• Sun. Sep 24th, 2023

Stanford joins international initiative to strengthen democracy and foster accountable technologies


Jun 7, 2023
Stanford joins international initiative to strengthen democracy and foster responsible technology

Digital technologies, from social media platforms to cryptocurrencies to generative AI, are the supply of a wide variety of complications that undermine the interests of men and women and organizations, and the foundations of democracy itself. In order to totally take pleasure in any upsides, these downsides have to have to be efficiently addressed.

Civic entrepreneur Frank McCourt, Jr. (second from left) with members of the faculty steering committee, who will lead and oversee Stanford’s activities beneath Project Liberty’s Institute. From left to appropriate, Erik Brynjolfsson, Rob Reich, Michael McFaul, Marietje Schaake, and Nathaniel Persily. (Image credit: Melissa Morgan)

Stanford University is joining Project Liberty’s Institute, a consortium of professionals in law, policy, social sciences, ethics, and technologies functioning collectively to shape emerging technologies and a new world-wide-web made and governed for the typical excellent. Stanford becomes one particular of 3 founding partners, with Georgetown University and Sciences Po, and will get philanthropic help to advance cutting-edge investigation, education, and coaching in technologies, ethics, policy, and governance.

“This is an extraordinary chance for Stanford’s interdisciplinary researchers to join forces with other top professionals and play a bigger function in shaping an ethical future for our digital society,” mentioned Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of Stanford University. “By developing a network of collaborators focused on technologies, governance, and social excellent, we can advance investigation options that have the possible to develop stronger, additional enduring democracies worldwide. We are deeply grateful to Project Liberty for accelerating this significant function.”

Project Liberty’s Institute was founded by civic entrepreneur Frank McCourt, Jr., as the digital governance arm of Project Liberty, an independent, international nonprofit he launched in 2021 to allow a additional equitable and inclusive technologies infrastructure for the world-wide-web. The initiative will leverage Stanford’s current knowledge and allow new efforts in the Ethics, Society, and Technologies Hub at the McCoy Household Center for Ethics in Society and the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, which are each in the College of Humanities and Sciences the Cyber Policy Center, a joint center of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Research (FSI) and Stanford Law College and the Stanford Digital Economy Lab at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (Stanford HAI).

“Stanford will add an significant anchor for us in Silicon Valley,” mentioned McCourt, who is also the parent of 3 Stanford alums. “Project Liberty and its institute aim to foster a transatlantic network of the most revolutionary thinkers on technologies for the typical excellent. With their openness to collaboration, concentrate on options, and shared sense of urgency, Stanford faculty will support propel our function. We couldn’t be additional pleased to have Stanford join us at this crucial juncture.”

Stanford will initially collaborate with Project Liberty’s Institute by way of 3 complementary, interdisciplinary hubs that encompass ethics, social science, technical investigation, and believed leadership aimed at informing emerging technologies and the world-wide-web of tomorrow.

“Tech corporations have a disproportionate influence and energy more than our lives,” mentioned Martina Larkin, CEO of Project Liberty. “We know the harm – to our societies and democracies, and to the well being and security of person customers – that social media causes. This partnership with Stanford University will accelerate our mission to develop a superior internet for a superior globe: one particular in which social networks, AI and accountable technologies can help democracy, and develop a digital society that positive aspects the several and not just the couple of.”

Ethics, society, and technologies applications

With help from Project Liberty, the university’s Embedded Ethics system – a joint initiative of the Division of Laptop or computer Science, the McCoy Household Center for Ethics in Society, and Stanford HAI – will expand. The program’s mission is to inject ethics and policy curriculum in all core courses of the undergraduate key in personal computer science and support make certain a meaningful encounter with ethics for every single technologies student educated at Stanford.

The Ethics, Society, and Technologies (EST) Hub, housed at the McCoy Household Center for Ethics in Society, will also create a portfolio of fellowships for undergraduates and graduate students, as nicely as postdocs and members of business, enabling newly educated leaders to engage with ethics at crucial junctions in their education and careers, and thereby facilitating the placement of technologists into positions of influence in greater education, business, civil society, and government. Additionally, Project Liberty’s help will allow the EST Hub to develop a greatest-in-class library of open-supply ethics, policy, and technologies case research to shape considering and selection-producing in other university and business settings globally.

“Our target is to bring about a culture shift on campus, at other universities, and in the wider globe,” mentioned Rob Reich, professor of political science, who co-directs the EST Hub with political science Professor Margaret Levi.

“To make certain a flourishing and inclusive democratic society, we have to have to transform the coaching of the subsequent generation of tech entrepreneurs and leaders,” added Reich, who is also the faculty director of the McCoy Household Center for Ethics in Society. “The EST Hub will usher in a new breed of technologists who location in the foreground the ethical and societal implications of their function – and who are committed to developing tech that serves rather than subverts democracy.”

Governance of emerging technologies

A new Governance of Emerging Technologies system will be housed inside Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center. The system will be directed by Nathaniel Persily, an professional in digital law and policy, and will concentrate on governance and regulation of generative AI, virtual reality, and blockchain technologies. For its very first year, the system will be co-led by Florence G’Sell, a going to professor who holds the Digital Sovereignty and Governance Chair at Sciences Po, one particular of the companion institutions of Project Liberty’s Institute.

This system will recruit major researchers and postdoctoral scholars to the Cyber Policy Center to advance investigation at the intersection of technologies, governance, law, and public policy. They will leverage current initiatives like the Plan on Platform Regulation, led by Daphne Keller, an professional in the regulation of social media and other Web platforms and the Plan on Democracy and the Web, led by Persily, Reich, and Francis Fukuyama, the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow in International Research. Marietje Schaake, a former member of the European Parliament and an professional on European tech policy, will lead investigation efforts focused on equity, representation, and human rights.

The Governance of Emerging Technologies system will also develop a rigorous investigation agenda, determine gaps, and set a path for future investigation and policymaking to discover the impacts of emerging technologies on democratic governance, rule of law, and socioeconomic inequality. And, as with the EST Hub, the digital governance system will train a new generation of worldwide policy leaders versed in the technologies and policy impacts of the subsequent-generation world-wide-web.

“Technology is altering quickly, and we have to have to grapple with governance challenges appropriate now,” mentioned Persily, who is the James B. McClatchy Professor in Stanford Law College. “We’re really excited to function with Georgetown and Sciences Po by way of Project Liberty’s Institute to define how we govern the future of worldwide digital communications. With presences in Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., and Europe, this investigation consortium will have the attain and the knowledge to achieve these significant and tricky objectives.”

Digital platforms, society, and the economy

Help from Project Liberty will empower the Stanford Digital Economy Lab at Stanford HAI to expand its investigation into how digital technologies, especially AI, impact society and the economy – and shape the worldwide conversation about transforming social media and other institutions for the betterment of society.

The lab will convene top professionals on technologies and policy to author an ongoing series of Digital Society Papers, inspired by the Federalist Papers that conveyed the precepts of the U.S. Constitution to a nascent American democracy in the 18th century. The lab will hold convenings with academics and other stakeholders with the intention that these clear, informed, and information-driven articles will spark a worldwide conversation about the function of digital technologies and the future of technologies in democratic society.

The Digital Economy Lab will also launch a new set of investigation projects focused on social media, digital platforms, and their influence on society. The target of the function is to determine techniques in which social networks and AI can help democracy, truth, and be a advantage to society. The subjects include things like the use of AI like ChatGPT on social media platforms, ecosystem incentive structures, new protocols and models (like the Decentralized Social Network Protocol), and options to the complications of privacy, safety, misinformation, and political polarization.

“From current practical experience, we know that the flow of truthful and thoughtful details by way of our vast digital internet of social connections is crucial to the nicely-becoming of society, to financial progress, and to democracy itself,” mentioned Erik Brynjolfsson, who leads the Digital Economy Lab and is the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Professor at Stanford HAI. “Our concentrate will have to be on designing and implementing social and technical systems that market truth, insight, and cooperation whilst mitigating these that amplify misinformation, confusion, and polarization. We want to engage a broad collective of stakeholders in this function, creating the insights, suggestions, and details vital to address these challenges and shape a new digital society for the globe.”

Reich is also a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Research (FSI), the Marc and Laura Andreessen Faculty Co-Director for the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, associate director at Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (Stanford HAI), and professor of political science. Levi is also a senior fellow at FSI and at the Woods Institute for the Atmosphere. Persily is also a senior fellow at FSI. Fukyama is also director of the Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy Plan at FSI. Schaake is international policy director at the Cyber Policy Center and international policy fellow at Stanford HAI. Brynjolfsson is also the Ralph Landau Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Financial Policy Study.

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