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Adam Clayton Powell III: Free Speech and Free Society: How Far Will Technology Take Us?
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The Information Economy Project at George Mason University
proudly presents The Tullock Lecture on Big Ideas About Information
4:00 – 5:30 pm @ Room 215
GMU School of Law, 3301 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Va.
(Orange Line: Virginia Square-GMU Metro)
Reception to Follow in the Levy Atrium, 5:30-6:30 pm
The Internet and social media were conceived and greeted as significant steps forward in freedom of expression and increased access to information. Suddenly, it seemed, anyone with access to a computer – or now, to a mobile telephone – is a global publisher and personal curator of the largest public library ever created, dwarfing in sheer breadth and volume the great libraries of Alexandria, Timbuktu or the Library of Congress.
All of this may be true, but these advances may obscure what is at their very core serious difficulties that threaten freedom of expression and access to information. The most crude and best known measures are those imposed by governments from China to Iran, which use brute force to block web sites and other information that does not meet with government approval. But these are just a brief glimpse into the downside of digital media and social networks.
To see just how far technology can be harnessed to limit and distort information and to suppress and punish freedom of expression, it can be instructive to learn what research laboratories are developing, often with the best of motives. The frontiers of technology hold great promise, but they also offer tools to limit freedom than are more powerful than free societies now contemplate. How free societies respond to these potential threats and new realities may test their very natures.
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