Data, Science, and the Future of Democracy



February 3, 2017
1:00pm to 4:00pm
190 Doe Library
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Trust in basic democratic institutions is dropping and has been for years. Trust in facts, data, and science also seem to be eroding in what is being called a “post-fact” world.

What is going on? And what can be done about it?

Please join us for a mini unconference to discuss ways academics and data scientists might constructively improve our democratic infrastructure. This will be an open forum for people representing a range of perspectives to discuss concerns and potential solutions. All perspectives are welcome, and no particular perspective will be privileged or rejected. In our view, the more political viewpoints, the better!

Anyone will be able to propose an issue, topic, concern, action, initiative, or project. We will then break out into groups so that people can discuss these issues in depth and come back together to share highlights with the larger group. We will conclude with mingling and networking, so everyone can get to know one another and plan for future action.

Here are some potential discussion topics we have already identified:

  • Combating fake news
  • Digital democracy platforms
  • Preventing unconstitutional surveillance
  • Managing/deleting/anonymizing database records that might be mis-used by government
  • Election integrity (voting machines)
  • Algorithms of government (when are they useful, appropriate, safe?)
  • Automation and its effects on political economy
  • Voluntary social/health insurance
  • Organizing cities
  • [Your ideas here!]
What Is an Unconference?
An unconference is a loosely structured participant-driven meeting at which information and ideas are shared among attendees in a more informal manner, generally open discussions. Attendees set the agenda at the beginning of the meeting, and everyone is given the opportunity to propose a discussion topic. After the agenda is set, participants break into groups to discuss the chosen topics and then later reconvene as a larger group to share discussion highlights.