Table #5 civil society participation

How to strengthen civil society participation in the design of automated decision systems?

The last session of our conference: Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights: Utopia or Reality?, is dedicated to thinking about how to strengthen the participation of civil society in the design of automated decision systems. We divided ourselves into three working groups and collected reflections at the end.

Intersectional view of AI and its impacts – Pepa Martínez (

How do you make Artificial Intelligence and its use intersectional? This working group drew several conclusions in this regard, mainly based on the efforts of the various actors involved in the creation and dissemination of AI:

  • it was said that groups unfamiliar with these complex systems had to try to overcome fears of technology
  • it was asked to recognize the effort to find sociological and understandable languages that is being made from some specialized sectors
  • the willingness to find synergies between actors in the social and scientific sectors was commented
  • The participants were urged to find forums in which it was easy to enter and give their opinions, and which were mainly playful: hackaton format, technological subjects in sociological formations, etc.

Construction of ecosystems and community Laura Señán (Fundación AVINA)

This group was exploring how we understand technology for civic and community application. Participants focused their contributions on the following topics:

  • Ensuring access to open source, fostering collective intelligence and rethinking the territoriality of initiatives
  • Ensuring internet accessibility and breaking the digital divide
  • Encourage training in ethics, critical information and direct applicability of technology
  • Deepening participation and co-designing community strategies: how to build community through a participatory process

Governance and participation – Jordi Serratosa (M4Social)

In this working group, many contributions were made on how we are to address challenges in the area of governance and citizen participation. In addition, many doubts were raised as to whether more institutions need to be created or whether it is better to reformulate existing ones.

The people who worked in this group agreed that, in general, the greatest challenge is to achieve a greater culture of transparency in governments and public administrations, both in the analogue and digital models. Issues such as access to education as a tool for empowerment were also addressed. The group also stressed that efforts must be made and solutions found to facilitate participatory processes in such a technical and specific field as AI.  

“Being transparent should not be incompatible with dealing with confidential aspects”, commented Jordi Serratosa. As a conclusion, the group agreed that alliances must be created to mainstream knowledge and that users can provide data and give feedback, but can also be data generators and complete micro auditing tasks in these systems.

Final conclusions of the working groups

  1. Greater transparency in decision-making processes is needed.
  2. We need to move towards an ecosystem of civic technology.
  3. The use and knowledge of open source should be encouraged.
  4. You have to have free access to information.
  5. More regional hubs should be created.
  6. We must break down the digital barriers.
  7. We must build a repository to know policies and decisive actors.
  8. More groups should be included in the discussions.
  9. We must raise awareness of the uses of technology.
  10. The movements and civil society must plan their own agenda.

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