Transatlantic Socrates Seminar (online), October 5-7, 2020
Friend or Foe?: How Tech Is Transforming Democracy
How can the West improve its resilience and remain competitive in the security and technological challenges of the next decades?
On October 5-7, 2020, Aspen Institute Romania organized the second edition of the Transatlantic Socrates Seminar (online), in partnership with the Aspen Institute Socrates Program (USA), and supported by the Bucharest Office of the German Marshall Fund of the US.
The seminar was organized in the margins of Bucharest Forum 2020, under the framework of the Aspen Technology & Society Program and the Aspen National Defense & Regional Security Program and explored how technology is transforming democracy.
Technology has transformed democratic societies in recent years, from playing a significant role in recent elections on both sides of the Atlantic to amplifying the voices of ordinary citizens on everyday matters. In addition, the ongoing pandemic has accelerated the global shift of power and realignment of the global balance of power, making great power competition more tense and more intractable.
There is also a major technological shift underway, as the technological superiority of the West is being challenged for the first time in hundreds of years. China and other big powers are emerging as formidable competitors in a whole range of cutting-edge fields. The political West needs to show solidarity in the face of these incoming challenges and find a new narrative for acting together, as allies on both sides of the Atlantic. For instance, through its NATO 2030 Agenda, the Alliance is planning to strengthen its capabilities and prepare for new challenges over the next several decades.
The Online Transatlantic Socrates Seminar explored opportunities and challenges presented by technology, debating how the West can improve its resilience and mobilize the kind of resources needed to be competitive in this great security and technological challenge. The Seminar discussed opportunities and challenges in fields such as AI, big data, biotechnology, human enhancement, 5G, space exploration and new generations of weapons.
Furthermore, as part of the wider technology and democracy debate, the Seminar addressed the topic of resilience in the face of online disinformation and fake news through social media, a tactic which has recently become a key pillar of a wider hybrid warfare campaign waged by state and non-state actors against institutions such as NATO, the EU, and their member states. Does tech help or hurt our democracies?
The participation to the seminar was by invitation only. The participants included multiple stakeholders from the Aspen Technology & Society and the Aspen National Defense & Regional Security program communities.
Cameron Abadi is a deputy editor at Foreign Policy. He previously worked at the New Republic and Foreign Affairs and as a correspondent in Germany and Iran. His writing has appeared in Bloomberg Businessweek, the New Yorker, the New Republic, and Der Spiegel. New York born and bred, Abadi studied philosophy in Berlin on a Fox fellowship just after graduating Yale, and he began writing about European political leaders and events for German and British publications, such as Der Spiegel and Die Zeit and the Financial Times, as well as for internet sites.
Aspen Seminar for Leaders Alumnus, currently Co-Founder and CEO of H.appyCities, building digital platforms and mobile applications that empower citizens, communities, and local authorities to think, communicate and act collectively for the benefit of the citizens.
Radu is a public policy and open government consultant with more than 10 years experience in the Romanian public sector. As State Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, he coordinated strategies and public policies development at the Centre of Government between 2012 and 2017, and as National Coordinator for Open Government Partnership he represented Romania in the Steering Committee of the OGP at the international level. Starting October 2018, he was invited by the OGP to become an OGP Envoy.