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2.5 Consequences of the digital age; technology fuelled threats to people, systems and societies

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    The speed of developments in nano-biological-informational and cognitive technologies, including the military and criminal dimensions, dictates the search for a systemic response. The digital age has brought many benefits but the potential for negative unintended consequences remains a serious concern.

    Our traditional understanding of participatory, representative democracy needs to be updated to reflect the contemporary communications and regulatory challenges that put at risk every aspect of our organizations from large international public and private entities to individuals and their families.  Hacking, threats to privacy, identity theft and other criminal behaviour, trolling and cyber-bullying are becoming more serious. Surveillance, including surveillance capitalism, algorithms that incorporate bias, the use and misuse of social media to influence our electoral, consumer and lifestyle choices and the threats to the self-image of our youth are realities we are individually and collectively unprepared to perceive and to mitigate.  The fact that a handful of large media and internet corporations dominate public information space for private profit and that common understandings of civic infrastructures have deteriorated means that we are seeing large gaps in accountability in our information environment.


Discussion points

  • More effective forms to balance the power of corporate interests, politicians, experts and bureaucrats over the majorities.

  • This session of WOSC 2020 wants to open debates about mechanisms for democracy and self-determination in a world dominated by a few technological companies.

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