IGF 2019 WS #427 Improving Democratic Governance With Machines

Organizer 1: Julia Krueger, netzpolitik.org
Organizer 2: Christina Dinar, CIHR - Center for Internet and Human Rights

Speaker 1: Eileen Donahoe, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Eileen Donahoe, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Malavika Jayaram, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Max Senges, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

Democratic governance has never been easy. In earlier days, it was the lack of competencies of democratic leaders or corruption that led to distrust or public criticism. Nowadays, democracies struggle heavily with the complexity of local, national, and international governance systems, and well as extremely intricate political problems they are hardly ever able to solve. The strong leadership, people called for regularly, proved to be of little help in addressing local and global problems. Moreover, the information processing itself, the organization of democratic governance, seems to be stuck in the 90ies, and stimulates the question: How can we develop and use digital technologies to support democratic processes or governance structures and counter common flaws in democracies (lack of competences, corruption etc.)?
What are the visions of transforming democracy?
What are the tools available, what has to be developed?
How can we design and enforce an inclusive and productive transformation process?
And: how can we transform democratic governance quickly - in order to react timely to climate change?

Relevance to Theme: Information technologies extended the amount of people that are potentially included in governance amongst a diversity of governance levels and policy arena. Unfortunately, the increase of voices (and information) has not been processed efficiently, by now. Most governance structures are hardly supported by proper technologies which leads to all kinds of flaws in governance. But due to climate change, local, national, and international politics are in urgent need of new kinds of efficient policy solutions - and they need to proof that democracy in right: able to transform itself to changing environments and challenges. Being a traditional arena for experimental, democratic politics outside that realm of nation states, the IGF is perfectly positioned to move the topic forward - and to explore prototypes in digital and inclusive governance that make sense from the variety of international problems, informations, and wisdom. Furthermore, the workshop is intended to stimulate policy learning processes amongst participating experts from divers cultures and regions.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Internet Governance has always been a prototype of new forms of governance but lacked efficient multi-stakeholder-processes, by now, that formed a progressive and enforceable common sense amongst the people. Therefore, it's time to rethink the governance organization - both in terms of structure and technical support - and to make sense from the increase of networks and information for social coordination.


Panel - Auditorium - 90 Min

Description: The Workshop is intended to give an overview about:
- why democratic governance structures need to be digitized now (information overload),
- what are tools available, what are tools to be developed,
- what kind of process could ensure participation, inclusion etc.
On the one hand, it will review existing procedures and democratic governance structures and explore options in how to improve them, in general. On the other hand, it will outline and discuss opportunities in how to transform democratic structures by including algorithms, artificial intelligence, and platform technologies into national and international problem identification and solution, as well as political coordination, collaboration, and assessment. Specific attention is given to platform technologies that offer economic transformation (the coordination of a sustainable economy).

Expected Outcomes: The general audience/ media will get an overview about the international status-quo of the discussion. Experts will be able to meet colleagues and fellows to discuss further options for international cooperation. Developers will get a chance to get into contact with governance actors to assess and discuss the need for technical solutions. Civil society and academia will have a say in the new discussion and might check for risks and problems. The panel organizers will prepare an overview on the discussion for further discussion that will be published afterwards including important debates.

Onsite Moderator: 

Julia Krueger, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator: 

Christina Dinar, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Julia Krueger, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

The organizers plan to prepare an overview on the debate in advance (why democratic governance needs to be digitally supported, and how) as well as questions related to a) the transformation of democratic principles, b) the applicability of specific national policy solutions, and c) further risks and problems (IT security, human security etc.). They will be given to the audience in advance to encourage and structure debate and discussion. Further comments and requests are warmly welcomed.

Online Participation: 

The on-line participation tool will be used to assess the resonance of the debate on-line, to collect questions and comments, and to include people outside the conference inside the discussion. It will be considered in advance of the discussion and during the discussion. Interesting comments or ideas will be selected by the organization and included into the panel discussion.

Proposed Additional Tools: Twitter and other social media channels are regarded as necessary on-line media to spread the word and ideas on-line and to assess the impact and the resonance of the discussion. Other media platforms and tools will be checked and further discussed, e.g. the on-line moderation support by the Coral Project (Mozilla).


GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 12: Responsible Production and Consumption
GOAL 13: Climate Action
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals