1. / Home
  2. / Events

Civil society for the digital age

What is the place of civil society in the digital age as well as the role of technology in society?


Thiébaut Weber

Member of the European High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence and former ETUC Confederal Secretary,



At this event, Glen Weyl, principal researcher at Microsoft, Founder and Chairman of RadicalxChange presented key insights from his new book: “Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society”. The panel was chaired by Georgios Petropoulos, and saw the participation of Eline Chivot (senior policy analyst at ITIF's Center for Data Innovation), Orla Lynskey (Assistant Professor, London School of Economics), Bertin Martens (senior economist and team leader for the Digital Economy research programme, European Commission, JRC) and Thiébaut Weber (Confederal Secretary, ETUC).

Weyl’s work proposes a new of political philosophy for a liberal world. His concern arise from the current crisis of liberal democracies, which involve concentration of power, illiberalism and populism. His arguments go down to the roots of these issues, from the very definition of concepts, and arrive to propose new systems of private property, voting, immigration.

In his presentation at Bruegel he focused on the digital economy, and its factors of production. What happens if we start conceiving data as labour and not as capital? How would data unions look like? Why would they benefit consumer welfare and help us solve some of the problems that we are facing today? Weyl gave his vision on many of this issues, including some non-purely-economic ones as attention economy and cognitive realism.

His ideas were questioned by the panel discussants: why should data unions work better than data regulation? What’s the value of data and what is the value of the services we get in return?
The precious interventions of the panel brought the discussion to the key assumptions made by Weyl: how can we define data as labour and not as capital? Isn’t there a grey area in the middle? Among the many points of debate, the panel discussed the role of economies of scope for the digital economy, and real value-allocation mechanism that characterizes this upraising market.

We do not know what the future economy will look like, if there will be a great degree of concentration of power or if decentralisation mechanisms will prevail. The challenge is up to us, and surely radical thinking is staple to see further in time.

Event notes by Enrico Bergamini


Presentation by Glen Weyl