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Lessons from history for governing the digital future

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A panel discussion with leading experts on learning from history to manage technological change.

Digital technology – smart phones, social media, AI, 5G, virtual reality, smart homes… – is transforming the way we live, work and play. Opportunities from new digital products and services can drive economic growth and tackle some of the biggest challenges we face – from climate change and coronavirus to conflict and poverty. But how can we also curb the harms it creates?

Governments are scrambling to catch up with digital technology to balance individual and collective risks and rewards, and fairly distribute economic, political and social power within society. What can we all learn from history –  take the industrial revolution for example – to help understand the present and harness the evolving power of the digital age for the future?

Our guest speakers, Dr Claire Melamed (Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data), James Plunkett (Author of End State), Dr Jeni Tennison (Global Partnership for AI – Data Governance Working Group) and chair, Dr Julian Huppert (Intellectual Forum at Jesus College) will share their knowledge and experience on what lessons should (and should not) be drawn from historical analogies in responding to technological change now and in the future.

This is a hybrid event: Guests can attend in person or online and will have the opportunity to ask questions.

This event is hosted by the Bennett Institute for Public Policy as part of the Cambridge Festival 2022.

Guest speakers
  • Dr Claire Melamed is an Affiliated Researcher at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy. She is also the CEO of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data – which brings together governments, private sector, and civil society – to harness and leverage data and data technology towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. She was previously Managing Director of the Overseas Development Institute, and in 2014, she worked in the office of the UN Secretary General, writing the report of the Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution, “A World That Counts”.
  • James Plunkett has spent his career thinking laterally about the complicated relationships between individuals and the state. First as an advisor to Gordon Brown, then a leading economic researcher and writer, and then in the charity sector, helping people struggling at the front-line of economic change. James combines a deep understanding of social issues with an appreciation of how change is playing out not in the ivory tower, but in the reality of people’s lives. James’ first book is End State.
  • Dr Jeni Tennison OBE is the co-chair of the Data Governance Working Group within the Global Partnership for AI and works on all things data, from technology, to governance, strategy, and public policy. At the Bennett Institute, she is examining the practice and public policy behind data governance, and in particular the role of collective data governance. 
  • Dr Julian Huppert is the Director of the Intellectual Forum at Jesus which aims to cover the widest range of academic interests across the College. He is a former MP and University Lecturer in Physics. Julian trained as a scientist before becoming MP for Cambridge between 2010 and 2015. Since leaving Parliament, he has lectured on the Master’s in Public Policy in the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge, and continues to work and publish on a wide range of policy and ethics-related issues. 

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