Many of the information technologies that shape our daily lives are in the hands of a few large companies: ‘Big Tech’. This fact shapes these technologies in many ways: how they function, how they permeate our lives, how they are governed politically. Yet, when we research these technologies, the reality of Big Tech often (though not always) looms in the background.
In this panel we want to foreground the power of Big Tech, and ask: what does this mean for how we do research, both from a philosophical and a regulatory perspective? What kind of questions should we ask about it? What are the normative implications of critically researching such a dominant and endurable element in society? Is there anything special about researching Big Tech, as opposed to, for instance, the state? And what does it require from us, as researchers? What specific struggles or dilemmas does it raise?
In the first hour, the speakers will each give a 10-minute presentation followed up by a panel discussion. After a small coffee break, we will split into smaller groups to have more informal discussions with the speakers and the audience.
13h15-13h35 Presentations by Tamar Sharon and Natali Helberger
13h35-14h15 Panel Discussion
14h15-14h30 Coffee Break
14h30-15h15 Participant Discussion
Tamar Sharon will discuss the need to think beyond data protection and commodification harms when evaluating and regulating the power of Big Tech. She suggests understanding Big Tech expansionism in terms of 'sphere transgressions', which raise the risk of reshaping critical public sectors such as health and education in line with the values and interests of tech corporations.
Natali Helberger will discuss the systemic risk provision in the Digital Service Act to then raise the question of what the role is that the regulatory framework has assigned for researchers in this context. What do researchers need to play this role; is access to data all we need?, and what cannot be the role of researchers.
Eva Groen-Reijman will moderate the panel discussion. She is a teacher of ethics and political philosophy, and a postdoctoral researcher on democratic theory and political microtargeting in the NWO funded interdisciplinary project Safeguarding Democratic Values In Digital Political Practices. She received her PhD (cum laude) for her thesis Deliberative Political Campaigns at the University of Amsterdam.
This event will take place in the Sweelinck Room at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) for a maximum of around 25 participants. Registration is required: