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DEMOCRACY’S TECHNOLOGY DILEMMA

DEMOCRACY’S TECHNOLOGY DILEMMA

With the midterms now over, it shouldn’t take long for partisans on both sides of the aisle to return to what they do best—partisanship. The next two years will be full of important policy debates, from whether America should continue to acceptance migrants to the merits of free trade.


There’s one issue, though, that won’t garner as many headlines, but is more important than any other for determining America’s long-term international position: the struggle between democracy and technology.

The growing challenge for America and other democracies is that the technologies increasingly responsible for driving economic prosperity are simultaneously stoking social divisions, undermining trust in institutions, and concentrating power in the hands of a few select private sector firms. Spurred by recent privacy scandals and the use of social media and internet search to spread disinformation, the US looks likely to pursue some form of digital of privacy reform next year. At the same time, the Washington is pursuing a strategy of confrontation over Beijing’s ambitions in artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies that is pushing the two countries’ tech sectors apart – increasing the risk that they end up locked in a zero-sum, Cold War-like contest for technology dominance.

As a recent story in Wired points out (co-authored, we must point out, by our good friend Ian Bremmer), this presents a dilemma: making the digital revolution safe for democracy could also stifle innovation. The tighter the regulatory vise closes, the greater the risk that firms in Silicon Valley – arguably the most strategically economic engine for the US in the 21st century – end up at a disadvantage to Chinese competitors who are unlikely to face the same constraints on gathering and exploiting huge amounts of data. As Bremmer and Thompson point out in their piece, “there is nothing close to a serious debate about how to address this dilemma.”

How do you think democratic governments can strike the right balance?

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

For the world's wealthiest nations, including the United States, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine has been rocky, to say the least. And as a result, much of the developing world will have to wait even longer for their turn. Part of the challenge, World Bank President David Malpass says, is that "advanced economies have reserved a lot of the vaccine doses." Malpass sat down with Ian Bremmer recently to talk about what his organization is doing to try to keep millions around the world from slipping deeper into poverty during the pandemic. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

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For the first time in twenty years, extreme poverty around the world is growing. How does the developing world recover from a pandemic that has brought even the richest nations to their knees? David Malpass, the President of the World Bank, is tasked with answering that question. He joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to talk about how his organization is trying to keep the developing world from slipping further into poverty in the wake of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Joe Biden wants to move into the White House, but the coast isn't clear. He may need some bleach.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME here.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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