What is the Basque Nation in the Age of Artificial Intelligence?

A 21st Century Nation, Algorithmic Nation

According to Naziometroa, adherence to the Basque national construction is on the decline. At the same time, hybrid identities are occupying more and more space among citizens’ preferences1. As if that were not enough, new realities are also taking hold: individualism, neoliberalism, youth political consumerism, migration, and even the very issue of technopolitics2. And how does all this affect the implementation of the right to decide?

New realities are also taking hold: individualism, neoliberalism, youth political consumerism, migration, and even the very issue of technopolitics. And how does all this affect the implementation of the right to decide?

In my conference on 22 November in Donostia-San Sebastian, I developed this last key issue from a transdisciplinary perspective, proposing the following: We urgently need to open the algorithmic black box (deconstruct3 it) in order to begin to address the algorithmic nation4 of the 21st century. And this inevitably leads us to review the right to decide itself.


1 Ez da harritzekoa: Ipar Irlandaren kasuan gauza bera gertatzen ari baita (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13621025.2022.2026565).
2 Teknopolitika terminoa/paradigma, ingurune digitala, IKT, eta teknologia berriak baino egokiagoa dela deritzot (https://www.sarean.eus/tekno-politika/).
3 Unplugging: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10630732.2014.971535#metrics-content
4 Zer da Nazio Algoritmikoa? https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21681376.2018.1507754
Calzada, I. (2023), Euskal Herria 2025, Nazio Algoritmikoa: Eskubide Digitalak Babestuz, Datafikazio Estrategia Emantzipatzaileak Egikaritu, Jakin 256-257, 77-90. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.35786.95689/1.

Algorithms, data and artificial intelligence (AI) are not outside our daily lives, since the offline and online spheres cannot be separated, as defined in 2015 at Oxford University by Calzada and Cobo with Unplugging and Luciano Floridi with OnLife.

As the Welsh Marxist anthropologist Raymond Williams said, some words are more important than others. And the current word is not AI5: it is data, it is datafication itself. In other words, the tsunami of data.

Researchers Jose Van Dijck and Jathan Sadowski define datafication as a way of measuring and monitoring all elements of society in which data are used to guide activities, processes and decisions. Adherence to the right to decide is also a reflection of our adherence, preference, behaviour and sensitivity that we show online. Datafication is also setting online procedures: in voting systems, in measurements, in endorsements, in content generation,…. But who is managing all this tsunami of data, how and for what purpose? Where are the analytics? We seem to act without protection, within a blurred enclosure, a black box.

So how to enable AI and datification, inclusive public policies in favour of an active nation-building activity? This is our challenge.

Rather than the causes of disaffection, we must focus on new elements for nation-building in the 21st century. I suspect that the very concept that is being transformed today is rather more complex than the metre, the measurement (the nacio-metre). Defining the Basque nation as an algorithmic nation leads us to propose the variables in a holistic way. As opposed to the static currents of digital constitutionalism and nationalism, the aim would be to achieve emancipatory dating strategies6.

But where to start looking at this black box?

Joxe Azurmendi places the Basque nation in the following parameters: (i) in the historicity of national construction; (ii) centred on culture and language; (iii) claiming the need for political identity; (iv) setting criteria of plurality and inclusion; (v) and which must find its place in globalisation. And here, according to my study, is the missing element: where does dating leave us, then, in the global world?

5 ChatGPT-k AA taularatu du, erdigunean finkatuz, plazaratuz datafikazioaren afera. Bolo-bolo dabilen zirimola bat da egun. Hala ere, ahantzi ezin duguna zera da: AA datuekin elikatzen dela.

6 Calzada, I. (2022), How Digital Citizenship Regimes Are Rescaling European Nation-States, Space and Polity 26(1), 44-52. DOI:10.1080/13562576.2022.2072197.

At the conference I compared three global processes in the aim of algorithmic Basque nation-building:

Metropolisation or how the Basque national construction should cross/integrally manage the political, digital and urban geography of urban regions.


  • In global processes, national clamours are brewing from the paradiplomatic stronghold of metropolitan centres and cities.
  • The cases of Glasgow7 and Barcelona8 are very clear, as is the role being played by Cardiff9 and Belfast10. When will the conditions be in place in Bilbao, under the impetus of metropolitan strength, to take advantage of civic/metropolitan nation-building?
  • According to the UN, 70% of the world’s population will be urban by 2050. Effective national strategies are necessarily measured by the territorial aggregation strategies of urban centres.
  • Metropolitanisation, for its part, in the case of the Basque Country, is not only taking place in the capital cities. And there the right to decide movement should capture the clamour the right to the city, if it wants to empty the progressive state discourse, of course.
  • And that brings us to emancipatory processes of dating11. Because these are taking place in urban areas, in an intensive way.

7 Calzada, I. (2018), Metropolitanising Small European Stateless City-Regionalised Nations. Space and Polity 22(3): 342-361. DOI: 10.1080/13562576.2018.1555958.

8 Calzada, I. (2017), Metropolitan and City-Regional Politics in the Urban Age: Why Does ‘(Smart) DevolutionMatter? Palgrave Communications 3(17094): 1-17. In the Special Issue ‘Politics of the Urban Age(ISSN: 2055- 1045). DOI: 10.1057/palcomms.2017.94

9 Calzada, I. (2022), Emancipatory Urban Citizenship Regimes in Postpandemic Catalonia, Scotland, and Wales. Social Sciences 11(12), 569. DOI:10.3390/socsci11120569.

10 Calzada, I. & Bustard, J. (2022), The Dilemmas Around Digital Citizenship in a Post-Brexit and Post-Pandemic Northern Ireland: Towards an Algorithmic Nation? Citizenship Studies 27(2), 271-292. DOI:10.1080/13621025.2022.2026565.

11 Calzada, I. (2022), Democracia Postpandémica Tecnopolítica: Naciones Algorítmicas, Soberanía del Dato, Derechos Digitales, y Co-operativas de Dato. En Filibi, I., Escacedo, L. & Zabalo, J. (Ed) Formas y Escalas Emergentes de las Democracias Contemporáneas. Miradas desde la Sociedad Vasca. Dykinson: Madrid. pp. 123- 146. ISBN: 978-84-1122-443-7. DOI:10.14679/13536.

Calzada, I. (2022), Datafikazio Estrategia Emantzipatzaileak. Escacedo, L., Zabalo, J. & Filibi, I. (Ed) Demokraziaren Sakontzea eta Parte Hartzea, Hainbat Eskalatan. Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea: Leioa. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.10106.77761/2. ISBN: 978-84-1319-550-6.

Calzada, I. (2022), Postpandemic Technopolitical Democracy: Algorithmic Nations, Data Sovereignty, Digital Rights, and Data Cooperatives. In Zabalo, J., Filibi, I., & Escacedo, L. (Ed) Made-to-Measure Future(s) for Democracy? Views from the Basque Atalaia. Cham: Springer. ISBN: 978-3-031-08607-6. Online ISBN: 978-3- 031-08608-3. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-08608-3_6. pp. 97-117.


We should begin to understand datification or the Basque nation as an algorithmic nation:

The algorithmic nation is:

  • through the use of disruptive and decentralised technologies (such as blockchain, among others),
  • advanced data analytics and
  • using the application of algorithms,
    • is a nation that makes decisions and leads public policies to improve the lives of its citizens.
  • This is based on advanced data management and analysis to understand the needs of citizens and provide appropriate political and social responses.
  • The algorithmic nation is an opportunity to adapt the nation-building process to the needs and desires of society, but it is also a challenge, as it entails taking into account issues of data privacy, security and ethics.
  • Moreover, the algorithmic nation must promote social participation and digital democracy, taking into account the opinion and needs of the citizenry. In other words, the algorithmic nation has at its core the very right to decide.

Diasporisation or how we should understand the Basque nation beyond geographical borders. However, this understanding today has nuances from the point of view of datafication12:

  • In addition to the traditional diaspora organised analogically within the euskal-etxeak for decades,
  • because a new diaspora is imbricating it. That is to say, embracing the mobility trend of digital nomadism (62% of the new diaspora), concerned about the problem of data privacy (84%)13.
  • In response to this new reality, HanHemen (hanhemen.eus) was born out of the failures and ashes of the Global Basque Network.
  • HanHemen was born with a vocation to use decentralised technologies14 and to have a sovereign network with its own digital identity.
  • Guide to the Basque algorithmic nation:

1.1. At the national and state building level: data strategy and our place in pan-European agencies (data ecosystems/data spaces).

1.2. Pilot and experimental projects between the three blockchain administrative territories with technology.

1.3. Integration in the manifestos and urban coalitions currently underway around digital rights (privacy and property) through the paradiplomacy of our capitals.

1.4. Utilising existing resources in the public sector: Developing public innovation.

1.5. Updating the communitarian socio-economic model that we have been able to develop throughout history, turning cooperativism into a model of origin, a platform and a cooperative datum15 . We have the EU regulations in our favour for this.

1.6. Technological sovereignty allowing transparency of data flows and free choice of membership (in consumption, contact, etc.).

1.7. Put ethics, geolocation of personal and synthetic data, profiling, modelling and, in general, generative AI at the service of our public policies and civil society.

1.8. Stop being a follower (in the European digital sphere): be at the forefront with our own projects and projects such as the European framework, demonstrating that we are a leading area in digital social innovation.

12 Calzada, I. (2020), Setting up the Basque Algorithmic Nation: Technological Sovereignty Amidst the Post- COVID-19 Society / Euskal Nazio Algoritmikoa Sortuz: Subirautza Teknologikoa Post-COVID-19 Gizartean. In TMLab (ed), COVID-19 eta ondoren zer? ELKAR: Donostia. ISBN: 978-84-1360-004-8.

13 Calzada, I. (2023), Blockchain-Driven Digital Nomadism in the Basque e-Diaspora. Globalizations. DOI:10.1080/14747731.2023.2271216.

14 Calzada, I. (2023), Disruptive Technologies for e-Diasporas: Blockchain, DAOs, Data Cooperatives, Metaverse, and ChatGPT. Futures, 154(C), 103258. DOI:10.1016/j.futures.2023.103258.

15 https://t20ind.org/research/harnessing-digital-federation-platforms/

Images: Dr Igor Calzada

Dr Igor Calzada

Senior Researcher and Lecturer

Ikerbasque, EHU and Cardiff University

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