Can a machine learn democracy?

Buddha, Chakradhar and Dhorajiwala, Sakina and Narayanan, Rajendran (2021) Can a machine learn democracy? In: AMCIS 2021 : Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, August 9-13, 2021, Virtual. (Submitted)

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E-governance has changed the functioning of public programmes in India. In most cases, one technological platform is expected to perform multiple roles such as improving administrative efficiency, as an information repository for the beneficiaries and as a system for accountability. However, techno-solutionism can be incongruous to democratic principles. In this article, we highlight this by looking at some technologies, such as the Management Information System (MIS) among others, used for the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in India. We illustrate how such technologies have been used to subvert legal rights of workers and critically examine whether these designs incorporate democratic values. We underscore that technological interventions, with compassionate design are potentially powerful tools for transparency, accountability, and grievance redressal. However, we argue that technology alone can neither enhance participatory democracy nor reduce socio-economic inequalities.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Authors: Buddha, Chakradhar and Dhorajiwala, Sakina and Narayanan, Rajendran
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aadhaar, Democracy, Development, e-governance, ICTD, MGNREGA, Participatory design, Social policy
Subjects: Social sciences > Political Science > Public policy
Divisions: Azim Premji University > Research Centre > Centre for Sustainable Employment
Full Text Status: Public
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