Democracy as a Critical System

Joe Kiniry gave an invited talk entitled Democracy as a Critical System to the Department of Computer Science in the University of Aarhus on Monday the 7th of March, 2011.

Democracy as a Critical System Abstract: "If a critical system fails then someone dies or loses a lot of money." That's the typical way someone in formal methods describes the Real World systems that they focus upon (if they do systems work at all).

Over the past eight years as an activist-scientist I have worked on another kind of critical system: that of democracy.

With my Activist Hat on, I played a small role in The Netherlands' and Ireland's decision to legally ban electronic voting. Concurrently, with my Researcher Hat on, I have worked on showing how electronic voting should look, if politicians are going to insist that computers must be involved in voting.

In this talk I will discuss this past work, including some activist stories and the development of several formally verified e-voting systems, and detail ongoing research on testing voting systems using legally derived scenario-based test generation using model checking. I will conclude with a summary of the DemTech (Trustworthy Democratic Technology) project, a new Danish Council for Strategic Research research project that I co-lead, and some speculation as to what the future holds for voters.