Keynote speakers

Markus Brill is Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of Warwick. Before that, he was Emmy Noether fellow and Assistant Professor at the Technical University of Berlin, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford (UK), and at Duke University (USA). He obtained a PhD in computer science from TU Munich in 2012.
In his work he has studied how results from (computational) social choice can be applied to ideas from digital democracy, such as proxy voting in liquid democracy and ranking initiatives in online platforms for deliberation.

Markus Brill

A COMSOC Perspective on Digital Democracy 

The successful design of digital democracy systems presents a multidisciplinary research challenge. In this talk, I argue that tools and techniques from computational social choice (COMSOC) should be employed to aid the design of online decision-making platforms and other digital democracy systems.  

Corinne Cath is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Delft and a Research Affiliate at the University of Cambridge. She is an anthropologist who studies internet governance, cultures, infrastructure politics, and cloud computing drawing from anthropological methods and cultural theory. Her other research interests include space governance and artificial intelligence. Some of her recent work considers the role of cloud computing in the political economy of generative AI, the dangers of the datafied welfare state, bias and discrimination in AI, and reimagining public-private governance of internet infrastructures.

Corinne Cath

The Internet is dead, Long Live the Cloud: The future of power in the tech industry  

The Internet is dead, long live the cloud!
The future of the internet industry is in its computational infrastructure, not data or selling ads. This means that the entities that control key infrastructure, like cloud computing and chips, hold sway. Companies like ASML, Microsoft, and Amazon Web Services (AWS), rather than X or Meta, will become the tech industry's most powerful players. To the extent this is not already the case, it will be their choices that influence what our wired world looks like. In this keynote, I will present a case study from my ethnographic research at the University of Delft, drawing out how the cloud's private networking backbone is supplanting the public Internet. I discuss the consequences of this capture by the cloud and will speculate on the viability of the continued existence of a consumer-facing public internet in the foreseeable future. 

Fabrizio Gilardi is Professor of Policy Analysis in the Department of Political Science of the University of Zurich. His research agenda focuses on the implications of digital technology for politics and democracy, which he studies particularly in the context of the ERC Advanced Grant "Problem Definition in the Digital Democracy" (PRODIGI, 2021-2025). His work has been published in journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, the British Journal of Political Science, Political Communication, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, among others. His latest book is "Digital Technology, Politics, and Policy-Making" (Cambridge University Press, Elements in Public Policy Series).

Fabrizio Gilardi

Problem Definition in the Digital Democracy

Major challenges commonly associated with digital technology, such as misinformation, hate speech, and political polarization, are widely perceived to require policy interventions. However, consensus on the nature and severity of these issues, and thus the appropriate actions, is lacking. This disagreement is typical in politics, where problem definitions and solutions are often contested. Yet, in the realm of digital technology, this debate is particularly intense. Policymakers frequently struggle to grasp the complexities of these issues, and the definition of problems is highly politicized, a situation exacerbated by digital technology itself. The talk will explore these issues with a focus on artificial intelligence. 

Carolina Plescia is an Associate
Professor for Digital Democracy at the University of Vienna. Her research examines the conditions under which voters hold elected officials accountable, and voters’ (dis-)satisfaction with electoral institutions. In a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund, she studies how citizens respond to the compromises parties need to make to form governments and pass legislation in parliaments. In 2021, she started the ERC Starting Grant DeVOTE that aims to develop and apply a new interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological approach to study what ‘voting’ means for citizens in both established democracies and electoral autocracies. 

Carolina Plescia

Trust in government or technology: What really drives internet voting? 

In the landscape of democratic evolution, internet voting emerges as a transformative force, demanding our attention and scrutiny. Scholars unanimously recognize the pivotal role trust plays in the embrace and utilization of this technology by citizens. The question, however, is which facet of trust holds the key – trust in government or trust in technology? The keynote speech presents a multidimensional trust model and demonstrates its efficacy through a comprehensive test leveraging on original cross-sectional data and a preregistered experiment conducted in Estonia. Our investigation reveals a robust correlation between trust in government and trust in i-voting technology. Notably, while both dimensions influence the inclination to i-vote, trust in technology emerges as the primary driver determining the choice between online and in-person voting. These findings offer a significant contribution to the understanding of internet voting dynamics and provide practical insights for the implementation of technology in democratic processes. Understanding the nuanced interplay between trust in government and trust in technology is imperative for navigating the future landscape of electoral rules and democratic voting practices. 

Simon Strohmenger has been working for Mehr Demokratie for five years.
He is responsible for the distribution of the participation platform Consul in the German speaking market. In this role, he informs interested municipalities about the possibilities of digital participation.
He also helps with the implementation
of Consul and the communication and public relations strategy.

Simon Strohmenger

Decoding Success: Insights from the Consul Democracy Community 

In the vibrant landscape of local digital democracy, where citizens actively contribute ideas, vote on them and even influence budget decisions through platforms like Consul Democracy, success is far from guaranteed. On the contrary: far too often, the high expectations are not met. Neither from the citizens' point of view nor from the administration's perspective. Drawing on the collective experience of over 200 cities worldwide within the Consul community, we aim to unravel the essential elements that underpin transparent, inclusive, and impactful democratic processes at the municipal level. This session will go beyond theory and look at real-life examples that can be used to demonstrate the key success factors.