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The New Peril of the Digital Age: The Internet as a Source for Abrupt Normative Change
Looking specifically at China, I argue that societies are vulnerable to sudden, short-lived yet large-scale changes in societal values as a result of unexpected normative shifts in online communication. The volume and rapidity of online communication renders it technologically impossible to perfectly police the Internet. Thus, in order to maintain control over the public conversation, many governments rely on Internet users to police themselves in the form of self-regulation. Indeed, such governments have shown themselves quite adept at cultivating cultures of self-censorship. Law is instrumental in achieving this—legal ambiguity regarding what constitutes impermissible speech and fear of legal prosecution for crossing this line fosters norms of online self-censorship. This reliance on self-regulation, however, renders these norms susceptible to shocks.
Building on the concept of information cascades in the behavioral economics literature, I posit a concept I term cyberspeech cascades, the idea being that public understanding of what constitutes impermissible speech may change abruptly, sparking bandwagons of uncensored speech. In its simplified form, the model is as such: each act of unregulated speech online slightly alters perceptions, which in turn encourages more internet users to join the strengthening bandwagon, creating a snowball effect as mass perceptions regarding the acceptable limits of public expression shift. Bandwagons of progressively more brazen speech eventually proliferate into large-scale torrents of uncensored speech, triggering the temporary (or permanent) collapse of self-censorship norms. The unique viral nature of Internet communication and the reliance on self-regulation create the potential to produce massive sudden shifts in norms related to online speech.
Given the growing importance and proliferation of online communication in modern society, the potential for sudden large-scale shifts in societal values should command serious attention. Online speech can be controlled, but this control is not nearly as robust as many would have us believe. Norms of self-censorship are fragile—they rest primarily upon perceptions, and perceptions can change with astonishing speed.
Professor Bryan Druzin is a legal theorist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law. His work explores the bottom-up emergence of legal order and ways policymakers can exploit this dynamic. Dr. Druzin has published extensively with leading U.S. law schools (Duke, Cornell, Harvard, Northwestern, University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown, etc.), top international peer-reviewed journals, and has contributed to several edited volumes published by Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press. Dr. Druzin holds a B.A., LL.B., and LL.M. from the University of British Columbia and a PhD in law from King’s College London. He teaches jurisprudence and contract law, and has previously taught at Brunel University and King’s College London. Dr. Druzin’s current research explores whether it is possible to accelerate the emergence of global governance by harnessing the mechanics of self-organization. Dr. Druzin is a frequent speaker at legal forums around the world, and is regularly interviewed by international media on issues related to his scholarship.
Time: 7 June 2019, 11:00-12:00
For participation in the event please use this registration form no later than 5 June 2019 24:0
Conference organised by the Nordic Committee on Bioethics in collaboration with Centre for Legal Studies in Welfare and Market at the University of Copenhagen, 9 April 2019.
How are clinical innovations and unproven methods developed and introduced in western Nordic health-care systems? What is the legal and regulatory environment concerning unproven methods in medicine? What ethical principles should guide work on emerging treatments and experimentation in hospitals? In the upcoming NCBio-conference, these three questions will each be addressed in separate sessions.
Clinical innovation involves development of new techniques, methods, treatments and diagnostics for detecting, alleviating and curing diseases. By nature novel clinical methods and treatments are unproven when first developed. Through the centuries, medicine has advanced by trials and errors of physicians and researchers experimenting with treatments and methods. The failure of certain methods are inseparable from success of others, because a priori it is hard to know what works and what not. The scientific method is the preferred approach to develop cures and treatments, but many current medical practices were not developed by strict scientific testing or trials. Healthcare professionals may try unproven methods, for instance as a last resort in attempt to safe a life. Such unproven methods for clinics and health care, occur at the intersect of basic research and standard health-care and raise number of bioethical issues. Those include the following issues: Do patients have sufficient and equal access to the experimental methods? Are patients protected from harm when unproven methods are tested? Who should make decisions about when to experiment with a treatment? How can society and the health care system best simultaneously promote clinical innovation and protect patients?
The conference is open to all interested, including medical doctors, health committees in parliaments, senior civil servants and hospital administrators.
For participation in the seminar please use this registration form no later than 2 April 2019 , 12:00.
SynchWakeup is a series of breakfast events focused on providing hands-on knowledge on legal topics of particular importance for early-stage tech companies.
Personal data is for many companies one of the company’s greatest assets – but the regulatory requirements are complex.
On April 9, 2019, this semester’s third seminar in the SynchWakeup Series will take place at Synch’s office. Synch’s Dena Dervanovic present the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and guides you through the requirements relevant for your compliant use of for example end-user personal data.
After the seminar Synch’s lawyers will be available for discussion!
Breakfast is served from 8:15, the seminar starts at 8.30 and is scheduled for 1 hour.