The international community has come to accept a role for activism, social movements, and non-governmental organizations in the cycle of international norm formation. Protests and grassroots movements have educated their followers and others about artificial intelligence issues of importance to them; resisted certain AI applications, such as facial recognition for surveillance; and have advocated certain AI policies. At a minimum, these activities signal to other stakeholders the likely reception of those practices and policies by those who will be governed by them. Technology has made it easier to participate in social movements and to sway groups of people. Yet the devices being used in such movements create data, that in turn can be used by authorities to exert greater control. Civic organizations concerned about artificial intelligence are participating in agenda setting, rule formation, implementation and enforcement of norms that involve artificial intelligence. These organizations bring issues to the attention of international decision-makers, inform their constituents of international developments, and as stakeholders participate in the effort to make international decisions more legitimate in the eyes of those who will be impacted by those decisions. In this regard, however, NGO participation in AI normative decisions reconfirms the limitations of that project of legitimization. There are valid arguments that civil organizations are simply proxies for civil society. Thus, they must contribute to legitimacy by focusing on other aspects of legitimacy such as effective governance. Moreover, they cannot escape what is true with all such organizations—that in the present structure, states, at least the more powerful of them, have the final word on what norms on artificial intelligence will be adopted.

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