SNF DIALOGUES: The Interplay Between Technology and Democracy: Potential and limitations

Part of The Stavros Niarchos Foundation's 2020 Summer Nostos Festival

The SNF DIALOGUES and the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University are hosting an online webcast discussion to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on society, democracy, and our future, in relation to the role of technology. COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated some of the challenges already facing societies, economies, and even democracy itself. As the world increasingly turns to technology and AI to respond and recover from the pandemic, what lessons can we learn about how technology might help both governments and citizens redefine governance, participation, competition, freedom, and equality? Can technology assist us in making liberal democracies more inclusive and just, so that all citizens can participate? And what are the inherent drawbacks and dangers in these technologies that we must recognize and address?


  • Alondra Nelson, President of the Social Science Research Council and Harold F. Linder Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, is an acclaimed researcher and author who explores questions of science, technology, and social inequality. Nelson’s books include Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination and The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome. She is coeditor of Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race and History (with Keith Wailoo and Catherine Lee) and Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life (with Thuy Linh N. Tu).
  • Dr. George Zarkadakis leads Willis Towers Watson’s consulting practice in Great Britain on the Future of Work and the impact of Artificial Intelligence on business and society. He has over 25 years’ experience in management consulting, media, marketing and communications; as well as in digital strategy and innovation as a founder, advisor, and investor in technology startups. He holds a PhD in Artificial Intelligence in Medicine and is the author of In Our Own Image: will Artificial Intelligence Save Us or Destroy Us? (Rider Books). His new book Cyber Republic: reinventing democracy in the age of intelligent machines will be published by MIT Press in September 2020. He has received a knighthood from the French President for his international work on science communication and education.
  • Anna Kynthia Bousdoukou, moderator, co-founded iMEdD, incubator for Media Education and Development, where she serves as Managing Director. Since 2016, Anna-Kynthia also serves as an advisor to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation on grants related to journalism and she curates and presents the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s monthly forum SNFDIALOGUES. During her 13 years of experience in journalism, she worked as a reporter on the radio, and then as a news editor, journalist and broadcast producer, while at the same time she has been a regular columnist in various outlets. In 2011 she was assigned as SKAI TV’s news presenter and until 2018 was also responsible for SKAI TV’s morning news program, which focused on domestic as well as international news, politics, economy, science and innovation. She holds a degree in Sociology from Panteio University, specializing on the Sociology of Mass Media and is in the team of TEDxThessaloniki, which she has been presenting in recent years.
  • Hahrie Han, moderator, is professor of political science and director of the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University. She specializes in the study of civic and political participation, collective action, and organizing, focusing particularly on the role that civic associations play in mobilizing participation. She is author of several books, including How Organizations Develop Activists: Civic Associations and Leadership in the 21st Century (2014), and Groundbreakers: How Obama’s 2.2 Million Volunteers Transformed Campaigning in America (2015). Her new book, Prisms of the People: Power and Organizing in 21st Century America, will be published this fall.