Auf der ECPR General Conference 2018 (#ECPRconf2018) in Hamburg präsentierte ich zusammen mit Anja Mihr das Papier “(Digital) Democracy beyond institutional borders – science fiction or virtual reality?” im Rahmen der von Thorsten Thiel organisierten Section “Digital Politics and Politics of the Digital”
Democratic principles apply offline and online, in SF as well as in the real world. But the means, in particular by ICT and AI, change our perspective of how these principles are realized. Robots, avatars and other programmed ‘subjects’ are the results of human programmers (thus far!) and therefore even in SF not better or worse than humans. However, the challenge is the pace and the dimensions in which people will exercise good governance principles and fulfill human rights. The way we inform ourselves, provide data, analyse it and draw conclusions is often beyond our (human) understanding because technology accelerates the pace in which we take decision and conduct policy making.
However, “science-fiction” understood as a desired fictional development of new tech leading to a better future by strengthening government principles is a utopian wish. If we take a look on the actual science-fiction-genre, there is no digital democracy with good governance principles, yet, with very few examples as Astro Boy or even Arrival show. New tech in most cases leads to the abolition of the Western model of liberal democracy and thus leads into dystopia and thus extends our fears that in this new cyber world we lose control over what we hold most dear namely peace, justice, solidarity, freedom and equality. However, if we let go of the liberal democratic conception, the genre might indeed show us ways to overcome the precarious human condition with technology. Nonetheless, in the end those fundamental changes could pave the way for the biggest dystopias like in Matrix, Transcendence, Neuromancer or Die Tyrannei des Schmetterlings.