Digital threats to democracy – misinformation, propaganda, political tribalism – are trending toward a future of destabilised political and community coherence. Many experts anticipated that greater connectivity and access to information would help build a broader foundation for democratic values, but political projections of the future no longer easily align with these expectations. As digital tools are increasingly used in democratic systems, the judiciary, and other governmental processes, the operating foundation for many nations and their citizens has never had more at stake.
- Can we employ digital technologies to bolster democracy and embody the values of an integrated and educated public?
- Will increasing digitalization breed divisiveness and threaten the foundations of democratic values?
“Decisions automatically made by algorithms are not transparent but are learning from data and therefore changing over time; this creates a huge challenge for auditing and oversight. ”
“The element of digital taxation could spur change among big tech companies that bill themselves as forces for good. ”
“New designs to boost democracy might look to the experience of populous nations like India and Kenya, rather than North America and Europe, to include those who live in the Global South. ”
“What people are motivated to do matters more than what technology is being used when we talk about its role and uses in society. ”
“Managing both the upsides and inevitable downsides of technology must include coming to terms with the enormous amount of personal data that is collected. ”
“The advent of digital technologies is a double-edged sword: they have the power to help fight injustice, and yet hold the potential to be misused as a tool of repression. ”
“When designing digital technologies that might come to the aid of democracy, the traditional checks and balances of liberal democratic institutions don’t match with new technologies – like artificial intelligence – that assign traditional societal decisions to the realm of algorithms. ”
“The goal of efforts like GESDA’s should be to build new institutions, norms, behaviours and international laws. ”
“GESDA could build a platform to facilitate citizens’ greater digital participation in public affairs modelled after Switzerland’s decentralised governance and tradition of direct democracy. ”