Updated Apr 4, 2023 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on the future of democracy

On Tuesday, April 4, Axios editor in chief Sara Kehaulani Goo and senior world reporter Dave Lawler hosted conversations looking at the future of democracy and how global leaders can uphold it in the face of mounting threats. Guests included U.S. Agency for International Development administrator Samantha Power and Rappler CEO Maria A. Ressa. The View from the Top sponsored segment featured Skoll Foundation president and chief operating officer Marla Blow.

Samantha Power discussed the current state of democracy around the world and how to counter perceptions that democracy doesn’t deliver what people expected.

  • On improvements in democratic backsliding: “I think there’s a moment, I don’t want to overstate it, you still see countries that are slipping when it comes to indicators around human rights, around democracy. But it is noteworthy that amid a 17 year slide, according to Freedom House, this year saw the slowest pace of decline, and indeed while you had 35 countries backsliding when it comes to democratic indicators, you had 34 countries going in a positive direction. That’s the first time we’ve seen those kinds of numbers in a very long time.”
  • On building trust in democracy: “The absolute best way to respond when you see those trust numbers or those concerns about democracy’s strength is to deliver.”

Maria A. Ressa explained the importance of freedom of the press and the impact of AI on the information ecosystem.

  • On the arrest of a journalist from The Wall Street Journal in Russia: “I think what’s happened with The Wall Street Journal, essentially there’s a new low. It’s gotten worse. I don’t know if we can even measure it. I’ve called this death by a thousand cuts, and it is the journalists who are on the front lines, who are bearing the brunt of it.”
  • On AI in the current ecosystem of widespread misinformation: “Now on top of that, add this extra layer of generative AI, which by design again, if you listen to Sam Altman of OpenAI, he says, ‘well, it’s really dangerous.’ Well, the question of course is if it is really dangerous, then why release it to the public? This is only going to get worse.”

In the View from the Top segment, Skoll Foundation president and chief operating officer Marla Blow highlighted the hallmarks of successful and thriving democracies.

  • “We look for safe, free, fair and trusted elections as descriptive of what we mean for success in this arena. We are thinking about the use of those kinds of terms, and when we look at what it takes, that means open, responsive and accountable institutions that serve the needs of the entire public, and when I say entire public, I’m talking about equity, I’m talking about inclusion, talking about ensuring that the voices of all of the people are heard as they participate in how they are governed.”

Thank you to the Skoll Foundation for sponsoring this event.

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