Digital Transformation and the Future of Democracy
Digital transformation brings along great opportunities for democracy but also enormous governance challenges. Almost no element of our social fabric is spared from the impact of these disruptive technologies, which are rapidly reshaping the way citizens work, live and communicate.
The extent to which governments and corporations succeed in amassing and using relevant data –the means of production of AI– is set to alter the global economy and the balance of power between states, markets and civil society. The rise of AI is reshaping the geopolitical and societal orders in ways researchers are only beginning to examine.
The use of AI may pose a challenge to democracy, but, if handled correctly, it can also bring more and better democracy. Democratic governments simply cannot afford to lag behind; they must govern the digital game before it governs us all. “The digital is political” and therefore requires a political response: How can we anticipate the fast-changing world of AI and reap the benefits while countering the risks it poses to democracies?
Not only are digital technologies reshaping global politics, but they are affecting the very core of domestic governance too. The use of social media, bots and automated systems to interfere in electoral processes is but an example of this. The combination of the digitalization of public debate together with highly sophisticated means of election hacking can unsettle the legitimacy of democratic institutions and with it the very foundations of the liberal order.
Engaging with actors across the globe, including the tech industry, will be of the essence to garner consensus around a new world order shaped by exponential digital transformation, but liberal democracies must first protect themselves by facing up to the challenge of redefining an increasingly contested system of democratic governance in the age of AI.
The Policy Dialogue on AI and democracy seeks to move the conversation on AI beyond tech and into the democratic governance arena. By bringing together experienced politicians, tech companies, academic researchers, and civil society representatives, it seeks to promote ‘multi-stakeholderism’ in the articulation of informed policy proposals that can effectively turn the design, development and deployment of AI into a driver for democratic innovation and renewal at a time when wide-spread dissatisfaction with the present system and uncertainty about the future are seriously affecting public trust.
The Policy Dialogue is organised with a twofold objective. Firstly, to offer a multi-stakeholder platform that can stimulate new thinking in response to arising opportunities and challenges of AI and other digital technologies that are relevant for the future of democracy. Secondly, to enable the identification of the most effective policy response, including the establishment of oversight structures, to support AI as a driver for stronger democracies while countering its potential risks.
− Multi-stakeholder engagement: A common understanding of the potential risks and benefits of AI is reached
− Call for action: Common positions and key policy recommendations on digital technology/AI and democracy are identified in view of raising awareness and informing the actions of multiple stakeholders on the matter.
− Action points: Two-three initiatives for concrete action are taken forward as projects by WLA-CdM and partners.
− Spain positioned as reference country at the forefront of the debate.
The following sub-themes will guide the three action labs in which concrete policy recommendations will be discussed and agreed upon:
−Fundamental Rights in the Digital Age
−Data Economies and the Future of the Social Contract
−Trust and Public Debate in the Disinformation Age
The event will be held at Palacio de Cibeles, Madrid Centro Centro in Madrid (Spain).