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We really do not know what will happen to politics and democracy when the technological environment drastically changes and what political shifts we'll link with robotisation, digitalisation, and automation. This ignorance explains why two conflicting diagnoses imply a farewell to politics: the prophets of enthusiasm herald the absolute power of technology over politics, which they consider a good thing. Some say it might replace weakened or missing governmental systems. New technology would fix problems old politics couldn’t. The opposing diagnosis of the end of politics blames technology for the loss of the ability to manage social processes and the de-democratization of political decisions. Both technophilia and technophobia stem from ignorance and the belief that technology can replace politics. It’s only a matter of perspective.

The Chair AI&DEM was created precisely to think as rigorously as possible about the impact of these technologies on democratic politics. Rather than normative, the challenge we face is conceptual. Automation requires thinking about many sociocultural categories, such as subject, action, responsibility, knowledge, or work. The three elements that will change politics in this century are increasingly intelligent systems, more integrated technology, and a more quantified society. What we are asking ourselves is what is meant by democratic self-government and what is the meaning of free political decisions in this new constellation. Our goal is to develop a theory of democratic decision in an AI-mediated environment and to elaborate a critical theory of automatic reason. We need a political philosophy of artificial intelligence, an approach that can be covered neither by technological reflection nor by ethical codes. The fundamental question is the place of political decisions in an algorithmic democracy.

Democracy is a free decision, popular will, and self-government; to what extent is this possible, and does it make sense in the hyper-automated, algorithmic environments heralded by artificial intelligence? Representative democracy is a way of articulating political power that attributes it to a given body and according to a chain of responsibility and legitimacy in which the principle that all power comes from the people is verified.

From this perspective, the introduction of autonomic intelligent systems appears problematic. This problem is exacerbated in learning systems because of the function that processes the data changes in the learning phase. The system works adaptively and not according to preprogrammed rules, making the chain of legitimacy and accountability - without which there is no democracy - more difficult to identify.


  • High-Level Policy Dialogue on “The Democratic Challenges of Artificial Intelligence”
  • Research and publications
  • Events and external engagement
  • Executive education and trainings
  • Latin America forum




This programme is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation and the European Union’s NextGenerationEU.

Page last updated on 27/06/2022

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