Open societies have witnessed a troubling trend in the past few years. In light of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified genocidal war on Ukraine, and reinforced by the pandemic and economic hardship, democracy, transparency and press and internet freedom have suffered setbacks globally. In its various forms, authoritarianism has weathered these storms and emerged as a resilient force, pushing its agenda internationally and taking advantage of corruption and cronyism, which remain potent in open societies.
While technology was long seen as a tool that could strengthen open societies and topple authoritarian regimes, the world is now confronted with the sobering realization that technology is not a panacea for the challenges of open societies. The spread of disinformation and propaganda, the rise of cyber-attacks and cyber warfare, the use of artificial intelligence to manipulate public opinion, and the challenges posed by the rapid change of emerging technologies such as biotech and AI have left some wondering whether the slow and unpredictable nature of democratic decision-making can govern the opportunities and risks that emerging technologies bring.
This autumn, the Tallinn Digital Summit wants to refresh the agenda of democracy and technology to chart a course for a more resilient, responsive and open future. These three key themes define the conference agenda and intend to make a crucial contribution to the global discourse around building resilient, modern democracies.
1. Resilient governance. Democracies and open societies need to learn how to react quickly to adversity, such as natural disasters, war, civil unrest, and economic crisis, and overcome it by acknowledging their strengths and weaknesses. Ukraine’s steadfast position on fighting back and not giving in, her exemplary use of informal and formal networks, and support campaigns provide a chilling yet efficient blueprint for remaining a sovereign, self-determined nation during adversity. Rallying around defending open societies calls for technology that is governed effectively and efficiently, used skillfully, and underpinned by trusted connectivity.
The governments understand more than ever that they have to be ready to manage data and secure all cyberspace during the war or any other serious crises situation. Every day while proceeding with the advancement of the societies they need to be driven by the idea of building up solid resilience for any crises management occurrence.
2. Responsive governance. People closely follow new ground-breaking technological features that have an impact on their everyday life. While their experiences of private service delivery and design determine their expectations for public sector service delivery and availability, they also expect their privacy to be safeguarded. The challenge for governments is to remain committed to a democratic, rules-based order while embracing innovation in public administration and improving the citizen-friendly experience. On the global issue of sustainability, our response to climate change also depends on an effective and inclusive adoption of new technologies, as governments and businesses jointly need to create new economic opportunities that enable innovation. Digital solutions can prevail in extreme circumstances, so the people expect governments to take advantage of the technological revolution in designing the responsive environment for governance to address the climate crises.
3. Open governance. In a digital era, transparency and accountability will become even more crucial as the cornerstones of modern democracy: setting standards for trust frameworks, creating value and insight of available data, and strengthening collaboration with like-minded partners will boost the trustworthiness and resilience of government. The citizens must benefit of the future-looking governance the most – the data and services must be provided in a fully secure manner in the safe interoperable digital space where all actors respect fair and clear rules.
Following previous Tallinn Digital Summits’, we will also highlight global initiatives that promote values- and standards-driven international partnerships in infrastructure investment. Dynamic and thriving global digital open-source initiatives are another essential focus of this conference theme.