Imperatives of technology and democracy?

By Gelleh Yallas

Technology is transforming and changing our perception of the democratic process, politicians today rely on digital PR teams to canvass and beat their competitors by appealing to voters via social platforms whether this is legal or acceptable form of practice depends on desired outcomes.

Democracy is supposed to inspire confidence and security but since the Cambridge Analytica scandal/SCL and Facebook data breach that led to GDPR regulations across Europe, it can be argued that technology and democracy may not be compatible. Technology today encompasses every aspect of human existence, it’s supposed to distress and save time by efficiently and effectively increasing productivity and profitability, reliance on technology has altered consciousness and had irrevocable positive and negative impact, digitisation of democratic process is a big business. During the last Davos forum 2019, debate raged about the effect the fourth industrial revolution will have on the labour market and how prepared is Europe and the world for the rapid developments in banking sector (Fin tech economy). Furthermore, given how political, social, and cultural norms are shaped/characterised in ever evolving system that may requires regulatory powers to safeguard democracy, real risks to freedom of thought, liberty and autonomy is an everyday struggle.

Relatively few years ago, institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank and the G20 set the protocols, agenda and steered nation-states into a world order designed to contain war and conflict. The technological innovation in communication, finance and trade facilitate growth and allowed people in Europe and globally to question the role of governance in our lives. Whether a pivot towards marketisation of our political structures was an inevitable outcome given the fast growth in technology of monetisation and digitisation, it’s precarious position and threat to liberal values.

The very definition of democracy is to be ruled by the masses, technology that has access to information and data is the most valuable assets a government can have, how you vote is influenced by myriad of sources. Thus, studies to analyse behaviour, human interaction and what people think and act are fundamental in determining how we vote, purchase and subscribe.

The effect technology has on democracy is substantial. Just like any threat, technological advancement is a tool that can be misused. Cambridge Analytica used Facebook customers to skillfully change perceptions. It capitalised on fear the of others. Such methods were widely used by the US military and European defence complex since the 2nd WW.

The issue isn’t how technology infiltrated the democratic process or the effect it has but essentially it’s about impartiality and freedom of choice which are fundamental basic human rights that shouldn’t be manipulated.
How people express themselves, act and live has consequences for the rule of law, as the rise of populism in Europe is indicative of a systemic failure, technology could be a force for good by exposing private enterprises such as Facebook and Google shortcomings.

The constant flow of information, how the human mind processes, reasons and rationalises effects decision-making ability. The people vote has been effectively hijacked by lies is a constant argument by the Remain supporters of EU in Britain, 52% of leave campaigners/voters democratically sealed the fate of millions of people.
Did technology attribute to Britain leaving the EU? Was it democratic and fair?

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