Impact and Potential of Emerging Technologies for Fostering Democracy

Impact and Potential of Emerging Technologies for Fostering Democracy

Amir Manzoor (Bahria University, Pakistan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9461-3.ch086
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In recent years, several case studies have appeared on how emerging technologies had an impact in bringing grass root political changes. It has been widely argued that emerging technologies are influencing democracy all over the world. This chapter explores how emerging technologies support various pillars of democracy (freedom of expression and freedom of press, rule of law, human rights, and individual liberty) to strengthen and foster the democratic processes. While there exist substantial evidence that technology provides strong support to democracy, significant issues still exist and need to be addressed for emerging technology to contribute to democracy. The chapter discusses these issues and offer recommendations for better use of emerging technologies for democracy.
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Emerging Technologies And Democracy

Emerging technologies refers to new technologies. These technologies are either currently developing or expected to be developed in the next five to ten years. Emerging technologies has the potential to bring significant changes in the current business and social environment. Some example of emerging technologies include information technology, on-demand printing, robotics, wireless data communication, and biotechnology (Business Dictionary, 2013).

The citizens in democratic societies already regulate emerging technologies through their votes and finance it through their taxes (Strandbakken, 2013). Science and technologies studies have been focused on emerging technologies and their interference with existing conditions of society and technology (Hess, 1997; Latour 2005). While the science and technology should be free, we see that use of technology for democracy is political and awkward and elected democratic governments actually fund the scientific research. This shows that the present republic of science and technology is, at least to a certain degree, is politically controlled or contaminated. Making technology policy an fundamental part of the political debate is one way to democratize this republic of science and technology. The focus on politicizing science and technology clearly make emerging technologies more interesting than the already established and standardized ones (Akrich, 1992).

The positive visions and potential applications for emerging technologies are apparently without limits (Ratner & Ratner, 2003). Emerging technologies are expected to have a substantial influence on the everyday life of individual consumers and households (Ozin & Arsenault, 2006, p. 8). The public concerns about new technologies have strong political potential. One example is the debate about genetically modified crops (Burke, 2004).

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