Technology, inequality, and democracy


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Advances in digital technologies and artificial intelligence hold great promise to boost economic prosperity. But as these technologies transform nearly every aspect of business and work, they are reshaping growth and distributional dynamics in ways that can increase economic inequality. Indeed, inequality has been rising in many countries, notably in the United States. Rising inequality and related disparities and anxieties have been stoking social discontent and are a major driver of the increased popular disaffection and political polarization that are so evident today.

In what ways is today’s technological transformation contributing to higher inequality within economies? What are the implications of the new technologies for global inequality and economic convergence between economies? What are the risks associated with rising inequality, including for democratic governance? How can the promise of the digital age be harnessed to achieve more inclusive economic prosperity and strengthen democratic societies? What new challenges arise for public policy?

On December 8, on the eve of the Leaders’ Summit for Democracy being hosted by the Biden administration on December 9-10, the Brookings Global Forum on Democracy and Technology held a panel discussion to address these issues.

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