Research, Ethics and Society Speaker Series: Lizzie O’Shea

October 27, 2021 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Lizzie O’Shea

On Wednesday, October 27, 5pm - 6:30pm, the Research, Ethics and Society Initiative will host the first event in its 2021 lecture series, featuring Australian lawyer Lizzie O’Shea. The founder of Digital Rights Watch, which advocates for human rights online, Lizzie O’Shea is also the recipient of the Davis Project Peace Prize, and was named a Human Rights Hero by Access Now in June 2019. Her lecture, co-sponsored by the Year of Data and Society and the Sara Fine Institute, will draw from her new book, Future Histories: What Ada Lovelace, Tom Paine, and the Paris Commune Can Teach Us About Digital Technology. Details of Lizzie O’Shea’s presentation can be found below:

A Usable Past for a Democratic Future: How looking backward can help us navigate the digital revolution

Too often, technology is presented without context. It is treated as a natural phenomenon or a force of nature, inevitable and unstoppable. To make sense of our digital present, there is an instinctive sense that we need to imagine the future, and bend society around the path determined for us by tech. 

But making technology is a human activity, and the technological problems we face are human problems. An understanding of history, philosophy, sociology and the arts is invaluable to making sense of these problems. If we want to reclaim the present as the cause of a different future, we don't just need coders and engineers, we need people from all different disciplines to collaborate and make the most of the potential of the digital revolution.

Through this collaboration, we can create a digital future in which we are not treated as nameless cohorts to be processed by machines, or raw data for analyzing, but instead understood as people with agency, dignity, curiosity and desire to shape our own destiny. The stakes could not be higher: as we face problems like the climate crisis, wealth inequality and the decay of social democracies, it is vital that we find ways to make technology work for the many, not the few.

Location and Address

This is a virtual event, and registration is required. Register now. 

For further information, contact: Dr. Bridget Keown at