x = independently organized TED event

Theme: On Democracy

This event occurred on
July 2, 2017
Berlin, Berlin

The majority of the world’s countries are now governed by democratic regimes. And yet concerns remain that democracy’s spread is stalling and that even within so-called ‘democratic’ nations, the conditions necessary for fair and accountable government find themselves increasingly under threat. Technological advances have had an irrevocable effect on the political landscape, with algorithms and recommendation systems now used to influence political decision-making, and big data set to become a powerful tool in changing electoral decisions. Added to this, voter turn-out across the globe has hit the lowest figure in a generation and a deep mistrust in politicians and government has found greater voice. So what do these changes mean for the future of democracy and democratic nations? And do the mechanisms of democracy require a re-evaluation in light of recent elections and referendums? What will democracy look like in the future?

Philharmonie Kammermusiksaal
Herbert-von-Karajan-Straße 1
Berlin, Berlin, 10785
Event type:
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Alexander Görlach

Alexander Görlach is a visiting scholar to Harvard University where he, at both the Center for European Studies and the Divinity School, researched in the field of politics and religion in the academic years 2015-2017. Prior to that he was a guest lecturer at Harvard in the capacity of a J. F. Kennedy Memorial Fellow at the Center for European Studies. Alex holds a PhD in linguistics and another one in comparative religion. In both works, he looks into Western and Muslim societies, their narratives, capacity of dialogue, and media sphere. He studied for this endeavor in the Vatican, at al-Azhar University in Cairo and the Faculty of Theology in Ankara, Turkey. He was recently named visiting professor to UNAM University in Mexico City and is invited as visiting scholar to the University of the Basque region in San Sebastian, Spain, in June and July 2017. Alex will continue his journey as a global academic by serving as a visiting scholar to City University of Hong Kong during the fall semester of 2017 and to Taiwan National University during the whole academic year of 2017-2018. During this period he will be diving in the influence Confucianism has on Asian societies. Alex is further a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York City. Alexander is the founder of the debate magazine The European, which he also ran as editor-in-chief in the years 2009 to 2015. In 2016 he founded the media-initiative, where he discusses the achievements and the challenges of humanism and enlightenment with internationally acclaimed scientists such as Noam Chomsky, Francis Fukuyama, Charles Taylor, and Niall Ferguson. This online magazine is meant to spark intellectual resistance against the rise of populism and autocrats in the Western world. Alex is an op-ed contributor to the New York Times and Neue Zürcher Zeitung and a columnist to Wirtschaftswoche, Germany's largest business weekly.

Gregor Hackmack

Gregor is passionate about direct democracy and empowerment. He is head of Germany and co-founder of, an independent platform which gives German citizens the possibility to ask public questions and receive public answers from their members of parliament over the Internet. More than 90 percent of all members of parliament participate in this online dialogue. Storing more than 200.000 citizen questions and more than 180.000 answers, it is the biggest voters' memory in the world. The platform has been successfully exported to Luxembourg, Austria, Ireland, France, Greece and Tunisia. In 2008, Gregor received the Ashoka Fellowship for social entrepreneurship. He was appointed Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010 and received the „Democracy Award“ from NDI in 2013. He is one of the three initiators of a successful referendum campaign for a more direct electoral law as well as a transparency law in his home state Hamburg. In April 2014 he published his first book on how to update the political system by direct democracy and thus restore trust in politics. Gregor holds a Bachelor degree in International Relations and a Masters degree in Political Sociology both from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School. Prior to rejoining the Harvard faculty, Lessig was a professor at Stanford Law School, where he founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society, and at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. Lessig serves on the Board of the AXA Research Fund, and on the advisory boards of Creative Commons and the Sunlight Foundation. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, and has received numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, Fastcase 50 Award and being named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries. Lessig holds a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale.

Mareike Nieberding

Mareike Nieberding studied literature and journalism in Berlin and Paris and attended the German School of Journalism in Munich. Since 2014, she writes as a freelancer for Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, Neon and FAS. She is just working on her first book “Als wir das Reden vergaßen", which will be released by Suhrkamp in the autumn. Shortly after the Trump-election she founded the youth movement DEMO on Facebook with the aim to excite young people for politics, to motivate them to vote and to promote democratic dialogue (

Markus Gabriel

Prof. Dr. Markus Gabriel is the Chair for Epistemology, Modern and Contemporary Philosophy and Director of the International Centre for Philosophy at the University of Bonn. Born in 1980, Gabriel studied philosophy and Ancient Greek in Bonn and Heidelberg. Previous to his current position, he was appointed assistant professor at the New School of Social Research in New York. Gabriel has held visiting professorships at Aarhus University, PUC Porto Alegre, PUC Rio de Janeiro and UC Berkeley. His research interests include epistemology, philosophy of religion and aesthetics, ancient philosophy, Post-Kantian Idealism, and contemporary analytical and post-analytical philosophy. He is the author of several books including Subjectivity, Madness and Laughter: Mythology, Madness, and Laughter: Subjectivity in German Idealism (2009), co-authored with Slavoj Zizek; Transcendental Ontology: Essays on German Idealism (2011), Skepticism and Idealism in Ancient Philosophy (2013, forthcoming), Warum es die Welt nicht gibt (2013), has been a SPIEGEL bestseller. His most recent books are Fields of Sense. A New Realist Ontology.(2015) and Ich ist nicht Gehirn (2015).

Sercan Çelebi

A graduate of German High School in Istanbul and Yale University, Sercan Çelebi is the co-founder, spokesperson and chairman of Oy ve Ötesi Foundation (Vote and Beyond) - an independent and non partisan election monitoring organisation that emerged ahead of Turkish local elections in 2014 as a completely voluntary initiative. From tomato and pepper agriculture in İzmir to energy investments, from social media and big data analysis to management consultancy in New York, Çelebi has a vast array of multinational management experience in different industries. A McKinsey & Company alumni, Sercan Çelebi has done a significant number of project work for both multinational clients and public sector across continents. In his free time, he practices martial arts. Sercan Çelebi speaks English, German and Spanish.

Soheil Nasseri

California-native Soheil Nasseri has performed in some of the world's most important concert halls, including New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, Berlin’s Philharmonie, London's Southbank Centre and Tokyo’s Musashino Center. He rose to prominence in part via 21 completely different solo recitals in New York City, which is a testament to his work ethic. He also performed 70 public school assemblies, hundreds of retirement community concerts, and joined the American Ballet Theatre for 9 performances. The New York Times writes: “This imaginative, technically assured pianist invariably finds something fresh to say about whatever music he has on his stand.” Soheil Nasseri was born to Iranians who had the good fortune to avoid the Iran-Iraq war by studying and later working in the U.S.A. Mr. Nasseri considers himself a patriotic American but nevertheless chose to move to Berlin in no small part because of his love for German classical music.

Toni Lane Casserly

Toni Lane is an artrepreneur in the Digital Currency and Blockchain Industry who has been affectionately entitled, “The Joan of Arc of Blockchain” and “Young Star of Bitcoin” by her peers and various publications. She is the co-founder of V-Nation, the virtual blockchain nation, and co-founder of CoinTelegraph. Miss Lane an advisor to several notable companies, funds and family offices, including, but not limited to: SingularityU, Factom, The United Nations, Lykke, HSBC, Bosch, Cicso, P&G, Institute for the Future and St. Gallen Symposium.

Organizing team


Berlin, Germany