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[liberationtech] CfP ~~~ Civic Intelligence in an Uncertain and Threatening World

Doug Schuler douglas at
Tue Apr 18 15:06:16 PDT 2017

Please distribute to interested people and lists

*Civic Intelligence in an Uncertain and Threatening World *

Call for Workshop Participation

     Communities and Technologies

Troyes, France

June 26-30, 2017 (the workshop will be on one of the first two days of the
five-day conference)

*The future of our shared civic intelligence is in part contingent on how
well we use our existing resource to challenge dangerous and disempowering
shifts, and improve the capacity of citizens to use information, form
voluntary networks of action and coordinate responses that reinvigorate
democratic principles.*

Grazia Concilio, Politecnico di Milano, Italy

Anna de Liddo, Open University, UK

Douglas Schuler, The Evergreen State College, USA

Justin Smith, Washington State University, USA

This workshop is a follow-on to the Collective Intelligence for the Common
Good workshop that we convened at C&T 2015 in Limerick, Ireland. That
workshop resulted in a special section in the AI & Society journal. We also
plan to find a suitable book or special issue/section of a journal to
publish the work of this workshop. More information can (soon) be found at

*Motivation *

Efforts to secure the common good are facing significant challenges
worldwide. Nationalistic, anti-scientific, anti-intellectual, and
anti-democratic values are gaining popularity in political discourse.
Promises of international cooperation and democratic principles of
inclusion, rational (public) discourse, and collective problem-solving are
increasingly threatened. Will the people of the world have adequate civic
intelligence* to resist these threats and learn to manage its affairs and
its ecosystems more prudently?

Coordinated resistance in the U.S. and elsewhere suggest that civic
intelligence is alive. It is demonstrated through rallies and marches,
citizen mobilization, dialogue, independent media, academic research and
reporting, fact checking, challenges to elected officials, and much more.
Yet more civic intelligence will be necessary in the coming days, months
and years as citizens, civil society and others attempt to challenge and
reverse these dangerous trends.

*Workshop Agenda*

In this workshop we will explicitly examine technologies having the
potential to enable civic intelligence at different scales, from the local
to the global, approaching them as components of the wider ecosystem of
common goods that we as practitioners and citizens can help create.

While technology can't solve these issues by itself, it can and should play
a vital role in supporting the activation and mobilization of civic
intelligence worldwide. However, it needs to focus on the facilitation of
collective problem-solving—not just an app for this or an app for that.
This means presenting information that reveals the systemic relationships
of the social and ecological life of our planet, trends in nature (such as
climate change) and the activities of humans (deforestation, urbanization,
political freedom, migration, etc.). It also means opening access to news,
data, and the ability and willingness to communicate complexity to improve
people's scientific, collaborative, and critical reasoning skills. Such an
endeavor will likely force each one of us to consider our roles as citizens
of the planet.

At the same time we also need to consider the myriad ways that
technological systems can degrade or defeat civic intelligence and consider
how to overcome these challenges as well. Artificial intelligence, for
example, could be used as a tool to further distance people from control of
their lives. This also includes trends in collective problem-solving that
seek overly simplistic solutions to inherently complex situations. Finally
we also question normative views of dominant consumer culture that suggest
that peoples' lives ought to be centered on entertainment, personal
gratification, convenience, or consumerism.

*Workshop Goals*

>From the vantage point of a world in need of new tools and paradigms we
envision several related aims. The first is helping to understand the
social (information and communication) landscape that we inhabit. Second,
is the sharing of ideas, proposals, issues, and other work that the
workshop participants are undertaking or hypothesizing. Third, is the
development of common frameworks and other integrative approaches that tie
our viewpoints and seemingly disparate efforts into a more coherent
ensemble. And, finally, identification of specific coordinated action items
that we can implement to help us meet our goals, and to engage fruitfully
with other people and institutions that are part of this struggle for civic

We hope that these efforts will contribute to the building of a robust
network that works across disciplinary and geographic boundaries to improve
the capacity of citizen everywhere to successfully address problems of
mutual concern.


Researchers and scientists, policy makers, citizens, professionals,
mediators, public officials, ICT specialists, journalists, artists, policy
consultants, and anybody having a strong civic orientation and perspective
are welcome!

 Participants are encouraged to submit a brief position paper that
addresses the following points: (1) Why they're interested in the topic;
(2) What they'd like to get out of the workshop; (3) What they have to
contribute to the workshop — and in the longer run; and (4) List 3-5 goals
that they'd like to work towards that would help build the civic
intelligence socio-technological research and action program. We will be
working with these points to help develop collective documents that address
the current and desired future states. Please submit your position paper
(doc or pdf) via email to douglas at by June 1, 2017.
Questions or  comments in relation to this workshop can also be sent to
that address.

* Civic intelligence is the ability of groups of people to perceive,
communicate and act to address shared challenges both efficiently and
equitably. It is holistic — it includes a constellation of capabilities
including compassion, creativity, and courage. It highlights the importance
of building capacity for people to deal with problems, large and small.
Moreover, civic intelligence varies from place to place, situation to
situation and it changes over time—sometimes very rapidly, and sometimes
for the worse.
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