First and foremost, people must recognize that technology, including digital communications and social media, is a critical component of democracy. Also, democracy aided the development and application of technology (Fukuyama et al, 2021). This has incited some distresses on the way algorithms and the organizations that create them maybe influence public’s opinions in substantial manners. Several companies, remarkably Google and Facebook, ought to be blamed of influencing democratic elections, thus an amassed voices are advocating for severer Artificial Intelligence restrictions to safeguard democracy. Other organized initiatives are being established in reaction to this issue too.
Artificial intelligence and Big data are unquestionably significant innovations (Leslie et al, 2021). According to Leslie et al (2021), from tailored healthcare to sustainable cities, they have immense potential to stimulate social change and economic value. However, utilizing these technologies to render citizens helpless is completely unacceptable. Big nudging and citizen scoring are dictatorial in nature because they leverage centrally acquired personal information for behavioural control. Not only is this incompatible with democratic values and human rights, but it is also ineffective in managing modern, inventive communities.
Presently, social media has aided citizens in European countries to have greater opportunities and participate in politics as well as government processes. People are getting better at keeping track of what is going on in the world. Simultaneously, European politicians are actively utilizing social media and diverse forms of digital communications to engage with the public and discuss potential solutions to a problem. In this situation, technology has a beneficial impact on European democracy because it serves as a platform for a more open and advanced culture. However, people should not exaggerate the positive effect of technology on European democracy as social media is always not utilized for beneficial aims. For instance, terrorist organizations, other extremist groups, and far-right political parties use technology to their advantage through promoting their views and influencing society to weaken democracy in Europe.
Another issue is that democracy shall be greatly demoralized as to a greater extent decisions are being performed and delivered through algorithms. For instance, the more individuals utilize technology, the more information they receive and, as a result, the more opportunities for misinformation. It was claimed that Russia wanted or attempted to sway vote outcomes in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Ukraine by using social media. We may not tell the facts, but the fact remains that governments of other countries currently can influence major events such as European elections. This was difficult to believe it could happen before the age of Artificial Intelligence or digital technologies.
Furthermore, democracy, governance and advocacy shall all lose meaning as they will no longer be a direct engagement of people to participate in daily affairs (Bloch-Wehba, 2021). According to a study based on online data, the likelihood that Artificial Intelligence will fully advance shortly, thereby taking over the human essence of living. Is Artificial Intelligence also capable of fulfilling the essence of people’s role in democracy, governance, and advocacy? This is an important question that must be addressed. This is because democracy, governance and advocacy encompass constant engagement, physical interaction of humans who cohabit in a geographical region with the assistance of continual perfection as well as intellectual engagement that leads to an improved society, state-building in Europe and also internationally.
Additionally, Appedu (2021) claims that with increasing use and more decisions being done by algorithms, democratic governments face distinct problems in harnessing digital technology’s benefits while avoiding its risks to their more open general public. Fair elections, online fundamental rights, and multi-stakeholder internet governance are three interconnected issues critical to safeguarding robust democracies in a period of increased insecurity, more constraints, and global competition. Besides, the increasing difficulties that democracies experience in handling the complex features of digital technology have turned out to be a defining foreign and domestic policy concern, with significant ramifications for human rights and democratic health. When public and private information is subjected to hacking, manipulation, and theft online, the rapid digitalisation of practically all aspects of society and the in-built trans-border nature of the internet pose a slew of tough difficulties.
Also, with their involvement in free and fair elections, cybercrimes from authoritarian states and non-state groups constitute a strong and mounting threat to democracies around the world. The attacks might come in a variety of ways, and they can challenge or destabilize democratic processes. These may include: manipulating pieces of evidence and thoughts that show how people vote, such as through propaganda, bots, and fake social media accounts, interfering with the general voting process like altering voter registration rolls, exchanging the vote outcomes, and neglecting trust in the vote’s integrity.
Following Cho et al (2020), the algorithms have the potential to defend as well as violating human rights, with obvious ramifications for people’s physical security and cyber. People’s opportunities to use their rights to freedom of expression and association, hold public officials accountable, and take part in civic life have massively increased as a result of the widespread adoption of digital technology, all of which are necessary ingredients for conducting free and fair elections. Also, current technological advancements have aided in shedding light on human rights violations around the world. Victims’ groups are now using YouTube and other platforms to broadcast, Livestream, and crowdsource videos and images of abuses in the hopes that they might be utilized as evidence in future accountability procedures. For instance, satellite photography was used by human rights investigators to show atrocities in North Korean political prisons and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.
Moreover, Rubel et (2021) explains that if more of our democracies decisions continue to be done by algorithms, individuals and states’ physical security can be jeopardized by malicious use of technology. For starters, the growing digitisation over the last 20 years has had a “chilling effect” on free expression, with people in some nations feeling unsafe to express themselves since their personal data is watched or archived. Online security issues have turned out to be physical security issues as a result of GPS monitoring, social media, and shutdowns of the internet, permitting challengers of human rights and democracy to intimidate their putative targets’ physical safety. In addition, not only can internet shutdowns jeopardize democratic governance by restricting free expression and other essential government duties, but they can also induce panic and raise public health concerns. Such incidents also jeopardize the international rules-based framework for internet governance, encouraging states to compete in the development of intrusive legal laws and offensive cyber capabilities. Finally, it’s worth noting that eroding online liberties isn’t just a tool used by authoritarian regimes; it’s also used by democratic administrations. Another aspect of the problem is the lack of adequate regulatory or oversight systems for private corporations’ responsibility in protecting citizens’ data.
Besides, given the present and future risks to democracy and human rights posed by irresponsible decision-making of algorithms, the time for democracy or citizens’ rights defenders to advocate on issues of algorithms is now. Government activities must not take a restricted view of security, prioritizing national security, counterterrorism, and sovereignty over all else. Even though effective in the short term, such measures are more likely to contribute to the long-term deterioration of international and national security.
As data-driven decision-making becomes more common in government services and governance systems, it encourages the concentration of authority and control. Local discretion and flexibility to deal with contextual claims of marginal populations are eliminated, while facts are selectively mobilized to present the political agenda as techno-managerial objectivity (Cho et al, 2020). For instance, in India, machine-based decision-making on entitlements based on erroneous data sets resulted in a huge number of people being denied welfare assistance. While hiccups are to be expected in any system, what made the situation untenable in this case was the lack of consideration for technological failure or glitches, leaving citizens, many of whom were reliant on the schemes, disenfranchised based on a completely automated decision based on faulty data.
Finally, the democratic design in any given technology is determined by human desire. For the reason that they have not been subjected to the necessary institutional oversight that underpins the realization of socio-cultural ideals in contemporary democracies, digital intelligence and algorithmic assemblages might surveil, disenfranchise, or discriminate, not because of objective metrics, but because they have not been subjected to the necessary institutional oversight that underpins the realization of socio-cultural ideals in contemporary democracies (Appedu, 2021). Only if today’s policies develop a mandate for digital systems that prioritizes citizen agency and democratic accountability can future technologies support equity and social justice.
All in all, a strong and well-developed digital technology or algorithms must be created that can ensure justice while still preserving the realm of participatory rule-making. In the perspective of digitalised governance, the decision to look into the algorithmic black box needs clarifications, and dispute automated decision making is important for realizing the right to be heard. Manipulation of data sources for decision-making and political discourse is especially pervasive and difficult to combat.
Appedu, S. (2021). Problematizing the Role of Information Literacy in Disinformation, Dialogue, and the Healing of Democracy. Library Orientation Series No. 54.
Bloch-Wehba, H. (2021). Transparency’s AI Problem.
Cho, J., Ahmed, S., Hilbert, M., Liu, B., & Luu, J. (2020). Do search algorithms endanger democracy? An experimental investigation of algorithm effects on political polarization. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 64(2), 150-172.
Fukuyama, F., Richman, B., & Goel, A. (2021). How to Save Democracy from Technology: Ending Big Tech’s Information Monopoly. Foreign Aff., 100, 98.
Leslie, D., Burr, C., Aitken, M., Cowls, J., Katell, M., & Briggs, M. (2021). Artificial intelligence, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law: a primer. Available at SSRN 3817999.
Rubel, A., Castro, C., & Pham, A. (2021). Algorithms and Autonomy: The Ethics of Automated Decision Systems. Cambridge University Press.