This Is the Future of Democracy

Gif: New York Times

It’s the 2018 midterms, and today you have your chance to record just how you feel about that. The New York Times has set up a live map of results across the nation, where readers can click one of six emojis (angry, sad, afraid, neutral, happy, and laughing) to have their feelings on the midterms logged for... some kind of purpose. It is fun, and you should give it a try.


The Times’ map is still logging submissions, but those inclined to watch can see little emojis popping off across the country. Currently, it looks like the paper’s readers are feeling mostly sad, afraid, or neutral, which does seem to match the mood of the times.

You may see this as a clever amusement, interesting but unscientific, in which case you clearly lack the vision to lead this country into the looming nightmare dystopia to come—equal parts 1984 and a bad episode of Black Mirror. I am much wiser than you, and instead see it as the test bed for a fitting model of democracy for the 21st century. One managed by social media engagement, invasions of privacy, and machine learning technology.

The future is what I call the Synthetic eMotional Intelligence Learning Elector.

The future is S.M.I.L.E.

Just imagine. Instead of old-fashioned and obsolete “analog” voting based on civic participation, ballots, and civil rights, S.M.I.L.E. will simply prompt you with a push notification on your chosen mobile device to measure your emotional state based on a chosen emoji. This will be mandatory. The algorithm will do the rest, using a variety of proprietary technologies to most closely match your emoji to a given candidate:

Citizen, you have chosen dread. Your vote is: Ted Cruz.

Future versions of S.M.I.L.E. will be more accurate, allowing for democratic participation via multiple emotional dimensions (at least as soon as the necessary modifications to S.M.I.L.E.’s governing Asimov Protocols are approved by that meddling ethics committee). For example:

Citizen, your vital signs suggest feelings of horror and arousal. Are you sure this is the ballot you would like to cast?

You will be released following this message from our sponsors.

Current projections, which I have commissioned from leading Silicon Valley firms, suggest that the process of aggregating these multivariate emotional states across the U.S. will be only moderately less humane than analog voting, as well as require minimal force projection from the S.M.I.L.E. Squads to complete. In theory, when S.M.I.L.E. attains sentience, it will also be unhackable.

And the best part? It’s all powered by Facebook.

[New York Times]


"... An upperclassman who had been researching terrorist groups online." - Washington Post


As a Canadian, I do not understand the importance of these elections. These are just for little guys right? Im not understanding why this gets so much news attention or who cares.

Like we just did our small elections, mayors, school trustees, ward leaders. But the ones on our news, the premiers of each provice was a while ago and are Prime Minister was quite a while ago. Those 2 were the biggies for us.

So whats going on here and why is everone going nuts?