We’re living in interesting times, and that might be putting it mildly. The internet and technology have changed how we work, socialise, and much more, while the world of politics seems to grow more fractured and bipartisan each year – and especially now that the divisive Trump is in the White House. Indeed, we’ve heard much about the intersection of technology and politics over the past months, especially with reference to Russia’s meddling in the last presidential election. Below, we take a look at the good and bad of technology’s influence on the political system.
If you lived in the 1800’s, you’d have to work pretty hard to find out if your local representative was telling you the truth. There was nowhere for you to turn to! If their opponent challenged them on a point, you could never quite be sure who to believe. While it’s perhaps not as straight forward to find the news you need to know (fake news!), it is possible to find the information you need. It just sometimes means that you have to dig below the clickbait headlines to find out what’s really going on. While it’s not perfect, there is much greater openness than in the past, and that’s thanks to technology.
Social Media Engagement
Social media got a pretty bad wrap for its role in the presidential election, but those that say that social media is bad for politics are probably being a bit short-sighted. Yes, that incident might not have been so good- but overall, it has seen an increase in social, political engagement. Take any issue, go onto Facebook or Twitter, and you’ll see people putting forward their ideas and opinions. It sometimes (OK, often) turns into a slanging match, but getting people talking is a move in the right direction.
As technology becomes a greater part of political life, so does the chances that the democratic process could be compromised. Indeed, this may have already happened. As Michele Reagan Secretary of State says, last year there were instances of ‘people trying to get into other people’s’ data and voter files.’ Naturally, this is a concern for any intent of preserving the democratic process. There is good news, however, and that is that new technologies are being introduced to try and combat this threat.
Protesting and resistance is a big part of the political process. It helps to keep those in charge in check and gives voice to the underrepresented. Technology has influenced this process in both good and bad ways. It’s made it easier for people to organise and communicate with one another, but it’s also meant that in some countries, protesters are tracked. Finding a happy medium should be a pressing concern.
A Changing World
Finally, let’s not forget that technology influences people’s work, which in turn influences politics. With the rise of AI, we might see an upheaval in the political climate if the people who are displaced from their jobs aren’t provided with other work.