Technology for peace and democracy in the age of global enlightment

The Institute of Future and Innovation Studies at John Cabot University in Rome is co-hosting with the Boston Global Forum the symposium “Technology for Peace and Democracy in the Age of Global Enlightenment” this 25th of October 2022. The symposium is an official event of the “Global Alliance for Digital Governance (GADG)”initiative and network. An initiative founded in 2021 by the Boston Global Forum and the World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid to promote dialogue among political and business leaders, governments, congresses, parliaments, national assemblies, think tanks, universities, and civil society organizations. The initiative, developed and coordinated by the Boston Global Forum is represented in Rome by the Institute of Future and Innovation Studies, and will organize conferences, forums, events, and high-level dialogues to foster democratic values in Technology, AI and Digital Governance.

The symposium is part of the “Festival of Diplomacy,” which has been one of Italy’s most important forums for international diplomacy since 2009, with the support and patronage of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Commission and European Parliament Representation in Italy, more than 70 embassies, seven universities, and numerous scientific partners. This symposium seeks to support all diplomatic efforts in the global coordination of a future vision of technological development and regulation aimed at promoting the use of technology for peace, democracy, and the planet. It is inspired and guided by the book “Remaking the World – The Age of Global Enlightenment” published in 2021 as joint initiative by the Boston Global Forum as part of the United Nations Centennial Initiative. The edited book includes chapter by distinguished contributors such as the late Shinzo Abe, Vint Cerf, Michael Dukakis, Ban Ki-moon, Ursula von der Leyen, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Eva Kaili, Paul Nemitz, Thomas Patterson, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Nguyen Anh Tuan, Taro Kono, Zlatko Lagumdzija and many other distinguished global leaders. The book proposes pathways for a global diplomatic effort to create a more humane, peaceful, and secure world by leveraging ethically the potential of existing and emerging technologies.

Rarely in human history have the high stakes of the relationships between technology, peace, democracy, and the future of the planet been so clear. Or the relationships of the current interconnected crises with the technological choices of the past. The legacy of our modern technological history reverberates ominously today in the current crises, the concept of technological innovation as a form of perpetual competition, whether military, industrial, economic, or political, in which technological leadership and innovation are not viewed as a collective shared path toward the betterment of the human condition. But, as a permanent confrontation of ideologies, values, social and economic systems in constant competition or conflict, based not only on actual technological innovation and achievements, but also on the ability to direct and lead the future through technological and societal aspirations and goals.

      Pragmatically, we cannot expect or even desire geopolitical competition to disappear, competition serving an important role in innovation and evolution. However history and nature have recently shown the high cost of various merely utilitarian choices in technological development that, although enormously socially transformative, have also contributed to a growing global social divide, rising economic inequality, the current climate crisis, an increasing number of health and social crises, and an unsustainable reliance on depletable and scarce resources for economic growth.

      The history of technology also teaches us about the dynamic and complex relationship that has always existed between technological advancements and democratic principles and practices. Technology can be imagined and designed to be a tool for both private and public democratic participation. However when we look at even the most advanced democracies in the world, where new forms of corporate power and centralization, as well as changing forms of digital influence and surveillance, seem to undermine the very basis of fair and democratic participation, it becomes clear that the relationship between technology and democratic values and processes is never simple.

      If democracies are to survive and win the battle against both authoritarian regimes and domestic challenges, they must be able to elaborate a future vision of the fair and democratic use of existing and emerging technologies. A future vision that views technological innovation’s sustainable development agenda as a necessary, collective, systemic effort to address what are increasingly seen as interconnected socioeconomic-ecological-geopolitical dynamics and global challenges. A vision and plan that can imagine how the world might change if technological evolution were driven and directed by a common vision of a future based on peace and the common good of the planet and humanity, even in the face of political and economic rivalry.

Opening Remarks, Francesco Lapenta, the Founding Director of the John Cabot University Institute of Future and Innovation Studies

Franco Pavoncello, President of John Cabot University

Governor Michael Dukakis, Democratic Party Nominee for President of the United States, 1988

Ramu Damodaran, Co-chair of United Nations Centennial Initiative

Zlatko Lagumdzija, former Prime Minister of Bosnia & Herzegovina

Mats Karlsson, former Vice President of World Bank

Nguyen Anh Tuan, CEO of Boston Global Forum

Yasuhide Nakayama, former Japanese State Minister of Defense

Kazuo Yano, Chief Scientist of Hitachi

Alex Sandy Pentland, MIT Professor

Zaneta Ozolina, Professor and Chairwoman of LATO and Riga Conference

Roland Schatz, CEO of Media Tenor and Founder and CEO UNGSII Foundation

Allain Cyntryn, Former CTO of Goldman Sachs

Q&A, Moderator Francesco Lapenta