Mathias Risse: Political Theory of the Digital Age: Where Artificial Intelligence Might Take Us

Originally published in The Review of Politics

Today's technology companies seem to move so fast and break so many things that it is hard for academic scholarship to keep up. Mathias Risse's Political Theory of the Digital Age: Where Artificial Intelligence Might Take Us examines the ethics and politics of various digital technologies, such as deepfake videos, artificial intelligence (AI), and data collection business practices now known as surveillance capitalism. Risse argues that our technologically transformative era necessitates a fourth generation of human rights defined in terms of epistemic rights and epistemic justice. To grasp the rise of big data and related technologies, Risse implores philosophers and theorists to reject the divisions traditionally set between various schools of thought, himself pursuing a unique methodological blend of public reason liberalism and Marxism. The result is a unique liberal theory that recognizes the need for formal rights to be supported by material conditions, including democracy and distributive justice. Risse's work is an excellent contribution to a burgeoning literature in political theory (e.g., Jennifer Forestal, Designing for Democracy: How to Build Community in Digital Environments [Oxford Univesity Press, 2022]; Eileen Hunt, Artificial Life after Frankenstein [University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020]), which illustrates the need for inclusive and open conversation among scholars to better incorporate digital technologies into our understandings of politics.

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