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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 edition of the Information Ethics Roundtable had to be canceled.  For the foreseeable future, the IER will be run as an online speaker series. For questions about the speaker series, please contact Matt Kopec ( For other questions about the IER, please contact Don Fallis ( or Kay Mathiesen (  

We live in an “information society.” Information and information technologies are increasingly essential to our social, economic, and political interactions. Given this, serious reflection on information ethics is imperative. “Information ethics” studies the value questions that arise in the creation, control, and access to information. The Information Ethics Roundtable is a yearly conference, which brings together researchers from disciplines such as philosophy, information science, communications, public administration, anthropology and law to discuss the ethical issues such as information privacy, intellectual property, intellectual freedom, and censorship.


Upcoming Virtual IER Talks

1.) Prof. Catriona McKinnon, University of Exeter, UK (CANCELLED will be RESCHEDULED).

Date: TBA

Title: ‘Should we tolerate climate denial?’ – Revisited?

Abstract: What is ‘climate denial’? And should it be tolerated in liberal societies? This paper identifies the proper site for debates about these questions, and the conditions under which intolerance of climate denial would be justified. What I would like to explore in revisiting this debate is whether restrictions on corporate speech can be justified by a better understanding of corporate personhood. This would lift questions about corporate climate denial into a different domain, i.e. they would no longer be questions to be answered from the perspective of freedom of speech.


This will be a pre-read meeting, with the paper to be circulated to registrants attached.

Please register here:


2.) Jeff Hancock

Thursday April 8th, 3:30-5pm (Boston), 12:30-2pm (West Coast), 8:30-10pm (London)


Title: Can AI Mediate Communication? Understanding AI in Human-to-Human Interaction


Abstract: Computer-mediated-communication, in which machines transmit messages between humans at our behest, is evolving into AI-mediated communication, in which machines now optimize those messages to achieve human goals. Many questions emerge when AI operates between humans in communication. How can we trust one another when it is not clear whether a machine or a human wrote a message? How do we judge others when AI is used to communicate on their behalf? Does the involvement of AI in human communication change the way that humans speak? Finally, what are the ethical and moral implications of using AI to communicate on our behalf? In this talk I’ll address each of these questions, reporting on several studies with my collaborators and lay out some theoretical roadmaps to guide our future thinking on understanding AI-mediate communication.


*This will have an optional pre-read talk, with the paper attached to registrants. 


Please register here:


3.)  Silvia Milano

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 10:00-11:30am (Bos Time), 3:00-4:30pm (Lon Time)

Title: Epistemic fragmentation and the challenge to civic governance of AI services

Abstract: Online targeting isolates individual consumers, causing what we call epistemic fragmentation. This phenomenon amplifies the harms of advertising and inflicts structural damage to the public forum. Under epistemic fragmentation, even sophisticated individual consumers are vulnerable, the contextual knowledge needed for regulating advertising remains largely inaccessible, and the social costs of monitoring compliance are unacceptably high. This needs to be addressed urgently, to enable civic governance of online advertising.

Please register here:

Virtual Events

  • February 9, 2021 (will be rescheduled) – Catriona McKinnon, “Should we tolerate climate denial?’ – Revisited?”
  • March 10, 2021 – Josh Simons, “Regulating Informational Infrastructure: Are Facebook and Google utilities for democracy?”
  • April 8, 20201 – Jeff Hancock, “Can AI Mediate Communication? Understanding AI in Human-to-Human Interaction”
  • May 5, 2021 – Silvia Milano, “Epistemic fragmentation and the challenge to civic governance of AI services”

Virtual Events

  • October 19 2020 – Massimo Pigliucci, “The Philosophy of Pseudoscience”
  • November 18, 2020 – Rachel Sterken, Jessica Pepp, and Eliot Michaelson, “On Retweeting”
  • December 16, 2020 – Kevin Zollman, “Conformity, Social networks, and the Emergence of Pluralistic Ignorance”


“Data and Ethics”, University of Illinois

“Transparency and Secrecy”, University of Wisconsin

“Information Ethics and Policy”, University of Washington

“Consumer Health Information”, Bridgewater State College

“Secrecy”, Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association

“Intellectual Property”, Montclair State University

“Privacy”, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts