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The Nordic countries are exceptional.
We have incredible levels of trust in each other. We have a strong tradition of open public debate, where everyone can make themselves heard. We fiercely believe in the freedom of speech. And we have citizens who are generally well-informed and well-equipped to participate in public debate.
We have so much to celebrate and so much to preserve.
While social media hold great democratic potential, we have also, in recent years, seen how platforms not only enable democratic debate but also impact it negatively. The spread of false information online, whether intentional or not, threatens factual common ground. The use of offensive language prevents some groups in society from joining democratic debates. And opaque algorithms have spurred political polarisation.
We have all come to realize that increased democratic control with Big Tech is a necessity for democratic societies to thrive in the increasingly digital 21st century. The big question is no longer if we need more democratic control with Big Tech. The question is how and how fast. In this regard, the Nordic countries should take the lead in showing the way.
The Nordic countries, although remarkable in terms of trust, democracy and welfare, are also small countries with small languages and economies. Measured against the powers of Big Tech, each of us may not be considered worthy opponents. But when we join forces, our political voice echoes louder.
This past year the Nordic Think Tank for Tech and Democracy have done just that. Great minds from all over the Nordic region have joined forces and put their combined efforts into coming up with possible initiatives to address the most pressing challenges to the Nordic democracies. Although we come from varying backgrounds within communities of research, media and art, we have been remarkably united when it comes to the urgency of this task. Because all of us have much to preserve.
Our recommendations are ambitious on behalf of the Nordic region. As we need them to be. Together we can move towards a future, where digital technology fulfills its democratic potential.
Tobias Bornakke
Chair of the Nordic Think Tank
for Tech and Democracy