How can digital technologies strengthen our democracies?
Our democracies are under pressure. In recent times, the social foundations, cohesion, and diversity of our democratic systems are challenged at multiple fronts. To address this issue, the European Forum Alpbach (EFA) launched the Re:think Alliances initiative last year. Re:think Alliances is an initiative around the question of how to build a diverse alliance (including democracy experts and activists, artists, media and PR experts, businesspeople, and influencers) to strengthen democracy, open society, and social cohesion in Europe. In light of the current pandemic, these efforts are more important than ever. Therefore, EFA launched Re:think Alliances II, focusing on the opportunities and the risks for democracy and social cohesion through and after Covid-19 and in the context of digital transformation.
Taking up on these challenges, the European Forum Alpbach will host its first-ever online conference this year. The EFA conference “Fundamentals” will take place from 23 August to 03 September 2020.
What are ‚Fundamentals‘?
“Fundamentals” are the roots that make our society flourish or stall. On a democratic and regulatory level, they include our human rights such as the inviolability of human dignity, freedom of expression, the right to free elections, and minority rights. On the scientific and academic level, they include freedom of expression, independent teaching, transparency, and accountability. From ethical challenges in medicine and technology all the way to AI and the breach of the public’s trust through fake news and hate speech on the Internet – over the past five years, our social fundamentals have become increasingly shaky.
In a series of workshops, the Open Think Tank Network will join EFA 2020 and create scenarios around these “Fundamentals” with the leading question “How can digital technologies strengthen our democracies?”. Specifically, Dezentrum & foraus will run a workshop on deliberation and participation. The workshop takes place on the 24 August in Zurich with a limited number of spaces. Reserve your spot, register here, create scenarios with us, and get a free ticket for the whole EFA conference!
We are looking for visions and scenarios that focus on one or multiple digital technologies and show how they could be benevolent towards a working democracy. The technologies behind these visions do not need to be fully developed or deployed. Let’s think of new and innovative ideas, don’t be scared to go crazy on this! We won’t blame you for sketching out an ‘unrealistic’ scenario. Quite the opposite: let’s think of extremes to better understand the key components of the technologies we should use or invent on this journey.
Using the collaborative online platform Policy Kitchen, as well as a series of online workshops, Dezentrum and members of the Open Think Tank Network – Agora (UK), foraus (CH), Polis180 (DE) and Ponto (AT) – invites the public to address this question in an accessible, engaging and interactive process. We seek to bring together different perspectives, so join us and envision a future for democracy in a digital world.
The workshops during the EFA 2020 are a crucial step to foster the Re:think Alliances network and to gather knowledge that will be used to discuss and kickstart Re:think Alliances II project during the next meeting from 22 to 24 October. Moreover, the visions generated on the foraus’ Policy Kitchen tool will be discussed with European decision-makers on September 1st at 2 pm during the EFA 2020, eventually leading to possible projects around the Forum. There will also be a panel during the event where some of the output is presented and a fireside chat with facilitators and participants of the workshops.
Throughout this challenge, we want to create visions to reinforce our strained democracies. Let’s think of ways how we can use new digital tools to support the fundamentals of our democratic systems. Because only with freedom of expression, transparency, accountability, and open participation we can provide our democracies with the much-needed foundation and legitimacy to face the upcoming threats and challenges.
Submit your visions on Policy Kitchen and check out all the workshops of the Open Think Tank Network below.
Dezentrum X foraus
Club Alpbach Zürich
Trust in Information
Club Alpbach London
Club Alpbach Berlin
Haus für Poesie, Knaackstrasse 97 (Kulturbrauerei)
Club Alpbach Vienna
Haus der erneuerbaren Energien, Franz-Josefs-Kai 13