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  • Writer's pictureMax Sinsheimer

SOLD! Democracy Rebooted (by Beth Simone Noveck)

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself,” wrote John Quincy Adams in 1814. With a mere 7% of young Americans seeing our democracy as “healthy,” observers have declared a renewed vigil. In Democracy Rebooted: How AI Can Save Democracy, Dr. Beth Simone Noveck challenges the prevailing pessimism surrounding AI, advocating for its judicious application to revitalize our medieval institutions and help build a republic where citizens are deeply involved in decision-making.

Pundits regularly blame technology for weakening our political culture. Pervasive tech-enabled surveillance and data collection, manufactured online echo chambers that amplify partisan disagreement, and algorithms that exacerbate societal divisions paved the way for our technophobia. The surge in conversational AI platforms like ChatGPT, and the frightening believability of "deep fake" videos, have now escalated our fears that we will be subjected to indiscernible misinformation. The White House’s 2023 AI Bill of Rights begins: “Among the great challenges posed to democracy today is the use of technology, data, and automated systems in ways that threaten the rights of the American public.”

The supposed dangers technology poses to our democracy, however, are hardly inevitable. Artificial intelligence holds as much potential to bolster democracy as it does to harm it. Just as AI can incite division, it can also foster civil discourse; as much as it can spawn disinformation, technology can aid us in its identification. The technologies needed to navigate these choices are not speculative—they are current, tangible, and in use around the world. In Dubai, ordinary residents are becoming urban planners, translating their desires for a new park or bike path into rapid renderings using AI image generation. India’s parliament uses AI to translate proceedings into 22 different dialects so that everyone can have better access to the lawmaking process. And Boston public schools are using AI to run a large-scale, democratic conversation on why literacy rates remain chronically low.

The perils of AI are significant, yet so is its promise. Democracy Rebooted is a manifesto for using AI to advance the principles of engagement, collaboration, and transparency, and a roadmap towards democratic renewal. Steering clear of both doomsaying rhetoric and gushing techno-enthusiasm, Democracy Rebooted will weave engaging stories, practical, real-world examples, and conversations with leading thinkers to offer readers new mental models for how to “do democracy” differently in our workplaces, schools, and communities.

Dr. Beth Noveck is a professor of Experiential AI at Northeastern University. She was the nation’s first Deputy Chief Technology Officer, and the director of the White House Open Government Initiative. Dr. Noveck pioneered one of the earliest platforms for democratic online deliberation and has developed transformative systems that have touched millions of lives. Now she is helping institutions and individuals from Congress to the NY Attorney General learn how to use AI for social good. The author of three widely translated books, she can frequently be found in Wired, The Guardian, WashPo, and elsewhere.

I'm delighted to have sold Democracy Rebooted to Bill Frucht at Yale University Press, my first sale to YUP, which is extra exciting for me as I retain a soft spot for university presses. Since starting my career at Oxford University Press, I've sold titles to OUP, MIT Press, Stanford University Press, University of California Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, and University of Massachusetts Press. Democracy Rebooted joins a fantastic politics list and team at Yale UP.

Congratulations to Beth and her editor, Bill!

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