Northeastern University
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Abstract: Technology is often designed and deployed without critical reflection of the values that it embodies.  Value trade-offs—between security and privacy, free speech and dignity, autonomy and human agency, and different conceptions of fairness—abound in many technologies that are now achieving great scale in commonly used tech platforms.  The decisions made by the people inside the companies deploying those technologies impose their value choices upon millions of users, often with negative externalities that are now on full display. 


In our new book, System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot, we provide a multidisciplinary view—the perspectives of a philosopher, a political scientist, and a computer scientist, respectively—to disentangle the systematic drivers that we believe have led to the ethical reckoning that Big Tech is now facing.  We examine the value trade-offs arising in systems for algorithmic decision-making, questions related to data gathering and privacy, the impacts of AI and automation, and the power of private platforms to control our information eco-system.  We then discuss the ways we can all play a role in helping to shape technology and the policies that govern it with an eye toward achieving better outcomes for society.  Case studies will be used to engage the audience in the conversation.

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