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Making Emerging Technologies Safe for Democracy

While rapidly advancing technologies like generative artificial intelligence have the potential to solve global problems, they could also disrupt economies and undermine democratic governance. Governments must learn from past mistakes and actively shape the future of these new technologies.

BRUSSELS – Dozens of countries around the world, from the United States to India, will hold or have already held elections in 2024. While this may seem like a banner year for democracy, these elections are taking place against a backdrop of global economic instability, geopolitical shifts, and intensifying climate change, leading to widespread uncertainty.

Underpinning all this uncertainty is the rapid emergence of powerful new technologies, some of which are already reshaping markets and recalibrating global power dynamics. While they have the potential to solve global problems, they could also disrupt economies, endanger civil liberties, and undermine democratic governance. As Thierry Breton, the European Union’s commissioner for the internal market, has observed, “We have entered a global race in which the mastery of technologies is central” to navigating the “new geopolitical order.”

To be sure, technological disruption is not a new phenomenon. What sets today’s emerging technologies apart is that they have reached a point where even their creators struggle to understand them.