A recording of an Exponential View salon held in London in May 2017. On the panel Azeem discusses these questions with Carole Cadwalladr, Luciano Floridi, Hari Kunzru, Tom Loosemore.
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter,” said Winston Churchill.
But whatever you think of it, democracy has served us well. An increase in democracy is almost always matched by an increase in GDP.
According to MIT economist, Daron Acemoglu, a country that switches from autocracy to democracy achieves about 20% higher GDP per capita over roughly 30 year period.
Yet, data at the end of 2016, research suggested that in several advanced economies, including the US and the UK, those born since the late 1980s, value democracy less than older cohorts.
Yes, we’ve witnessed something. Driven by the underlying shifts - in media, in technology, in the expression of state power, in cultural values, in big money funding data. And what we’ve experienced is a manifestation of new behaviours around the democracy process: the transition from broadcast media to niche media moderated by dominant social media platforms.
The use of microtargeting across social media to better address niche voters; The interference of states in more or less significant ways in the political processes, at least of the US election. The bypassing of electoral laws. The spread of fake news across social platforms.
The maturing of our information systems have closed our ability for discussion.
Questions are predicted. Answers are echo chambers.
Have these behaviours hacked our democracy? For better or for worse?