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Power & Influence
System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot
Dr. Rob Reich, Dr. Mehran Sahami, Emma Pierson, David Polgar (moderator)
September 13, 2022
6:00 pm
 - 8:00 pm
Reserve a Seat
System Error
Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot

System Error exposes the root of our current predicament: how big tech’s relentless focus on optimization is driving a future that reinforces discrimination, erodes privacy, displaces workers, and pollutes the information we get. This optimization mindset substitutes what companies care about for the values that we as a democratic society might choose to prioritize. Well-intentioned optimizers fail to measure all that is meaningful and, when their creative disruptions achieve great scale, they impose their values upon the rest of us. Armed with an understanding of how technologists think and exercise their power, three Stanford professors—a philosopher working at the intersection of tech and ethics, a political scientist who served under Obama, and the director of the undergraduate Computer Science program at Stanford (also an early Google engineer)—reveal how we can hold that power to account.

This evening is held in collaboration with the non-profit All Tech Is Human, an organization committed to connecting and expanding the movement to co-create a tech future aligned with the public interest. Building on the theme found throughout System Error, All Tech Is Human focuses on the power of community, the power of collective intelligence, and the power to change systems. Founded in NYC in 2018, the organization has a wide range of activities focused around three key themes: multi-stakeholder collaboration (getting the technologist, philosopher, and political scientist in the same room), multidisciplinary education, and disrupting the traditional tech pipeline to include more background and lived experiences.

This evening will mark the release of All Tech Is Human’s flagship resource, the Responsible Tech Guide. Founder and director David Ryan Polgar will be moderating a discussion with the authors of System Error. David is an international speaker whose work around building a better tech future and exploring what it means to be human in the digital age has been featured on the TODAY show, MSNBC, CBS This Morning, BBC World News, Fast Company, and many more.



September 13, 2022
6:00 pm
 - 8:00 pm
Reserve a Seat
Panel of Speakers
Emma Pierson
Assistant Professor, Cornell Tech

Emma Pierson is an assistant professor of computer science at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech and the Technion, and a computer science field member at Cornell University. She develops data science and machine learning methods to study inequality and healthcare. Her work has been recognized by a Rhodes Scholarship, Hertz Fellowship, Rising Star in EECS, MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35, and Forbes 30 Under 30 in Science. She has written for The New York Times, FiveThirtyEight, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Wired, and various other publications.

David Polgar (moderator)
Founder of All Tech is Human

David Ryan Polgar is a leading voice in the areas of tech ethics, digital citizenship, responsible tech, and what it means to be human in the digital age. David is a global speaker, a regular media commentator for national & international press, and a frequent advisor & consultant on building a better tech future. He serves as a founding member of TikTok's Content Advisory Council, along with the Technology & Adolescent Mental Wellness (TAM program). 

David is the founder of All Tech Is Human, an organization committed to informing & inspiring the next generation of responsible technologists & changemakers. Leading the organization, David recently developed a "Responsible Tech Guide" to help college students, grad students, and young professionals get plugged into the Responsible Tech ecosystem. In addition, David spearheaded the report, Improving Social Media: The People, Organizations and Ideas for a Better Tech Future. He also co-led the report, The Business Case for AI Ethics: Moving from Theory to Action.

He is also the co-host/co-creator of Funny as Tech, a NYC-based podcast & occasional live show that deals with our messy relationship with technology.

David recently has developed a digital citizenship class for adults and a tech ethics hub for college students, and recently filmed a free class on Bringing Responsibility and Tech Ethics into the Organization.

Dr. Mehran Sahami
Professor, Stanford University

Mehran Sahami was recruited to Google in its start-up days by Sergey Brin and is one of the inventors of email spam-filtering technology. With a background in machine learning and artificial intelligence, he returned to Stanford as a computer science professor in 2007 and now holds the James and Ellenor Chesebrough Professorship in Engineering. As the Associate Chair for Education in the computer science department, he helped redesign the program’s undergraduate curriculum. He is one of the instructors of Stanford’s massive introductory computer programming course taken by nearly 1,500 students per year. Mehran is also a limited partner in several VC funds and serves as an adviser to high-tech start-ups. He is the co-author of System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot.

Dr. Rob Reich
Professor, Stanford University

Professor of Political Science, director of the Center for Ethics in Society, co-director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and associate director of the Institute for Human-Centered AI. He is the author of System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot (with Mehran Sahami and Jeremy M. Weinstein) and Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better (2018); Digital Technology and Democratic Theory (edited with Lucy Bernholz and Hélène Landemore, 2021). His teaching and writing these days focuses on ethics, policy, and technology.

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System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot
Dr. Rob Reich, Dr. Mehran Sahami, Emma Pierson, David Polgar (moderator)
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