Election revolution by smartphone

A group of digital revolutionaries is running for the Senate in the federal election. What is Flux and how does it work?

Nathan Spataro could be the next Julian Assange - an idealistic liberty-loving Australian hell-bent on using technology to change the world.

But there's one crucial difference: Spataro is prepared to betray strongly-held beliefs if you want him to.

More than that, he encourages people to hijack him.

Spataro campaigned for Wikileaks at the 2013 election, tweeting at the time about the "resistance years" and nominating Assange - the "greatest champion of internet freedom" - for Australian of the Year.

Fast forward three years and Spataro stars in an article by Time.

He's campaigning for a seat in the Senate, vowing to use an app to determine the way he votes in parliament.

The Flux app uses the encryption software behind crypto-currency Bitcoin to allow any Australian to have a direct say on legislation.

Spataro says the app taps into a growing discontent with the two-party system.

"The political system in this country is strangling the people," he told AAP in the final week of the election campaign.

"It is dissatisfying and 57 per cent of people in this country don't even think it matters what political party they vote for at this election."

Flux has 12 Senate candidates running, backed by 4500 registered supporters.

That means any of of their senators could be vulnerable to hijack by larger groups who may have differing opinions to its largely left wing candidates.

"We absolutely expect this is going to happen and we hope that it does - it's an adoption mechanism," Spataro says.

"If the right wing were to take control of the Flux senator then the left wing will have to get involved to try and balance that out."

Of course, that means driving "more and more people to Flux".

So what would happen if the app told Spataro to vote against internet freedom?

"I must suffer by doing it," he says.

"What I get in return is introducing the best form of democracy the world has ever seen and maybe revolutionising governance on planet earth."

Spataro says community reaction is polarised: some people have responded enthusiastically, but others are wary of popular votes, especially post-Brexit.

He puts Brexit down to Britain's lack of experience in voting on policy issues.

"You are asking people who have never really had a real meaningful contribution to democracy, certainly not from a policy point of view - to make a gravely important decision."

"Naturally you'll have people making ill-informed decisions."

Spataro says a trading mechanism will help address that, as users will be encouraged to give up their vote on an issue they aren't informed on in return for greater impact on issues they care about.

"People still joke about Boaty Mcboatface (a public vote to name a ship) - Flux is designed specifically to avoid those kinds of outcomes."

Spataro has high hopes for the system which he believes could change the world, but acknowledges it will take some time for the public to warm to the idea.

Source AAP

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