Dialogues in Complexity: Dynamics of Political Polarization

Dialogues in Complexity: Dynamics of Political Polarization

December 3, 2019


727 E. Tyler St.
Tempe, AZ 85281


Biodesign Institute, Auditorium

Date and Time

January 6, 2020, 3:00 pm (Length: 2 hours 0 minutes)

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Sam Wang, PhD, Principal Investigator, Professor, Neuroscience, Princeton University

Joshua Plotkin, PhD, Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor of Natural Sciences, University of Pennsylvania

Bugs in Democracy: Fair Maps, Gerrymandering, and the Road to Majority Rule in America, Dr. Sam Wang

A democracy should be responsive to changes in voter preference and the majority be able to convert its preferences to power. The talk will discuss how the United States currently has neither feature at a national level.

Gerrymandering amplifies the effects of human geography with larger representational impact than incomplete Census data or voter suppression. Our Presidential election process has drifted far from the Founders' original design and selects the popular-vote loser in 1 out of 3 close elections. These flaws in "Democracy 1.0" are repairable by federalist principles and state-by-state action. "Democracy 2.0" will be constructed by citizens, reformers, and a clear quantitative understanding of how rules and consequences are connected.

Information Gerrymandering and Undemocratic Decisions, Dr. Joshua Plotkin

Many Americans receive their news and form political opinions through social media. But social media platforms are not shaping up to be the utopian spaces for human connection their founders once hoped. Instead, the Internet has introduced phenomena that can influence national elections and even threaten democracy. This talk will describe recent findings on "information gerrymandering” — how the structure of a social network can profoundly bias collective decisions. Evidence of these effects is found in large-scale human experiments, real-world social-media networks, and networks of legislative actions in the US Congress. These results motivate questions about policy.

Hosted by the Biodesign Center for Biocomputing, Security and Society.

Image source: https://ajmoralesguzman.com/political-polarization/