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Göteborgs universitet
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Democratic participation, AI and Law in the Human+ Condition

A research project carried out by Dr Matilda Arvidsson, assistant professor in law and theory, associate professor in international law, the Department of Law, at the University of Gothenburg.

The research project “Democratic participation, AI and Law in the Human+ Condition” is financed by the Wallenberg foundation, as part of its WASP-HS program. It spans over 4,5 years and is, together with Hedvig Lärka’s PhD project in law (Department of Law) and one in design (HDK-Valand) a core part of the research program headed by professor Gregor Noll, Department of Law, and Elena Raviola, HDK-Valand entitled “AI, the social contract and democracy” (see link here: https://www.gu.se/forskning/ai-the-social-contract-and-democracy).

People crossing road
Foto: Tom Barrett

The core idea of my project is that current conditions of increased digitalization and AI in public governance and social life – the human+ condition – calls for a re-evaluation of who or what the demos of democratic governance is or can be; how democratic participation and governance change as a consequence; and what can and should be done in order to ensure open and inclusive societies, democratic values and technological development as an integral part of it.

My research questionHow is democratic participation and governance ensured in the AI-driven human+ condition? – is explored through two means:

Firstly, I draw on legal and political philosophy in order to analyze democratic participation and governance in the human+ condition, combined with a granular study of the operations of digitalization and AI in urban planning, law and public participation, resulting in a new political-legal concept of the demos for the human+ condition.

Secondly, the question’s interdisciplinary nature invites a broad academic-practice engagement. The project therefore gathers experts in AI and digitalization, public governance and law, political constitutional philosophy, as well as urban creativity, in order to identify, explore, and develop research findings beyond the scope of law and AI as a disciplinary field.

The overarching objective of my project is to strengthen democratic public governance and participation as well as the rule of law and responsibility in order to enable open and inclusive societies. My project is realized through three interrelated specific aims:

  1. Identify existing legal and political designs of the demos for democratic participation in public governance.
    I will critically evaluate the design focusing on past and present attempts in the literature, policy and practice on responding to technological shifts in society while attending to social effects of democratic inclusion.
  2. Explore how the conditions for democratic governance and participation changes as a result of the introduction of digitalization and AI. I will analyze and explain how an increased digitalization and use of AI have created fundamental problems in terms of the rule of the people for the people: the demos.
  3. Develop a new legal-political concept of the demos for the human+ condition.
    Drawing on posthuman philosophy I will develop a legal and political concept of public participation and democratic governance suitable for societies in which digitalization and AI are increasingly embedded in social life, interactions, and public governance.

The project is carried out at the Department of Law at the University of Gothenburg in close collaboration with HDK-Valand. For project output, see link: https://www.gu.se/om-universitetet/hitta-person/matildaarvidsson