Democracy in a complex digital world

Jacques Bus, Digital Enlightenment Forum

In “The Open Society and its Enemies” Popper[1] states that the change of the closed (tribal) society into the open society can be described as one of the more far reaching revolutions of human kind. It started with the change towards agricultural settlement and development of fenced villages, castles, and walled cities (security by perimeters); followed by the industrial revolution and strong urbanization which led to open urban environments and distributed physical security; now we are making another large step forward towards global interaction, open worldwide trade, global communication and data sharing, and with it open data, open innovation and the need for a new generation of cyber security at local and global levels.

However, is this a transition process with a steady-state ending or an ongoing search for balance between on one side the individual with its need for privacy and freedom, and on the other side the societal limits that enable these individuals living together? Is the struggle of individuals to live in closed protected communities gone with globalization? The contrary might be true seeing the fierce opposition of large groups in society against immigration, flaring up of racism and discrimination against other cultures, as well as emergence and fast growth of populist parties with slogans like “My people first and above all else”.  Continue reading

Computing, Digital and Citizen Science

Computing (or computational science) has always been a bit of a confusing term. Is it the science of computing, or is it science (whatsoever) with the help of computing (as in computational physics or mathematics). Of course we have got used to the terminology and use it as deemed fit for the argument.

It becomes however a bit more complicated if we start talking about Digital Science (or Digital Ethics, which I use also myself). Where computing can be seen as a reasonably well defined activity, this cannot be said anymore of Digital. Almost everything that has something to do with information, will relate to the digital world nowadays. So how would we define or describe Digital Science. Internet Science is likely an introspective part of it, as it studies part of the digital world (the Internet). But is seems that it is mostly used for doing science in a digitally enabled way. Like using AI or deep learning for understanding natural or social phenomena.

Now we see emerging the term Citizen Science, and in the white paper of the Socientize project ( ) this is described as: Continue reading

MyData – strong support from Finland

A white paper – MyData – A Nordic Model for human-centered personal data management and processing – has been published presenting a framework for management and processing of personal data that is based on individual empowerment whilst opening new opportunities for business services. The authors: Antti Poikola, Kai Kuikkaniemi and Harri Honko state the following principles for MyData:

  1. Human centric control and privacy: Individu­als are empowered actors, not passive targets, in the management of their personal lives both online and offline – they have the right and practical means to manage their data and privacy.
  2. Usable data: It is essential that personal data is technically easy to access and use – it is ac­cessible in machine readable open formats via secure, standardized APIs (Application Pro­gramming Interfaces). MyData is a way to con­vert data from closed silos into an important, reusable resource. It can be used to create new services which help individuals to manage their lives. The providers of these services can create new business models and economic growth to the society.
  3. Open business environment: Shared MyData infrastructure enables decentralized manage­ment of personal data, improves interoperabil­ity, makes it easier for companies to comply with tightening data protection regulations, and allows individuals to change service providers without proprietary data lock-ins.

DEF made this subject the main topic of its 2013 conference and yearbook (The value of Personal Data). For example see Chapter 16 – A Structured Discussion – in this volume. Work is ongoing on this by e.g. Ctrl-Shift (see our Blog Roll), Synergetics and others. It is great to see this strengthened and so well explained in this white paper. A “must read” for all working on the subject.

Digital Ethics – Michel Riguidel, Jacques Bus

DEF plans a debate on Digital Ethics in October of this year as a follow-up of the discussions at DEF 2015. This blog invites comments and critique and suggestions in preparation of that debate

The need to anticipate legislation and usages

Digital technologies have so modified human activity and digital usage evolves so quickly, it is essential to constantly update the rules of digital ethics and review deontology in many areas (trade, health, education …). Following the new opportunities and potentials, it is well possible to use or divert erroneously or act maliciously.

Digital Ethics touches on many hot issues, including respect for privacy and consequences of profiling, ethics of content, information collection and storing, right to be forgotten, cybercrime and terrorism, (mass) surveillance, freedom of expression, IoT and Big Data, robots and drones, digital artificial body implant or augmented reality in neurobiology, intellectual property, virtual currency, precaution, accountability, responsibility and intentionality, global and cultural differences of ethical norms. Continue reading

DEF 2015: The implications of the Code as Law

Ajit Jaokar was a speaker at the Digital Enlightenment forum 2015 (DEF2015). A blog of him focuses on a specific talk from DEF 2015: Legal questions in the digital world by TJ McIntyre – UCD and Digital rights Ireland. The event talks and presentations can be found HERE.

The discussion related to the loss of Utopian ideals on which the Internet has been founded – specifically in the legally murky world of ‘Code as law’ – which encapsulates legal enforcement in the form of Code. “Code as law” also creates a new (often reluctant) law enforcer in the form of ICT companies.  This issue is thus a key part of Internet Governance today. Ajit’s views on this talk can be found at the EIF News.