How can democratic governments strengthen information integrity online while safeguarding free speech? How can we ensure emerging technology is aligned with the public interest? Can we lessen the vulnerabilities of social media and emerging technology to be weaponized?
These and other pressing questions were on the agenda at Tech & Democracy: A Better Tech Future Summit, held at the Consulate General on March 1. Building off the success of our 2022 Responsible Tech Summit, the event brought together together more than 120 leaders and thinkers from industry, government, and civil society.
A mere three days into his new role, newly appointed Consul General Tom Clark opened the event with a keynote address that drew from his 45-year career as a journalist and that underscored the importance of the Responsible Tech movement.
“Democracy is the bedrock foundation of our societies in Canada and the U.S., but it is not immune to cracks. The stability of our democratic systems has been undermined by digital authoritarianism, misinformation, and polarization. Together, we must face one of the most complex questions of our time: What does accountability look like in the face of these new threats to democracy?”
“We need an ecosystem of accountability that includes knowledgeable policymakers, empowered civil society, and informed citizens,” he added. “We need smart people from diverse backgrounds to address these profound threats together.”
Consul General Clark highlighted Canada’s work to address these challenges elsewhere, such as its Protecting Democracy Plan, which includes measures to strengthen Canada’s electoral system against cyber threats, among other provisions. He also called attention to recent updates to the Responsible Business Conduct Strategy within Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, which encourages Canadian tech companies to increase sustainability and uphold human rights.
Canada is also proud to be a founding member of the Freedom Online Coalition, the only multilateral group dedicated to defending human rights and democracy online. As chair in 2022, Canada worked to advance our vision of digital inclusion, built around the four pillars of connectivity, digital literacy, civic participation, and safety.
The event also coincided with the launch of All Tech Is Human’s Tech & Democracy report, which sheds additional light on the subject through interviews with more than 40 leaders from more than 100 organizations within the responsible tech ecosystem.
We need an ecosystem of accountability that includes knowledgeable policymakers, empowered civil society, and informed citizens. We need smart people from diverse backgrounds to address these profound threats together.
Consul General of Canada Tom Clark
“We’ve realized that the future of technology is intertwined with the future of democracy and the human condition, said David Ryan Polgar, Executive Director of All Tech Is Human. “We’re not here for an academic exercise. This is a pivotal moment.”
Polgar said events such as Tech & Democracy can reduce the lag time between a new technology being adopted and its downstream effects being understood.
“We’re rapidly distributing power and ideas across a hyper-connected network. We have 21st-century problems, but 20th century models to solve them.”
Watch the videos below to see what was discussed.