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Digital Transformation and the Future of Democracy: How can Artificial Intelligence drive Democratic Governance?
Read below the final statement of our 2019 Policy Dialogue 'Digital Transformation and the Future of Democracy: How can Artificial Intelligence drive Democratic Governance?'
The World Leadership Alliance - Club de Madrid (WLA-CdM), a global assembly of over 110 democratic former Heads of State and Government from over 60 countries, convened its Annual Policy Dialogue in Madrid on 21-22 October 2019. Hosted in partnership with the IE School of Global and Public Affairs and under the patronage of Ms Mariya Gabriel, Member of the European Commission, this 2019 edition focused on Digital Transformation and the Future of Democracy.
Digital transformation, particularly the use of
artificial intelligence, is posing new risks for democracy around the world.
Fundamental rights related to privacy and security, freedom and
non-discrimination are challenged by the large-scale collection and use of
personal data for advertising, communication and automated decision-making
purposes. Rising inequalities and the changing panorama of employment in the
data economy are demanding a redefinition of the social contract, while
technological giants are gaining leverage as curators of public spaces without
democratic accountability. For most citizens, it is also becoming harder to know
and trust democratic institutions, as information manipulation, bots and
algorithmic filters are increasingly distorting the picture of society that
reaches them through digital media.
Yet, digital transformation also provides
powerful tools to build better democracy. Guided by adequate values, and goals,
new technologies can enable the provision of improved public services, including
health care and education, that respond to fundamental rights and increase
quality of life. The data economy is facilitating the customization of
employment, empowering diversity and enabling mobility. Access to information
through digital technologies can also empower citizens and strengthen
democratic accountability. But harnessing the potential of digital
transformation as a force for the global democratic good requires strategic
policy action. It befalls public powers to put in place regulatory frameworks
and policy measures that will ensure transparency in the use of digital
technologies and accountability for the decisions guided by artificial
Our Annual Policy Dialogue afforded us an
opportunity to gather the thoughts of over 100 renowned experts, policy makers
and industry leaders, convened in three Working Groups Working Groups steered
by The Future Society, the IE
Center for the Governance of Change and Ipsos Global Affairs. Together, we distilled the
implications of digital transformation and artificial intelligence for
fundamental rights, the future of the social contract in the data economy, and
trust and public debate in the face of disinformation.
Emboldened by the scope of the political
challenge that is upon us if we are to govern the digital before it governs us,
we, WLA-CdM Members, affirm our commitment to promote a democratic approach to
digital transformation, in particular artificial intelligence and the problem
of control it poses. We will, individually and collectively, enjoin leaders to
take proactive action to frame the development of digital technologies in an
inclusive, fair and rights-based legal, political and social framework. In this
rapidly changing world, reacting to technological development is no longer
sufficient; proactive policy has become a necessity.
Over the next months, we will be issuing policy recommendations for political leaders, policymakers, technological entrepreneurs, educators and civil society organizations, calling them to action to help make digital transformation an enabler of democracy. We, WLA-CdM Members, will make this issue a strategic priority for our organization and trust many partners will join us to, together, meet the digital transformation with the political response it requires.
WLA-CdM is committed to advancing democracy worldwide. With your
support, we can advance democratic values and foster social and political change.
You can help ensure a sustainable future for the next generations by joining our
efforts in a variety of ways. Here’s how you can make a difference.