CENTER FOR ETHICS AND THE RULE OF LAW​

Autocrats’ Tech Assault and Democracy’s Response

November 21 -
 22, 2019

Co-sponsored By:

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The Conference

Democracies are facing increasing threats by autocratic regimes around the world and by autocratic notions and leanings within their own borders. Many experts believe the rise is intertwined with advances in technology. This conference will focus on how new technologies are strengthening autocracies around the world and what the United States and other democracies can do to thwart their infiltration and effectiveness, primarily through civic engagement and education, media response, and private sector technology collaboration.

Day One – How Technology is Contributing to the Rise of Autocracy and the Decline of Democracy
The first day of the conference will focus on the assault and its use of technology—and the scenario’s gravity is striking. According to “The Autocrat’s New Tool Kit,” a March 15, 2019, Wall Street Journal article by Richard Fontaine and Kara Frederick, “[the technologies] will allow strongmen and police states to bolster their internal grip, undermine basic rights and spread illiberal practices beyond their own borders.” The conference will also examine the likelihood of and extent to which these tools may be used by U.S. actors to legitimize and advance autocratic doctrine within the domestic population.

Day Two – How To Save Democracy and the Rule of Law: Responses in the United States and Abroad
The second day of the conference will explore responses by democracies: taking prophylactic action domestically to block or minimize disruption efforts, including in the United States civic education and media literacy, the media’s response, and technology company collaboration; using the same technologies to advance democracy; and taking positions on behalf of the repressed, either as a single nation or as a party to a formal resolution or other global initiative.

The questions participants aim to answer during the conference are sharply defined, but the answers are not clear-cut. For instance, what are the priorities for government leaders, policymakers, the press, the private sector, schools, and individuals when addressing autocrats’ assaults? How do these parties corral and reconcile different, even competing, interests to form a united and effective front? How can we use the same technology to advance democracy? What is being done now, and what is next? 

 This event is co-sponsored by Perry World House and The Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy, both at the University of Pennsylvania.

Schedule

Rare Book Room, Tanenbaum 253

Download Full Schedule

Day One – Thursday, November 21, 2019                                               

How Technology is Contributing to the Rise of Autocracy and the Decline of Democracy

All conference panel sessions are being held at Perry World House, 3803 Locust Walk

8:30am-9:30amSign-In and Continental Breakfast
9:30am-9:45am Welcome Remarks 
9:45am-11:00amSession One – Why Technology Favors the AutocratModerator: Professor Claire Finkelstein In his 2018 article published in The Atlantic, “Why Technology Favors Tyranny,” Yuval Noah Harari identifies four reasons why technology will contribute to the rise of autocracy: 1) the common person’s fear of irrelevance; 2) rise of job volatility and obsolescence resulting from automation and artificial intelligence; 3) loss of political power due to citizens’ loss of economic worth; and 4) transfer of authority to machines resulting in less personal decision-making. This session will delve into these ideas along with other tech-related factors contributing to autocracy recharge: more visible technology; today’s political tribalism; technology’s ability to centralize all information (and thus power); and democratic leaders’ failure to get disruptive technology on the global agenda.
11:00am-11:30amBreak 
11:30am-12:45pmSession Two – The Tech Tools: The Means to an Authoritarian End  Moderator: Clay FullerThere are many technologies that are maturing or in development that will result in almost endless watershed moments in data collection, delivery, and analysis and processing. This session will review the technologies and how authoritarian regimes are using/will use them to mislead and monitor, including:Micro targeting to influence speech and thought and “social media 0.10”Surveillance cameras (online and real world) and sensorsArtificial intelligence and its applications: “deep fakes” or digital audio, video, and image forgeries; lifelike bots; speech synthesis; facial recognitionNeural networks that analyze massive data sets resulting in centralized, exploitable informationDigital currency (“crypto-anarchy”) and blockchainParticipants will also assess the likelihood of and extent to which these tools may be used by U.S. actors (and actors in other democracies) to legitimize and advance autocratic doctrine domestically (e.g., via extreme nationalist messaging).
12:45pm-2:00pmLunch in the Perry World House Solarium
2:00pm-3:15pmSession Three – The Case of China and its Progeny                                                 Moderator:  Professor Jacques deLisle                                                                           In May of 2018, Chinese president Xi Jinping said at an academician meeting that for the State to “achieve the great goal of building a socialist modernized nation and realize the Chinese dream of a great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, [China] must have strong scientific and technological strength and innovation capabilities.” China chose to innovate for itself, not source technology from the rest of the world, and it has made staggering progress. This session will examine China’s developing technologies and their current and anticipated use for population and government control, as well as the country’s exports of technology and management know-how to regime customers like Zimbabwe. The panel will address China’s “social credit system,” “smart” city plans, tech-driven policing in the region Xinjiang, and Huawei’s security-threatening 5G communications network.
3:15pm-4:00pmBreak
4:00pm-6:00pmPublic Keynote Presentation: How Technology Advances Autocracy and What Democracies Can Do About It – Michael Fitts Auditorium – Penn Law           Moderator: Professor Claire Finkelstein Panelists: David Cole, ACLU Legal Director, Hon. George J. Mitchell Professor in Law and Public Policy, Georgetown Law Kara Frederick, Technology and National Security Fellow, Center for a New American SecurityRichard Fontaine, Executive Director, Center for a New American Security Marwan M. Kraidy, Professor of Communication, the Anthony Shadid Chair in Global Media, Politics and Culture, and the Founding Director of the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication (CARGC) at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania         
6:00pm-7:00pmPublic Reception – The Haaga Lounge (The Goat) – Penn Law
7:00pm-8:30pmParticipant Dinner – THE STUDY HOTEL – 20 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 

Day Two – Friday, November 22, 2019


How To Save Democracy and the Rule of Law: Responses in the United States and Abroad

8:30am-9:30am Sign-In and Continental Breakfast
9:30am-10:45amSession Four – The Role of Policymaking and Legislation, and the Global Stage Moderator: Ms. Alexandra MeiseThere is debate in the United States that legislating some form of government oversight of social media practices is anti-First Amendment, and regulation directed at other tech platforms raises privacy concerns. Some advocate eliminating the advertising revenue model of big technology companies. Others maintain that misinformation campaigns and data protection deficiencies are national security threats, and social media and other technology companies’ self-regulation is (and will be) inadequate, resulting in the need for government intervention or oversight. Is it possible to balance commercial enterprise values, free speech, and privacy issues against national security concerns to establish a workable regulated environment? What are the options? How have other democratic states addressed these issues? And is there a body to lead the placement of the autocrat-technology threat on the international political agenda?
10:45am-11:15amBreak 
11:15am-12:30pmSession 5 – Media Response: Transparency, Outreach and Collaboration with Tech’s Private Sector Moderator: Mr. Shawn TurnerIn its report “Crisis in Democracy: Renewing Trust in America,” the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy stated that “navigating the new media environment and separating truth from nontruth will be more challenging as emerging technologies, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, bots and deepfakes, become more sophisticated.” This session will examine what publishers, journalists, and online news distributors can do to help defend against tech assaults, including using transparency to restore public trust, incorporating more diversity of views to fight polarization, educating the public on new aspects of digital literacy, and investing in and using new technologies to defeat disinformation via their solo efforts or through collaborations with technology companies or both
12:30pm-1:45pmLunch in the Perry World House Solarium
1:45pm-3:00pm Session 6 – The Role of Education: Civics and Media LiteracyModerator: Dean Elizabeth Rindskopf ParkerThis session will examine what is meant by civic engagement and participatory governance as well as the relevance of existing models to render autocratic tech-assaults ineffective.  What role do we expect individuals to play (social contract, morality, and ethics)?  In this country, many believe that there is a crisis in civic education. What steps can be taken to elevate the knowledge and critical thinking of both young students and adults to help guard against anti-democratic circumvention of the U.S. Constitution? Civic education arguably must go beyond constitutional checks and balances and the political process. Must it now incorporate lessons on misinformation and other tactics used by autocracies so persons become more media and digitally literate as well as civic literate? And what is the role of government, NGOs, and the legal profession in instilling this knowledge?
 3:00pm-3:30pmConcluding Remarks – A Blueprint for Protecting Democracy and the Rule of Law                                                                                                                                   What are the priorities for government leadership, policymakers, the press, the private sector, and individuals to address autocrats’ high-tech assaults? How do we corral and reconcile competing interests to form a united and effective front? How can we use the same technology to advance democracy? What is being done now? What is next?

Keynotes

Thursday, November 21


4:00pm-6:00pm,
Fitts Auditorium, Penn Law. 3501 Sansom Street


How Technology Advances Autocracy and
What Democracies Can Do About It

Panelists:

David Cole, ACLU Legal Director, Hon. George J. Mitchell Professor in Law and Public Policy, Georgetown Law 

Kara Frederick, Technology and National Security Fellow, Center for a New American Security

Richard Fontaine, Executive Director, Center for a New American Security 

Marwan M. Kraidy, Professor of Communication, the Anthony Shadid Chair in Global Media, Politics and Culture, and the Founding Director of the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication (CARGC) at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania

 This event is co-sponsored by Perry World House and The Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy, both at the University of Pennsylvania.


This program has been approved for 2 ethics CLE credits for Pennsylvania lawyers. CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well. Attendees seeking CLE credit should bring separate payment in the amount of $80.00 ($40.00 public interest/non-profit attorneys) cash or check made payable to The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.


Participants

Hon. Harold Berger

Of Counsel & Managing Shareholder Emeritus, Berger Montague

Emerson T. Brooking

Resident Fellow at the the Atlantic Council

Sarah Bush

Lightning Scholar at Perry World House, University of Pennsylvania

David Cole

National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union

George Croner

Senior Fellow in the Program on National Security at FPRI

Jacques deLisle

Stephen A. Cozen Professor of Law & Professor of Political Science; Director, Center for East Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School 

Charles Dent

Congressman for PA’s 15th District from 2005-2018, Senior Policy Advisor, DLA Piper

Tiberiu Dragu

Associate Professor of Politics, NYU 

Arlene Fickler

CERL Board Member; Partner, Schnader Harrison 

Claire Finkelstein

CERL Founder & Faculty Director; Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania

Richard Fontaine

CEO of the Center for a New American Security

Hon. Harold Berger

Of Counsel & Managing Shareholder Emeritus, Berger Montague

Emerson T. Brooking

Resident Fellow at the the Atlantic Council

Sarah Bush

Lightning Scholar at Perry World House, University of Pennsylvania

David Cole

National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union

George Croner

Senior Fellow in the Program on National Security at FPRI

Jacques deLisle

Stephen A. Cozen Professor of Law & Professor of Political Science; Director, Center for East Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School 

Charles Dent

Congressman for PA’s 15th District from 2005-2018, Senior Policy Advisor, DLA Piper

Tiberiu Dragu

Associate Professor of Politics, NYU 

Arlene Fickler

CERL Board Member; Partner, Schnader Harrison 

Claire Finkelstein

CERL Founder & Faculty Director; Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania

Richard Fontaine

CEO of the Center for a New American Security

Kara Frederick 

Fellow for the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security

Clay Fuller 

 Jeane Kirkpatrick fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

Paul Haaga

Board of Directors, National Public Radio; CERL Executive Board Chair

Mark Hannah

Senior Fellow, Eurasia Group Foundation 

Michael Horowitz

Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania 

Caitlin Howarth

Researcher, Signal Program on Human Security and Technology, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Christopher Jacobs

Fellow, CERL, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Marwan M. Kraidy 

Professor of Communication and the Anthony Shadid Chair in Global Media, Politics & Culture, University of Pennsylvania 

Sharon Lloyd

Professor of Philosophy and Law, USC

Duncan MacIntosh

Professor; Department of Philosophy Chair, Dalhouise University

Alexandra (Xander) Meise

Fellow, CERL, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Ian Millhiser

Senior Corespondent, Vox 

Lord Parry Mitchell

Member of the House of Lords, Lords Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technology

Clay Fuller 

 Jeane Kirkpatrick fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

Paul Haaga

Board of Directors, National Public Radio; CERL Executive Board Chair

Mark Hannah

Senior Fellow, Eurasia Group Foundation 

Michael Horowitz

Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania 

Caitlin Howarth

Researcher, Signal Program on Human Security and Technology, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Christopher Jacobs

Fellow, CERL, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Marwan M. Kraidy 

Professor of Communication and the Anthony Shadid Chair in Global Media, Politics & Culture, University of Pennsylvania 

Sharon Lloyd

Professor of Philosophy and Law, USC

Duncan MacIntosh

Professor; Department of Philosophy Chair, Dalhouise University

Alexandra (Xander) Meise

Fellow, CERL, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Ian Millhiser

Senior Corespondent, Vox 

Lord Parry Mitchell

Member of the House of Lords, Lords Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technology

Christopher Morris

Professor of Philosophy, University of Maryland 

Eric Orts

Guardsmark Professor; Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics and Management; Director, Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, The Wharton School

Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker

Dean Emerita, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Gerald J. Postema

Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Connie Rosati 

Professor of Philosophy, The University of Arizona 

Gabe Rottman

Director of the Reporters Committee’s Technology and Press Freedom Project

Trudy Rubin

Foreign Affairs Columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Member of The Inquirer’s Editorial Board

David Solimini

Director of Strategic Communications, The Stimson Center

Devin Stewart

Senior Fellow, Eurasia Group Foundation 

Shawn Turner

Professor of National Security Communication, Michigan State University; CERL Executive Board Member

Ambassador Alexander Vershbow

Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security in Washington, D.C

Stephen Xenakis

CERL Executive Board Member 

Christopher Welsh

CERL Executive Director 

Paul Welsh 

Vice President of the Commercial Space Operations Center (ComSpOC) at Analytical Graphics, Inc.

Eric Orts

Guardsmark Professor; Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics and Management; Director, Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, The Wharton School

Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker

Dean Emerita, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Gerald J. Postema

Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Connie Rosati 

Professor of Philosophy, The University of Arizona 

Gabe Rottman

Director of the Reporters Committee’s Technology and Press Freedom Project

Trudy Rubin

Foreign Affairs Columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Member of The Inquirer’s Editorial Board

David Solimini

Director of Strategic Communications, The Stimson Center

Devin Stewart

Senior Fellow, Eurasia Group Foundation 

Shawn Turner

Professor of National Security Communication, Michigan State University; CERL Executive Board Member

Ambassador Alexander Vershbow

Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security in Washington, D.C

Stephen Xenakis

CERL Executive Board Member 

Christopher Welsh

CERL Executive Director 

Paul Welsh 

Vice President of the Commercial Space Operations Center (ComSpOC) at Analytical Graphics, Inc.

Kevin Werbach

Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Background Readings

Session 1: Why Technology Favors the Autocrat   

NEWS ARTICLES AND BLOGS

SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS 

LEGAL SOURCES 

BOOK

  • People vs Tech: How the internet is killing democracy (and how we can save it), Jamie Bartlett
    (Dutton 2018)

Session 2: The Tech Tools: The Means to an Authoritarian End  

NEWS ARTICLES AND BLOGS 

SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS 

LEGAL SOURCES 

Session 3: The Case of China and its Progeny  

NEWS ARTICLES AND BLOGS 

SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS 

LEGAL SOURCES 

  • China’s Tech-Enhanced Authoritarianism – Dr. Samantha Hoffman’s written testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Hearing on “China’s Digital Authoritarianism: Surveillance, Influence, and Political Control” May 16, 2019 

Session 4: The Role of Policy Making and Legislation, and the Global Stage

NEWS ARTICLES AND BLOGS 

LEGAL SOURCES 

Session 5: Media Response: Transparency, Outreach and Collaboration with Tech’s Private Sector

NEWS ARTICLES AND BLOGS

SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS 

LEGAL SOURCES 

Session 6: The Role of Education: Civics and Media Literacy

NEWS ARTICLES AND BLOGS 

SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS 

LEGAL SOURCES 

Contact us

For any questions regarding the conference or registration, please contact: Jennifer Cohen at [email protected]

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Autocrats’ Tech Assault and Democracy’s Response