Democracy Disrupted: When technology meets democracy
*This event is hosted at the Democratic Society pavilion.
Organised by the Democratic Society
When digital technologies first came to the fore, they were heralded as bringing about a 'death of distance'. Freed from the constraints of time and geography, many futurists believed that the technological revolution would be profoundly democratic – information would be accessed by everyone, ultimately resulting in people making more informed decisions and choices.
Over two decades on, it is safe to say that this techno-utopia has not panned out. In parallel to better connecting us, digital media technologies are also creating filter bubbles and echo chambers that are polarising us. Together with informing, educating, and entertaining us, digital technology is also drowning us in information. Information overload is in turn pushing us to choose our own truths, thereby disrupting our shared reality and commonality – both fundamental aspects of a functioning democracy. In all of this, it is unclear what is happening with the information that is being shared or who is responsible for regulating it. In other words, the digital public sphere is shaped by decisions that the public has no say in.
This session, therefore, aims to unpack the many ways in which digital technology intersects democracy and makes an impassioned case for why we should care.