New paper on digitization and democracy in Politische Vierteljahresschrift

How do digital technologies and particularly data-driven algorithmic decision-making and artificial intelligence affect democratic governance? In a recent German comment entitled “The Digital Temptation” and published in the journal Politische Vierteljahresschrift, I address this question. The article adopts a broad perspective and discusses how the emergence of an “algorithmic society” in which people increasingly delegate decisions to machines can undermine the bases of a free society. The main argument developed in the comment is that through relying more and more on such machines only because they deliver satisfactory performance prepares the ground for paternalistic forms of power and dependence in liberal democracies – an arrangement which is not markedly different from the Chinese Credit System, which uses a scoring of citizens to direct their lives toward predefined goals and values.

Pascal König