Philosophy & Technology

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 161–178 | Cite as

Towards Scalable Governance: Sensemaking and Cooperation in the Age of Social Media

  • Iyad RahwanEmail author
Research Article


Cybernetics, or self-governance of animal and machine, requires the ability to sense the world and to act on it in an appropriate manner. Likewise, self-governance of a human society requires groups of people to collectively sense and act on their environment. I argue that the evolution of political systems is characterized by a series of innovations that attempt to solve (among others) two ‘scalability’ problems: scaling up a group’s ability to make sense of an increasingly complex world, and to cooperate in increasingly larger groups. I then explore some recent efforts toward using the Internet and social media to provide alternative means for addressing these scalability challenges, under the banners of crowdsourcing and computer-supported argumentation. I present some lessons from those efforts about the limits of technology, and the research directions more likely to bear fruit.


Argumentation Cooperation Crowdsourcing Governance 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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