)
- Domestic political associations
- past shenanigans, other red herrings
- truly dangerous secrets

Topics that should be included

- well researched, potential conflicts of interest! (Bush has an oil family, Cheney via Haliburton)
- international political associations
- corporate associations
- statements of fact
- criminal activity
- ideological belief
- Any indication of cronyism 

Some might argue that's a discriminatory practice against business owners, and I would agree that yes, it is.  Because money is the only way someone stands to gain something through political manipulation.  If we put up roadblocks, the lobbying will cease completely, and these corporations will fall in line, while not impacting their obligations to their stockholders, or their ability to employ citizens and run a legitimate business.

A politician's associations with a restaurant owner are less likely to be important than if they have connections to an oil baron.  There are acceptable and unacceptable degrees of conflict, those degrees must be managed as the landscape of Canada's needs changes. Management of that scope requires transparency.  Transparency requires legitimacy.  Legitimacy is earned by trust.  Trust is earned by Truth.  So we should, before all else, seek the truth as a foundational element of a modern society.  A fact long lost on our generational forebears, these.. incompetent overlords. 

The public should be able to vote on what questions are asked, insofar as they do not fall under the sphere of being inappropriate, given the rough guidelines above, and as stated in the oath, under "reasonable scrutiny." It shouldn't cost money to ask these questions.

It is absurd that the ostensibly 'most' powerful Canadians, the decision makers, aren't subject to an elevated level of scrutiny.   If you want to lead, you should have to make sacrifices, like sacrificing the right to conduct illegal activities; or sacrificing the freedom to advance secret agendas. 

This has been part 1 of Audacious Ideas, thank you for reading.

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