Thursday, September 7, 2023

Tallinn, Estonia

ADMINISTRATOR SAMANTHA POWER: Hello, everyone. It is great to be here, just off a plane. And I know I've missed some really rich discussions the last few days but we've had USAID, and U.S. government officials, and civil society colleagues giving us live rolling updates and it sounds like it's been an incredible time together. 

Aidan [Eyakuze], thank you for everything you do. You know as events come and go, as progress ebbs and flows in Tanzania, in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond – your leadership has been absolutely indispensable on the ground, and thanks also for your tireless work on the OGP Steering Committee.

So we're here 12 years, I guess, almost to the month after eight heads of state and one stalwart civil society representative met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to create this partnership. Those of us who were there at the time remember the enormous hope we felt back then for cutting edge technologies that would help advance open government and open society, that would give people unprecedented access to their government, platforms to raise their voices, and new tools to affect change. 

Of course, that hope for this era of technological progress turned for many into fear, as autocrats in the intervening years have used technology to spread disinformation, invade citizens' privacy, and attack other countries without even having to use conventional arms. But every now and then, you come across people who have not only held on to that early hope, but who have turned hope into extraordinary action. Many of you in this room saw new technologies right from the start for what they were – not inherent boons or banes for democracy. But tools that could be used to empower citizens just as they could be used to repress them. So many of you have found ways to fight the misuse of technology and expand its use for goods – to demand better social services, to keep an eye on government expenditures, to organize civic action. 

Some of the leading visionaries in this effort are our hosts today. The Estonian government has given citizens the power to access public services and communicate with their government digitally, showing the world, quite long ago now actually, how citizens can do everything from renewing IDs and passports to suggesting parliamentary bills completely online. 

And doing this has contributed to Estonia's rapid economic growth as well as its global standing as a country. In the last ten years alone, Estonia jumped 18 spots in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index from 32nd to 14th – higher than the United States. Estonia is progress inspired e-governance innovation across the world, including in Ukraine. In 2016, well before my time at USAID, Ukraine approached our agency and asked if we could help utilize digital tools to support its anti-corruption efforts. 

We began by working with the Eurasia Foundation and other partners to help Ukraine's government build e-procurement services. And at the very same time and this is important, establish cybersecurity protections. But by 2019, President Zelenskyy and Minister Fedorov were laying out a vision to do something far more ambitious – to create, yes, a state in a smartphone. 

A platform that would allow citizens to interact with their government completely online. To do everything from start a new business to register a new baby. That vision became Diia, a platform that has had a stunning impact on the lives of Ukrainians. When Diia launched in February of 2020, offering digitized identity cards, the ability to sign official documents, to register a new car with one click – the app quickly became the most downloaded in Ukraine. 

And since Putin's full-scale invasion in 2022, Diia has become a critical part of the war effort. It has enabled Ukrainians across the country to report war crimes, track enemy troop movements, and get compensated for damaged property – all through their smartphones. 

But as I wind down here, I want to come back to the founding purpose of OGP. The idea was not only to improve citizens' social and economic well being, it was to enhance their ability to hold their governments accountable, and to fight corruption. And this is where Diia has been truly transformative. By digitizing construction permits, tax payments, and fee collections, Diia prevents corrupt officials from skimming funds or soliciting bribes in person. Now every process that goes through Diia has an auditable trail of every transaction – steps that helped prevent an estimated $441 million dollars of leakage in Ukraine's economy in 2020. These are absolutely critical protections. 

It is also essential that the Ukrainian government has prioritized – and we'll hear more from our Ukrainian colleagues about this – cybersecurity and privacy protection, right alongside citizen convenience and simplification. Ukraine has withstood over 2,700 Kremlin cyber attacks aimed at state information sources and critical infrastructure. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of announcing that USAID will support Colombia, Kosovo, and Zambia to pursue their own similar e-government capabilities

Today I'm excited to announce that Estonia will be supporting this effort, partnering with USAID and Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Transformation. With Estonia's expertise in making new technologies adaptable to a range of different systems – so called interoperability – we will work together to model Diia and the underlying digital public infrastructure in more countries. 

Now I would like to introduce Luukas Ilves, Estonia's Chief Information Officer and a true pioneer in the field of e-governance. Lucas over to you, thank you so much.

Panel Discussion

Watch Here

TAIMAR PETERKOP: Thank you Administrator Power for the positive message that the future is not that bleak. And we still have hope. But we'll start with the panel now. Let me please ask here our Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen, CEO and President of Rappler Maria Ressa. And the moderator will be Neeme Raud.

NEEME RAUD: Thank you. Welcome to our panel, very honored to talk to you. And the last question is the big question. Where are we as democracy, the forces of democracy in the world? You, Administrator Power, mentioned Freedom Forum – Freedom House Summaries – this is one of my place to go to kind of get the assessment and the last assessment was still pretty bleak. That the forces of authoritarianism, it's hard to even say this word, are on some way, moving up and the meaning course, in many ways, democracy's still declining in the world. So let's map the world. Are we in the tipping point? Where we are, who is democracy in the world, and we just heard from Administrative Power, so maybe you can start from our Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, our host, Estonian view, democracy in the world?

ESTONIA PRIME MINISTER KAJA KALLAS: Yes, thank you. And thank you for the powerful speech, I would say so that democracy is not in decline, but we are actually under attack. I mean, the threats and the worries out there, we have to know them. And in 2007, we were under a cyber attack, first-ever cyber attack by Russia at that time. And it was the start of actually different steps on the road, cyber attacks, information war, everything that is undermining our democracy is trying to create chaos, like Samantha Power was describing. 

And now that we know those threats, we know that we are under attack, we can be more resilient if we build on this and we share information with the like-minded partners, because the bad guys share information the good guys should share as well. We have a number of elections coming in a number of important countries. And when you know what kind of attacks have been on elections, you can also better prepare for that. And if we share the information of other countries who have lived through that, then the others can be more resilient as well. And therefore, democracy has more chances to survive.

MR. RAUD: So as a small nation, we remain optimistic.

PRIME MINISTER KALLAS: I'm always optimistic and, look, I mean, if you were here in 1992, what democracy has brought us and one of the examples. I mean, the transparency you are talking about. The greatest example of this, what it really does, if you get rid of corruption, is we have the Narva River, that is the border between us and Russia. So between the democratic line of the free world, and Russia –  the dark side. So the European Union gave money to, you know, build the promenade, and the same amount of money but on the Russian side, there's only 200 meters built, whereas on the Estonian side, it's over two kilometers. And it shows not that the prices on the Russian side are somehow higher. No, they're not but the corruption takes it away. So this is a clear example that the life on the democratic side, where there's transparency, and less corruption is so much better for the people, like Samantha Power was also pointing out because the money goes where it should go. So I mean, if you would compare us to us in ‘92. I mean, we don't recognize it when we are living in it. But if somebody comes, and you remember how it was, then we have come a long way, and I certainly am very optimistic. There's a lot of hope.

MR. RAUD: Commissioner Urpilainen. Our dream was to join European Union, the European family of democratic and free nations. We are there now, as one of the members, but we see within the Union too discussions about democracy also some tendencies of autocracy, how has the view within the commission evolved over the last years on those issues?

COMMISSIONER JUTTA URPILAINEN: Well, for me, the European Union is the community of values. That's the DNA of the European Union – we are promoting democracy, we are promoting rule of law, we are promoting human rights, including freedom of expression. That's the DNA of the European Union. And I think we can also ask that why the European Union is existing? Its existing, because it is bringing the added value to the ordinary citizens of the European Union. And I think in terms of democracy, I would like to raise two aspects. 

The first one is access to information – be aware of what is happening in the world, access to documents, you know, access to information in general. And the second point is to be empowered, to have that feeling that you know, I can really make an impact. And I think here, the role of the education, especially, I would say, in our countries in Europe, but especially in our partner countries in the Global South, is so important that they really understand about their rights, but they are also, you know, they have capabilities to be part of society. So, I fully agree with Samantha, I fully agree with Prime Minister Kallas, democracy is challenged. But I personally believe that democracies will prevail. Because if we are able to provide opportunities to the citizens to have access to information and to be powered through our societies, then they feel that they are also benefiting of democracy. And I believe that we will win this battle. But, of course, we cannot take democracy as given. Every day, we have to work for democracy. And this is something, of course, what we are doing in the European Commission, as well as in the European Union in general.

MR. RAUD: Ms. Ressa, the next question will be about media. But first of all, it's an honor to meet you, I was just talking to your co-winner of Nobel Peace Prize in 2021, Mr. Muratov a few months ago here in Estonia. And last week, we read that he's labeled now foreign agent in Russia. So media is a powerful force. But it's difficult for media because media is now everywhere. And there is a question now is media our friend or enemy, free media, because everybody can be a journalist, social media makes it all possible.

MARIA RESSA: Oh, my gosh. Okay. So where do I unpack this? So first of all, how incredible to be here with these incredible women. And it's so wonderful to have a male moderator.

MR. RAUD: Thank you. So you won my heart but media? I'm a journalist, myself, sometimes I feel like, do people trust me? Do they feel me as a spokesperson for governments, or friend or enemy?

MS. RESSA: Well, it's not within our control, it’s what I'm saying, right? So you heard from the three powerful women, they – Samantha says tipping point, right, definitely tipping point, but I am far more negative than the three of them are. And part of that is because I've been a journalist, your nation's been under attack, but I literally survived 90 hate messages per hour, almost 100 years in prison if I keep doing my job, right. 

But let me respond to your question, which is, so why is it more negative like, and hopefully, you will stand up and walk out of here wanting to do more about this time period. It is the technology that connects all of us. And the technology much as OGP has succeeded. You know, Rappler, the company I co-founded, one of our first projects was an open government partnership. We worked very closely. We had a civic engagement arm, all of that went away in 2016, right? So and where's the group that has all the data that is not here at the table? That is private tech companies. So just look at it this way. Three points, right. The design of the social media companies reward lies over facts – six times more, so the incentive structure is if you lie, it'll spread six times faster. 

If you're a woman in the Philippines starting in 2017, you are attacked at least 10 times more, right? And why is that? This is power and money, because you keep scrolling, right? So that's, now imagine if you, tell your child a lie, I’ll reward you keep lying, I’m going to keep rewarding you. If you don't have integrity of facts, you cannot have integrity of elections. You said democracy is under attack, Prime Minister. Information warfare is real. We saw in the United States in 2016, 126 million Americans were targeted right by the IRA and the GRU. In the Philippines we looked at both Russian and Chinese disinformation. The attacks against my organization – first, lies bottom up and then top down, weaponization of social media followed by weaponization of the law. So let me finish the last part, if you don't have integrity of elections, this is where the information warfare comes in. Are our people – actually, do we still retain agency. If you look at the data, that is now debatable, right. And so, in an earlier panel, we talked about polarization. Well, that's just one algorithm in every social media platform that we have, which is, you know, everyone A/B tested, how they can grow their platform the best. So the algorithm they use is friends of friends. If they recommend to each of us, friends of our friends, we click more and then that grows our social networks, and it grows the platform. 

What does friends of friends do as an algorithm? Not only brings money to the platform, but in the Philippines. And this is documented in data. When President [Rodrigo] Duterte won in 2016, we did not debate the facts. But if you were pro-Duterte, you moved further right. If you're anti-Duterte, you moved further left. Friends of friends algorithm that grew the networks of these tech platforms also divided us, right. So the three sentences I used to say over and over. If you don't have facts, you can't have truth. Without truth, you can't have trust. Without these three, we have no shared reality. We have no democracy. 

Let me go back to the hope that the three women leaders in front of us had, right. How do we get through this? It is up to us. In the long-term, it's going to be education. In the medium term, it's legislation. Thank you EU for the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act. In the short term, Open Government Partnership, you are all about data, mobilize and protect us because in the short term, every one of us with a cellphone has no protection. It's a safety issue. It's kind of like having a building code. We know this building is not going to fall down around us. I didn't answer your question about journalists. But I wanted you to know, right, you got act it’s the first one.

MR. RAUD: Well but you give us some food for thought. Definitely. But here is our call now for all participants to participate in a little survey we would like to create during the time when we talk here, a little cloud of words behind us here. Here is information on how you can log into Slido and put your word how you describe today's forum – what is the precise word in your mind, and you can see what the mindset of this audience is. And then also you can ask questions from our panelists that will have Q&A then. But Administrator Power. The year was 2002, I was a student at Columbia University International Affairs School and one lecture to get into that was really difficult into was your lecture everybody was going, Miss Power.

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: It’s easier today. Well, what does that tell us?

MR. RAUD: But it was after 9/11. The world was crazy. And I remember among our students, everybody wouldn't want to listen to you, you already had a book about the genocide out. So it was very important to hear your words. But at that time, the policy of U.S. government was exporting democracy. Now we know where it went. United States still is and has to be the leading voice on democracy, yet we see backlash also in the United States. So from the American viewpoint, where is democracy now and how America can lead?

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Well, let me just say that the only way we ever should have led. But certainly the only way we can lead now is with great humility. You know, there are lots of reasons to have humility, including human rights conditions for people living in, you know, all parts of the United States. But also, of course, we ourselves had gone abroad with our European colleagues and others, urging leaders who've lost elections to respect results of those elections. And then we found ourselves in a situation where the very thing we've been urging so many governments to do was happening in our own country, and then followed, of course, by a violent insurrection. So I actually think that the conversation about democracy and human rights and accountability is a more honest one now. And it's what Estonia and Ukraine were talking about on the previous panel, it's mutual learning. And it's a recognition or it's a reminder of the absolute indispensability not of individuals of any particular stripe, but of institutions. And America's institutions have arguably stood up. They have bent and been bent. But it is incredibly important that they be fortified. And you know that’s what President Biden has been intent on doing – we're almost at the three year mark, you know, three years is not a long time, in light of some of the erosion that had occurred over time.

I think Maria, you know, who I'm absolutely thrilled to be on a panel with and, Maria, there's the work that you've done in the Philippines, for the Philippines, but there's also you as a flagbearer and as someone who has inspired, I mean, innumerable people in innumerable countries, to live on behalf of the rights that they want to see respected, and not just, you know, lament, the curtailing of those rights, not just succumb to gloom or Freedom House reports, but to do something about and it's because you've risked so much for your principles, and really, for your country men and women.

But I think, you know, part of what we do have to grapple with, is there's tech companies and the algorithms as Maria has described them, which the effects of which we see in the United States. We see in places like Sri Lanka, Myanmar. In Sri Lanka, you know, this several years ago now, but a presidential adviser to previous president, I thought put it really powerfully speaking about one of the major social media companies, he said, the germs are ours, but this company – Facebook – Facebook is the wind, the germs are ours, Facebook is the wind. But what Maria is describing is, you know, even goes beyond that, because there's more agency to it. 

And I think, just to be a bridge to the appeal she's making to OGP. I don't know if that's to the Secretariat, or to the countries and their national action plans. But there is so little transparency in what is actually going on behind the scenes, you know, in entities that have GDPs larger than at least two thirds, probably three quarters of UN member states. So the kinds of checks and balances that we worry are getting battered a little bit in democracies or need to be shored up, those checks and balances, other than now increasingly in the European Union, are really few and far between. So I think this appeal is incredibly important. It is not an appeal so far that has landed but, you know, any improvements or increase in transparency is a positive. And any of the improvements that have come about, have all come about not by virtue of some top down, “oh, let's reconsider this or that” – it has all come about because of public pressure, all of it. And yet not enough but all of it. So that is the algorithm for change on one of these critical ingredients. 

The last thing I just say quickly is courts, as Maria knows, and I think we have some Filipino Supreme Court justices here, which is great, here at OGP – dialogues among democratic judicial officials, we, USAID, have made huge investments, along with Ukrainian civil society in the Ukrainian judiciary and the strengthening of the integrity of that as well. In the United States, there have been a couple encouraging decisions as it relates to polarization. After years of erosion on voting rights, and on gerrymandering, just a couple glimmers of hope of late. And that, like the tech company, or the tech algorithm challenge, and the polarization challenge, and the going to extremes challenge – this question of whether voters choose their leaders or leaders choose their voters, which is kind of crazy that that question has been posed. But gerrymandering is a phenomenon that has structural effects on democracy and does structural damage that is very hard for citizen action to offset. And so those glimmers of hope, I would look to them. And then if you just forgive me one thing, because on the question of optimism versus pessimism, I have to quote the great Israeli social scientist, Amos Tversky, who said – and Maria this is for you, sister, “Why, why be a pessimist? If you're a pessimist, you suffer twice.” About the most pessimistic thing, you can say. 

MR. RAUD: This is a great thought to take away but technology allows to go right into people's heads. And look here is the cloud of words. And in the center of that, we can see that on our screens here and behind us in the center are two things that you can see – Ukraine, participation, trust, civic space. So, that are the central words in the mind of our audience here. And there is one question already up there. So, I would like to address that to Prime Minister Kallas. I think that question is perfect for you. What is one of the key policy challenges in your country, in our country that needs to be addressed to safeguard open government and democracy?

PRIME MINISTER KALLAS Yes, thank you. I also want to comment on what Maria said. It is true, what you're saying and the trust is, you know, democracy is built on trust. So, if that trust is eroded, then people don't really know what to believe. And what is right, what is wrong. They don't believe in institutions. So, if they don't believe in the institutions, they don't believe the decisions that are made so why if I don't have trust, why I really follow those decisions that the governments make, and this is extremely hard. And I totally agree with you. I mean, I've used this Churchill quote several times that said, after the Second World War, that, you know, lie is halfway across the globe, before the truth gets its pants on, and let's put this to the information era that we are living in. Truth doesn't have a chance against the lie. So what to do with it. I mean, media literacy is definitely the thing that we are working with. And you know, the interesting thing about this is that if we look at the studies, we don't have such problems with the young people, because they understand that, you know, and maybe navigate more, whereas the older generation, they take it, you know, it was said on the news, and they don't really, you know, make difference, whether it's the public broadcaster, or it's some some social media site, and they say that I read it, it was there, it must be the truth. But that is actually resonating also what you're saying about the media, so what to do with this, and but knowing the threats and coming to our own country. I mean, since the war started in Ukraine, I think it is surprising that we have a more resilient to those false narratives and information war than many countries, that actually we're not preparing for this. And, and it's also interesting in 2014, when Crimea was annexed, then what happened was that, you know, they tried to insert the false information to one of the respectable, you know, newspapers, which was Guardian at the time, so Guardian took the lie, and everybody else published it. 

But this time actually, Ukraine was the one who was preparing for this. So this didn't happen this time, because they already knew the threats. And this is I think that us, is surprising if you see, you know, the different demonstrations across Europe, for example, and I get this question a lot, you have a huge Russian minority in Estonia, you don't have that. Why? Because we have been working with that for a long time, not two months, but over time, and therefore, you know, trying to bring them in the information circle. And actually COVID helped a lot with that, I must say, because before that, it was Russian propaganda. And you know, they, some of them were living in a totally different information circle. But COVID, they wanted to have the information that was about Estonia. So they actually took up the challenge, as well. But there's a lot of work to be done. And I agree with you that the threats are there. But knowing the threats is already a step to be preparing for the threats.

MR. RAUD: The next question goes to Commissioner Urpilainen. How can we support best those countries that are struggling with maintaining its democracy? What are the responsibilities of democratic countries in supporting?

COMMISSIONER URPILAINEN: Well, I think democracy needs allies. And actually, the strategic choice the European Union has made and I also made as a commissioner was really, to invest in young people. Because from my perspective, young people and youth are best allies to democracies. Whenever you travel, I mean, wherever in Africa, for instance, Africa, which is the continent of youth and young generation, when you talk to young people in Africa, what are they seeking for, they're seeking for democracy, rule of law, human rights, freedom of expression. And that's why we actually prepared first ever Youth Action Plan for EU's external relations. And through this action plan, we want to do our part. So we want to engage with young people. But we also want to empower young people mainly through the education, as well as we also want to connect with young people. So we want to bring, you know, young people from Europe to Africa, and vice versa. So we want to create networks. 

I personally think that this is something we all should pay more attention to. How can we really make young people's voice to be heard in our societies, but also worldwide, because the fact is that we have the largest youth generations in history at the moment. So for instance, in the Global South, a majority of the citizens are youth, but how much rights and how much opportunities they really have? I mean, if we are able to, bring more opportunities, provide more opportunities, those young people, I think they will definitely also be best supporters and actors of democracy. And, of course, democracy also needs allies in economic terms. And that's why I was really honored and proud today to sign a contract with OGP – 3 million euros. So we are following you, Samantha and USAID. And I really hope that through this cooperation and partnership, we can, you know, make tangible impact and results in several countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Because we believe that through this cooperation, we can also build bridges between the governments and the civil society organizations and movements and we need strong civil society in order to have strong democracies.

MR. RAUD: Ms. Ressa the next question is for you, and there are two letters, AI –

MS. RESSA: Oh my gosh!

MR. RAUD: In the next question.

MS. RESSA: Okay. 

MR. RAUD: In the age of artificial intelligence, can we trust software that is not open source? Can we trust information that comes from computer – from the AI?

MS. RESSA: So first AI, artificial intelligence, is neither artificial nor intelligent, right. So just right up top, you have to look at that. Let me pull together some strands that have been said and kind of put it in the context of a journalist today, right? I didn't really answer your question. And please take a look at what's happened to Dmitry Muratov of Russia. He has decided to stay in Russia. He was designated a foreign agent last Friday. He has resigned editorially from Novaya Gazeta and he will fight it in court, he will fight this in court. I think within four months of us receiving the Nobel Prize, both of our news organizations were about to get shut down. Any day Rappler can get shut down. And you know, when Putin said that it is illegal to call the war in Ukraine a war – Dmitry was funny, we were together in Geneva, he said, I will call it hell, so he calls it hell all the time. Trust is not in our hands. You asked this earlier, it's not in the journalists hands. 

Because the stats, I'll just throw the stats at you, right? Freedom House's decline of democracy in 17 years. Administrator Power says, well, it's the smallest decline this year. But that decline is hand in hand with the World Press Freedom, the World Press Index declining, and the attacks, harassment, the killings of journalists increasing. So for us, it is real. We're at the front lines. 

What do we do with something like this in order to – let me throw one last, which is European V-Dem out of Sweden said last year 60 percent of the world is under authoritarian rule. I thought okay, that's bad. But maybe we can do more? Well, this January, they said that number is now 72 percent. And I think, you know, you have to pull it back to, again, what we've said is agency with all the elections between this year and next year 2024 – the tipping point of democracy will be 2024, where there will not be enough democracies, if the trend continues as is, if journalists can't do our jobs, if trust is so broken, that you don't know whom to believe or what to believe. Then that tipping point – then democracy dies. 

Let me answer your question. What do we do? We keep going, right? And where does hope come from? Don't believe all the stats, because they're not set in stone. Right? Our lawyers told us in 2016, you know, to be quiet. I'm not very good at staying quiet. And so we fought for our rights. We, I actually don't even say I don't fight President, former President Duterte, I just do my job. We hold the line. That's what the Constitution says. And guess what? It's after six years of Duterte, Rappler is still alive. And I am still free. But you know, thank you, Justices of the Supreme Court because you gave me approval to travel. Right? So, it's a little bit more polluted. But this is the time again, I go back to that.

MR. RAUD: But your personal feelings about AI? Still? 

MS. RESSA: Yeah, yeah. Okay.

MR. RAUD: Short answer.

MS. RESSA: So he's a good journalist, he pulls me back on track. Now, there are two instances where humanity has had contact with AI. The first one, you've heard me talk about it, exhaustively now, which is social media, the harms of social media, what is AI? It's machine learning that essentially, if you have one of these, does anyone here not have one of these in their pockets? We all do. So, if you have one of these and you’re on social media, everything that you post is pulled together by machine learning. And it creates a model of you that knows you better than you know yourself. 

Replace the word model with clone, right? It essentially clones us. And this then is pulled up by our AI. And that pulls all of our clones together to become the mother load database that is used for microtargeting. Microtargeting – this type of advertising, which is far more efficient and brings higher ROI returns to the companies is not the old media advertising, which is part of the reason the tech growth in advertising is killing the media advertising and that, okay, that's the first contact with AI. Social harms that have not been acknowledged by the tech companies. And that surveillance capitalism model. We didn't actually have a name for it until 2019 when Shoshana Zuboff Harvard’s Emeritus Professor wrote a 750-page-book all about this. 

Second contact is generative AI – November of 2022. And governments, if you're here at OGP, did not learn the lesson from the first contact with AI. It was again released in the public large language model. So everything that is, you know, available on the internet is thrown into a large language model that includes the unstructured data of social media, right, which is rife with toxic sludge, fear, anger, hate. That's GPT-3. We don't know what is in GPT-4, because it's not been released. Talk about transparency. So this large language model. The second AI – elections in 2024, will be far more vulnerable, not only to a fire hose, and you know, the fire hose of easily created lies from generative AI, but also from the decline of trust and safety features of these tech companies themselves. So it is going to be significantly worse for Taiwan, for Indonesia, for the UK maybe, for maybe Canada, for the EU, which will have elections. And the United States. Yeah, we leave the U.S. for right now. 

So AI is – what's the lesson government should learn? Where are the guardrails? It's almost like in COVID, the vaccine saying that, “Oh, I have a vaccine. Let me test vaccine A on that side of the room. I'm going to try vaccine B here. I'm not going to test it at all in clinical trials. Because why? I can make more money not testing it. Oh, group A, you died. So sorry.” And sometimes they don't even say sorry, right. So this is the problem that democracies face. We have no – our biology has been hacked. Our emotions have been hacked, to change the way we think and the way we act. And if you're smart, you're gonna say I'm smart. I'm not going to get manipulated that way. The smartest people fall the hardest. 

MR. RAUD: Thank you. And the final question to Administrative Power. How can international cooperation and diplomacy be leveraged to strengthen democracy on a global scale in the 21st century? That is not that new anymore, we’re in the third decade already?

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Well, I'd say a couple things. First, to defend the idea that we're at an inflection point. If you had asked any of us – even maybe Putin's neighbors here in Estonia, how the Russian Federation, a major global force – I know firsthand from having been UN Ambassador and trying to get things through the UN Security Council and having to go through Russia – with such a formidable military, with such impunity domestically, because of the silencing of journalists, among other things. How such a country would fare against its smaller neighbor, what the effects of a full-scale invasion would be, in light of, let's say, the response to the annexation of Crimea. Nobody would have guessed that Ukraine would be where it is today, or that the Russian Federation would be where it is today. And you know, Putin’s objectives, right, weaken the democratic or divide the democratic world. Not. Here we are. Far too deep into the war from a human standpoint. Definitely. It's hard to keep alliances together this long but remarkable strength of a democratic, global coalition, and remarkable resilience. You can point to this country or that country and how they quibble about sanctions or this but Jutta is living firsthand, somehow. Europe holds together, but not only Europe. We have Cambodian minesweepers in Ukraine, we have the Republic of Korea investing in Ukrainian agriculture. I mean, the list goes on, not to say that Cambodia is a democracy. Let me be clear. That is not part of the democratic – but the show of support for Ukraine. Wanting to weaken NATO. NATO is bigger, and about to get bigger still. Wanting to impede Ukraine's integration in the European world, and its democratic progress absolutely accelerated. What USAID works on, as does this Estonia and as does Jutta’s counterparts at the Commission – increasing rail, land, customs, access simplification, and even pulling out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, as devastating as that is to Ukrainian farmers and to people in poor countries who rely on Ukrainian grain, all that's going to do is hasten the integration of Ukraine's road and river system into that – every single objective turned on his back. 

And I don't want to belabor the PRC but remember the time that we used to talk about the incredible handling of COVID-19, and how useful it was to be a dictatorship. So this is a contested and it's not only that, the Belt and Road Initiative and the debt, you know, the buyer's remorse that exists in so many parts of the world has countries not doing those deals anymore, but also real pressure for renegotiation and restructuring, which causes knock on effects in the country that has extended those loans. Because they want repayment, private creditors, semi-private, state-owned debt, you name it. So here you have two of the biggest authoritarian forces on planet Earth in different ways on their heels. So this is a moment, it doesn't deal with the tech companies. But I actually think the European Union and some of the legislative progress that has been made, creates, you know, a different kind of moment. AI has generated, as it were, generated a conversation in the United States about regulation that seems to be moving at a brisker pace than all the other conversations about other forms of regulation that might have occurred and should have occurred. So I think things are happening. Briefly, to answer your question, I would encourage not only attention to places where there is democratic backsliding. 

USAIDs approach – and Jutta and I think have been teaming up really nicely on this, is look where good things are happening. It's very counterintuitive. Maria, this is not where you go. But you know, if there is a desire, as I just heard in Armenia, to do sludge audits on public management, about all the paperwork that's getting in the way of the citizen experience of government, let's together swoop in and be there to offer that technical assistance or that helping hand. When the country of Zambia, a leader, an opposition leader, who was arrested more than a dozen times over the years becomes president. Wants to liberalize, wants to create space for independent media. Has done so, let's make sure that if there is a fertilizer package that small farmers in that country need that we look to Zambia. That we look to support a leader who needs to show that political reform yields economic progress. So, we have developed a kind of quasi bright spots list where we want to help countries that are trying to buck the trends, deliver. And OGP, the Secretary has been super helpful because as soon as somebody gets elected, I think Guatemala, there's a chance now for something like that to happen as a reformer will soon be coming into office. But all of the entrenched interests that want to impede reform, that's a lot on the other side of the ledger, that is the opposite of gravity on his side. And that is so often the case. 

So where are the rest of us? Can we build the kind of democratic coalition we have managed or some cousin of it, at least, that we have managed for Ukraine? Can we do something analogous when people rate when citizens raise their hands and say, we're going to do hard things we're going to trust in the absence of a world of trust. We're going to trust that if we vote, we can bring change. If we bring change, a difference can be made. Do we spend so much time focusing on problem areas that we the democratic world missed the opportunity, you know, to offer support when it matters to validate that trust, which is a fleeting commodity these days.

MR. RAUD: Thank you. And that's the final thoughts in our panel. Thank you all. And thank you for listening. And that concludes our panel.

Administrator Samantha Power Travels to Estonia



On September 7-8, 2023, Administrator Samantha Power will travel to Tallinn, Estonia, to jointly lead the U.S. delegation to the 2023 Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit alongside GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. Other members of the U.S.

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