IGF 2018 WS #365 #Hate-fake-deny: Democracy at the algorithmic turn

Subtheme(s): 

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Democracy is poised at the cusp of a paradigm shift in civilizational history. Where digital experiments in decentralization of political processes are constantly reinventing the boundaries of democracy, we also see the polarization of the public sphere through fake news and the rise of technocratic data-driven decision-making. The indiscernibility and the materiality of the algorithmic processes de facto governing society clash with the dynamics of citizen voice and participation. Democratic participation and participatory forms of policymaking are thus facing serious challenges in the context of datafication, automation and disinformation. Thus, the democratic project in this moment of flux requires an overhaul of institutional norms and cultures and fresh policy strategies. Yet, current internet governance debates largely fail to incorporate an agenda on algorithmic governance seen from the perspective of citizen voice and citizen participation.

The proposed roundtable will bring together experts that bridge academia and civil society to unpack the issues and develop ideas for democratic participation and accountability in a datafied environment. It will create proposals for addressing the growing democratic deficit in a context of algorithmic forms of decision-making.

Format: 

Round Table - 90 Min

Interventions: 

The proposed roundtable brings together scholars, practitioners and activists working in the field of data justice, development and democracy who will approach the issue from various lenses and stand-points. Speakers will draw from their research and policy expertise through short lightning talks. All speakers will be asked to provide opening provocative remarks (about 5’ each) to then open the floor for constructive debate.

All speakers are conducting engaged research and policy advocacy work at the intersection of multiple sectors, including academia and the organised civil society. They have experience with multistakeholder governance debates and government work.

• Arne Hintz, Data Justice Lab, Cardiff University (Confirmed) will discuss the role of data in public sector decision-making and the challenges for public participation.
• Stefania Milan, Datactive Project, University of Amsterdam (Confirmed) will explore new ways in which citizens intervene into data-based governance processes.
• Maya Ganesh, Leuphana University (Confirmed) will speak on public accountability initiatives for errors arising from automated governance.
• Harry Halpin, NEXTLEAP project, will provide a technologist’s perspective on the issue and discuss the role of self-regulation and thoughtful design.
• Deepti Bharthur, IT for Change (Confirmed) will elaborate on the role of digital technologies and data driven tactics in institutional transformation, foregrounding experiences from the global south.
• Carolina Botero, Fundacion Karisma, will discuss experiences in advancing digital democracy in Latin America

Audiences will be part of a moderated discussion that will also draw responses from speakers. Depending on the audience size, sticky-note exercises will be conducted in groups, touching upon three issues: challenges of the algorithmic turn for citizen voice/participation; challenges of misinformation and polarisation; challenges for policy and governance. Afterwards, the groups will report back and the mapping exercise (in total 15’) will be used to continue the conversation in a roundtable format.

Diversity: 

The roundtable comprises practitioners and scholars from varying contexts of research, technology development, policy intervention and many more, whose work is rooted firmly in the idea of data justice and rights.

It is composed of two-thirds women and one-third men, in response to traditional gender imbalances and with the goal of advancing the gender balance at IGF overall.

Members of other stakeholder communities will be included as respondents and discussants of the speaker contributions.

The proposed roundtable will explore the algorithmic turn – the central and strategic role of digital intelligence – in relation to the democratic transition underway. From discussing the ways in which digital intelligence is influencing and dictating voter behaviors and outcomes, to looking at the increasing role of data and algorithms in governance and policy decision processes, to unpacking the implications for citizen rights, the roundtable will focus on bringing to the fore the critical questions in how the digital is transforming democracy and the challenges for policy and regulation, including multistakeholder decision-making. In addition, the roundtable will look at what opportunities the digital moment presents for democracy such as the possibilities of enhancing liquid democracy and creating the institutional frameworks and mechanisms adequate to citizen accountability.

Each of the six speakers of the roundtable will offer a 5-minute overview of a) a key challenge to democracy and b) a possible solution. This will be followed by responses, group work and open discussion (see below).

Discussion Facilitation: 

The audience in the room will be involved through a moderated discussion and, depending on the audience size, group work. The discussion or group work will address three issues: challenges of the algorithmic turn for citizen voice/participation; challenges of misinformation and polarisation; challenges for policy and governance. A mapping exercise will be used to summarize the conversation in a roundtable format.
Half of the session will be reserved for this open/group discussion.

Online Participation: 

The workshop will be made open to online participation, which we will actively seek through reaching out on our mailing lists and networks, and the use of social media in the time leading up to IGF. At the workshop, we will facilitate remote participation through a designated moderator to facilitate questions and comments via Jitsi through live audio/video and chat. We will also live-blog/tweet the proceedings of the workshop to allow remote participants to follow along in case of bandwidth issues.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678