Tackling threats to informed decision-making in democratic societies: Promoting epistemic security in a technologically-advanced world

Report by Elizabeth Seger, Shahar Avin, Gavin Pearson, Mark Briers, Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh, Helena Bacon
Published on 14 October 2020


Access to reliable information is crucial to the ability of a democratic society to coordinate effective collective action when responding to a crisis, like a global pandemic, or complex challenge like climate change. Through a series of workshops we developed and analysed a set of hypothetical yet plausible crisis scenarios to explore how technologically exacerbated external threats and internal vulnerabilities to a society’s epistemic security – its ability to reliably avert threats to the processes by which reliable information is produced, distributed, and assessed within the society – can be mitigated in order to facilitate timely decision-making and collective action in democratic societies.

Overall we observed that preserving a democratic society’s epistemic security is a complex effort that sits at the interface of many knowledge domains, theoretical perspectives, value systems, and institutional responsibilities, and we developed a series of recommendations to highlight areas where additional research and resources will likely have a significant impact on improving epistemic security in democratic societies

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