In this episode I talk to Michele Loi. Michele is a political philosopher turned bioethicist turned digital ethicist. He is currently (2017-2020) working on two interdisciplinary projects, one of which is about the ethical implications of big data at the University of Zurich. In the past, he developed an ethical framework of governance for the Swiss MIDATA cooperative (2016). He is interested in bringing insights from ethics and political philosophy to bear on big data, proposing more ethical forms of institutional organization, firm behavior, and legal-political arrangements concerning data. We talk about how you can use Rawls’s theory of justice to evaluate the role of dominant tech platforms (particularly Facebook) in modern life.
- 0:00 – Introduction
- 1:29 – Why use Rawls to assess data platforms?
- 2:58 – Does the analogy between data and oil hold up to scrutiny?
- 7:04 – The First Key Idea: Rawls’s Basic Social Structures
- 11:20 – The Second Key Idea: Dominant Tech Platforms as Basic Social Structures
- 15:02 – Is Facebook a Dominant Tech Platform?
- 19:58 – How Zuckerberg’s recent memo highlights Facebook’s status as a basic social structure
- 23:10 – A brief primer on Rawls’s two principles of justice
- 29:18 – Dominant tech platforms and respect for the basic liberties (particularly free speech)
- 36:48 – Facebook: Media Company or Nudging Platform? Does it matter from the perspective of justice?
- 41:43 – Why Facebook might have a duty to ensure that we don’t get trapped in a filter bubble
- 44:32 – Is it fair to impose such a duty on Facebook as a private enterprise?
- 51:18 – Would it be practically difficult for Facebook to fulfil this duty?
- 53:02 – Is data-mining and monetisation exploitative?
- 56:14 – Is it possible to explore other economic models for the data economy?
- 59:44 – Can regulatory frameworks (e.g. the GDPR) incentivise alternative business models?
- 1:01:50 – Is there hope for the future?
- Michele on Twitter
- Michele on Research Gate
- ‘If data is the new oil, when is the extraction of value from data unjust?‘ by Loi and Dehaye
- ‘Technological Unemployment and Human Disenhancement’ by Michele Loi
- ‘The Digital Phenotype: A Philosophical and Ethical Exploration‘ by Michele Loi
- ‘A Blueprint for content governance and enforcement‘ by Mark Zuckerberg
- ‘Should libertarians hate the internet? A Nozickian Argument Against Social Networks‘ by John Danaher
- John Rawls’s Two Principles of Justice, explained