Guestbook

Blaise Aguera y Arcas

AI researcher, Fellow and VP, Google Research. He leads Google Research’s Cerebra, which produced MobileNets, Federated Learning, Coral, and many Android and Pixel AI features, as well as founding the Artists and Machine Intelligence program, which pairs machine intelligence engineers with artists to create art.

Gojko Barjamovic

Assyriologist and ancient historian at Harvard University. Works on the origins of states, the establishment of political institutions and hierarchies, early state constitutions, and civic rule. Asks to what extent shared and parliamentary types of rule are historically hardwired into human social organization.

  • The Empires of Western Asia and the Assyrian World Empire
    Early imperial states would claim political control of culturally and politically diverse groups across geographical space. Instead of turning them into a rallying ground for resistance, local civic institutions (city assemblies, tribal councils) were often left intact and co-opted by the state.

Benjamin Bratton

Benjamin Bratton is Professor of Philosophy of Technology and Speculative Design at University of California, San Diego. He is Director of Antikythera, a think-tank on the speculative philosophy of computation supported by Berggruen Institute and One Project. Bratton is the author of several books, including The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press, 2016) and The Revenge of the Real: Politics for a Post-Pandemic World (Verso, 2021).

  • The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (PDF)
    A comprehensive political and design theory of planetary-scale computation proposing that The Stack—an accidental megastructure—is both a technological apparatus and a model for a new geopolitical architecture.
  • Benjamin Bratton on Why Covid Should Change the Way We Think
    A shared global crisis offers clear comparisons among different models of governance. It is important to dedicate research to deepening knowledge rather than for the sake of entertainment.

James Bridle

Writer, artist, journalist, and technologist. Their writings, artworks, and lectures cover culture, networks, technology, and politics, including New Dark Age, which explores how overwhelming levels of information generate increasing incomprehension, as well as Ways of Being, which investigates nonhuman intelligence in AI and nature.

Sorcha Brophy

Assistant Professor of Health Policy & Management, Columbia University. She is an organizational sociologist who researches politics within professional medical associations and global health worker protests. She explores the challenges organizations face as they create ethics policies.

Ryan Calo

Professor of Law and Information Science, University of Washington, founder of the interdisciplinary UW Tech Policy Lab and the UW Center for an Informed Public. He researches and has advised governmental bodies on law and emerging technology, including robotics and AI, privacy, and misinformation.

  • How Do You Solve a Problem Like Misinformation?
    Understanding key distinctions between misinformation/disinformation, speech/action, and mistaken belief/conviction provides an opportunity to expand research and policy toward more constructive online communication.
  • Digital Market Manipulation
    A new theory of digital market manipulation reveals the limits of consumer protection law and exposes concrete economic and privacy harms that regulators will be hard-pressed to ignore.
  • Artificial Intelligence Policy: A Primer and Roadmap
    This essay is my attempt at introducing the AI policy debate to recent audiences, as well as offering a conceptual organization for existing participants.

Federica Carugati

Professor at King’s College London. She researches the development of political, legal, and economic institutions in pre-modern, citizen-centered governance, and the lessons that the emergence, configuration, and breakdown of such institutions hold for the theory and practice of institution building in the modern world.

  • A Moral Political Economy Economies reflect moral choices, and the modern political economy requires a redesign based on assumptions of humans as social beings rather than narrow self-serving individualists.

Marc Collins Chen

Co-founder and board member of Oceanix. This blue tech company designs and builds floating cities for people to live sustainably on the ocean as a sustainable alternative to increasing coastal land shortages. Chen works to reimagine humanity’s relationship to the environment at scale.

Ted Chiang

Science fiction author. He writes about philosophical concepts such as free will, determinism, naturalism, and AI, and his most renowned works include Tower of Babylon, Hell Is the Absence of God, The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate, Exhalation, and Story of Your Life (which inspired the film “Arrival”).

Claudia Chwalisz

Founding CEO, DemocracyNext. She works as an author, activist, and entrepreneur to catalyze the next democratic paradigm, focusing on placing sortition, deliberation, and participation at the heart of democracy. Before setting up DemocracyNext, Claudia established and led the OECD’s work on the future of democracy.

Julie Cohen

Professor of Law and Technology at Georgetown University, member of the Advisory Board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. She teaches and writes about copyright law, surveillance and information privacy law, and the governance of the networked information society.

  • From Lex Informatica to the Control Revolution
    The “control revolution,” a quantum leap in capacity for highly granular oversight and management, changed how organizations produce outputs, what organizations produce, and why organizations produce. Legal organizations have not been insulated from those changes, and they now must evolve in response to the geographies and dysfunctions of emergent networked technologies or find themselves continually outmaneuvered and coopted.

Nick Couldry

Professor of Media, Communications, and Social Theory at the London School of Economics. Sociologist and social theorist of media power and, recently, co-author of The Mediated Construction of Reality and The Costs of Connection. His work has increasingly focused on the ethics, politics, and social implications of Big Data and small data practices.

  • Data Colonialism and Everyday Data Extraction
    Big data is less analogous to a new stage of capitalism than it is to a new form of colonialism. Powerful corporations claiming rights to untapped resources using language of “progress” and “inevitability” accords them massive power and very little obligation to the people.

Cory Doctorow

Special advisor to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, author, activist. His science fiction books include Little Brother, Homeland, Attack Surface, and Walkaway, which explore surveillance and technology deployed with political agendas, as does his nonfiction books Chokepoint Capitalism and How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism.

  • Finance Caused the Fall of Rome
    Societies favoring creditors over debtors undermine their own productive capacity and favor a hereditary nobility for short-term financial gain over long-term societal prosperity.

Judith Donath

Author and designer, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Her writings draw on urban design, evolutionary biology, and cognitive science to cover identity, deception, privacy, and artificial minds, such as The Social Machine: Designs for Living Online.

  • Why We Need Online Alter Ego Now More Than Ever Online pseudonyms (linked to a consistent posting history) are useful for counteracting the permanence of the internet. They provide a channel for authenticity that mass surveillance threatens to undermine in the real world.

Joshua Fairfield

Professor of Law at Washington and Lee School of Law. He specializes in digital property, online contracts, big data privacy models, and legal applications for cryptocurrencies. He has consulted with the White House and Homeland Security on national security, privacy, and law enforcement within online communities.

  • Runaway Technology: Can law keep up? Big data allows advertisers to understand us better than we understand ourselves, and target us at our most vulnerable. Laws can and must reign them in, and when governments take action, companies comply.

Henry Farrell

Professor of International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University, Editor in Chief of the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog. He researches democracy, the politics of the internet, and international/comparative economy, and authored Of Privacy and Power: The Transatlantic Fight over Freedom and Security.

Noah Feldman

Noah Feldman is Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Chairman of the Society of Fellows, and founding director of the Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law, all at Harvard University. He specializes in constitutional studies, with particular emphasis on power and ethics, design of innovative governance solutions, law and religion, and the history of legal ideas.

Primavera De Filippi

Primavera De Filippi is a Research Director at the National Center of Scientific Research in Paris, and Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. She is the author of Blockchain and the Law, published by Harvard University Press. Founding member of the Global Future Council on Blockchain Technologies at the World Economic Forum, she is the founder and coordinator of the UN Internet Governance Forum’s dynamic coalitions on Blockchain Technology (COALA).

  • Citizenship in the Era of Blockchain-Based Virtual Nations
    Blockchain opens possibilities for transnational polities that could reform, complement, or replace nation states. Self-identification with virtual communities may revive civics and even force nation-states to compete for the identities of their citizens.

Nils Gilman

SVP of Programs, Berggruen Institute; Deputy editor, Noema. He writes about intellectual history and political economy, and his notable works include Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America (2004) and Deviant Globalization: Black Market Economy in the 21st Century (2011).

  • The Myth of Tech Exceptionalism
    Tech firms make sweeping assertions that they offer fundamental developments in human society that should put them above the regulatory regimes that govern other industries. This is misguided and dangerous.

Gillian Hadfield

Professor of Law at University of Toronto. She researches innovative design for legal and dispute resolution systems in advanced and developing market economies; AI governance; the markets for law, lawyers, and dispute resolution; and contract law and theory.

Woodrow Hartzog

Professor of Law at Boston University. His research focuses on law and policy issues related to privacy, digital technologies, AI, and human-computer interaction; and he has published a book titled Privacy’s Blueprint: The Battle to Control the Design of New Technologies.

  • Facial Recognition Is the Perfect Tool for Oppression Unregulated facial recognition technology seriously endangers the right to privacy in the public sphere by removing any presumption of anonymity. People will be identified, profiled, and potentially exploited without appropriate bans.

Saffron Huang

Technologist, researcher, writer focused on ML/tech governance. Co-founder of the Collective Intelligence Project, enabling governance experiments for transformative tech. Ex-DeepMind researcher on large language models, multi-agent RL and human-AI interaction. Also co-founded Kernel magazine, and worked on governance with such groups as the Ethereum Foundation and the Berkman Klein Center.

Yuk Hui

Philosopher and professor at the Hong Kong School of Creative Media. Hui is most known for his concept of technodiversity and cosmotechnics, which is based on what he calls the antinomy of the universality of technology. The intention is to diverge away from the conception of a universal science and technology which came out of Western modernity and escalated on a global scale today.

  • Art and Cosmotechnics
    How might a renewed understanding of the varieties of experience of art be possible in the face of discourses surrounding artificial intelligence and robotics? Departing from Hegel’s thesis on the end of art and Heidegger’s assertion of the end of philosophy through Greek tragic thought, cybernetic logic, and the aesthetics of Chinese landscape painting (山水, shanshui—mountain and water painting), Art and Cosmotechnics travels an unfamiliar trajectory of thought to arrive at a new relation between art and technology.

Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein is an American journalist, political analyst, New York Times opinion columnist, and the host of The Ezra Klein Show podcast. He is a co-founder of Vox and formerly served as the website’s editor-at-large. Before that, he was a columnist and editor at the Washington Post, where he founded and led the Wonkblog vertical. He is also the author of Why We’re Polarized.

Lawrence Lessig

Professor of Law, Harvard Law School. He crafts understandings of the way the American democracy fails her ideals, and reforms that might remedy those failures. Those failures are failures of the institutions of democracy, and of us, within those institutions. He has founded nonprofits devoted to reform, and litigated a wide range of cases pressing reform.

  • Why the US Is a Failed Democratic State
    Majoritarian representative democracy requires that the practical institutions of democracy practice the ideal of representativeness. Every dimensions of America’s federal republic fails that ideal. Here’s how.
  • The Unrepresentative US
    Majoritarian representative democracy requires that the people be present in a representative way. Modern technologies of media rend us to be unrepresentative. These are the mechanisms.
  • Fixing US
    How the tools of Slow Democracy might knit back together a divided US.

Gideon Lichfield

Global editor-in-chief of WIRED, former EIC of MIT Technology Review and foreign correspondent at the Economist.

  • MIT Technology Review
    “The tech firms and their boosters either didn’t imagine that ‘democratizing’ technologies would be used by anti-democrats too, or else believed that truth and freedom would inevitably defeat misinformation and repression.”
  • We need something to replace Western democracy (Reddit AMA thread)
    “If you ran a supercomputer on the processes that governed Babbage’s Analytical Engine people would say you were crazy, but we’re running 21st-century societies on 17th- or 18-century software.”
  • Welcome to the new WIRED
    “We’re at what feels like an inflection point in the recent history of technology, when various binaries that have long been taken for granted are being called into question.”

Evan Lieberman

Professor of Political Science at MIT. He researches contemporary Africa with a focus on the democratic politics of governing ethnically and racially diverse societies, covering challenges of public health, climate adaptation, and ensuring respect for human dignity.

  • Self-efficacy and citizen engagement in development: experimental evidence from Tanzania Recent studies of efforts to increase citizen engagement in local governance through information campaigns report mixed results. Lieberman and co-author Yang-Yang Zhou consider whether low levels of self-efficacy beliefs limit engagement, especially among poor citizens in poor countries… In their main analyses, we find that Validated Participation did not lead to increased levels of self-efficacy or more active citizen behaviors relative to standard informational campaigns.

Charles Mudede

Writer, Filmmaker, lecturer at Cornish College of the Arts, cultural critic at the Stranger. His work has appeared in the Village Voice, Sydney Morning Daily, and the New York Times, among others.

Beth Noveck

New Jersey’s first Chief Innovation Officer, Professor of Communications Studies, Law, and Engineering, at Northeastern University where she also directs the Burnes Center for Social Change, the Governance Lab and its MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance. Previously, Beth served in the White House as the first United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer and director of the White House Open Government Initiative under President Obama.

Cory Ondrejka

Vice President of Product Management and Technical Advisor to the CEO at Google. Previously, Vice President of Engineering at Facebook. A Naval Academy grad and former office in the United States Navy, Cory was also the Chief Technology Officer of Linden Lab, where he co-created the award-winning virtual world Second Life.

Lynette Ong

Professor of Political Science, China and Asia specialist at the University of Toronto, who researches authoritarianism, contention and development. Author, Teacher, Public Intellectual.

  • Outsourcing Oppression: Everyday State Power in Contemporary China
    Ong examines how the Chinese state engages nonstate actors, from violent street gangsters to nonviolent grassroots brokers, to coerce and mobilize the masses for state pursuits, while reducing costs and minimizing resistance. Theorizing a counterintuitive form of repression that reduces resistance and backlash, Ong invites the reader to reimagine the new ground state power credibly occupies.

Tim O’Reilly

Founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media Inc. board member of Code for America, PeerJ, Civis Analytics, and PopVox, proponent of open source software, web 2.0, the Maker movement, and government as a platform.

  • WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us
    Yes, technology can eliminate labor and make things cheaper, but at its best, we use it to do things that were previously unimaginable! What is our poverty of imagination? What are the entrepreneurial leaps that will allow us to use the technology of today to build a better future, not just a more efficient one?

Ada Palmer

Associate Professor of History, University of Chicago, science fiction author. Her research on intellectual history, or the history of ideas, is a way of exploring how our ideas affect what civilizations do, build and aim at, and how events change those ideas, history and thought shaping each other over time. She also writes the ExUrbe.com blog and studies the history of censorship.

  • Terra Ignota series (fiction; vol. 1 Too Like the Lightning)
    In a post-scarcity twenty-fifth century, a network of superfast flying cars have made the world so interconnected that identity no longer attaches to geography, so globe-spanning borderless nations compete for citizens, as people choose their citizenship when they come of age, selecting the nation whose laws and values they most respect, mixing side-by-side with members of all nations.
  • Ex Urbe Ad Astra (podcast)
    Co-hosted with Jo Walton, they engage fellow writers, historians, researchers, editors about the craft of writing, history, food, gelato, and simply have the kinds of intense writing or history discussions they enjoy.

Eli Pariser

Digital Activist and Co-Founder of New Public and Upworthy, former executive director of MoveOn.org in 2004. His focus is “how to make technology and media serve democracy.” Follow him on Twitter @elipariser.

  • What obligation do social media platforms have to the greater good? (Ted Talk) Social media has become our new home. Can we build it better? Taking design cues from urban planners and social scientists, technologist Eli Pariser shows how the problems we’re encountering on digital platforms aren’t all that new—and shares how, by following the model of thriving towns and cities, we can create trustworthy online communities.

Rob Reich

Professor of Political Science, Stanford University; Director, Center for Ethics in Society, Co-Director, Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Associate Director, Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence

  • System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot (with Mehran Sahami and Jeremy M. Weinstein)
  • Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better
    Silicon Valley elites and many philanthropists—often the very same people—share a fundamentally technocratic orientation toward politics and social progress. Democratic governance is instrumentally valuable at best, provided it can produce good outcomes. Can technologists and philanthropists serve rather than subvert democratic ideals and institutions?

Mathias Risse

Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs and Philosophy, Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Juliana Rotich

Juliana Rotich is the co-founder of Ushahidi and BRCK, who has developed web tools for crowdsourcing crisis information and coverage of topics related to the environment.

  • TED Talk: Meet BRCK, Internet Access Built for Africa
    Tech communities are booming all over Africa, says Nairobi-based Juliana Rotich, co-founder of the open-source software Ushahidi. But it remains challenging to get and stay connected in a region with frequent blackouts and spotty Internet hookups. So Rotich and friends developed BRCK, offering resilient connectivity for the developing world.

Daniel Schmachtenberger

Social philosopher, founding member of The Consilience Project. He researches existential threats to civilization and methods of improving individual and societal development, including building new systems for coordinating at scale.

  • The Metacrisis with Daniel Schmachtenberger
    The world faces a series of existential crises, from climate change to technology empowering smaller and smaller groups to inflict outsized damage on the world around them. The solution to this “metacrisis” requires new systems that can counter the perverse incentives that pressure governments and companies to exacerbate these crises.

Bruce Schneier

Public Interest Technologist, security “guru,” Fellow and Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, board member of Electronic Frontier Foundation

  • Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect and Control Your World
    Schneier shows us exactly what we can do to reform our government surveillance programs and shake up surveillance-based business models, while also providing tips to protect your privacy every day.
  • Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World
    Forget data theft: cutting-edge digital attackers can now literally crash your car, pacemaker, and home security system, as well as everyone else’s. In Click Here to Kill Everybody, Schneier explores the risks and security implications of our new, hyper-connected era, and lays out common-sense policies that will allow us to enjoy the benefits of this omnipotent age without falling prey to the consequences of its insecurity.

Cosma Shalizi

Professor of Statistics, Machine Learning, and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. His research revolves around prediction and inference for dependent, and high-dimensional data using tools from machine learning, nonlinear dynamics, and information theory.

  • “Nudge” policies are another name for coercion The key problem with “nudge” style paternalism is presuming that technocrats understand what ordinary people want better than the people themselves. Democratic arrangements, which foster diversity, are better at solving problems than technocratic ones. Democracy, rather than libertarian paternalism, is far better than even the best-intentioned technocracy at discovering people’s real interests and advancing them.

Alexis Shotwell

Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University. Her research addresses (1) the usefulness of taking complicity, imperfection, and impurity as starting points for political and ethical action, (2) the epistemic salience of implicit understanding, and (3) anarchist practices of collectivity and relationality.

Divya Siddarth

Associate Political Economist and Social Technologist at Microsoft’s Office of the CTO. She is the co-founder of the Collective Intelligence Project, which advances collective intelligence capabilities for the democratic and effective governance of transformative technologies. She also holds positions as a research director at Metagov and a researcher in residence at the RadicalXChange Foundation.

Jamie Susskind

Barrister, author of The Digital Republic

Jo Walton

Jo Walton is an acclaimed science fiction writer, poet, critic, and historian of science fiction and imaginative literature. Her comprehensive work on science fiction history stretches back beyond the nineteenth century to its links to pre-modern utopian and fantastical literature back to antiquity. Her best-known novels include the World Fantasy Award–winning Tooth and Claw, the Hugo and Nebula award-winning Among Others, the Tiptree Award–winning My Real Children, her Thessaly trilogy exploring political derivatives of Plato’s Republic, and her alternate history Small Change trilogy which imagines non-military ways to overthrow a fascist regime.

Glen Weyl

Political economist and social technologist at Microsoft Research Special Projects; founder of the RadicalxChange Foundation.

  • Decentralized Society: Finding Web3’s Soul
    Web3 social identity can spur political, economic, and social innovations through a Decentralized Society. Creating “soulbound” tokens to represent commitments, credibility, and reputations can bridge and enhance sociality across virtual and physical reality.
  • Why I Am a Pluralist
    Pluralism as a social philosophy can promote cooperation among a diversity of sociocultural groups and replace a hunt for a universal truth with a stable diversity of ways of knowing. Blockchain-like mechanisms may enable societies grounded in pluralism.

Shoshana Zuboff

Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, Harvard Business School. Social psychologist, philosopher, and former faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.

  • The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power
    In this masterwork of original thinking and research, Shoshana Zuboff provides startling insights into the phenomenon that she has named surveillance capitalism. Zuboff’s comprehensive and moving analysis lays bare the threats to 21st century society: a controlled “hive” of total connection that seduces with promises of total certainty for maximum profit—at the expense of democracy, freedom, and our human future.

Ethan Zuckerman

Associate Professor of Public Policy, Information and Communication, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

  • The Case for Digital Public Infrastructure (2020)
    Governments should harness past successes in public broadcasting to build community-oriented digital tools.
  • Moderating the Public Sphere (2019)
    Zuckerman and co-author Jillian York write about hard control—a platform’s authority over what can be published online—and soft control—a platform’s authority over what we are likely to see, and what is deprioritized in algorithms that govern a user’s view of posts on the network (the feed). Considering these methods of control from the perspective of human rights, they examine the power of the platform within a larger context of threats to freedom of expression.