Paper by Bissera Zankova: “The purpose of the study is to analyze the role of social media to boost democratic citizenship and contribute to the creation of smart environment through the perspective of direct democracy in Bulgaria. The issue of “smart cities” will be tackled from a broader media and communication perspective. The term “smart city” does not denote the symbiosis between urban development and new information technologies only but it signifies a new vibrant social ecology rooted in the thorough use of the Internet for wider democratic participation. As a theoretical basis of my survey I shall use Dewey’s model of the inherent bond between communication and enlightened citizenry and Robert Putnam’s theory about the social capital facilitated by social networks generating trust and solidarity among community members. As a case study I shall dwell on local democracy and particularly on two recent referendums in Bulgaria (2017) – in the cities of Tran and Stara Zagora, their basic premises, claims, organization, social media use, outcomes and impact. Though not mandatory for the governing bodies the referendums’ results demonstrated the level of social activity in the country underpinned by networks. Democracy should be understood best through the Abraham Lincoln’s centuries-cherished metaphor as “government of the people, by the people, for the people”. In the current research I build on a previous investigation done in 2013 on civic journalism, blogs and protests in Bulgaria and on my contribution to the book “Smart journalism” (Zankova, Skolkay, Franklin (2016), presenting findings from the New Media Literacy Project 2012 – 2014. This interdisciplinary paper will be useful for both academics and practitioners and specifically for media specialists who will get knowledge about the state of direct democracy in a new democratic country in SEE, new media non/ contribution to this state and what the necessary conditions are to make this democracy really workable at a community level to turn the cities into future-oriented democratic centres….(More)”
Paper by Eric Rosenbach and Katherine Mansted: “Information is now the world’s most consequential and contested geopolitical resource. The world’s most profitable businesses have asserted for years that data is the “new oil.” Political campaigns—and foreign intelligence operatives—have shown over the past two American presidential elections that data-driven social media is the key to public opinion. Leading scientists and technologists understand that good datasets, not just algorithms, will give them a competitive edge.
Data-driven innovation is not only disrupting economies and societies; it is reshaping relations between nations. The pursuit of information power—involving states’ ability to use information to influence, decide, create and communicate—is causing states to rewrite their terms of engagement with markets and citizens, and to redefine national interests and strategic priorities. In short, information power is altering the nature and behavior of the fundamental building block of international relations, the state, with potentially seismic consequences.
Authoritarian governments recognize the strategic importance of information and over the past five years have operationalized powerful domestic and international information strategies. They are cauterizing their domestic information environments and shutting off their citizens from global information flows, while weaponizing information to attack and destabilize democracies. In particular, China and Russia believe that strategic competition in the 21st century is characterized by a zero-sum contest for control of data, as well as the technology and talent needed to convert data into useful information.
Democracies remain fundamentally unprepared for strategic competition in the Information Age. For the United States in particular, as the importance of information as a geopolitical resource has waxed, its information dominance has waned. Since the end of the Cold War, America’s supremacy in information technologies seemed unassailable—not least because of its central role in creating the Internet and overall economic primacy. Democracies have also considered any type of information strategy to be largely unneeded: government involvement in the domestic information environment feels Orwellian, while democracies believed that their “inherently benign” foreign policy didn’t need extensive influence operations.
However, to compete and thrive in the 21st century, democracies, and the United States in particular, must develop new national security and economic strategies that address the geopolitics of information. In the 20th century, market capitalist democracies geared infrastructure, energy, trade, and even social policy to protect and advance that era’s key source of power—manufacturing. In this century, democracies must better account for information geopolitics across all dimensions of domestic policy and national strategy….(More)”.
Freedom House: “In 2018, Freedom in the World recorded the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. The reversal has spanned a variety of countries in every region, from long-standing democracies like the United States to consolidated authoritarian regimes like China and Russia. The overall losses are still shallow compared with the gains of the late 20th century, but the pattern is consistent and ominous. Democracy is in retreat.
In states that were already authoritarian, earning Not Free designations from Freedom House, governments have increasingly shed the thin façade of democratic practice that they established in previous decades, when international incentives and pressure for reform were stronger. More authoritarian powers are now banning opposition groups or jailing their leaders, dispensing with term limits, and tightening the screws on any independent media that remain. Meanwhile, many countries that democratized after the end of the Cold War have regressed in the face of rampant corruption, antiliberal populist movements, and breakdowns in the rule of law. Most troublingly, even long-standing democracies have been shaken by populist political forces that reject basic principles like the separation of powers and target minorities for discriminatory treatment.
Some light shined through these gathering clouds in 2018. Surprising improvements in individual countries—including Malaysia, Armenia, Ethiopia, Angola, and Ecuador—show that democracy has enduring appeal as a means of holding leaders accountable and creating the conditions for a better life. Even in the countries of Europe and North America where democratic institutions are under pressure, dynamic civic movements for justice and inclusion continue to build on the achievements of their predecessors, expanding the scope of what citizens can and should expect from democracy. The promise of democracy remains real and powerful. Not only defending it but broadening its reach is one of the great causes of our time….(More)”.
Paper by Johannes Wachs, Taha Yasseri, Balázs Lengyel and János Kertész: “Corruption is a social plague: gains accrue to small groups, while its costs are borne by everyone. Significant variation in its level between and within countries suggests a relationship between social structure and the prevalence of corruption, yet, large-scale empirical studies thereof have been missing due to lack of data. In this paper, we relate the structural characteristics of social capital of settlements with corruption in their local governments. Using datasets from Hungary, we quantify corruption risk by suppressed competition and lack of transparency in the settlement’s awarded public contracts. We characterize social capital using social network data from a popular online platform. Controlling for social, economic and political factors, we find that settlements with fragmented social networks, indicating an excess of bonding social capital has higher corruption risk, and settlements with more diverse external connectivity, suggesting a surplus of bridging social capital is less exposed to corruption. We interpret fragmentation as fostering in-group
Ana Palacio at Project Syndicate: “These are difficult days for liberal democracy. But of all the threats that have arisen in recent years – populism, nationalism, illiberalism – one stands out as a key enabler of the rest: the proliferation and weaponization of disinformation.
What is new is the ease with which disinformation can be produced and disseminated. Advances in technology allow for the increasingly seamless manipulation or fabrication of video and audio, while the pervasiveness of social media enables false information to be rapidly amplified among receptive audiences.
Beyond introducing falsehoods into public discourse, the spread of disinformation can undermine the possibility of discourse itself, by calling into question actual facts. This “truth decay” – apparent in the widespread rejection of experts and expertise – undermines the functioning of democratic systems, which depend on the electorate’s ability to make informed decisions about, say, climate policy or the prevention of communicable diseases.
The West has been slow to recognize the scale of this threat. It was only after the 2016 Brexit referendum and US presidential election that the power of disinformation to reshape politics began to attract attention. That recognition was reinforced in 2017, during the French presidential election and the illegal referendum on Catalan independence.
Now, systematic efforts to fight disinformation are underway. So far, the focus has been on tactical approaches, targeting the “supply side” of the problem: unmasking Russia-linked fake accounts, blocking disreputable sources, and adjusting algorithms to limit public exposure to false and misleading news. Europe has led the way in developing policy responses, such as soft guidelines for industry, national legislation, and strategic communications.
To some extent, Europe seems to recognize this. Early this month, the Atlantic Council organized #DisinfoWeek Europe, a series of strategic dialogues focused on the global challenge of disinformation. And more ambitious plans are already in the works, including French President Emmanuel Macron’s recently proposed European Agency for the Protection of Democracies, which would counter hostile manipulation campaigns.
But, as is so often the case in Europe, the gap between word and deed is vast, and it remains to be seen how all of this will be implemented and scaled up. In any case, even if such initiatives
Paper for the European Parliamentary Research Service: “This study examines the consequences of the increasingly prevalent use of artificial intelligence (AI) disinformation initiatives upon freedom of expression, pluralism and the functioning of a democratic polity. The study examines the trade-offs in using automated technology to limit the spread of disinformation online. It presents options (from self-regulatory to legislative) to regulate automated content recognition (ACR) technologies in this context. Special attention is paid to the opportunities for the European Union as a whole to take the lead in setting the framework for designing these technologies in a way that enhances accountability and transparency and respects free speech. The present project reviews some of the key academic and policy ideas on technology and disinformation and highlights their relevance to European policy.
Chapter 1 introduces the background to the study and presents the definitions used. Chapter 2 scopes the policy boundaries of disinformation from economic, societal and technological perspectives, focusing on the media context,
Gideon Rachman at the Financial Times: “The 19th-century popularised the idea of the “
It is an idea that is gaining ground in states as diverse as China, India, Russia, Turkey and, even, the US. The notion of the
One reason that the idea of the
What is more surprising is that rightwing thinkers in the US are also retreating from the idea of “universal values” — in
Jon Askonas at The New Atlantis: “The rumors spread like wildfire: Muslims were secretly lacing a Sri Lankan village’s food with sterilization drugs. Soon, a video circulated that appeared to show a Muslim shopkeeper admitting to drugging his customers — he had misunderstood the question that was angrily put to him. Then all hell broke loose. Over a several-day span, dozens of mosques and Muslim-owned shops and homes were burned down across multiple towns. In one home, a young journalist was
Mob violence is an old phenomenon, but the tools encouraging it, in this case, were not. As the New York Times reported in April, the rumors were spread via Facebook, whose newsfeed algorithm prioritized high-engagement content, especially videos. “Designed to maximize user time on site,” as the Times article describes, the newsfeed algorithm “promotes whatever wins the most attention. Posts that tap into negative, primal emotions like anger or fear, studies have found, produce the highest engagement, and so proliferate.” On Facebook in Sri Lanka, posts with incendiary rumors had among the highest engagement rates, and so were among the most highly promoted content on the platform. Similar cases of mob violence have taken place in India, Myanmar, Mexico, and elsewhere, with misinformation spread mainly through Facebook and the messaging tool WhatsApp.
Follow The New AtlantisThis is in spite of Facebook’s decision in January 2018 to tweak its algorithm, apparently to prevent the kind of manipulation we saw in the 2016 U.S. election, when posts and election ads originating from Russia reportedly showed up in newsfeeds of up to 126 million American Facebook users. The company explained that the changes to its algorithm will mean that newsfeeds will be “showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation,” and “less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.” But these changes, which Facebook had tested out in countries like Sri Lanka in the previous year, may actually have exacerbated the problem — which is that incendiary content, when posted by friends and family, is guaranteed to “spark conversation” and therefore to be prioritized in newsfeeds. This is because “misinformation is almost always more interesting than the truth,” as Mathew Ingram provocatively put it in the Columbia Journalism Review.
How did we get here, from Facebook’s mission to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”? Riot-inducing “fake news” and election meddling are obviously far from what its founders intended for the platform. Likewise, Google’s founders surely did not build their search engine with the intention of its being censored in China to suppress free speech, and yet, after years of refusing this demand from Chinese leadership, Google has recently relented rather than pull their search engine from China entirely. And YouTube’s creators surely did not intend their feature that promotes “trending” content to help clickbait conspiracy-theory videos go viral.
These outcomes — not merely unanticipated by the companies’ founders but outright opposed to their intentions — are not limited to social media. So far, Big Tech companies have presented issues of incitement, algorithmic radicalization, and “fake news” as merely bumps on the road of progress, glitches and bugs to be patched over. In fact, the problem goes deeper, to fundamental questions of human nature. Tools based on the premise that access to information will only enlighten us and social connectivity will only make us more humane have instead fanned conspiracy theories, information bubbles, and social fracture. A tech movement spurred by visions of libertarian empowerment and progressive uplift has instead fanned a global resurgence of populism and authoritarianism.
Despite the storm of criticism, Silicon Valley has still failed to recognize in these abuses a sharp rebuke of its sunny view of human nature. It remains naïvely blind to how its own aspirations for social engineering are on a spectrum with the tools’ “unintended” uses by authoritarian regimes and nefarious actors
By Michelle Winowatan, Andrew J. Zahuranec, Andrew Young, Stefaan Verhulst
The Living Library Index – inspired by the Harper’s Index – provides important statistics and highlights global trends in governance innovation. This installment focuses on trust in institutions.
Please share any additional, illustrative statistics on open data, or other issues at the nexus of technology and governance, with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Global Trust in Public Institutions
- Percentage of citizens globally with trust in institutions: 52% – 2019
- Percentage of people around the world who trust their government: 47% – 2019
- Countries with the lowest trust in their public institutions: Russia (29%), Japan (39%), Spain (40%), Ireland (42%), and United Kingdom: 43% – 2019
- Most Trusted Institution in Latin America: The Church (65%) – 2017
Trust in Government
- Americans who say their democracy is working at least “somewhat well:” 58% – 2018
- Number who believe sweeping changes to their government are needed: 61% – 2018
- Percentage of Americans expressing faith in election system security: 45% – 2018
- Percentage of Americans expressing an overarching trust in government: 40% – 2019
- How Americans would rate the trustworthiness of Congress: 4.1 out of 10 – 2017
- Number who have confidence elected officials act in the best interests of the public: 25% – 2018
- Amount who trust the federal government to do what is right “just about always or most of the time”: 18% – 2017
- Americans with trust and confidence in the federal government to handle domestic problems: 2 in 5 – 2018
- International problems: 1 in 2 – 2018
- US institution with highest amount of confidence to act in the best interests of the public: The Military (80%) – 2018
- Most favorably viewed level of government: Local (67%) – 2018
- Most favorably viewed federal agency: National Park Service (83% favorable) – 2018
- Least favorable federal agency: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (47% unfavorable) – 2018
- Overall trust in government: 42% – 2019
- Trust the national government handling of personal data:
- Public trust in the European Union: 59% – 2018
- Citizens who are optimistic about the future of the European Union: 66% – 2018
- Most trusted institution in the European Union: European Parliament (50%) – 2018
- Highest source of concern about the internet during the pre-election period: Disinformation and Misinformation on the Internet (almost 3 in 4 expressed concerns) – 2018
- Country with the highest concern: Spain and Greece (84%) – 2018
- Country with the lowest concern: Estonia (56%) – 2018
- Overall Concern for elections being manipulated through cyberattacks: 61% – 2018
- Most confident their country was doing what was needed to prevent illegal or fraudulent election activities: Finland (88%) – 2018
- Least confidence: Bulgaria (31%) – 2018
- Number of EU member-states satisfied with free and fair elections in their country: 27 – 2018
- Number of EU member-states dissatisfied with free and fair elections 1 (Bulgaria) – 2018
- Europeans who are convinced that the EU is a secure place to live in: 7 in 10, declining since 2015 – 2018
- EU citizens trust in the European national governments: 49% – 2018
- Most trusted actor to address corruption: Police – 2017
- Those who are confident that justice always prevails over injustice in their country: 39% – 2017
- Support for the independence of European courts and judges: almost 1 in 2 – 2018
- General public who think the independence of European courts and judges is good: 56% – 2018
- Trust in government across Africa: 57% – 2016
- Most trusted institutional actor across Africa: Religious Leaders (72%) – 2016
- Least trusted: Opposition Party (36%) – 2016
- Country with highest level of trust in the state (president or prime minister, army and police): Niger (86%) – 2016
- Lowest: Nigeria (31%) – 2016
- Highest trust in the courts: Niger (82%) – 2016
- Lowest: Madagascar (29%) – 2016
- Highest Trust in Parliament: Namibia (74%) – 2016
- Lowest: Nigeria (25%) – 2016
- Confidence in government across Latin America: Only 1 in 4 trust their leaders – 2018
- Highest confidence in government: Nicaragua (42%) – 2017
- Lowest confidence in government: Brazil (8%) – 2017
- Highest confidence in the legislature: Venezuela (37%) – 2017
- Lowest confidence in the legislature: Paraguay (10%) – 2017
- Highest Confidence in Political Parties: Uruguay (25%) – 2017
- Lowest Confidence in Political Parties: Brazil (7%) – 2017
- Dissatisfaction with democracy: 13 in 20 – 2017
- Confidence in political parties: 3 in 20 – 2017
- Overall Trust in the Judiciary: 34% – 2018
- Most trusted institution in China: Government (86%) – 2019
- What the Chinese public considers to be the largest problem facing the country: Corrupt Officials (49%) – 2016
- Number of people who trust their government in India: 17 in 20 – 2017
Trust in Media
- Percentage of people around the world who trust the media: 47% – 2019
- Rating of news trustworthiness in the United States: 4.5 out of 10 – 2017
- In South Korea: 4.0 out of 10 – 2017
- Number of citizens who trust the press across the European Union: Almost 1 in 2 – 2019
- France: 3.9 out of 10 – 2019
- Germany: 4.8 out of 10 – 2019
- Italy: 3.8 out of 10 – 2019
- Slovenia: 3.9 out of 10 – 2019
- Percentage of European Union citizens who trust the radio: 59% – 2017
- EU citizens who do not actively participate in political discussions on social networks because they don’t trust online social networks: 3 in 10 – 2018
- Those who are confident that the average person in the United Kingdom can tell real news from ‘fake news’: 3 in 10 – 2018
Trust in Business
- Global trust in business: 56% – 2019
- Number of Americans who believe pharmaceutical companies have too much power: More than 4 in 5 – 2018
- The most trusted business sector globally: Technology (78%) – 2019
- Americans who trust technology companies to “do what is right:” More than 17 in 20 – 2018
- British citizens who feel technology companies will seek their consent on data collection: 25% trust; 27% distrust – 2018
- British citizens who feel technology companies will be transparent on how they use data: 23% trust; 33% distrust – 2018
- British citizens who feel technology companies will protect personal data: 26% trust; 29% distrust – 2018
- British citizens who trust technology companies to encrypt their personal data: 31% trust; 25% distrust – 2018
- Least trusted business sector globally: Financial Services (57%) – 2019
- Millennials who trust in companies to keep their personal information private: 44%, the highest compared to other generations – 2016
- Percentage of American citizens confident that business leaders will act in the best interests of the public: 45% – 2018
- Professions least trusted to tell the truth in the United Kingdom: Advertising Executives (16%) – 2018
- 1. Many unhappy with
currentpolitical system. Pew Research Center, 2017.
- Afrobarometer: Round 6. Afrobarometer. 2016.
- Ambitious SDG goal confronts challenging realities: Access to justice is still elusive for many Africans. Afrobarometer, 2017.
- Chinese Public Sees More Powerful Role in World, Names U.S. as Top Threat. Pew Research Center, 2016.
- Confiana en los partidos políticos cae nueve puntos porcentuales desde 2013, se acentúa la crisis de respresentación. Latinobarometro, 2017.
- Confianza en el congreso cae doce puntos porcentuales desde 2010 en América Latina. La crisis de representación se acentúa. Latinobarometro, 2017.
- Corruption. European Commission, 2017.
- Data Security: Not a Big Concern for Millennials. Gallup, 2016.
- Desde 2010 la satisfacción con la democracia en América Latina ha caído 14 puntos porcentuales. Latinobarometro, 2017.
- Edelman Trust Barometer. Edelman, 2019.
- Eurobarometer interactive: And, for each of them, please tell me if you tend to trust it or not to trust it? The European Parliament. European Commission, 2018.
- Eurobarometer Interactive: I would like to ask you a question about how much trust you have in certain media and institutions. For the following media and institutions, please tell me if you tend to trust it or tend not to trust it: Radio. European Commission, 2017.
- Eurobarometer Interactive: I would like to ask you a question about how much trust you have in certain media and institutions. For the following media and institutions, please tell me if you tend to trust it or tend not to trust it: Television. European Commission, 2017.
- Eurobarometer Interactive: I would like to ask you a question about how much trust you have in certain media and institutions. For the following media and institutions, please tell me if you tend to trust it or tend not to trust it: The Internet. European Commission, 2017.
- Eurobarometer Interactive: I would like to ask you a question about how much trust you have in certain media and institutions. For the following media and institutions, please tell me if you tend to trust it or tend not to trust it: Online social networks. European Commission, 2017.
- Eurobarometer: Democracy and elections. European Commission, 2018.
- European Parliament the most trusted EU institution. European Parliament, 2018.
- Fairness, inequality and inter-generational mobility. European Commission, 2018.
- Ipsos MORI Almanac 2018. Ipsos MORI, 2018.
- Job performance of MPs, local
councillors: Are representatives serving voters or themselves? Afrobarometer, 2016.
- La confianza en los gobiernos latinoamericanos alcanza su nivel más bajo desde 2004. Latinobarometro, 2017.
- Latin American Economic Outlook 2018: Rethinking Institutions for Development. OECD Development Centre, 2018.
- Perceived independence of the national justice systems in the EU among companies. European Commission, 2018.
- Perceived independence of the national justice systems in the EU among the general public. European Commission, 2018.
- The State of the Nation. Ipsos MORI, 2018.
- Trust in Government. Gallup Poll, 2018.
- Trust in the Digital Era. Pew Research Center, 2018.
- Trust in the military exceeds trust in other institutions in Western Europe and U.S. Pew Research Center, 2018.
- Trust, Facts, and Democracy: 1. Democracy and government, the U.S. political system, elected officials and governmental institutions. Pew Research Centre, 2018.
- Trustlab. OECD, 2017.
Report by Congressional Research Service: “Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly growing field of technology with potentially significant implications for national security. As such, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and other nations are developing AI applications for a range of military functions. AI research is underway in the fields of intelligence collection and analysis, logistics, cyber operations, information operations, command and control, and in a variety of semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles.
Already, AI has been incorporated into military operations in Iraq and Syria. Congressional action has the potential to shape the technology’s development further, with budgetary and legislative decisions influencing the growth of military applications as well as the pace of their adoption.
AI technologies present unique challenges for military integration, particularly because the bulk of AI development is happening in the commercial sector. Although AI is not unique in this regard, the defense acquisition process may need to be adapted for acquiring emerging technologies like AI.
In addition, many commercial AI applications must undergo significant modification prior to being functional for the military. A number of cultural issues also challenge AI acquisition, as some commercial AI companies are averse to partnering with DOD due to ethical concerns, and even within the department, there can be resistance to incorporating AI technology into existing weapons systems and processes.
Potential international rivals in the AI market are creating pressure for the United States to compete for innovative military AI applications. China is a leading competitor in this regard, releasing a plan in 2017 to capture the global
AI technology could, for example, facilitate autonomous operations, lead to more informed military decisionmaking, and increase the speed and scale of military action. However, it may also be unpredictable or vulnerable to unique forms of manipulation. As a result of these factors, analysts hold a broad range of opinions on how influential AI will be in future combat operations.
While a small number of analysts believe that the technology will have minimal impact, most believe that AI will have at least an evolutionary—if not revolutionary—effect