Cognitive capitalism and the assault on democracy

In the light of Artificial Intelligence, everything needs to be re-thought: from our idea of a human being to every aspect of society.


From our idea of a human being to every aspect of society – in the light of Artificial Intelligence, everything needs to be re-thought. Saving us and our society won’t happen without a profound questioning of democracy’s current ways of functioning, and without leaders who understand the challenges of the technological tsunami.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is swiftly organising an overwhelming civilization shift which will allow the decryption of our brains, DNA sequencing and genetic modifications, as well as selective implantation and therefore “babies à la carte”: something that staggers consciousness, shocks beliefs and shatters the traditional political divide.

It transforms the world of media and authorises new radical ways of voter manipulation: both the political game and its balance are in trouble.

It grants permission to digital giants, their clients and the intelligence agencies, to understand, influence and manipulate our minds. This questions the very notions of free will, liberty, autonomy and identity, and opens the doors to a neurotechnological totalitarian state.

It accelerates history, generating a deafening display of technological fireworks: the slow, archaic and tiresome production mechanisms of the political consensus and Law are incapable of following and regulating all of these simultaneous blows.

Artificial Intelligence bestows to its proprietors – the digital giant patrons – an increasing political power. This produces an invisible and rampant coup d’état.

It challenges each and every traditional reference and anchorage: overtaken by these violent and rapid changes, the working class has become more willing to participate in all sorts of political adventures, even the most outlandish ones.

It bestows to its proprietors – the digital giant patrons – an increasing political power. This produces an invisible and rampant coup d’état.

It becomes subject to a merciless technological war. The hierarchy between individuals, companies, metropolis and countries shift at a maddening pace, which in the end creates but a few champions and a great multitude of losers.

It provides a tremendous advantage to individuals endowed with a strong conceptual intelligence to manage this complex world it is building. This feeds anti-elite sentiments, conspiracy theorists and the protests of experts.

It mechanically generates increasing inequalities and monopolies which concentrate the wealth around these digital giants. This in turn leads to populism.

It is not understood by the educational systems which thrust children towards the most endangered professions, through its own rising development, ensuring us a good amount of yellow vests.

It is built on the first privatised territory – cyberspace – which is owned by the digital giants. This reduces the democratic states’ sovereignty.

It is manufactured almost exclusively from personal behavioural data: the digital giants are favoured, but even more so the Orwellian Chinese regime of social surveillance, which has become its most fertile soil.

It provides, for the first time in modern history, an economic and organisational advantage to authoritarian regimes. This undermines the exemplary nature of the Occidental model of liberal democracy.

It could only be regulated by brilliant politicians, but the adjoining populist wave leads the general opinion to demand quite the contrary: lower wages for Ministers and senior government officials. The digital giants can therefore engage the best talents, and the defence of democracy grows thinner.

In a world remodeled by Artificial Intelligence, technology and democracy have become contradictory terms, devoid of a political class adapted to the issue at hand.

Capitalism must be reinvented.

We are in a speed race to save a democracy that has already been hacked by technology.

Saving democracy implies changing the political elite

Capitalism must be reinvented. Traditional mechanisms for economic regulation – taxation, competition laws, patent laws… – no longer work in the era of cognitive capitalism.

The Chinese technological and political engineering is a brilliant success. The long-term vision of their dictocracies which become techtatorships will be far superior to the model of political liberalism and social market economy which is in a deep crisis. Our elite must recapture their sense of the long term.

The political class pretends to believe that schools and professional training will be able to put their population at the same level as AI. We will find education to be greatly disappointing: it has never demonstrated its ability of increasing intellectual capacities. The political class should admit that it is necessary to invest just as much in the research of teaching methods as in the fight against cancer, in order to reduce intellectual inequalities.

It will take decades of work to save democracy, and it will not happen without a profound questioning of its current ways of functioning and the emergence of an elite which understands the technological tsunami.

Find all related publications

‘Abortion in the EU’ – Country fact sheets

Multispeed access to abortion across member states

Abortion in the European Union

Actors, issues and discourse

A European Health Union

A blueprint for generations

Making trade work for prosperity, people and planet

FEPS Primers series - Arancha González and Yanis Bourgeois
Find all related news

FEPS is recruiting 1 project officer

Notice of vacancy

FEPS President at the SDG Summit and United Nations General Assembly in New York

FEPS President Maria João Rodrigues is in New York this week on the occasion of […]

Call for tender – Researcher on inflation

Basic Information Project    The profits-prices spiral: measures to avoid inflation  Partners   TASC (Ireland), Pietro Nenni Foundation (Italy)  […]

Call for tender – Research and analysis for the project “Progressive paths to rebuild Ukraine”

Basic Information Project Research “In search of a ‘lost generation’. Harnessing youth potential for post-war […]
Find all related in the media
In the media

NATO Deputy Secretary General Geoană: “Democracies should stand united to defend the multilateral global order”

by 25/09/2023
Mircea Geoană, NATO Deputy Sec Gen, took part to FEPS' Annual Autumn Academy 2023 in a session devoted to “Building a sustainable and multilateral global order”

‘SDG funding gap swells to $137trn’ New Policy Study from FEPS, together with Earth4All, to deliver a five-point plan for the SDGs.

by Edie 19/09/2023
The “SDGs for All” report emphasises that policymakers have the potential to significantly advance SDG implementation by the original 2030 deadline and beyond by enacting five “extraordinary turnarounds” that break away from current trends.

“Trade doesn’t work in isolation from good domestic policies” Interview to Arancha González

by Borderlex 19/09/2023
Interview to Arancha González, former Spanish foreign minister, who released together with FEPS the new book entitled 'The Trade Handbook: Making Trade Work for Prosperity, People and Planet'

AI to ‘determine course of global trade, jobs’ in near future

by The Financial Express 14/09/2023
The Financial Express's article focuses on the publication of FEPS Primer on Trade written by Arancha González Laya and Yanis Bourgeois