Securing Political Accountability to Future Generations with Retrospective Accountability

In Jacob Barrett, Hilary Greaves & David Thorstad (eds.), Essays on Longtermism. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Political short-termism costs the global economy hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars annually, and leads to many millions of deaths from disasters and suboptimal spending. In this paper, I propose a futures assembly explicitly incentivised to promote the interests of future generations as a promising strategy to ameliorate short-termism. The assembly I propose is governed by citizens randomly selected from among the populace, who are rewarded in the future to the extent that they successfully promote the welfare of future generations. The most initially promising such retrospective accountability mechanism is an iterated mechanism, in which each generation of policymakers rewards the previous generation for their policy choices and for their own evaluation of the previous generation. Such an assembly, supplemented with the duties, powers, and tools that I describe, and with appropriate support from archivists and experts, may manage to represent generations many years into the future.



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Tyler John
Longview Philanthropy

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