CPA Parliamentary Academy
CPA Blog

12 resources for Parliamentarians about the future of technology

From 5th - 9th July 2021, the CPA hosted the Virtual Conference on the 4th Industrial Revolution. The Conference brought together MPs, parliamentary staff, industry leaders and experts to review the transformative technologies that are driving the 4th Industrial Revolution and to prepare our democratic institutions to better respond to these advances. Amongst the 33 panellists who addressed the Conference across the course of five days were representatives from:

  • the world's biggest technologies companies, such as Microsoft and IBM
  • international organisations including the World Economic Forum and the United Nations
  • leading academic institutes and think tanks
  • the Parliaments of South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada, New South Wales and the Western Cape

The CPA was also proud that, in an industry still dominated by men, the Conference featured more than 50% women speakers.

To mark the conclusion of the Conference, the CPA has put together 12 resources that Parliamentarians should explore as they take forward the lessons from the Conference within their own jurisdictions. From short blog articles and podcasts to policy-maker toolkits and detailed reports, these varied sources of information will help Parliamentarians to consider in more detail how emerging technologies can be deployed to stimulate growth and the measures that will be necessary to ensure the technology is harnessed in an equitable, inclusive and sustainable way.

N.B. This article contains links to resources hosted on external websites. These resources are for educational purposes only and the views expressed on any external website are those of the original author and should not be attributed to the CPA Secretariat. 

1. Article | What is the 4th Industrial  Revolution and how to respond?

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman at the World Economic Forum, explains that 'we stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another' and explores how we must respond.

You can also watch the opening remarks from the CPA Virtual Conference on the 4th Industrial Revolution, delivered by Sheila Warren, Deputy Head of the World Economic Forum, below.

2. Website | Trust in a digital world: Canada's Digital Charter

In November 2020, the Canadian government proposed the Digital Charter Implementation Act to modernize the framework for the protection of personal information in the private sector. The Charter is founded on ten principles that reflect the opinions put forward by Canadian citizens during the Canadian National Digital and Data Consultations, held from June to October 2018.

3. Journal | The evolution of social media and its relationship to democracy

How can social media facilitate public participation in democracy? What threat does the online spread of misinformation and fake news pose to the COVID-19 response? In this issue of The Parliamentarian, legislators and other experts from across the Commonwealth offer their perspectives on the impact of social media on democracy.

4. Video | Seeing AI: Making the visual world more accessible

Watch how Microsoft's Seeing AI app uses artificial intelligence to narrate the world around you, helping millions of people with visual impairments to navigate their environment through text-to-speech, facial recognition, currency scanners and product recognition.

Video Credit: Microsoft


5. Blog | Technical Countermeasures to Deepfakes

In March 2021, fake videos of actor Tom Cruise went viral, exposing the world to the potential for deepfakes - video, audio and images edited and manipulated using AI - to spread disinformation at a scale and speed that disrupts democracy. In this article, Ashish Jaiman, Director of Technology Operations at Microsoft, shares technical countermeasures to deepfakes, focussing on four broad categories: legislative action and regulations, platform policies and governance, technological intervention, and media literacy.

Video Credit: VFXChris Ume


6. Toolkit | Decentralised Finance: Policy-Maker Toolkit (World Economic Forum)

This toolkit, designed for policymakers by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Wharton Blockchain and Digital Asset Project, highlights the distinguishing characteristics and opportunities of decentralized finance (DeFi) while also calling attention to new and existing risks.

7. Podcast | Money Reimagined: ‘Bermuda Will Skip the Age of CBDCs’ With Premier David Burt

Hon. E. David Burt, JP, MP, the Premier of Bermuda, one of the smallest jurisdictions in the Commonwealth, is spearheading projects to use the island as a testing ground for stablecoins and to launch a communally owned national digital bank. Listen to his discussion with Michael J. Casey and Sheila Warren of the World Economic Forum on the 'Money Reimagined' podcast.

The Sessions House in Hamilton, home to the Bermuda House of Assembly


8. Article | When human beings are like drunk robots: driverless vehicles, ethics, and the future of transport

In this article, academics Robert Sparrow and Mark Howard discuss the ethics of driverless vehicles, envisioning a future where manual driving could pose a greater risk to others than autonomous driving. They consider the moral case for governments to provide regulatory support for a swift transition to an exclusively driverless vehicle environment and propose infrastructural and regulatory solutions that governments should consider.

9. Report | Hyperloop in the Netherlands

Hyperloop technology is estimated to be capable of travelling 10x faster than traditional rail. This report, presented to the Dutch House of Representatives by Minister Schultz van Haegen in October 2017, made recommendations to the government about the opportunities for developing hyperloop in the Netherlands. It will be a useful reference document for Parliamentarians in other jurisdictions exploring the potential of hyperloop technology.

Photo Credit: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT)


10. Video | Joy Buolamwini: How I'm fighting bias in algorithms (TED Talk)

Joy Buolamwini is a research assistant at the MIT MediaLab and founder of the Algorithmic Justice League. Her MIT thesis methodology uncovered large racial and gender bias in AI services from companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon. Watch her explain how algorithmic biases spread like viruses, exacerbating discrimination at speed and scale.

Video Credit: TED


11. Article | How medical delivery drones are improving lives in Rwanda

The Rwandan government has recently awarded a three-year contract to Zipline, a Californian company, to deliver blood, medicines and vaccines to remote hospitals using autonomous aircraft, or drones. Read more about the collaboration between the Rwandan government and Zipline and the potential for drone delivery to be a model for Africa.

Photo Credit: World Economic Forum


12. Report | The South African Presidential Commission on the 4th Industrial Revolution

Explore this report to get an idea of how one Commonwealth country, South Africa, is responding to the 4th Industrial Revolution. The South African Presidential Commission on the 4th Industrial Revolution was established to develop an integrated country strategy and plan to respond to the 4th Industrial Revolution. The final report of the Commission was published in October 2020.

Related Resources

Engagement, Education and Outreach Handbook for Commonwealth Parliaments

This Handbook provides guidance to Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures on how to increase public engagement and outreach, to ensure the public get a greater say in how they are governed.

COVID-19: Delivering Parliamentary Democracy

This toolkit provides various measures and recommendations that can be adopted by both Parliaments and Parliamentarians in order to continue to deliver on the Legislatures’ role of scrutinising legislation and delivering democracy during a global pandemic.

The Parliamentarian 2020 Issue Four - Social Media and Democracy in the Commonwealth

This digital edition examines the role of social media and technology in democratic governance. In recent years and in particular during the current global pandemic, Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures have increased their use of social media to connect with citizens. What is the impact of social media on parliamentary democracy? This issue features articles by the Speakers of Kenya, Alberta and the Cook Islands; MPs from Canada, Pakistan, Tanzania, Cameroon, India and the United Kingdom as well as international experts and partners.

Latest News

CPA launches updated Codes of Conduct for MPs and the Parliamentary Workplace

CPA launches updated Codes of Conduct for MPs and the Parliamentary Workplace

Updated ‘Standards for Codes of Conduct for MPs and the Parliamentary Workplace’ launched by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

Budget scrutiny training for MPs and officials at Parliament of Malawi

Budget scrutiny training for MPs and officials at Parliament of Malawi

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delivers seminar on budget scrutiny and oversight for the Parliament of Malawi as part of ongoing CPA technical assistance programme

3rd COTSC held in Turks and Caicos for discussion on parliamentary democracy, security and outreach

3rd COTSC held in Turks and Caicos for discussion on parliamentary democracy, security and outreach

Commonwealth Speakers from UK and Overseas Territories meet in Turks and Caicos for discussions on deepening parliamentary democracy