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How much time is twenty years? Long enough to inspire, or short enough to be unnoticeable? Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ) was published for the first time in February 2002. We are celebrating its 20th anniversary with this issue. While much has changed since then, we believe the values that guide TPQ are as relevant and important as ever. There was then and there is now a chance for us all to contribute to a better world. TPQ has always adhered to and will continue to adhere to this ideal. In return, its global audiences have relied on TPQ since the very first day to provide them with credible, balanced, inter-disciplinary, and independent coverage. TPQ's evolution has been complex, involving constant efforts to understand new technologies and redefine fundamental concepts within the realm of policy. Over the last two decades, TPQ faced numerous challenges as the world experienced devastating depressions, wars, and economic and cultural changes as it became widely regarded as an influential journal. This really had nothing to do with luck. TPQ team and our great contributing writers have always been accountable for making TPQ's stories come alive. Yet, the question remains as to how long, or short, twenty years actually is. 

It wasn't difficult to choose the focus of TPQ’s 80th issue. Artificial intelligence has fast become part of everyday life, and we wanted to understand how it fits into democratic values. It was important for us to ask how we can ensure that AI and digital policies will promote broad social inclusion, which relies on fundamental rights, democratic institutions, and the rule of law. There seems to be no shortage of principles and concepts that support the fair and responsible use of AI systems, yet it's difficult to determine how to efficiently manage or deploy those systems today.

Merve Hickok and Marc Rotenberg, two TPQ Advisory Board members, wrote the lead article for this issue. In a world where data means power, vast amounts of data are collected every day by both private companies and government agencies, which then use this data to fuel complex systems for automated decision-making now broadly described as “Artificial Intelligence.” Activities managed with these AI systems range from policing to military, to access to public services and resources such as benefits, education, and employment. The expected benefits from having national talent, capacity, and capabilities to develop and deploy these systems also drive a lot of national governments to prioritize AI and digital policies. A crucial question for policymakers is how to reap the benefits while reducing the negative impacts of these sociotechnical systems on society.

Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO, has written an article entitled "Ethics of AI and Democracy: UNESCO's Recommendation's Insights". In her article, she discusses how artificial intelligence (AI) can affect democracy. The article discusses the ways in which Artificial Intelligence is affecting democratic processes, democratic values, and the political and social behavior of citizens. The article notes that the use of artificial intelligence, and its potential abuse by some government entities, as well as by big private corporations, poses a serious threat to rights-based democratic institutions, processes, and norms. UNESCO announced a remarkable consensus agreement among 193 member states creating the first-ever global standard on the ethics of AI that could serve as a blueprint for national AI legislation and a global AI ethics benchmark.

Paul Nemitz, Principal Adviser on Justice Policy at the EU Commission, addresses the question of what drives democracy. In his view, technology has undoubtedly shaped democracy. However, technology as well as legal rules regarding technology have shaped and have been shaped by democracy. This is why he says it is essential to develop and use technology according to democratic principles. He writes that there are libertarians today who purposefully design technological systems in such a way that challenges democratic control. It is, however, clear that there is enough counterpower and engagement, at least in Europe, to keep democracy functioning, as long as we work together to create rules that are sensible for democracy's future and confirm democracy's supremacy over technology and business interests.

Research associate at the University of Oxford and Professor at European University Cyprus, Paul Timmers, writes about how AI challenges sovereignty and democracy. AI is wonderful. AI is scary. AI is the path to paradise. AI is the path to hell.  What do we make of these contradictory images when, in a world of AI, we seek to both protect sovereignty and respect democratic values? Neither a techno-utopian nor a dystopian view of AI is helpful. The direction of travel must be global guidance and national or regional AI law that stresses end-to-end accountability and AI transparency, while recognizing practical and fundamental limits.

Tania Sourdin, Dean of Newcastle Law School, Australia, asks: what if judges were replaced by AI? She believes that although AI will increasingly be used to support judges when making decisions in most jurisdictions, there will also be attempts over the next decade to totally replace judges with AI. Increasingly, we are seeing a shift towards Judge AI, and to a certain extent we are seeing shifts towards supporting Judge AI, which raises concerns related to democratic values, structures, and what judicial independence means. The reason for this may be partly due to the systems used being set up to support a legal interpretation that fails to allow for a nuanced and contextual view of the law.

Pam Dixon, Executive Director of the World Privacy Forum, writes about biometric technologies. She says that biometric technologies encompass many types, or modalities, of biometrics today, such as face recognition, iris recognition, fingerprint recognition, and DNA recognition, both separately and in combination. A growing body of law and regulations seeks to mitigate the risks associated with biometric technologies as they are increasingly understood as a technology of concern based on scientific data.

We invite you to learn more about how our world is changing. As a way to honor this milestone, we have assembled a list of articles from around the world from some of the best experts in their field. This issue would not be possible without the assistance of many people. In addition to the contributing authors, there were many other individuals who contributed greatly. TPQ's team is proud to present you with this edition.

An important acknowledgement goes to our premium corporate sponsor BEKO. In addition, we would like to thank our online sponsor, and the sponsor of this issue, Monaco Economic Board. We would also like to express our appreciation for the continuing support of our other sponsors: Gordon Blair and TEB.

As always, we look forward to your feedback.

Selim Alan
Selim Alan

Selim Alan is the former Editor-in-Chief of Transatlantic Policy Quarterly.

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