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Will the Rise of Robots Undermine Democracy?

Will the Rise of Robots Undermine Democracy?

John Donvan
Friday, May 11, 2018

I’m sure you’ve heard the latest “future of work” scenario: How we’re just a few years away from a “brave new world” of work, where automation is coming for your jobs – even high-end jobs in fields like medicine and finance and IT. Do you buy it? Or do you think it’s all gross exaggeration?

And have you considered what such a future would imply for our politics and the way we govern ourselves?

On Monday, we’re taking on that very question, when four headline debaters will tackle this resolution: Automation Will Crash Democracy.

When I say headliners, I’m talking about people like Ian Bremmer, whose new book “Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism” makes a strong case for the resolution. And Yascha Mounk, whose latest book “The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It” argues, in its subtitle, that our freedom is in danger. And then there’s Andrew Keen, who has written “How to Fix the Future.” Rounding out the lineup: Alina Polyakova, a leading expert on populist movements – where they come from and what they lead to.

Some of the questions I expect they’ll be taking on: In an “us versus them” world, will an economically disempowered majority lose confidence in liberal democracy, creating opportunities for populist leaders who promise security while dismissing minority rights, free speech, and the rule of law? Or is that giving the algorithms too much credit, when our democracy has proved its robustness again and again?

There’s a lot there, and it’s going to be fascinating. I hope you’ll join us in person at Kaye Playhouse this Monday, May 14th. And if not, you can always catch the livestream, starting at 7PM ET.

Yours truly,


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