DigEnlight2019 (V). ICT for Democracy

Notes from the conference Democracy and Media in the Digital Era, organized by the Digital Enlightenment Forum and the Delegation to the European Union of the Government of Catalonia, and held in Brussels, Belgium, on 14 November 2019. More notes on this event: digenlight2019

ICT for Democracy
Chair: Stefan Klauser, ETH

Digitisation is a challenge to democratic societies. The development of AI, IoT and the collection of behavioural data lies unprecedented power in the hands of private companies. Can digitisation also be used to strengthen self-organisation and democratic processes?

It is discouraging to hear people that e-democracy does not work: it took centuries for actual democracy to work. ICT-based democracy tools may not work in the long term, but we need time to try and to correct to be able to really assess them.

Dirk Helbing (ETH, Zürich, CH)
Digital Empowerment: How to Make It work

Algorithms may turn correlations into casual relations. This can “just happen”, but it can also be on purpose and addressed to manipulate the perceptions of people upon reality.

Better education, or better media or digital literacy, may be not enough when what it’s at stake is one’s attention.

Are we heading towards digital feudalism? A surveillance capitalism?

Data-driven and AI-controlled society lacks human dignity, love, freedom, consciousness, etc. We need better design for values, a design that puts the person, the citizen in the center. A design that leads to informational self-determination.

Digital democracy is not about technology, but about harnessing the collective intelligence, to bring the best ideas of many minds together. And here is where technology can help: we need to build suitable platforms to collect, share and integrate ideas.


  • Independent exploration
  • Information exchange
  • Integration

Top-down majority kill variety.

Mike Kalomeni
Blockchain for democracy through accountability

People have been escaping the state-money (fiat money) system by borrowing and investing in assets like stocks and real-state.

The financial system does not look healthy. Democracy is endangered by social inequality, and social inequality is increase by asymmetric access to economic opportunities.

Can blockchain contribute to fixing this? Blockchain can contribute to democratise the way money is created and used, and how the monetary system itself can be democratised too. Bitcoin is a good example of how to opt-out of the fiat money system and thus balance economic power.

Ismael Peña-López (DG Citizen’sParticipation and Electoral Processes)

More information: Shifting participation into sovereignty: the case of decidim.barcelona.

Ugo Pagallo (Univ Turin, Chair SC AI4People)

Most of the times, when the aim of the regulation is to protect the private interest, online regulation is stronger than offline regulation; on the contrary, when the aim of the regulation is to protect the public interest, online regulation is weaker than offline regulation.

Digital technology is escalable, modular, adaptable, flexible. It does change depending on place and time. Technology should be regulated in its societal and normative contexts. There is an urgent need to address the governance of this new upcoming democratic system that ICTs are bringing —for good or for bad.


Democracy and Media in the Digital Era (2019)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2019) “DigEnlight2019 (V). ICT for Democracy” In ICTlogy, #194, November 2019. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from https://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4703

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