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Digitization & Social Control: Toward a Digital Political Economy with Milton Mueller, Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology in the School of Public Policy & School of Cybersecurity & Privacy
So many of the debates about public policy and the digital economy revolve around issues that are social-cybernetic in nature. That is, they deal with control and communication, but not “in the animal and the machine,” as Norbert Wiener’s foundational definition of cybernetics would have it, but control and communication in social systems. AI applications are accused of reinforcing societal biases by replicating patterns that reflect past discriminatory decisions. We want to know how much of our social life can be automated or turned over to robots, and whether this increases or decreases our sense of control and well-being. Social media platforms use algorithms to govern content display and accused of turning slight preferences into increasingly extreme content that polarizes the audience through deviation-amplifying feedback. Network effects – another form of deviation-enhancing feedback – are said to concentrate platforms organized around multi-sided markets, creating unassailable monopolies. At the same time, the digital economy – which consists of trade in devices, networks, software and data – becomes a larger part of the overall economy and “leadership” in or control of this technology are perceived by governments as strategic and vital to their security. As this happens, the relationship between digital technology on the one hand and politico-economic contestation over control becomes central to public policy discourse.

Feb 24, 2023 11:00 AM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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