Citizenship in a Networked Age - An Agenda for Rebuilding Our Civic Ideals

June, 2020

THE CHARACTER OF CITIZENSHIP IS CHANGING IN THE NETWORKED AGE. Citizenship is not just a legal nicety—it encompasses the relationship between an individual and the society of which they are a member. It entails a spirit of public service, justice, neighbourliness, democratic participation, and moral reasoning. Participation in decision-making is central to our collective citizenship, both as a privilege and a responsibility. Digital networking, however, is irreversibly changing how we interact with each other, and in turn machine learning is becoming inseparable from its development. Search optimisation, for example, has evolved into influence optimisation. Learning what a user’s preferences are has changed to targeting what a user’s preferences should become. Machine learning is moving from learning how to classify to learning how to decide and optimise.

And yet in the midst of all this, human participation in decision-making endures as a necessary and core feature of civic engagement, and therefore our citizenship itself. Citizen involvement in collective decisions remains essential to progress, both because progress requires principles of justice, and because it needs the kind of shared commitment that can only be earned through our civic engagement.

Resource Type: