Augmented Democracy & Using Collective Intelligence to Revolutionize Politics | Cesar Hidalgo

In this episode of Meyerside Chats, Evan Meyer speaks with Cesar Hidalgo, a Chilean Spanish American scholar known for his contributions to economic complexity, data visualization, and applied artificial intelligence. They discuss the problems with democracy today, such as political polarization and identity-based politics. They also explore the idea of augmented democracy, using AI agents to support politicians and citizens in the voting process. They highlight the need for a more direct and nuanced representation of people’s opinions and propose starting with low-stakes contexts to test the effectiveness of augmented democracy.

Meyerside Chats seeks to eliminate the “us and them” narrative and toxic polarization by striving to create virtuous community leadership and authentic conversation.  We showcase the humanity in those who take on the often thankless jobs of public service, civil discourse, differing points of view, and how we can improve our politics and society as a whole.

YouTube video

Recorded July 18,  2023

About Cesar Hidalgo 

César A. Hidalgo is a Chilean-Spanish-American scholar known for his contributions to economic complexity, data visualization, and applied artificial intelligence. Hidalgo leads the Center for Collective Learning at the Artificial and Natural Intelligence Institute (ANITI) of the University of Toulouse and the Corvinus Institute for Advanced Studies at Corvinus University of Budapest. He is also an Honorary Professor at the University of Manchester. Between 2010 and 2019 Hidalgo led MIT’s Collective Learning group. Prior to working at MIT, Hidalgo was a research fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Hidalgo is also a founder of Datawheel, an award winning company specialized in the creation of data distribution and visualization systems. He holds a PhD in Physics from the University of Notre Dame and a Bachelor in Physics from Universidad Católica de Chile. Hidalgo’s contributions have been recognized with numerous awards, including the 2018 Lagrange Prize and three Webby Awards. Hidalgo’s is also the author of dozens of peer-reviewed papers and of three books: Why Information Grows (Basic Books, 2015), The Atlas of Economic Complexity (MIT Press, 2014), and How Humans Judge Machines (MIT Press, 2021).

About Evan Meyer

Evan is the Founder of, a tech platform and marketplace that speed tracks the urban beautification process through art, as well as the original 501(c)3 sister organization and public charity that beautifies schools in the communities that need it most. Beautify has now facilitated thousands of murals around the planet, working with hundreds of communities, community organizations, cities and national brands.

He is also the Founder of, a tech platform that optimizes commuter travel and behavior through intelligent programs and analytics for governments, large enterprises, and universities, serving many regions across the US.

As a civic leader in the City of Santa Monica, he is the past Chairman of his neighborhood (Ocean Park), giving residents a voice in the public process, as well as helping the City of Santa Monica with innovative, actionable ways of civic engagement.

Podcast Highlights 

03:00 The biggest problem with democracy today

08:00 The need for belonging and identity in politics

10:00 The psychological aspect of political identity

13:00 The division in society and loneliness

17:00 The impact of social media and technology on relationships

22:00 Introduction to Augmented Democracy

25:00 Success of augmented democracy platform during the Chilean revolution

27:00 Starting small to prove the effectiveness of augmented democracy.

28:00 Using voting systems in low-stakes environments to explore potential challenges and solutions

29:00 The importance of understanding and addressing user interface problems in political participation

30:00 The need for validation and testing in political contexts, even on a small scale

31:00 The potential of machine learning to sustain and increase political participation over time

32:00 The challenge of sustaining political engagement and the potential of augmented democracy

35:00 – The importance of trust and feedback in political participation and decision-making

37:00 – The challenge of inefficiency in policy-making and the need for simpler and more accessible policies

40:00 – The challenge of distributing decision-making power in society and the importance of accountability and responsibility

43:00 – The vision for contributing to the understanding of knowledge growth and diffusion

49:00 – The personal goals and contributions Cesar Hidalgo wants to make in his lifetime

52:00 – Cesar Hidalgo’s admiration for Richard Feynman, Edwin Land, and Louis Leon Thurstone as inspirations in science and other fields.