How can citizens drive transparent and responsive governance?

Project ITHACA is a ground-breaking initiative aimed at improving our understanding of the complexities and controversies surrounding the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in the field of technology-enhanced civic participation, to ensure the safe and accessible participation of all citizens in local civic governance initiatives, including those from vulnerable groups often excluded and/or affected by systems in which they have not been taken into account throughout the design, development and implementation phases.

ITHACA has a strong commitment to promote the European values of inclusiveness and trustworthiness in Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications, especially when it comes to citizen engagement tools within democratic processes and towards that goal the consortium of the project attempts to establish a broader understanding of AI technology, taking into account the needs and requirements of all stakeholders.

Understanding the way that citizen participation and engagement influences a more transparent, responsive, improved and targeted governance has been a key question for the last decades. Citizen engagement could be described as individual or collective actions aiming to address issues of public concern and governance, in which Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can be seen as an enabler. Towards this goal, multiple tools have been suggested that incorporate AI characteristics, including:

  1. the use of geographic information systems,
  2. gamification elements in crowdsourced cadastral surveys,
  3. the use of social media for self-organisation in the participatory process,
  4. e-participation and e-governance.

However, when using such tools, it is important to focus on the human-centred AI characteristics concerning ethics, law, transparency, culture, inclusiveness and governance or even harmful by the premature adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the “promoted” rationality. Therefore, applications to be considered as best practices must both implement the latest technological developments and tools in the field of AI, as well as to be responsible and address the imposed challenges which may jeopardize the full utilization for the benefit of societies.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the Europe Research Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.