Government and business leaders must avoid the mistake of fighting the last war. Today’s digital threats of bots and deepfakes are rapidly evolving into tomorrow’s augmented reality and mass facial recognition systems, at the same time emerging political, social, and economic trends reshape the landscape in which these tools can be used and abused.
To address this challenge, IST has partnered with the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) to launch the joint project “Future Digital Threats to Democracy.” As IST CEO Philip Reiner emphasizes, “the risks of unanticipated, fundamentally destabilizing effects are too high for any one sector to go it alone. We need to bridge the policy and tech communities and IST is uniquely positioned to bring the innovators from across these communities to the table.”
IST and CNAS are using foresight and scenario planning exercises to develop a series of possible futures, highlighting intersections of trends that demand greater policy attention today. In collaboration with experts from the technology, policy, academic, media, and other fields, we are mapping out the directions the information environment will take in the next ten years to better anticipate emerging digital threats to open societies. The project will also generate recommendations to prepare governments, corporations, liberal democratic institutions, and individuals to combat the next evolution in high-tech threats to democracy.
This ten-part series written by IST’s M. Nina Miller, Alexa Wehsener, and Vera Zakem examines the potential impact of digital technologies on democratic institutions from 2020 to 2030. We build upon a comprehensive literature review and conversations with subject matter experts to identify technical, geopolitical, and psychological drivers of nine interconnected digital trends that could threaten democracy in the future.