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Digital Technology and Democratic Theory$
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Lucy Bernholz, Héléne Landemore, and Rob Reich

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780226748436

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226748603.001.0001

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Technologizing Democracy or Democratizing Technology? A Layered-Architecture Perspective on Potentials and Challenges

Technologizing Democracy or Democratizing Technology? A Layered-Architecture Perspective on Potentials and Challenges

Chapter:
(p.274) 10 Technologizing Democracy or Democratizing Technology? A Layered-Architecture Perspective on Potentials and Challenges
Source:
Digital Technology and Democratic Theory
Author(s):

Bryan Ford

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226748603.003.0011

While technology is often claimed to be “democratizing”, the technologizing of society has more often yielded undemocratic or even anti-democratic outcomes. This chapter explores how technology has failed to support robust democracy—but could do better—in the context of four basic social processes: collective deliberation and choice, information distribution and filtering, economic commerce, and identity. Technology could eventually help people make better collective choices, but only if we can make digital deliberation and voting systems both truly participatory and secure. We need digital forums that enable communities to vet and filter a deluge of information democratically. Effective participation is impractical for those who must spend every moment of time struggling to survive, so a healthy digital democracy will require a reformulation of money and commerce as well. Finally, none of these social processes can resist abuse or subversion without a democratic basis for digital identity that can distinguish real people while preserving the privacy needed for freedom and true self-expression. This chapter suggests a framework or layered architecture we might take as a tentative blueprint for digital democracy.

Keywords:   digital democracy, polarization, social media, liquid democracy, voting, participation, digital identity, blockchain

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