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Information Ethics Events Below:

Information Ethics Roundtable Speaker, Prof. Catriona McKinnon, University of Exeter, UK

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: https://forms.gle/FBUTZfPodr2SMBYv6

Information Ethics Roundtable Speaker Prof. Josh Simons, Harvard University

Title“Regulating Informational Infrastructure: Are Facebook and Google utilities for democracy?”

 

Abstract: Now that the nation and the world have woken up to the manifold threats internet platforms pose to the public sphere and to democracy, we need a framework for understanding why internet platforms matter for democracy and how they should be regulated. This paper and talk aim to sketch out that framework.

 

Facebook and Google use algorithms to rank and order vast quantities of content and information, shaping how we consume news and access information, communicate with and feel about one another, debate fundamental questions of the common good, and make collective decisions. Facebook and Google are private companies whose algorithms have become part of the infrastructure of our public sphere.  This infrastructure is a critical tool for communication and organization, political expression, and collective decision making. By controlling how this infrastructure is designed and operated, Facebook and Google shape the content and character of our digital public sphere, concentrating not just economic power, but social and political power too. Private powers who exercise unilateral control over vital information infrastructure should be held accountable to the public good.

 

I argue we should regulate Facebook and Google as a new kind of public utility – utilities for democracy. The public utility concept offers a dynamic and flexible set of regulatory tools to impose public oversight where corporations are affected by a public interest. Regulating Facebook and Google as public utilities would offer opportunities for regulatory innovation, experimenting with new mechanisms of decision making that draw on the collective judgement of citizens, reforming sclerotic institutions of representation, and constructing new regulatory authorities to inform the governance of algorithms. Regulating Facebook and Google as public utilities would be a decisive assertion of public power that would strengthen and energize democracy.

 

*This event is being held in collaboration with Bentley University and has been sponsored by The State Street Foundation.

 

*This will also be a pre-read talk, with the paper attached to registrants. 

 

If you are interested please register here: https://bentley.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMrcuiqrTwoHNe1Q_Dg2UjyKZ_dsWt5b5U2