by Innovation in Politics Institute
News and everything you need to know on digital democracy, online participation and e-voting
Participation
Dominik Hierlemann

“Citizens’ Assemblies Shouldn’t Happen in a Vacuum”

How should our society best handle disinformation? In late January, the Bertelsmann Stiftung launched a citizens’ assembly with partners such as the German Ministry of the Interior to grapple with this question. Dominik Hierlemann of the Bertelsmann Stiftung discusses the project.

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Meta's logo appears on the screen of a smartphone against a blue background. The letters "AI" appear in large print on the background.

Meta Experiments With Public Consultation on AI

In October 2023, Meta hosted a “Community Forum on Generative AI.” The online event gave randomly selected members of the public the chance to share their views on the principles governing the use of AI chatbots. It is one of the first cases of a private company using established deliberative democracy methods to consult the public, raising key questions about accountability. Democracy Technologies was invited to observe the event.

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Saffron Huang of the Collective Intelligence Project attends the UK's AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park, UK.

Can Alignment Assemblies Bring Democracy to Silicon Valley?

Last year, a series of AI developers began experimenting with new democratic ways of shaping the future of the technology. Among the most prominent were the Alignment Assemblies, run by the Collective Intelligence Project. Their work with Anthropic and OpenAI demonstrates the potential of public involvement in AI, while also raising questions about the place of these processes within the broader picture of the regulation of the field.

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Marchers at the 2022 Pride Parade (Parada Ponosa) in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Young and Online: Can Internet Forums Bring Politics Closer to LGBTIQ+ Youth?

“Young Queer people approach politics differently than the average voter, both in terms of being Queer as well as being young,” explains Rene Koradin from the organisation DIH (Slovenian for “BREATH”). “But as anywhere, there are many different intersecting identities at play among Queer youth. That’s why we believe that facilitating an open debate is […]

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Australian MP Dr. Andrew Leigh takes a question from one of his constituents at the "Connecting to Parliament" event on 20 September, 2020 in Canberra, Australia.

Connecting to Parliament: Deliberating with Politicians

Citizens’ assemblies are enjoying a moment in the spotlight – but they often cut elected officials out of the picture altogether. Several less well-known formats worldwide apply similar methods with the aim of getting representatives and voters to talk to one another. Among them is Australia’s “Connecting to Parliament”.

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Rayén-Jara-Mitrovich, co-founder of Radical Data.

Radical Data: Art, Activism, & Technology

Rayén Jara Mitrovich is a co-founder of Radical Data, a collective that uses data and builds tools to empower communities and help shape alternative futures. We caught up with them to talk about AI biases, Chile's failed new constitution, and the intersection between art, activism, and technology.

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Black and white portrait photo of civic tech expert Raphael Pouyé on orange and teal background

“Civic Tech From the Global South Is Less Naive About the Benevolence of Governments”

We have often discussed civic tech in the narrow context of European projects in participatory democracy. But as Raphael Pouyé, democracy support and participatory governance expert, points out, we can learn a lot from how countries beyond Europe work with civic tech.

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A speaker at the ACTE event "Saving Civics in the Digital Age", part of Barcelona's European Capital of Democracy Programme Year.

Saving Civics in The Digital Age

The Association Civic Tech Europe (ACTE) was founded to promote technologies that support citizen participation, activism, and citizen-centered public services. As part of Barcelona’s European Capital of Democracy programme year, they hosted a workshop entitled “Savings Civics in the Digital Age” event on 22 November.

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Former mayor of Madrid Manuela Carmena, pictured in 2018. Her administration launched the "Decide Madrid" platform in 2015.

Decide Madrid and Consul Democracy: When the Export Surpasses the Original

Launched in 2015, the digital participation platform Decide Madrid attracted praise from the international community. The software behind it, Consul Democracy, is now used in 35 countries around the world. Yet local residents have voiced frustration that their inputs to the platform are rarely acted on. And following a change in local government in 2019, the fate of the project began to look uncertain.

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AI and the Future of Participation

One of the many highlights at DecidimFest 2023 was Xabier E. Barandiaran’s talk on Artificial and collective intelligence. We sat down with him at the festival to talk to him about why human intelligence has always been artificial and collective, why open source AI shouldn’t be underestimated, and his idea of “artificial democratic life.”

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Brazil’s Participatory Pluriannual Plan

This year saw the initiation of Brasil Participativo, a digital platform provided by Decidim which enables citizens to shape and improve public policies. The first participatory process to use it was the Participatory Plurianual Plan, which gave Brazilians the opportunity to cast votes and set policy priorities at the federal level for the next four years.

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6 people standing on a stage at the CoFoE panel 4, in the background an EU Flag, and a sign saying: the future is in your hands

After CoFoE – What’s Next for Digital Democracy in the EU?

We look back at the Conference on the Future of Europe. Asking “What is next?”, we identify ‘expectation management’ and ‘follow-up’ as key areas that need to improve in similar endeavours in the future.

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The Race to Democratise AI

Over the last year, several major AI developers, including Meta and OpenAI, have started taking an interest in deliberative democracy tools. The aim: to collect public inputs on the regulation of AI. We take stock of the developments so far – and ask what it means for the field as a whole.

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​​Bottom-Up or Top-Down Participation? The Case of Peru

Participatory platforms are increasingly being mandated by governments instead of organically emerging from social movements. The case of Peru shows that top-down implementations can have positive results in terms of improved public services and citizen well-being. Nonetheless, bottom-up participation remains crucial to ensure sustained engagement.

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Parlameter: Increasing Civic Engagement through Digital Transparency

Digital transparency tools make it easier for political institutions to share information with the public – but does transparency lead to a more engaged and politically active public? We looked into the story of Parlameter, an online tool for enhancing transparency, to see how it promotes public engagement at both the national and local level.

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