Technology and democracy: a paradox wrapped in a contradiction inside an irony

Stephan Lewandowsky*, Peter Pomerantsev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
125 Downloads (Pure)


Democracy is in retreat around the globe. Many commentators have blamed the Internet for this development, whereas others have celebrated the Internet as a tool for liberation, with each opinion being buttressed by supporting evidence. We try to resolve this paradox by reviewing some of the pressure points that arise between human cognition and the online information architecture, and their fallout for the well-being of democracy. We focus on the role of the attention economy, which has monetized dwell-time on platforms, and the role of algorithms that satisfy users’ presumed preferences. We further note the
inherent asymmetry in power between platforms and users that arises from these pressure points, and we conclude by sketching out the principles of a new Internet with democratic credentials.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere5
Number of pages9
JournalMemory, Mind & Media (MMM)
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2021

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • TeDCog


  • Democracy
  • populism
  • misinformation
  • social media
  • internet


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