Event: Will the “Internet of Things” Set Us Free or Lock Us Up?

Howard jacket mech.indd

Date: Monday, April 20, 2015, 6:00pm-8:00pm

Location: The Institute for Public Knowledge

Address: 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10003

Click here to RSVP to this event.

The Institute for Public Knowledge and The Governance Lab (GovLab) invite you to join us for a conversation with Philip Howard and Clive Thompson on Howard’s new book Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up. 

Should we fear or welcome the internet’s evolution? The latest smart televisions now watch us, and report on our behavior to their manufacturers.  If you don’t pay the bills on your car loan, the bank may shut down your car while you are hiking in a park.  The latest pacemaker may save your life, but the data on your heartbeats doesn’t belong to you or your doctor.  Recently, a refrigerator was caught sending spam.  The “internet of things” is made up of device networks—connected eyeglasses, cows, thermostats—with sensors and internet addresses. Soon we will be fully immersed in a pervasive yet invisible network of everyday objects that communicate with one another. There is lots of evidence that the internet of things will be used to repress and control people. The privacy threats are enormous, as is the potential for social control and political manipulation. Yet we should also imagine a future of global stability built upon device networks with immense potential for empowering citizens, making government transparent, and broadening information access. If we can actively engage with the governments and businesses building the internet of things, we have a chance to build a new kind of internet—and a more open society.

Philip N. Howard is a professor of technology and international affairs at the University of Washington and Central European University. He is the author of eight books, including The Managed Citizen, the Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, and now Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up. He is a frequent commentator on technology and politics for the national and international media. He blogs at www.philhoward.org and tweets from @pnhoward.

Clive Thompson is a journalist and the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds for the Better. He specializes in writing not merely on the inventors of technologies, but about how everyday people use them—often quite unpredictably. In addition to the New York Times Magazine and Wired, he writes for Mother Jones and Smithsonian. He is one of the longest-running bloggers, having launched his science-and-tech blog Collision Detection since 2002. In his spare time he’s also a musician, performing in The Delorean Sisters and writing original music as part of the duo Cove.


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