Surveying the Digital Explosion

Connected computers have changed the world perhaps more than any other single invention. The impacts of nearly instant global communication and effectively infinite, perfect storage of information are at once undeniable and difficult to fully comprehend. And yet, technologists, bureaucrats and corporate leaders make decisions on a daily basis that should be considering the repercussions. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Today, we’ll discuss the digitization of the world and some of the more important impacts it has had and is having on society with the authors of the book Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion.

Harry Lewis, former Dean of Harvard College, is Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard. Ken Ledeen is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Nevo Technologies, Inc., a software development and information technology consulting firm located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wendy Seltzer is Strategy Lead and Counsel to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at MIT, improving the Web’s security, availability, and interoperability through standards.

Further Info

Table of Contents

Use these timestamps to jump to a particular section of the show.

  • 0:03:16: interview start
  • 0:04:03: What brought you all together to write this book?
  • 0:05:28: What are the biggest changes since the first edition?
  • 0:10:04: What were the impacts of the Edward Snowden revelations?
  • 0:12:44: How do we resolve the tension between privacy and law enforcement?
  • 0:16:43: Are computer systems free from bias?
  • 0:19:22: How do algorithms impact judicial decisions?
  • 0:20:45: Why is it hard to explain how AI systems make decisions?
  • 0:28:33: What is net neutrality and who are the gatekeepers today on the internet?
  • 0:31:59: Have we lost the original Utopian ideal of the internet?
  • 0:35:41: How have content moderation and personalization affected our experience?
  • 0:40:48: How do these companies hyper-personalize the web?
  • 0:45:44: Are we changing our own behaviors to game the algorithms?
  • 0:47:35: Are bits more fragile than parchment and cave paintings?
  • 0:53:29: What gives you hope? What keeps you up at night?
  • 0:58:12: Interview wrap-up
  • 0:59:34: Upcoming shows, promotions, interviews