Speaker Details

Speaker 1

Dr James Williams


James Williams is a Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. He is currently focused on questions of technological influence—such as persuasive technology, manipulation, and distraction—and their implications for human autonomy and wellbeing. James received his doctorate from Oxford (Oxford Internet Institute & Balliol College) in 2018. Before that, he worked for over ten years at Google, where he received the Founders’ Award, the company’s highest honour. In 2017 he was awarded the inaugural Nine Dots Prize for innovative thinking, leading to the publication of his first book, Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy, by Cambridge University Press. In 2019 the president of Princeton University chose the book as the one ‘pre-read’ text all incoming students are assigned to read before beginning their studies. James has also been a research associate at the Digital Ethics Lab at the Oxford Internet Institute, a co-founder of the Time Well Spent campaign, a tutor in the Oxford Computer Science department, and a visiting fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, & Humanities, University of Cambridge. You can find more information about James at: http://williams.nu


Title: Mapping the Varieties and Ethics of Influence

The field of Persuasive Technology occupies a unique place at the intersection of design and engineering, psychology, and projects of intentional influence. As a result, it offers a uniquely useful vantage point from which to advance the cross-domain understanding and organisation of the varieties of influence generally, on both descriptive and normative fronts. In this talk I will argue that Persuasive Technology ought to take up this wider task of clarifying the nature and ethics of influence for the world, and I will discuss what such an effort would entail.