Open Societies and Democratic Sustainability in the Shadow of Big Tech


There is growing public awareness that the velocity of technological innovation has outstripped the West’s efforts to harness it to the common good. An unprecedented shift in the balance of power between multinational industry and national governments has been a necessary condition for these new challenges. How else could a freely elected American president be silenced by Google, Twitter, and Facebook? How else could Facebook’s Instagram be exposed as knowingly causing harm to teenagers without government penalty?

While many of these problems are in some ways new, they have also been previously encountered. Learning from past thought on existential threats to human values can help us better protect and defend the contemporary free world.

Allison Stanger, Russell Leng ’60 Professor Professor of International Politics and Economics at Middlebury College, Research Affiliate (Co-lead, Theory of AI Practice Initiative) at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University and External Professor and Science Board member at the Santa Fe Institute. She is the author of Whistleblowers: Honesty in America from Washington to Trump (Yale University Press) and One Nation Under Contract: The Outsourcing of American Power and the Future of Foreign Policy (Yale University Press). She has contributed to The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News and World Report and The Washington Post.

Ludger Hagedorn, IWM Permanent Fellow, introduced the speaker and moderated the discussion.

A recording of the event is available below.