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Can New Technology More Fully Democratize Our Society?

New technology, especially mobile and social technology, has tremendous potential to improve our democracy and political system, yet much of this potential has so far gone unrealized. The problem of money is politics, for instance, largely has’t been affected by 21st-century technology.

Participants explored the possibility that a fundamental reimagining of our democracy through technology will come from outside, rather than inside, the current power structure.

“I really do believe that tech will improve democracy,” said Ann Ravel, then vice chair of the Federal Election Commission. “I think it’s actually nice to see the tech industry care about these issues of democracy.”

Our roundtable anchor, Founder of Change.org Ben Rattray, echoed this sense of optimism, though he cautioned against the expectation of immediate change.

“I do think that in the long term, people who bet on technology and are technology optimists have almost always been right,” said Rattray. “I think they’ll be right in this case, and the question is: How long will it take?”