John Perry Barlow and the Foundational Values of the Net

Subtitle an interview with Charles Nesson Teaser

Berkman Klein Center Founder and Director Charles Nesson shares his thoughts on how John Perry Barlow helped build the values of the Internet.

Thumbnail Image: 

Internet pioneer John Perry Barlow passed away late last week at the age of 70. As the Berkman Klein Center's inaugural fellow in 1998, his ideas helped provide the foundation for the work of much of our community in the two decades since. Berkman Klein Center Founder and Director Charles Nesson sat down to share some thoughts on how Barlow helped build the values of the Internet.


How did you first encounter John?

I read a piece he wrote The Economy of Ideas (Wired, March 1, 1994) and just heard his voice. It was Barlow. The openness of it spoke a truth to me that I hadn't quite connected with this effectively. His sense of what a connected environment actually was and the implications for changing how we think. It led me to ask him to become the first fellow the Berkman Center. I believe his spirit of connection is evident in all the work we've done: creative commons, open law, open radio, open economy, open health, free open libraries.

He is the net. He was the net. That openness of spirit that he expressed in his music, in his writing, and his connection with everyone radiated out through his friends like threads that make the net. He was extraordinary.

Where did some of these ideas come from about openness? And why did they ring so true to this community? How does his work seems so clarifying?

There was a clear feeling between the spirit of the 60s and of post World War ideas that somehow there is a “good America,” and that it has to do with community. The whole Vietnam experience was formative for Barlow and contemporaries, very much framed by the questions of justice and the place of America in the world, very much the environment in which Barlow emerges as a voice of connection. It's the idea that the Grateful Dead stand for. "Cool out, calm down, have a sense of enjoyment in your life and interaction, play fair, be fair." The better angels of our nature that make up of the "liberal naïveté" of those who don't feel it. So it's kind of like a core value of collective spirit. It believes in community at some deep level, and equality, almost radical equality to the point where it's seen as deeply threatening to an environment that is based on and values secrecy.

It sounds like he was foundational in a lot of the ideas of how we think about information and the Internet now that maybe that weren't taken for granted back then, that information and communication would be somewhat open and free. Would you describe his ideas as that foundation?

Yes I would. He brought threads together in a way that looked extremely clear-eyed. In The Economy of Ideas he was really talking about the music business. The question of what happens when there is no physical object to which you could attach a price tag. That was completely insightful and clarifying, and very much connected to how we began to understand the net.

What was it about the net that you think excited him and animated his spirit?

Recently Andrew McLaughlin circulated John's article about wiring Africa for Internet access (Africa Rising, Wired, January 1, 1998). Reading that, you're just blown away by the adventures and the joint venture that he exhibited, himself heading off on an expedition to see what connectivity in Africa was about and whether it could be a success. Brilliant reporting and just a stunning piece.

I think that he more than contemporaries saw the dimensional change that we were going through with Internet connectivity. The change from the pre-net world to what he could see as the cyber-world. He saw that as somehow deeper, more more encompassing than others. And in doing that he offered a vision of a future that people could connect with.

Do you feel like we've reached what his vision of the Internet was and could be, or has it always been this kind of thing to strive for?

I can't imagine that he didn't have brighter visions than what appears to be evolving. That is, the incredible dominance of capital power on the net. I've thought that university might be a power for openness, and still have that belief. Seems to me that's where the power of openness naturally resides. So the idea of John at the core of thinking in an Internet dimension seems just right to me.

What's become clear though is that the power on the open side of the net has a rhetorical quality to it. It's a narrative force that is capable of gaining viral power, and opposing capital force. Learning to use that power is a challenge that John left.


This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity by Daniel Dennis Jones. Photos CC-licensed courtesy of D. Yvette Wohn and Doc Searls

Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

metaLAB + friends openLAB


Please join us for metaLAB’s 2018 openLAB, showcasing work by metaLAB and friends. March 6, 5:30pm-7:30pm at Arts @ 29 Garden, 29 Garden St. in Cambridge.

Event Date Mar 6 2018 5:30pm to Mar 6 2018 5:30pm Thumbnail Image: 

metaLAB + friends openLAB
March 6, 5:30-7:30
29 Garden St. Cambridge, MA

Please join us for metaLAB’s 2018 openLAB, showcasing work by metaLAB and friends.

March 6, 5:30pm-7:30pm at Arts @ 29 Garden, 29 Garden St. in Cambridge. Refreshments will be served!

For more information, get in touch.

Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

An Open Letter to the Members of the Massachusetts Legislature Regarding the Adoption of Actuarial Risk Assessment Tools in the Criminal Justice System


The following open letter — signed by Harvard and MIT-based faculty, staff, and researchers — is directed to the Massachusetts Legislature to inform its consideration of risk assessment tools as part of ongoing criminal justice reform efforts in the Commonwealth.

Publication Date 9 Feb 2018 External Links: Read the letter on Medium

The following open letter — signed by Harvard and MIT-based faculty, staff, and researchers Chelsea BarabasChristopher BavitzRyan BudishKarthik DinakarUrs GasserKira HessekielJoichi Ito, Mason Kortz,  Madars Virza, and Jonathan Zittrain  — is directed to the Massachusetts Legislature to inform its consideration of risk assessment tools as part of ongoing criminal justice reform efforts in the Commonwealth.

In light of the extraordinarily rapid pace of technical development with respect to the sorts of RA tools under consideration; the relatively nascent state of our understanding of such tools and the consequences of their implementation; the far-ranging impacts these tools can have once implemented; the risk that institutional inertia might make it difficult to move away from them once they are adopted; and the complex and multivariate interplay between the use of RA tools and other aspects of the criminal justice system, we submit that the appropriate approach here is not a mandate in favor of adoption. Rather, we believe that the time is ripe for study, reflection, and development of transparent processes and comprehensive best practices.

Producer Intro Authored by
Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

Summer Internship Program

About the Program |Time Commitment | Payment | Commitment to Diversity | Eligibility | Summer 2018 Opportunities | To Apply

We are looking forward to engaging a diverse group of students who are interested in studying—and changing the world through—the Internet and new technologies; who are driven, funny, and kind; and who would like to join our amazing community in Cambridge this summer for 10 weeks of shared research and exchange.

We are now accepting applications for summer 2018 internships.  The application deadline for all students for summer 2018 is Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. ET           About the Program

Each summer the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University swings open the doors of our vibrant yellow house to welcome a group of talented and curious students as full-time interns - Berkterns! - who are passionate about the promise of the Internet. Finding connected and complementary research inquiries among their diverse backgrounds, students represent all levels of study, are being trained in disciplines across the board, and come from universities all over the world to tackle issues related to the core of the Center’s research agenda. Summer interns jump head first into the swirl of the Berkman Klein universe, where they are deeply and substantively involved in our research projects and efforts.

Becoming invaluable contributors to the Center’s operation and success, interns conduct collaborative and independent research under the guidance of Berkman Klein staff, fellows, and faculty. Specific roles, tasks, and experiences vary depending on Center needs and interns' skills; a select list of expected opportunities for this coming summer is below. Typically, the workload of each intern is primarily based under one project or suite of projects, with encouragement and flexibility to get involved in additional projects across the Center.

In addition to joining research teams, summer interns participate in special lectures with Berkman Klein Center faculty and fellows, engage each other through community experiences like weekly interns discussion hours, and attend Center-wide events and gatherings with members of the wider Berkman Klein community. As well, each year interns establish new channels for fun and learning, such as organizing debates and pub quizzes; establishing reading groups and book clubs; producing podcasts and videos; taking on the Mystic lakes and Brooklyn Boulders; and hosting potlucks, cook-offs, and BBQs (fortunately for us, people share).

The word "awesome" has been thrown around to describe our internships, but don't take our word for it. Get a behind the scenes look at what it's like to be a summer intern at the Center through the Summer Snapshot 2017 developed by summer 2017 Berktern Tym Yee; there you'll hear from interns about their experiences, projects, and out-of-the office explorations!  And an evergreen-in-spirit quote from former intern Zachary McCune in 2008 continues to sparkle (even as the rock band reference dates it): "it has been an enchanting summer working at the berkman center for internet & society.  everyday, i get to hang out with some of the most brilliant people on the planet. we talk, we write (emails), we blog, we laugh, we play rock band. and when things need to get done, we stay late hyped on free coffee and leftover food. it is a distinct honor to be considered a peer among such excellent people. and i am not just talking about the fellows, staff, and faculty, though they are all outstanding. no, i mean my peers as in my fellow interns, who are almost definitely the ripening next generation of changemakers."

          Time Commitment

The summer 2018 program will run from Monday, June 4, 2018 through Friday, August 10, 2018.  Summer internships are full time positions (35 hours/week).


Interns are paid $11.50 an hour, with the exception of certain opportunities for law students who receive summer public interest funds (more about these specific cases at the link for law students below).

No other benefits are provided, and interns must make their own housing, insurance, and transportation arrangements.

Commitment to Diversity

The work and well-being of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society are profoundly strengthened by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, ability, and much more. We actively seek and welcome people of color, women, the LGBTQIA community, persons with disabilities, and people at intersections of these identities, from across the spectrum of disciplines and methods.

  • Internships are open to students enrolled across the full spectrum of disciplines.
  • Internships are open to students at different levels of academic study including those in bachelor’s, master’s, law, and Ph.D programs.  We also welcome applications from recent graduates and those in between academic programs.
  • Summer interns do not need to be U.S. residents or in school in the U.S.; indeed, we encourage international students to apply. 
  • Selected interns must be authorized to be employed in the United States during the summer.  The Berkman Klein Center works with the Harvard International Office (HIO) to sponsor J-1 Student Intern Visas, which permit employment, for selected summer interns who meet the visa requirements.  More information can be found on the HIO website at
  • Summer interns do not need an existing affiliation with Harvard University.
Select Expected Summer 2018 Opportunities

Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence
We are seeking to hire a small group of interns to focus exclusively on research related to artificial intelligence and how to shape its development in a way that advances the public good. Machine learning and related computational techniques present a new set of challenges for not only engineers and computer scientists, but also for social scientists, ethicists and philosophers, legal scholars, economists, and policymakers. Throughout the summer, the interns will work closely with a team of researchers and faculty members at Berkman Klein to conduct research that helps conceptualize the challenges and implications of AI (broadly defined), and works toward identifying practical solutions and tools. Tasks may include (a) writing research memos, op-eds, and articles, and contributing to tool and database development; (b) researching and synthesizing a variety of AI-focused articles, books, and other publications; and (c) supporting the Center’s work across a range of topics relating to AI, algorithms, and machine learning, including the use of algorithms in the judiciary, media and information quality, and global governance and inclusion. This position requires high degrees of flexibility, strong writing and communication skills, as well as the ability to find, absorb, critically analyze, and debate large amounts of materials from various sources and across disciplines. No technical background is required. For more information on the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative, check out our webpage at

The Berkman Klein communications team is looking for a creative, motivated candidate to work  on variety of editorial, administration, and digital media tasks that help tell the Berkman Klein story to the public and target audiences. The comms intern may be asked to assist with any aspect of the Center’s communications activities, including editing and writing website and social media content, designing materials, pitching in with multimedia production, assisting with events and outreach, and developing new and creative ways to share and amplify the research and other activities undertaken by the Center and its projects. It is a great position for someone looking to familiarize her/himself with the Berkman Klein Center community, its activities and interests, and the Internet and society issues of the day. The right candidate will be sharp, flexible, and reliable and will possess strong organizational skills to help juggle multiple tasks, people, and projects. An understanding of both traditional and social media is key for this position. Interest across the broad areas of Berkman Klein research is big plus. Familiarity with website content management systems, Mailchimp, InDesign, audio editing, and media monitoring software is helpful, but not required.

Cyberlaw Clinic
The Cyberlaw Clinic provides pro bono legal services to individuals, startups, non-profit and other mission-driven organizations, and government entities. Every summer, Clinic interns contribute to a range of real-world projects related to the Internet and technology. Interns may assist the Clinic team in providing guidance on copyright and trademark issues; support advocacy efforts to protect civil liberties; consider domestic and global human rights impacts of technology on privacy and free expression; and work with agencies and organizations that promote innovation in the delivery of government services. Interns in the Cyberlaw Clinic can expect direct hands-on experience working with clients under the supervision of the Clinic's staff attorneys. More information about the Cyberlaw Clinic can be found at

Berklett Cybersecurity
The Internet and the devices attached to it are, in important ways, broken. They are not secure. And yet we depend on them – and treasure the openness that in some ways is at the root of some vulnerability.  Solutions to this problem are not only difficult to develop, but also exquisitely hard to implement. The Internet environment is a distinctly shared space: it comprises many interdependencies and perspectives among the public and private sectors.  But the actions taken by government and corporate actors has been highly fragmented.  Further complicating matters, trust in government -- particularly in the intelligence community -- to help address the mounting concerns around cybersecurity is low.  The Berklett Cybersecurity project is a unique forum for discussing true and important, and often novel, facts, and perspectives, and achieving surprising consensus on enduring questions of cybersecurity that are core to government, foreign intelligence, law enforcement, and industry.  Our aim is to achieve a depth of trusted and honest discussion between experts across a broad range of issues, and to significantly advance our collective understanding of the problems and their potential solutions.  More information about the project can be found at

Digital Communication, Politics, and Collective Action
We are seeking a research assistant who will contribute to ongoing work around two projects, one focused on media manipulation and the other on harmful speech online more broadly. Our media manipulation work centers on empirical scholarship that seeks to address the most important issues and challenges in the public interest at the intersection of political communication and digital media. The goals of our work on harmful speech online are to map the complex sphere within which it operates, convene and connect people working on these issues, and translate academic findings into useful information for policy makers. Summer interns may help review and synthesize relevant literature across fields; gather, analyze and visualize data; analyze digital, social, and other forms of online media and discourse; and write and edit essays, publications, and translational communications. More information can be found at and

Freedom of Expression
The Berkman Klein Center's suite of freedom of expression-related projects, including Internet Monitor, is seeking an intern to conduct research on Internet filtering, monitoring, and control efforts around the globe; engage in related data gathering efforts using online sources; contribute to report writing; blog regularly about issues concerning online freedom of expression; and manage various projects' social media accounts. In the past, interns have also supported research on blogospheres and other online communities around the world, contributed to literature reviews, and hand coded online content. Basic HTML skills and a familiarity with content management systems are helpful. Foreign language skills, particularly in Persian, Arabic, Russian, and Chinese, are useful. More information about some of the Berkman Klein Center’s work on freedom of expression can be found at the following link:

Geek Cave Software Development
The Berkman Klein Geek Cave is a great place to dive into technical and software development projects over the summer. Interns joining the Geek Cave will work to extend open source development projects of various kinds. We have four fun, talented, devoted, full-time developers on staff, which interns will work with to help hone their 1337 skillz. Interns will also have opportunities to manage the complex system of hamster wheels that keep the network moving. Our team also regularly works with ruby, php, bash, javascript, elasticsearch, solr, postgresql, and a slew of other tools. Geek Cave interns applying this summer should be familiar with one or more of [ruby, php, javascript]. Experience with ubuntu linux, rails, meteor, wordpress and drupal is a plus. More info about the projects that we work on can be found on our github organization page:

Global Access in Action
Global Access in Action (GAiA), a project of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, is seeking a paid summer intern from June to August 2018. GAiA is a dynamic global health non-profit organization that focuses on improving access to lifesaving medicines in low- and middle-income countries through the implementation of legal, policy, and regulatory reform. GAiA seeks to expand access to lifesaving medicines and combat the communicable disease burden that disproportionately harms the world’s most vulnerable population. We work with key domestic and international stakeholders. Interns will be responsible for assisting with a variety of tasks including research, writing, event management, project administration, and communications. In particular, interns will help with: (1) communications and outreach for GAiA; (2) events and conferences with stakeholders; (3) website management and (4) writing of blogs. We are looking for candidates who are detail-oriented and committed to global public health. Experience with global health, intellectual property, and communications are helpful but not required. You may refer to our website for more information on our projects:

Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP)
HOAP fosters open access (OA) to research, advises on OA policies and projects, undertakes research on OA, and provides OA to timely and accurate information about OA itself. HOAP interns may enlarge the Open Access Directory (OAD), a wiki-based encyclopedia of OA, contribute to the Open Access Tracking Project (OATP), a social-tagging project organizing knowledge about OA, and/or test and promote TagTeam, a HOAP-directed open-source tagging platform built at the Berkman Klein Center to support OATP. They may help with ongoing HOAP research projects or use some of their time on an OA-related project of their own, with support and feedback from the other members of HOAP. More information about HOAP can be found at

Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data
The Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data project brings together expertise in computer science, statistics, law, policy, and social science across five research centers across Harvard and MIT. It seeks to develop methods, tools, and policies to further the tremendous research potential of data containing information about individuals while protecting privacy. The legal team, led by Prof. Urs Gasser at the Berkman Klein Center, explores cross-disciplinary approaches to data privacy and devises new privacy frameworks, legal instruments, and policy recommendations that complement privacy-preserving technologies being developed in the project. To support this work, the Berkman Klein team is looking for rising second and third-year law students to conduct research and analysis on topics related to privacy law and policy. Summer interns will write legal memoranda on selected topics in privacy law and policy, draft data sharing agreements, survey the academic literature on privacy, contribute to the development of new tools for privacy and data sharing, and attend lectures and events with privacy experts from a wide range of disciplines. More information about the project can be found on the Privacy Tools project website at

Special Projects with Executive Director Urs Gasser
We are seeking to hire a small team of summer interns to work on a variety of projects undertaken by Berkman Klein's Executive Director Urs Gasser, including but not limited to, a new project that explores the evolving role of law in the digital age, engineering a “re-coding” of cyberlaw that better aligns the law with the spheres of technological innovations such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, and new modes of blended, multimodal governance. Please read Urs’ article in the Harvard Law Review Forum, “Recoding Privacy Law: Reflections on the Future Relationship Among Law, Technology, and Privacy,” for more information. Additional research topics during the internship include privacy, cybersecurity, comparative law, digital health, interoperability, and Internet governance. Tasks include (a) research for presentations and events, op-eds, a book, and articles, (b) editorial work, and (c) general support on a range of international initiatives. This position requires high degrees of flexibility, strong communication skills, as well as the ability to find, absorb, critically analyze, and debate large amounts of written and other media materials from a various sources. This position is an ideal opportunity for individuals interested in pursuing graduate or legal studies in the future, as well as those individuals currently enrolled in graduate or law school. Knowledge of foreign languages is a plus. More information about Urs’ research can be found at

Technology, Law and Library Innovation
The Library Innovation Lab explores intersections of technology, law and libraries. Each summer we welcome 2-3 Berkman Klein Center interns to collaborate on projects big and small with our band of developers, designers, lawyers and librarians. This summer, as part of our Caselaw Access Project, we’ll be experimenting with a huge new dataset of all US court decisions, working on an API to promote public access and research use of the data, and pursuing small discovery and demonstration projects to help illustrate the possible uses of this important dataset. We’re also working to transform textbooks and expand open educational resources through a major redesign and relaunch of our H2O platform. And we’re building open source software called that helps scholars, courts and many others preserve web citations against link rot. Those are some of our big projects. We also have many other small sketches and explorations in motion all the time. We welcome applicants of all backgrounds and perspectives who share our enthusiasm for this work. Technical expertise is great but not required. Please join us!

To Apply

We know what you're thinking. Yes please. I want that. That sounds magical.  Did I mention that I have incredible dance moves?  Here's what you should do...

  • Law students: please find application instructions and important additional information here.
  • Students from disciplines other than law: please find more information and application instructions here.

The application deadline for all students for summer 2018 is Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. ET


Please start with our Summer Internship Program FAQ

Have questions not covered in the FAQ? Email Rebecca Tabasky at



Tenacious 'terns wanted to help us untangle the Internet.
Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

Media Migration, Signage, and Smoked Fish: the Library Consortium as Studio, Platform, and Metacommunity

Subtitle featuring Nate Hill, Executive Director of the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) Teaser

In this talk, Nate will give an overview of the programs at METRO/599, talk about the challenges associated with this organizational recalibration, seek input and ideas from the group, and extend an invitation to attendees to come take part in the fun.

Event Date Feb 13 2018 12:00pm to Feb 13 2018 12:00pm Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 12:00 pm
Ballantine Classroom, Room 101
Pound Hall, Harvard Law School
1563 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge

RSVP required to attend in person.

METRO/599 is a studio in Hell’s Kitchen that connects more than 250 of New York’s libraries, archives, and knowledge organizations. With 6000 square feet of event and studio space, supporting projects in digital privacy, multimedia media archiving, metadata aggregation, and podcasting, and offering tools for everything from software preservation to signage prototyping to spaghetti and meatball crafting, METRO/599 is reinventing the multi-type library consortium as a metacommunity center. In this talk, Nate will give an overview of the programs at METRO/599, talk about the challenges associated with this organizational recalibration, seek input and ideas from the group, and extend an invitation to attendees to come take part in the fun.


About Nate Hill

Nate grew up in upstate New York and began his career in libraries at Brooklyn Public Library’s Stone Avenue Branch. After almost ten years of service and several different roles within Brooklyn Public Library, he relocated to Silicon Valley to retrain and re-tool as a web designer and developer for the San Jose Public Library. Before joining METRO in June 2015, Nate served as Deputy Director of the Chattanooga Public Library, where he led the 4th Floor project, a 12,000 square foot library loft space featuring a public access makerspace, civic laboratory, and gigabit laboratory.

Nate was named a "Mover and Shaker" by Library Journal in 2012. He earned his undergraduate degree in art from Skidmore College and an MLIS from Pratt Institute’s School of Information. Nate currently serves on the New York State Board of Regents Advisory Committee on Libraries and the advisory board for the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy. His projects have been exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and he has spoken about his work in Denmark, Scotland, Greece, Colombia, and elsewhere.

When he’s not busy library-ing, Nate enjoys hiking, gardening, carpentry, design, and tinkering alongside his wife and kids.

Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

Past, Present, and Future of the Digital Public Library of America

Subtitle featuring John Bracken, newly appointed executive director of the DPLA, and colleagues Teaser

Please join DPLA's new executive director John Bracken and colleagues to reflect on the DPLA’s past, present and future and explore the way in which libraries can contribute to a stronger civic life in the midst of disruptive times.

Event Date Feb 2 2018 3:00pm to Feb 2 2018 3:00pm Thumbnail Image: 

Friday, February 2, 2018 at 3:00 pm
Harvard Law School campus
Caspersen Room, Langdell Hall (4th Floor)

This event is being co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Library and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Please join us for a discussion about the role of libraries in a technological society. Conceived of at Harvard and incubated by the Berkman Klein Center, the Digital Public Library of America recently announced the appointment of John Bracken as its new executive director. We will reflect on the DPLA’s past, present and future and explore the way in which libraries can contribute to a stronger civic life in the midst of disruptive times. Co-hosted by the Berkman Klein Center and the Harvard Law School Library, the gathering will take place on Friday, February 2, from 3:00-5:00pm in the Caspersen Room (fourth floor) at the Harvard Law School Library, with a reception to follow.


About John S. Bracken

As Executive Director, John Bracken leads DPLA’s staff, board, and key stakeholders in developing a clear vision and strategy for DPLA’s future with a focus on continued growth, innovation, and services. Bracken joins DPLA from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where he was vice president of technology innovation. He previously directed Knight’s journalism and media innovation program, before becoming vice president of media innovation. Bracken received his undergraduate degree from the Claremont Colleges’ Pitzer College, and a Master’s degree from the Annenberg​ ​School​ ​for​ ​Communication​,​ ​at the University​ ​of​ ​Pennsylvania. Bracken previously worked at the Ford Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He currently serves on the board of Illinois Humanities.


We will also be joined by our colleagues:

Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International Law; Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources; Faculty Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society; Professor of Computer Science, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Professor, Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government

Bob Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and University librarian, emeritus, Harvard 

Maura Marx, President, Fidelity Foundation

Jocelyn Kennedy, Executive Director, Harvard Law School Library

Mary Minow, Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow, Harvard 

Nicco Mele, Director, Shorenstein Center

Philipp Schmidt, Director of Learning Innovation, MIT Media Lab

Urs Gasser, Executive Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society; Professor of Practice, Harvard Law School

Download original audio and video from this event.

Subscribe to the Berkman Klein events podcast to have audio from all our events delivered straight to you!

Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

Health Care Costs and Transparency

Subtitle featuring John Freedman, President & CEO of Freedman HealthCare Teaser

Health spending continues outpace wages and GDP, while some new insurance designs transfer greater shares of that to patients’ own out of pocket costs. What is driving health care costs up, who is benefiting, and how are data harnessed to study the problems and remedy them?

Parent Event Berkman Klein Luncheon Series Event Date Feb 6 2018 12:00pm to Feb 6 2018 12:00pm Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 12:00 pm
Milstein West B, Room 2019
1585 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
Wasserstein Hall, Harvard Law School

RSVP required to attend in person.
Event will be live webcast at 12:00 pm.


Health spending continues outpace wages and GDP, while some new insurance designs transfer greater shares of that to patients’ own out of pocket costs. In this talk, Dr. Freedman will discuss what is driving health care costs up, who is benefiting, and how data is harnessed to study problems and remedy them.


About Dr. John Freedman

John Freedman MD MBA has 30 years’ experience in care delivery, performance measurement & improvement, health IT, and health care reform. Before founding Freedman Healthcare, he held leadership roles at multiple innovative health care firms. Dr. Freedman served as Medical Director for Quality at Kaiser Permanente’s Colorado region, and as medical director for specialty services and coordinated care at New England’s largest community health center, overseeing 50 staff in 16 specialties. As medical director for quality and medical management at Tufts Health Plan, he helped them climb to a #2 national NCQA quality ranking. He has served on the boards of Massachusetts Health Quality Partners, Network Health (a 300,000 member Medicaid health plan), and the Fishing Partnership (which improves health in fishing communities). Dr. Freedman graduated Harvard College, U. of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and
the U. of Louisville School of Business. Freedman Healthcare is a leading consulting firm in health care reform, health policy analysis and development, and it has been engaged in many states to create all-payer claims databases, implement health insurance exchanges, and support health care transformation.


Loading... Related Content: Berkman Klein Luncheon Series
Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

The “Monkey Selfie” Case: Can Non-Humans Hold Copyrights?

Subtitle featuring Jon Lovvorn (HLS), Jeff Kerr (PETA), and a panel of experts on copyright, cyber law, and intermediary liability issues Teaser

Can non-human animals own copyrights? Can artificial intelligence machines? Join the Berkman Klein Center and the Harvard Student Animal Legal Defense Fund for a discussion of the “Monkey Selfie” case and the issues it raises around untraditional definitions of who can be considered a creator under the law.

Parent Event Berkman Klein Luncheon Series Event Date Jan 30 2018 12:00pm to Jan 30 2018 12:00pm Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 12:00 pm
Harvard Law School campus
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East C
(Room 2036, Second Floor)

RSVP required to attend in person
Event will be live webcast at 12:00 pm

Complimentary plant-based lunch will be served

This event is being co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Animal Law & Policy Program and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

After a photographer left his camera equipment out for a group of wild macaques to explore, the monkeys took a series of photos, including selfies. Once the photos were posted publicly, legal disputes arose around who should own the copyrights —the human photographer who engineered the situation, or the macaques who snapped the photos. This unique case raises the increasingly pertinent question as to whether non-humans—whether they be monkeys or artificial intelligence machines—can claim copyrights to their creations. Join Jon Lovvorn, Lecturer on Law and the Policy Director of Harvard Law School's Animal Law & Policy Program, as he hosts a discussion panel featuring the General Counsel of PETA, which sued on behalf of the monkey, and experts on copyright, cyber law, and intermediary liability issues.

About Jon Lovvorn

Jonathan Lovvorn is the first Policy Director of the Harvard Animal Law & Policy Program. Mr. Lovvorn is also a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School and will teach our inaugural course on Farmed Animal Law & Policy this Fall. He previously taught the HLS seminar in Wildlife Law in both the Fall 2015 and Fall 2016 terms. In addition to teaching at Harvard, Mr. Lovvorn has taught Animal Law and Wildlife Law at a number of other law schools, including New York University, Georgetown, George Washington University, and most recently Yale. He also has authored several articles concerning animal law and environmental policy, most recently publishing Climate Change Beyond Environmentalism in the Georgetown Environmental Law Review, which focuses on the intersectional threats of climate change to animals, people, and the environment. For several years Mr. Lovvorn has been serving as Senior Vice President & Chief Counsel for the Humane Society of the United States, where he founded and managed the nation’s largest animal protection litigation program. He has argued dozens of successful cases on behalf of both animals and the environment, authored or co-authored hundreds of state and federal animal protection reform laws, and served as the primary legal strategist for most of the major animal protection ballot measures enacted over the last 15 years.

About Jeff Kerr

As general counsel to PETA and its international affiliates for nearly 25 years, Jeff Kerr built and leads the world's largest legal team working for animal rights. His team was named Corporate Counsel magazine's 2017 Best Legal Department, and his high-profile cases—including the 13th Amendment case Tilikum v. SeaWorld, the first two successful constitutional challenges to "ag-gag" laws, and the "Monkey Selfie" copyright case—have made headlines around the world and sparked a global conversation about the legal rights of animals. Jeff’s undergraduate degree is from George Mason University, where he was a Weber scholar, and he received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, which will honor him this weekend with its Shaping Justice Award for Extraordinary Achievement for his career fighting for and advancing the cause of animal rights.

About Tiffany Li

Tiffany C. Li is an attorney and Resident Fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project, where she leads the Wikimedia/Yale Law School Initiative on Intermediaries and Information. She is an expert on privacy, intellectual property, and law and policy at the forefront of new technological innovations. Li is also an Affiliate Scholar at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy. She has been honored as a Transatlantic Digital Debates Fellow (Global Public Policy Institute/New America Foundation), a Fellow of Information Privacy (International Association of Privacy Professionals), and a Fellow and Founding Member of the Internet Law and Policy Foundry. Li is a licensed attorney and has CIPP/US, CIPP/E, CIPT, and CIPM certifications from the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP). She holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was a Global Law Scholar, and a B.A. in English from University of California Los Angeles, where she was a Norma J. Ehrlich Alumni Scholar.

About Chris Bavitz

Christopher T. Bavitz is Managing Director of Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, based at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. He is also a Clinical Professor of Law at HLS, where he co-teaches the Counseling and Legal Strategy in the Digital Age seminar and teaches the seminar, Music & Digital Media. Chris concentrates his practice on intellectual property and media law, particularly in the areas of music, entertainment, and technology. He oversees many of the Clinic’s projects relating to copyright, speech, and advising of startups, and he serves as the HLS Dean’s Designate to Harvard’s Innovation Lab. Prior to joining the Clinic, Chris served as Senior Director of Legal Affairs for EMI Music North America. From 1998-2002, Chris was a litigation associate at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and RubinBaum LLP / Rubin Baum Levin Constant & Friedman, where he focused on copyright and trademark matters. Chris received his B.A., cum laude, from Tufts University in 1995 and his J.D. from University of Michigan Law School in 1998.

About Kendra Albert

Kendra Albert is a Clinical Instructional Fellow at the Cyberlaw Clinic and was formerly an associate at Zeitgeist Law PC, a boutique technology law firm in San Francisco. They received their JD from Harvard Law School in 2016.  Kendra is also a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and a writer and speaker on a diverse set of internet issues. Their work has been published in the Green Bag, the Harvard Law Review Forum, and WIRED. Kendra’s undergraduate degree is from Carnegie Mellon University, where they studied lighting design and history. Before starting law school, Kendra worked as a research associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, where they helped found They also served as the first head teaching fellow for CopyrightX, Professor William Fisher’s open online copyright course. During law school, they spent time at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Cloudflare, and Public Citizen. With EFF, they co-filed and received a DMCA 1201 exemption request for video game archiving and play.

Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

Global AI Dialogue Series

Subtitle Observations from the China-US Workshop in Beijing (December 2, 2017) Teaser

In December 2017, the Berkman Klein Center co-hosted an exploratory workshop in Beijing, China with Tsinghua University’s School of Public Policy and Management and the MIT Media Lab’s Ethics Initiative.

In December 2017, the Berkman Klein Center co-hosted an exploratory workshop in Beijing, China with Tsinghua University’s School of Public Policy and Management and the MIT Media Lab’s Ethics Initiative. Drawing together experts and practitioners from both countries to build interfaces for bilateral learning and trust between the AI research communities in China and the US, the event focused on AI impact metrics and measurement in critical areas such as social inclusion and the digital economy.

The excerpt below is from a write-up of observations from the discussion-based workshop. Read the full write-up on Medium or access the PDF from our Ethics and Governance of AI reasearch page

China and the United States are home to leading players in the research and development of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems, which promise enormous benefits for the social good and pose significant risks. Investment in startups to apply and commercialize AI technologies is rapidly advancing in both countries, while in parallel different branches of the Chinese and American governments are preparing strategic policy plans for the future of AI. AI’s social impact, however, remains insufficiently examined, and many probable and prospective national and international decision points have yet to be clearly identified owing to differing political, economic, and cultural contexts.

In order to establish a cross-cultural dialogue about specific AI issues and build a learning network for investigating approaches to address these issues within and across domestic and global contexts, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University in collaboration with the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University and the MIT Media Lab’s Ethics Initiative hosted a China-US AI Workshop to bring together experts and practitioners from both countries. The meeting was designed to strengthen and build interfaces for bilateral learning and information sharing on research questions surrounding AI of mutual interest, while fostering trust between the AI research communities in China and the United States.

The purpose of this write-up is to share observations from this initial discussion-based workshop, highlight overarching themes that emerged, and extract insights on next steps for sustaining the cross-cultural, global dialogue.


Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

The dark side of the networked public sphere: How the right-wing is (ab)using the internet's affordances

Subtitle featuring Jonas Kaiser, Berkman Klein Affiliate Teaser

Far-right, alt-right, identitarians: Right-wing actors are active all over the internet, adapt to platforms, game the system, blur the lines between off- and online, and create their own virtual spaces. This talk will showcase how the right-wing in the United States and in Germany (ab)use the internet, and how social media algorithms involuntarily contribute to the right-wing's reach.

Parent Event Berkman Klein Luncheon Series Event Date Jan 23 2018 12:00pm to Jan 23 2018 12:00pm Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Harvard Law School campus
[LOCATION UPDATE] Pound Hall, Room 101, Ballantine Classroom

RSVP required to attend in person

Watch Live Starting at 12pm
(video and audio will be archived on this page following the event)

If you experience a video disruption reload to refresh the webcast.

The right-wing is rising. Not only in the United States but also in Germany and other European countries. And the internet helped. Right-wing actors are active all over the internet, adapt to platforms, game the system, blur the lines between off- and online, and create their own virtual spaces. In addition, social media platforms like YouTube contribute involuntarily to the right-wing's reach and, perhaps, influence with their algorithms. But how bad is it? How should we deal with right-wing actors? And what would be a way forward?

About Jonas

Jonas Kaiser is a DFG postdoctoral fellow and affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and Associate Researcher at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin. His research interest are the transformation of the networked public sphere, digital methods, and political communication. At the Berkman Klein Center he is working on his research project on the "right-wing web," in which he aims to understand how and where right-wing actors make use of the internet to connect online and form international networks. He wrote his doctoral thesis at Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen about online climate change scepticism in Germany. His academic writing has been published in journals like International Journal of Communication, Communication and the Public, Media and Communication, or Environmental Communication as well as handbooks and edited volumes.


Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

The Cyberlaw Guide to Protest Art


In this guide, we'll cover the main areas of law that are implicated by protest art online. We’ll give you the background on what the law is and explain why it works the way it does. Finally, we’ll give you practical advice on how to get your work out onto the web and into the world.

Thumbnail Image: 

Originally posted on the Cyberlaw Clinic Blog

In the wake of Trump’s election and the resurgence of political art inspired by movements like the Women’s March, the Cyberlaw Clinic was approached by artists seeking clarification of their rights and responsibilities as creators and activists online. In response, a team of Berkman Klein staff, Clinic students, and allied creative folks created this Guide. It’s in plain language, meant to be accessible and helpful for folks across the political spectrum who are using art to engage in civic dialogue, to minimize their risks and maximize their impact.

We took on this project because art plays a significant role in American democracy. Across the political spectrum, protest art — posters, songs, poems, memes, and more —inspires us, gives us a sense of community, and provides insight into how others think and feel about important and often controversial issues.

While protest art has been part of our culture for a very long time, the Internet and social media have changed the available media and the visibility of protest artists. Digital technologies make it easy to find existing works and incorporate them into your own, and art that goes viral online spreads faster than was ever possible in the analog world. Many artists find the law that governs all of this unclear in the physical world, and even murkier online.

The authors have seen how the law can undermine artists, writers, and musicians when they’re caught unaware, and distract them from the work they want to do. But we’ve also observed how savvy creators use the law to enhance their work and broaden their audiences. This guide is intended to ensure that you, the reader, can be one of the savvy ones.

In this guide, we will cover the main areas of law that are implicated by protest art online, with separate posts on:

  • Roadmap: what the Guide covers and to whom it will be helpful

  • Copyright Part 1: what copyright protects (and what it doesn’t) and how to deal with copyrighted works

  • Copyright Part 2: the law of fair use — what it is, how it’s determined, and the risks of fair use

  • Copyright Part 3: getting permission to use the work of others — how to identify a copyright owner and how to make a license request

  • Trademark: what trademark protects, and when you can use another person’s trademark (with or without their permission)

  • Rights of privacy and publicity: legal rights of privacy and publicity, which are implicated when protest art features real people

  • Sharing and merchandising your work: licensing your work including with Creative Commons, using disclaimers, and making money

We’ll give you the background on what the law is and explain why it works the way it does. Finally, we’ll give you practical advice on how to get your work out onto the web and into the world.

The Cyberlaw Guide to Protest Art was written by Cyberlaw Clinic staff and students including Jessica Fjeld, Hannah Hilligoss, Maggie Finnegan (Fall ‘17), Jose Lamarque (Spring ‘17), and Jackie Kim (Spring ’17) in collaboration with Jessica Yurkofsky and Sarah Newman from metaLAB at Harvard. The illustrations were all created by Yurkofsky. We are grateful for the assistance of our Editorial Board including Hayley Gilmore, Carolyn Marsden, Crystal Nwaneri, and the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston’s Megan Low, as well as the input of Berkman Klein Center collaborators Christopher Bavitz and Nikki Bourassa.

Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

Net Neutrality in the United States

Subtitle A panel featuring Christopher S. Yoo (UPenn) and Matthew Wood (Free Press) Teaser

The January 4 release of the Federal Communications Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order marked the most recent turn of events in the longstanding and ever-changing debate over net neutrality. Come hear a panel of leading experts explore the consequences of this action, including the implications of the Order, the outcome of the judicial challenge, and the possibility of legislative reform.

Event Date Jan 25 2018 12:00pm to Jan 25 2018 12:00pm Thumbnail Image: 

Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 12:00 pm
Harvard Law School campus
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East A
(Room 2036, Second Floor)

RSVP required to attend in person
Event will be live webcast at 12:00 pm

This event is being co-sponsored by the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard.

The January 4 release of the Federal Communications Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order marked the most recent turn of events in the longstanding and ever-changing debate over net neutrality.  Come hear a panel of leading experts explore the consequences of this action, including the implications of the Order, the outcome of the judicial challenge, and the possibility of legislative reform.

About Christopher S. Yoo

Christopher S. Yoo is the John H. Chestnut Professor of Law, Communication, and Computer & Information Science and the Founding Director of the Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition at the University of Pennsylvania.  Repeatedly recognized as one of the most cited scholars in administrative/regulatory law and intellectual property, his major research projects include studying innovative ways to connect more people to the Internet; comparing antitrust enforcement practices in China, Europe, and the U.S.; using technology to inform how the law can promote optimal interoperability; and promoting privacy and security for autonomous vehicles, medical devices, and the Internet’s routing architecture.  He is also building an innovative integrated interdisciplinary joint degree programs designed to produce a new generation of professionals with advanced training in both law and engineering.  

Before entering the academy, Professor Yoo clerked for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States and Judge A. Raymond Randolph of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  He also practiced law with the law firm of Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells) under the supervision of now-Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.  He also served as a professor at the Vanderbilt Law School, where he led the Technology and Entertainment Law Program.  He is a graduate of Harvard College, the Anderson School at UCLA, and the Northwestern University School of Law.  The author of four books and more than ninety articles and book chapters, Professor Yoo testifies frequently before Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and foreign governments.  He is currently serving as a member of the Federal Communication Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, the Board of Advisers for the American Law Institute’s Project on Principles of Law for Data Privacy, and as a co-convener of the United Nation’s Internet Governance Forum’s Connecting and Enabling the Next Billions initiative.

About Matt Wood

Matt Wood has been the Policy Director since 2011 at Free Press, one of the country’s leading Net Neutrality advocacy groups, which successfully intervened to defend the 2015 FCC open internet rules and last week filed a petition for review challenging repeal of those rules.

He practices before the FCC most often but has also served as an expert witness before Congress on multiple occasions, and he worked in the communications practice groups of two DC firms before entering the non-profit sector.

He graduated from HLS in 2001, and served as editor-in-chief for CR-CL — but also subcited for JOLT, he promises.



Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America

Pricing Review Shows They Provide Least-Expensive Local "Broadband" Teaser

Our examination of advertised prices shows that community-owned fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks in the United States generally charge less for entry-level broadband service than do competing private providers, and don’t use initial low “teaser” rates that sharply rise months later. 

Publication Date 10 Jan 2018 Thumbnail Image: External Links: Download from DASH

by David Talbot, Kira Hessekiel, and Danielle Kehl

By one recent estimate about 8.9 percent of Americans, or about 29 million people, lack access to wired home “broadband” service, which the U.S. Federal Communications Commission defines as an internet access connection providing speeds of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Even where home broadband is available, high prices inhibit adoption; in one national survey, 33 percent of non-subscribers cited cost of service as the primary barrier. Municipally and other community-owned networks have been proposed as a driver of competition and resulting better service and prices.

We examined prices advertised by a subset of community-owned networks that use fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) technology. In late 2015 and 2016 we collected advertised prices for residential data plans offered by 40 community-owned (typically municipally-owned) FTTH networks. We then identified the least-expensive service that meets the federal definition of broadband (regardless of the exact speeds provided) and compared advertised prices to those of private competitors in the same markets. We were able to make comparisons in 27 communities and found that in 23 cases, the community-owned FTTH providers’ pricing was lower when the service costs and fees were averaged over four years. (Using a three year-average changed this fraction to 22 out of 27.) In the other 13 communities, comparisons were not possible, either because the private providers’ website terms of service deterred or prohibited data collection or because no competitor offered service that qualified as broadband. We also found that almost all community-owned FTTH networks offered prices that were clear and unchanging, whereas private ISPs typically charged initial low promotional or “teaser” rates that later sharply rose, usually after 12 months.

We made the incidental finding that Comcast advertised different prices and terms for the same service in different regions. We do not have enough information to draw conclusions about the impacts of these practices. In general, our ability to study broadband pricing was constrained by the lack of standardization in internet service offerings and a shortage of available data. The FCC doesn't collect data from ISPs on advertised prices, prices actually charged, service availability by address, consumer adoption by address, or the length of time consumers retain service.

Producer Intro Authored by
Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

MACHINE EXPERIENCE II: Art Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence


A showcase of works by metaLAB artists exploring the emotional effects of algorithms, the uncanny experiences of sensor-enabled computers, and what intelligent machines might reveal about understandings of the nature of intelligence itself.

Thumbnail Image: 

January 19 - February 4
Rainbow Unicorn
Anklamer Str. 50, 10115. Berlin

The possibilities of artificial intelligence have long seemed futuristic and far-fetched. Today, however, AI technology is making its impact felt in such real-world realms as autonomous vehicles, online searches and feeds, and the criminal justice system.

metaLAB at Harvard presents MACHINE EXPERIENCE II, a showcase of works by metaLAB artists exploring the emotional effects of algorithms, the uncanny experiences of sensor-enabled computers, and what intelligent machines might reveal about understandings of the nature of intelligence itself. This work is presented in conjunction with the Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and the MIT Media Lab.

The exhibition includes works by: Kim Albrecht, Matthew Battles, Joanne K. Cheung, Hannah Davis, Sands Fish, Adam Horowitz & Oscar Rosello, Maia Leandra, Sarah Newman, Rachel Kalmar & Jessica Yurkofsky, Mindy Seu, Jie Qi & Artem Dementyev.

Rainbow Unicorn is a Berlin based design agency working in fields of art direction and coding founded by Anna Niedhart, Christian Reich and Alex Tolar.

Since 2016 Rainbow Unicorn expanded to a gallery dedicated to contemporary art.

Contact: Related Content: Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence
Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

Who Owns Your Ideas and How Does Creativity Happen?

Subtitle A Conversation with Professor Orly Lobel on her new book You Don’t Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side (Norton) Teaser

Who owns your ideas? How are cultural icons created and who gets to control their image and message? Orly Lobel’s new book You Don’t Own Me is about how intellectual property both fuels and impedes entrepreneurship, innovation, ideas, and talent. The story is also about how the courtroom interacts with consumer psychology, corporate ethics, brand control, feminism, ethnicity and our values about parenting and womanhood. "Colorful and dramatic. ...Orly Lobel masterfully draws us in with rich details, urging us to consider the future of innovation and the many ways in which companies employ litigation to achieve market domination." -- Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and author of The Future of the Internet

Parent Event Berkman Klein Luncheon Series Event Date Jan 16 2018 12:00pm to Jan 16 2018 12:00pm Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Harvard Law School campus
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East A (Room 2036, second floor)

RSVP required to attend in person
Event will be live webcast at 12:00 pm

Orly Lobel, award-winning author of Talent Wants to be Free and the Don Weckstein Professor of Law at the University of San Diego, delves into the legal disputes between toy powerhouses to expose the ways IP is used as a sledgehammer in today’s innovation battles. YOU DON’T OWN ME is not just a thrilling story of business battles and courtroom drama, but the book brings a critical eye to our ideas about the American Dream, the rise of feminism, consumer psychology and the making of icons alongside betrayal, spying, and racism in the courtroom. Deeply researched, Lobel interviewed the major players, including the executives behind questionable corporate and legal strategies and the controversial appellate court judge Alex Koziniski. With compelling Michael Lewis style storytelling, Lobel shows that our current markets too often allow anticompetitive practices by the enforcement of draconian assignment contracts, NDAs, and covenant not to competes against employees and by overly expansive definitions of copyright, trademark and trade secrecy.

About Orly

Orly Lobel is the award winning author several books and numerous articles. She is a prolific speaker, commentators and scholar who travels the world with an impact on policy and industry. Her book Talent Wants to Be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids and Free Riding (Yale University Press 2013), is the winner of several prestigious awards, including Gold Medal Axiom Best Business Books 2014, Gold Medal Independent Publisher’s Award 2014, the 2015 Gold Medal of Next Generation Indie Books and Winner of the International Book Awards for Best Business Book. In 2016 Lobel was invited to Washington DC to present Talent Wants to be Free at the White House, a meeting which resulted in a presidential call for action.

Lobel is the author as well as two earlier books about employment and labor law and economics and numerous articles on behavioral law and economics, innovation policy, intellectual property, human capital, the sharing economy and the rise of the digital platform, regulation and governance. Lobel is the Don Weckstein Professor of Law and founding member of the Center for Intellectual Property Law and Markets at the University of San Diego. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Lobel’s interdisciplinary research is published widely in the top journals in law, economics, and psychology. Lobel is currently writing a book about innovation battles and how policy has shaped the dynamics of competition and play in the toy industry forthcoming 2017.

Lobel’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Economist, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, The Sunday Times, Globe and Mail, Marketplace, Huffington Post, CNBC, and CNN Money. Her scholarship and research has received significant grants and awards, including from the ABA, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Fulbright, and the Searle-Kauffman Foundation.

She is a member of the American Law Institute and served as a fellow at Harvard University Center for Ethics and the Professions, the Kennedy School of Government, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. She serves on the advisory boards of the San Diego Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society, the Employee Rights Center, and the Oxford Handbook on Governance.

A world traveler, Lobel has lectured at Yale, Harvard, University of California San Diego, University of San Diego and Tel Aviv University and is a frequent speaker at top research institutions, industry, and government forums throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. A celebrated author and scholar, Lobel’s writing has won several awards including the Thorsnes Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship and the Irving Oberman Memorial Award. In 2013, Lobel was named one of the 50 Sharpest Minds in Research by The Marker Magazine. Lobel lives in La Jolla, California, with her husband and three daughters.

Lobel is regularly interviewed featured in the nation’s leading media outlets, journals and radio, such as the New York Times, BusinessWeek, and NPR’s Marketplace. She is a sought after public speaker and is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review. Recently, she was invited to speak at leading associations and companies, such as Intel, Samsung, AlphaSights, ERE. Lobel is also active on Twitter and is a regular blogger. In May 2015, Lobel gave a fascinating TEDx talk entitled Secrets & Sparks about the expansion of secrecy and intellectual property in contemporary markets.


Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

Berkman Klein at IGF 2017


This week marks the 12th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a multistakeholder forum for policy dialogue on issues of Internet governance. The Berkman Klein Center is pleased to be an active participant in key discussions about some of the most pressing issues of our increasingly networked world, including the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence and harmful speech online

Thumbnail Image: 

This week (December 17-21) marks the 12th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a multistakeholder forum for policy dialogue on issues of Internet governance, held this year in Geneva, Switzerland.  As in years past, the Berkman Klein Center is pleased to be an active participant in key discussions about some of the most pressing issues of our increasingly networked world, including the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence, harmful speech online, and youth in the digital economy.

A few sessions we are particularly excited about are highlighted below:

Social Responsibility and Ethics in Artificial Intelligence

Moderated by Urs Gasser and featuring Danit Gal and others

The breakthroughs in AI will rapidly transform digital society and greatly improve labor productivity, but also will raise a host of new and difficult issues concerning e.g. employment, ethics, the digital divide, privacy, law and regulation. In consequence, there is a growing recognition that all stakeholders will need to engage in a new and difficult dialogue to ensure that AI is implemented in a manner that balances legitimate competing objectives in a manner that leaves society better off.

While engineers may share technical ideas within transnational expert networks, broader public discussions about the social consequences and potential governance of artificial intelligence have tended to be concentrated within linguistic communities and civilizations. However, many of the issues that AI raises are truly global in character, and this will become increasingly evident as AI is incorporated into the functioning of the global Internet. There is therefore a pressing need to establish a distinctively global discourse that is duly informed by the differences between Eastern and Western cultural values, business environments, economic development levels, and political, legal and regulatory systems.

Read the full session description
(Related sessions on this topic took place earlier this month at the Global Festival for AI Ideas in Beijing, China.)


Artificial Intelligence and Inclusion

Featuring Malavika Jayaram, Chinmayi Arun, Urs Gasser, and others

The policy debates about Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been predominantly dominated by organizations and actors in the Global North. There is a growing need for a more diverse perspective regarding the policy issues and consequences of AI. The developing world will be directly affected by the deployment of AI technologies and services. However, there is a lack of informed perspectives to participate in the policy debates. This roundtable is a follow up to the international event “Artificial Intelligence and Inclusion” held in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year. The discussion will focus on development of Artificial Intelligence and its impact on inclusion in different areas such as health and wellbeing, education, low-resource communities, public safety and security, employment and workplace, and entertainment, media and journalism, among others. The goal of this roundtable is to bring the debates of the this international event to the IGF community, enlarging the conversation and deepening the understanding of AI inclusion 

Read the full session description


Selective Persecution and the Mob: Hate and Religion Online

Featuring Chinmayi Arun, Susan Benesch, Wolfgang Schulz, and others

As hate speech online spreads at an alarming rate, states, companies, civil society and other stakeholders grapple with the question of how to mitigate the situation. States have relied on command-control regulation, including hate speech laws, as the primary solution. However, these laws are used to censor and punish political dissent and other expression protected under the ICCPR and most countries’ constitutions. These laws also seem to be able to do very little for the journalists being murdered, attacked and threatened for their online speech, or for people receiving onslaughts of threats, doxxing, abuse and other forms of aggression online.

Read the full session description


Artificial Intelligence in Asia: What’s Similar? What’s Different? Findings from our AI Workshops

Featuring Malavika Jayaram

Ideas about the future and about what progress means are heavily contested, and context-specific. Digital Asia Hub set out to investigate whether the future of artificial intelligence - heralded as a game changing technology - was constructed and implemented differently in Asia, and to explore whether the problems that AI was deployed in service of signalled different socioeconomic aspirations and fears.

Read the full event description


We were also pleased to share recent research about youth practice online in the lightning talk Blurring the lines between work and play: Emerging Youth Practices and the Digital Economy given by Sandra Cortesi, and to participate in a global roundtable on AI and Governance hosted by the Digital Asia Hub that featured evidence-based approaches to testing the social impact of AI-based governance, methods for holding AI governance accountable, and open a conversation on the future of evidence-based policy and consumer protection online.

You can see the full IGF2017 schedule here, watch live streamed sessions here, and access archived videos of sessions here.

Learn more about some of the Berkman Klein Center’s related work on the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative page on our website. The Initiative, which is guided by the Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab, aims to foster global conversations among scholars, experts, advocates, and leaders from a range of industries. By developing a shared framework to address urgent questions surrounding AI, the Initiative aims to help public and private decision-makers understand and plan for the effective use of AI systems for the public good. 

Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

Announcing the 2018 Assembly Cohort

Subtitle At the Berkman Klein Center and MIT Media Lab Teaser

We are thrilled to announce the 2018 cohort for the Assembly program at the Berkman Klein Center and MIT Media Lab! Read more to learn about the twenty-one individuals who will be joining us in January 2018 to tackle challenges and opportunities in artificial intelligence and its governance.

Thumbnail Image: 

We are thrilled to announce the 2018 cohort for the Assembly program at the Berkman Klein Center and MIT Media Lab. The program, which will start its second iteration on January 22, 2018, gathers developers, project managers, academics, and tech industry professionals for a rigorous spring term to tackle hard problems at the intersection of code and policy. The program will be split into three parts: a two week design and team building session, a course co-taught by MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito and BKC co-founder and HLS professor Jonathan Zittrain on the ethics of artificial intelligence, and a twelve-week collaborative development period.

Our 2018 cohort is made up of twenty-one participants with diverse backgrounds and experiences representing the private sector, academia, and civil society organizations. Their task? To work on the emerging problems and opportunities within artificial intelligence and its governance.

Below you can see who makes up our 2018 cohort! For more information about the program, visit the Assembly website. To see the cohort's full profiles, you can go directly to their profiles on the 2018 cohort page.


Ph.D student at the MIT Media Lab researching AI, computational social science and finance ANDRÉ BARRENCE
Director of Campus São Paulo and leads Google for Entrepreneurs in Brazil HALLIE BENJAMIN
Experiment Designer at Google KASIA CHMIELINSKI
Technologist at the White House U.S. Digital Service JACK CLARK
Strategy and Communications Director of OpenAI JENNIFER FERNICK
Ph.D candidate in Mathematics (Computer Science – Quantum Information) at the University of Waterloo GRETCHEN GREENE
Computer Vision Scientist and Machine Learning Engineer working with Cambridge startups SARAH HOLLAND
Public Policy Manager at Google AHMED HOSNY
Data Scientist, Web Developer and Researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School JOSH JOSEPH
CSO of Alpha Features THOM MIANO
Research Data Scientist in the Center for Data Science at RTI International SARAH NEWMAN
Creative Researcher at metaLAB at Harvard, and Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard FRANCISCO DANIEL PEDRAZA
Data Strategist at UNICEF JONNIE PENN
Google Technology Policy Fellow, and Rausing, Williamson and Lipton Trust doctoral scholar at the University of Cambridge KATHY PHAM
Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard AARON PLASEK
Richard Hofstadter Fellow and History Doctoral Student at Columbia University BOGDANA RAKOVA
Researcher Engineer at Samsung Research America and Connected Devices fellow at Amplified Partners DAVID COLBY REED
Co-founder and CEO of Foossa and Lecturer in Design, Management, and Social innovation at the Parsons School of Design at the New School

Software Engineer for the Scratch Team, a project part of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab

Ph.D. student in Computer Science at MIT CSAIL working on systems to improve discourse, collaboration, and understanding on the web>
Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

Open Call for Fellowship Applications, Academic Year 2018-2019

About the Fellowship ProgramQualificationsCommitment to Diversity •  Logistics
Stipends and BenefitsAbout the Berkman Klein CenterFAQ
Required Application MaterialsApply!

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is now accepting fellowship applications for the 2018-2019 academic year through our annual open call. This opportunity is for those who wish to spend 2018-2019 in residence in Cambridge, MA as part of the Center's vibrant community of research and practice, and who seek to engage in collaborative, cross-disciplinary, and cross-sectoral exploration of some of the Internet's most important and compelling issues.

Applications will be accepted until Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

We invite applications from people working on a broad range of opportunities and challenges related to Internet and society, which may overlap with ongoing work at the Berkman Klein Center and may expose our community to new opportunities and approaches. We encourage applications from scholars, practitioners, innovators, engineers, artists, and others committed to understanding and advancing the public interest who come from -- and have interest in -- countries industrialized or developing, with ideas, projects, or activities in all phases on a spectrum from incubation to reflection.

Through this annual open call, we seek to advance our collective work and give it new direction, and to deepen and broaden our networked community across backgrounds, disciplines, cultures, and home bases. We welcome you to read more about the program below, and to consider joining us as a fellow!

About the Berkman Klein Fellowship Program

“The Berkman Klein Center's mission is to explore and understand cyberspace; to study its development, dynamics, norms, and standards; and to assess the need or lack thereof for laws and sanctions.

We are a research center, premised on the observation that what we seek to learn is not already recorded. Our method is to build out into cyberspace, record data as we go, self-study, and share. Our mode is entrepreneurial nonprofit.”

Inspired by our mission statement, the Berkman Klein Center’s fellowship program provides an opportunity for some of the world’s most innovative thinkers and changemakers to come together to hone and share ideas, find camaraderie, and spawn new initiatives. The program encourages and supports fellows in an inviting and playful intellectual environment, with community activities designed to foster inquiry and risk-taking, to identify and expose common threads across fellows’ individual activities, and to bring fellows into conversation with the faculty directors, employees, and broader community at the Berkman Klein Center.  From their diverse backgrounds and wide-ranging physical and virtual travels, Berkman Klein Center fellows bring fresh ideas, skills, passion, and connections to the Center and our community, and from their time spent in Cambridge help build and extend new perspectives and actions out into the world.

A non-traditional appointment that defies any one-size-fits-all description, each Berkman Klein fellowship carries a unique set of opportunities, responsibilities, and expectations based on each fellow’s goals. Fellows appointed through this open call come into their fellowship with a personal research agenda and set of ambitions they wish to conduct while at the Center. These might include focused study or writing projects, action-oriented meetings, the development of a set of technical tools, capacity building efforts, testing different pedagogical approaches, or efforts to intervene in public discourse and trialing new platforms for exchange.  Over the course of the year fellows advance their research and contribute to the intellectual life of the Center and fellowship program activities; as they learn with and are influenced by their peers, fellows have the freedom to change and modify their plans.

Together fellows actively design and participate in weekly all-fellows sessions, working groups, skill shares, hacking and development sessions, and shared meals, as well as joining in a wide-range of Berkman Klein Center events, classes, brainstorms, interactions, and projects. While engaging in both substance and process, much of what makes the fellowship program rewarding is created each year by the fellows themselves to address their own interests and priorities. These entrepreneurial, collaborative ventures – ranging at once from goal-oriented to experimental, from rigorous to humorous – ensure the dynamism of a fellowship experience, the fellowship program, and the Berkman Klein community.  As well, the Center works to support our exemplary alumni network, and beyond a period of formal affiliation, community members maintain ongoing active communication and mutual support across cohorts.

Alongside and in conversation with the breadth and depth of topics explored through the Center’s research projects, fellows engage the fairly limitless expanse of Internet & society issues. Within each cohort of fellows we encourage and strive for wide inquisition and focused study, and these areas of speciality and exploration vary from fellow to fellow and year to year. Some broad issues of interest include (but are not limited to) fairness and justice; economic growth and opportunity; the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence; equity, agency, inclusion, and diversity; health; security; privacy; access to information; regulation; politics; and democracy. As fields of Internet and society studies continue to grow and evolve, and as the Internet reaches into new arenas, we expect that new areas of interest will emerge across the Center as well. We look forward to hearing from potential fellows in these nascent specialities and learning more about the impact of their work.

back to top

We welcome applications from people who feel that a year in our community as a fellow would accelerate their efforts and contribute to their ongoing personal and professional development.

Fellows come from across the disciplinary spectrum and different life paths. Some fellows are academics, whether students, post-docs, or professors. Others come from outside academia, and are technologists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, policymakers, activists, journalists, educators, or other types of practitioners from various sectors. Many fellows wear multiple hats, and straddle different pursuits at the intersections of their capacities. Fellows might be starting, rebooting, driving forward in, questioning, or pivoting from their established careers.  Fellows are committed to spending their fellowship in concert with others guided by a heap of kindness, a critical eye, and a generosity of spirit.

The fellowship selection process is a multi-dimensional mix of art and science, based on considerations that are specific to each applicant and that also consider the composition of the full fellowship class. Please visit our FAQ to learn more about our selection criteria and considerations.

To learn more about the backgrounds of our current community of fellows, check out our fall video series with new fellows, 2017-2018 community announcement, read their bios, and find them on Twitter. As well, other previous fellows announcements give an overview of the people and topics in our community: 2016-2017, 2015-2016, 2014-2015, 2013-2014.

back to top

Commitment to Diversity

The work and well-being of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society are profoundly strengthened by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, ability, and much more. We actively seek and welcome people of color, women, the LGBTQIA+ community, persons with disabilities, and people at intersections of these identities, from across the spectrum of disciplines and methods. In support of these efforts, we are offering a small number of stipends to select incoming fellows chosen through our open call for applications.  More information about the available stipends may be found here. More information about the Center’s approach to diversity and inclusion may be found here.

back to top

Logistical Considerations

While we embrace our many virtual connections, spending time together in person remains essential. In order to maximize engagement with the community, fellows are encouraged to spend as much time at the Center as they are able, and are expected to conduct much of their work from the Cambridge area, in most cases requiring residency. Tuesdays hold particular importance--it is the day the fellows community meets for a weekly fellows hour, as well as the day the Center hosts a public luncheon series; as a baseline we ask fellows to commit to spending as many Tuesdays at the Center as possible.

Fellowship terms run for one year, and we generally expect active participation from our fellows over the course of the academic year, roughly from the beginning of September through the end of May.

In some instances, fellows are re-appointed for consecutive fellowship terms or assume other ongoing affiliations at the Center after their fellowship.

back to top 

Stipends and Access to University Resources


Berkman Klein fellowships awarded through the open call for applications are rarely stipended, and most fellows receive no direct funding through the Berkman Klein Center as part of their fellowship appointment.

To make Berkman Klein fellowships a possibility for as wide a range of applicants as possible, in the 2018-2019 academic year we will award a small number of stipends to select incoming fellows chosen through our open call for applications. This funding is intended to support people from communities who are underrepresented in fields related to Internet and society, who will contribute to the diversity of the Berkman Klein Center’s research and activities, and who have financial need. More information about this funding opportunity can be found here.

There are various ways fellows selected through the open call might be financially supported during their fellowship year. A non-exhaustive list: some fellows have received external grants or awards in support of their research; some fellows have received a scholarship or are on sabbatical from a home institution; some fellows do consulting work; some fellows maintain their primary employment alongside their fellowship. In each of these different scenarios, fellows and the people with whom they work have come to agreements that allow the fellow to spend time and mindshare with the Berkman Klein community, with the aim to have the fellow and the work they will carry out benefit from the affiliation with the Center and the energy spent in the community. Fellows are expected to independently set these arrangements with the relevant parties.

Office and Meeting Space

We endeavor to provide comfortable and productive spaces for for coworking and flexible use by the community. Some Berkman Klein fellows spend every day in our office, and some come in and out throughout the week while otherwise working from other sites. Additionally, fellows are supported in their efforts to host small meetings and gatherings at the Center and in space on the Harvard campus.

Access to University Resources

  • Library Access: Fellows are able to acquire Special Borrower privileges with the Harvard College Libraries, and are granted physical access into Langdell Library (the Harvard Law School Library).  Access to the e-resources is available within the libraries.  

  • Courses: Berkman Klein fellows often audit classes across Harvard University, however must individually ask for permission directly from the professor of the desired class.  

  • Benefits: Fellows appointed through the open call do not have the ability to purchase University health insurance or get Harvard housing.

back to top 

Additional Information about the Berkman Klein Center

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is dedicated to exploring, understanding, and shaping the development of the digitally-networked environment. A diverse, interdisciplinary community of scholars, practitioners, technologists, policy experts, and advocates, we seek to tackle the most important challenges of the digital age while keeping a focus on tangible real-world impact in the public interest. Our faculty, fellows, staff and affiliates conduct research, build tools and platforms, educate others, form bridges and facilitate dialogue across and among diverse communities. More information at

To learn more about the Center’s current research, consider watching a video of the Berkman Klein Center’s Faculty Chair Jonathan Zittrain giving a lunch talk from Fall 2017, and check out the Center’s most recent annual reports.
back to top

Frequently Asked Questions

To hear more from former fellows, check out 15 Lessons from the Berkman Fellows Program, a report written by former fellow and current Fellows Advisory Board member David Weinberger. The report strives to "explore what makes the Berkman Fellows program successful...We approached writing this report as a journalistic task, interviewing a cross-section of fellows, faculty, and staff, including during a group session at a Berkman Fellows Hour. From these interviews a remarkably consistent set of themes emerged."


More information about fellows selection and the application process can be found on our Fellows Program FAQ.

If you have questions not addressed in the FAQ, please feel welcome to reach out Rebecca Tabasky, the Berkman Klein Center's manager of community programs, at
back to top

Required Application Materials

(1.) A current resume or C.V.

(2.) A personal statement that responds to the following two questions.  Each response should be between 250-500 words.

  • What is the research you propose to conduct during a fellowship year?  Please    

    • describe the problems are you trying to solve;

    • outline the methods which might inform your research; and

    • tell us about the public interest and/or the communities you aim to serve through your work.


  • Why is the Berkman Klein Center the right place for you to do this work?  Please share thoughts on:    

    • how the opportunity to engage colleagues from different backgrounds -- with a range of experiences and training in disciplines unfamiliar to you -- might stimulate your work;

    • which perspectives you might seek out to help you fill in underdeveloped areas of your research;

    • what kinds of topics and skills you seek to learn with the Center that are outside of your primary research focus and expertise; and

    • the skills, connections, and insights you are uniquely suited to contribute to the Center’s community and activities.

(3.) A copy of a recent publication or an example of relevant work.  For a written document, for instance, it should be on the order of a paper or chapter - not an entire book or dissertation - and should be in English.

(4.) Two letters of recommendation, sent directly from the reference.
back to top

Apply for a 2018-2019 Academic Year Fellowship Through Our Open Call

The application deadline is Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

Applications will be submitted online through our Application Tracker tool at:

Applicants will submit their resume/C.V., their personal statement, and their work sample as uploads within the Berkman Klein Application Tracker.  Applicants should ensure that their names are included on each page of their application materials.

Recommendation letters will be captured through the Application Tracker, and the Application Tracker requires applicants to submit the names and contact information for references in advance of the application deadline. References will receive a link at which they can upload their letters. We recommend that applicants create their profiles and submit reference information in the Application Tracker as soon as they know they are going to apply and have identified their references - this step will not require other fellowship application materials to be submitted at that time.  We do ask that letters be received from the references by the application deadline.

Instructions for creating an account and submitting an application through the Application Tracker may be found here.
back to top

Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

When a Bot is the Judge


What happens when our criminal justice system uses algorithms to help judges determine bail, sentencing, and parole?

Thumbnail Image: 

Earlier this month, a group of researchers from Harvard and MIT directed an open letter to the Massachusetts Legislature to inform its consideration of risk assessment tools as part of ongoing criminal justice reform efforts in the Commonwealth. Risk assessment tools are pieces of software that courts use to assess the risk posed by a particular criminal defendant in a particular set of circumstances. Senate Bill 2185 — passed by the Massachusetts Senate on October 27, 2017 — mandates implementation of RA tools in the pretrial stage of criminal proceedings.

In this episode of the Berkman Klein Center podcast, The Platform, Managing Director of the Cyberlaw Clinic Professor Chris Bavitz discusses some of the concerns and opportunities related to the use of risk assessment tools as well as some of the related work the Berkman Klein Center is doing as part of the Ethics and Governance of AI initiative in partnership with the MIT Media Lab.

What need are risk assessment tools addressing? Why would we want to implement them?

Well, some people would say that they’re not addressing any need and ask why we would ever use a computer program when doing any assessments. But I think that there are some ways in which they’re helping to solve problems, particularly around consistency. Another potential piece of it, and this is where we start to get sort of controversial, is that the criminal justice system is very biased and has historically treated racial minorities and other members of marginalized groups poorly. A lot of that may stem from human biases that creep in anytime you have one human evaluating another human being. So there’s an argument to be made that if we can do risk scoring right and turn it into a relatively objective process, we might remove from judges the kind of discretion that leads to biased decisions.

Are we there yet? Can these tools eliminate bias like that?

My sense is that from a computer science perspective we’re not there. In general, these kinds of technologies that use machine learning are only as good as the data on which they’re trained. So if I’m trying to decide whether you’re going to come back for your hearing in six months, the only information that I have to train a risk scoring tool to give me a good prediction on that front is data about people like you who came through the criminal justice system in the past. And if we take as a given that the whole system is biased, then the data is that coming out of that system is biased. And when we feed that data to a computer program, the results are going to be biased.

And we don’t know what actually goes into these tools?

Many of the tools that are in use in states around the country are tools that are developed by private companies. So with most of the tools we do not have a very detailed breakdown of what factors are being considered, what relative weights are being given to each factor, that sort of thing. So one of the pushes for advocates in this area is that at the very least we need more transparency.

Tell me about the Open Letter to the Legislature. Why did you write it?

The Massachusetts Senate and House are in the process of considering criminal justice reform broadly speaking in Massachusetts. The Senate bill has some language in it that suggests that risk scoring tools should be adopted in the Commonwealth and that we should take steps to make sure that they’re not biased. And a number of us, most of whom are involved in the Berkman and MIT Media Lab AI Ethics and Governance efforts, signed onto this open letter to the Mass Legislature that basically said, “Look these kinds of tools may have a place in the system, but simply saying ‘Make sure they’re not biased’ is not enough. And if you’re going to go forward, here are a whole bunch of principles that we want you to adhere to,” basically trying to set up processes around both the procurement or development of the tool, the implementation of the tool, the training of the judges on how to use it and what the scores really mean and how they should fit into their legal analysis, and then ultimately the rigorous evaluation of the outcomes. Are these tools actually having the predictive value that was promised? How are we doing on the bias front? Does this seem to be generating results that are biased in statistically significant ways?

What are you hoping will happen next?

I think we would view part of our mission here at Berkman Klein as making sure that this is the subject of vigorous debate. Informed debate, to be clear, because I think that sometimes the debate about this devolves into either that technology is going to solve all our problems, or it’s a dystopian future with robotic judges that are going to sentence us to death, and I don’t think it’s either of those things. Having this conversation in a way that is nuanced and responsible will be really difficult, but I think it’s something we absolutely have to do.

This initiative at Berkman Klein and MIT is the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative, but there’s nothing about anything we’ve talked about here that really has to do with artificial intelligence where the computer program is learning and evolving and changing and adapting over time. But that’s coming. And the more we get used to these kinds of systems working in the criminal justice system and spitting out risk scores that judges take into account, the more comfortable we’re going to be as the computing power increases and the autonomy of these programs increases.

I don’t mean to be too dystopic about it and say that bad stuff is coming, but it’s only a matter of time. It’s happening in our cars, and it’s happening in our news feeds on social media sites. More and more decisions are being made by algorithms. And anytime we get a technological intervention in a system like this, particularly where people’s freedom is at stake, I think we want to tread really carefully, recognizing that the next iteration of this technology is going to be more extensive, and raise even more challenging questions.

Subscribe to us on Soundcloud
or RSS

Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy

A Pessimist’s Guide to the Future of Technology

Subtitle featuring Dr. Ian Bogost, Professor of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in conversation with Professor Jeffrey Schnapp, Professor of Romance Languages & Literature, Harvard Graduate School of Design Teaser

Two decades of technological optimism in computing have proven foolhardy. Let’s talk about new ways to anticipate what might go right and wrong, using a technology that has not yet mainstreamed—autonomous vehicles—as a test case.

Parent Event Berkman Klein Luncheon Series Event Date Dec 12 2017 12:00pm to Dec 12 2017 12:00pm Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Harvard Law School campus
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East C (HLS campus map)
RSVP required to attend in person
Event will be live webcast at 12:00 pm

Since the rise of the web in the 1990s, technological skeptics have always faced resistance. To question the virtue and righteousness of tech, and especially computing, was seen as truculence, ignorance, or luddism. But today, the real downsides of tech, from fake news to data breaches to AI-operated courtrooms to energy-sucking bitcoin mines, have become both undeniable and somewhat obvious in retrospect.

In light of this new technological realism, perhaps there is appetite for new ways to think about and plan for the future of technology, which anticipates what might go right and wrong once unproven tech mainstreams quickly. As a test case, this talk will consider a technology that has not yet mainstreamed—autonomous vehicles—as a test case.

About Ian

Dr. Ian Bogost is an author and an award-winning game designer. He is Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies and Professor of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he also holds an appointment in the Scheller College of Business. Bogost is also Founding Partner at Persuasive Games LLC, an independent game studio, and a Contributing Editor at The Atlantic. He is the author or co-author of ten books including Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism and Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames.

Bogost is also the co-editor of the Platform Studies book series at MIT Press, and the Object Lessons book and essay series, published by The Atlantic and Bloomsbury.

Bogost’s videogames about social and political issues cover topics as varied as airport security, consumer debt, disaffected workers, the petroleum industry, suburban errands, pandemic flu, and tort reform. His games have been played by millions of people and exhibited or held in collections internationally, at venues including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Telfair Museum of Art, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, the Laboral Centro de Arte, and The Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

His independent games include Cow Clicker, a Facebook game send-up of Facebook games that was the subject of Wired magazine feature, and A Slow Year, a collection of videogame poems for Atari VCS, Windows, and Mac, which won the Vanguard and Virtuoso awards at the 2010 IndieCade Festival.

Bogost holds a Bachelors degree in Philosophy and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a Masters and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA. He lives in Atlanta.

About Jeffrey

Jeffrey is Professor of Romance Languages & Literature, Harvard Graduate School of Design; Director, metaLAB (at) Harvard; and Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. A cultural historian with research interests extending from Roman antiquity to the present, his most recent books are The Electric Information Age Book (a collaboration with the designer Adam Michaels (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012) and Italiamerica II (Il Saggiatore, 2012). His pioneering work in the domains of digital humanities and digitally augmented approaches to cultural programming includes curatorial collaborations with the Triennale di Milano, the Cantor Center for the Visual Arts, the Wolfsonian-FIU, and the Canadian Center for Architecture. His Trento Tunnels project — a 6000 sq. meter pair of highway tunnels in Northern Italy repurposed as a history museum– was featured in the Italian pavilion of the 2010 Venice Biennale and at the MAXXI in Rome in RE-CYCLE - Strategie per la casa la città e il pianeta (fall-winter 2011). He is Professor of Romance Languages & Literature, on the teaching faculty of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design,and is the faculty director of metaLAB (at) Harvard.

Links to selected writing  over the last year or so that are relevant:


Categories: Tech-n-law-ogy


Subscribe to aggregator - Tech-n-law-ogy