How Technology Is Changing the Way We Perceive Democracy


Voters cast their ballots at ChiArts High School.

You’ve probably already heard: Technology is, in some ways, making democracy worse. That headline barely seems newsworthy. But, does it have to be bad? No.

New technology is already changing the way people live, play, work, and otherwise engage within their neighborhoods. Things like ride-share services, self-driving cars, delivery robots, and neighborhood crime alert apps were unimaginable 20 years ago. Today, though, they’re all around us or are just around the corner. But beyond these sorts of amenities are technologies like genetic forensics, artificial intelligence, and facial-recognition software that may dramatically shape our reality in ways that are much less visible—and perhaps not always positive.

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Indeed, with these tech innovations will come important questions not only about how we live in cities, but also, more fundamentally, about who has the power to shape decision-making within these communities. In other words, as technology keeps evolving, so, too, should the way we approach democracy. To ensure that it’s not just politicians, lobbyists, and special-interest groups that have a say in answering big tech-policy questions, everyday people should also be empowered to participate in various governance processes.

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