Friday, 16 June 2017


by Dirk Helbing [1]

1. City Olympics Proposition

Competitions for the best kinds of technologies, solutions for resource shortages, and a quick implementation of new solutions can be achieved through Global City Olympics.

Comments: Cities and social communities can be important agents of global change. A combination of competition and collaboration among cities can advance us in our efforts to solve the challenges of the 21st century. Thus, I follow Elinor Ostrom and suggest a "polycentric" approach to solving global problems [1]. The idea of "City Olympics" [2] may become a powerful tool. City Olympics would have a sportive spirit. Cities all over the world would engage in friendly competitions to achieve the best scientific and technological progress, as well as mobilize collective action to counter climate change. They would reach the highest possible degree of citizen engagement. After the competitive phase of each Climate Olympics, there would be a cooperative phase, where the best ideas, technologies and urban governance concepts would be exchanged among the participating cities. 

For a more detailed explanation of this idea click this link

2. Digital Upgrade of Democracy Proposition 

Digital technology allows to design a new form of democracy with transparent, uncensored, fair and moderated discourses, in which AI is used to support the constructive exchange of ideas and the identification of different perspectives that need to be integrated. Responsible behavior and high-quality contributions would be promoted.

Comments: More and more people claim that digital democracy is the evil that makes our world ungovernable [3]. Modern mass media and social media tend to create ‘filter bubbles’, which are reinforcing opinions, while reducing the ability to handle different points of view. Digital information becomes increasingly personalized, manipulative, and deceptive.

But instead of trying to revive governance principles of the past, which have failed to embrace the complexity and diversity of modern societies, we should engage in digitally upgrading democracy through the use of Massive Open Online Deliberation Platforms (MOODs) [4]. Letting people decide about “yes” or “no” is not enough. Citizens should be able to continuously engage in online deliberation processes, where they can feed in their ideas and voice their preferences on different aspects of a topic. A refined, more inclusive process would enable people to learn about and to unfold the different aspects of a complex political topic.

For a more detailed explanation of this idea click this link

3. Finance 4.0+ Proposition 

In order to solve the challenges of the 21st century, the financial system has to be altered into a multi-currency system representing different positive and negative externalities and incentivizing behavior that is aligned with our societal goals and values.

Comments: Computer simulations about the world’s future predict severe resource shortages –and linked to this – an economic collapse. This is known at least since “The Limits to Growth” study commissioned by the Club of Rome, and the “Global 2000” study issued by the US government. The UN Sustainability Agenda 2030 is giving the world less than 15 years of time to solve this problem.

It is necessary to create a multi-dimensional incentive and reward system beyond money. We call this system finance 4.0+. This can now be built by combining the Internet of Things, blockchain technology and complexity science. To boost a circular economy, we need a system that can measure, value and trade positive and negative externalities – external effects of interactions between people, companies and the environment. Desired values can be agreed on in a participatory, subsidiary way, as suggested in proposition 2.

For a more detailed explanation of this idea click this link 

4. Democratic Capitalism Proposition [2]

The digital technology has the potential to reinvent the money system such that it empowers people to be innovative and to engage in social and environmental projects. Moving beyond venture capitalism towards crowd funding for all would enable participatory budgeting and democratic capitalism. 

Comments: One cannot put the interests of a few hundred people over the well-being of society as a whole. As long as the mechanisms of the monetary and financial system don’t benefit everyone, the world will not be stable and sustainable on the long run. Fortunately, there are alternatives. The failed approach of pumping trillions into the economy from the top by means of “quantitative easing” could be replaced by a new approach, where the money is created from the bottom. The idea is [5] that everyone would regularly get an “investment premium”, which would have to be distributed to people, companies or institutions with good ideas, or those who are engaged in social or environmental projects. Then money and resources would flow into the activities we find most important. This would boost innovation in a pluralistic manner. Such an approach would combine our two most successful organizing principles – democracy and capitalism – in a new way, and replace today’s market-driven democracy, where capitalism threatens to destroy democracy.

For a more detailed explanation of this idea click this link


[1] Ostrom, E., A polycentric approach for coping with climate change. Ann. Econ. Finance, 2014. 15(1): p. 71-108.

[2] Helbing, D., City Olympics, 2017 

Uploaded on May 20, 2017

[3] Jaishankar, D., Brexit: The First Major Casualty Of Digital Democracy. June. 27, 2016.  

[4] Helbing, D. and S. Klauser, How to make democracy work in the digital age. 2016, ETH Zurich.  

[5] Helbing, D., Digitization 2.0: A New Game Begins. June 2017

[1] Affiliation: ETH Zürich, Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences, Computational Social Science, Clausiusstrasse 50, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland. mailto:

[2] An extensive explanation of these propositions can be found in [1].

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