Delve into danger


The balance between individual privacy and collective security has already been shifted by governments claiming more rights to monitor and control citizens in order to protect us. Our speakers have different views about where this lies and whether there could ever be a positive side to a loss of privacy. But now it is apparent that insights from big data can cure diseases, control epidemics, end congestion in our cities and aid the just distribution of natural resources. Withholding access to personal data undermines these social goods; the cost of personal privacy is counted in otherwise preventable deaths and inefficient and polluted cities. Privacy is selfish – which is why its days as a personal privilege are numbered. Or so the argument goes…

Chaired by Marc Fennell, interviewer and host of The Feed SBS.

This talk is part of the UNSW Grand Challenge on Living with 21st Century Technology.



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Dangerous Thinkers
“Facebook does more experiments in a single day that the FDA does in an entire year.”

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is a New York Times op-ed contributor, a visiting lecturer at The Wharton School, and a former Google data scientist. He received a BA in philosophy from Stanford, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and a PhD in economics from Harvard. His research – which uses new, big data sources to uncover hidden behaviours and attitudes – has appeared in the Journal of Public Economics and other prestigious publications. His latest book, Everybody Lies, was described by The Economist as “a whirlwind tour of the modern human psyche using search data as its guide”. He lives in New York City. 


“Facebook does more experiments in a single day that the FDA does in an entire year.”
“We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads.”

Zeynep Tufekci is an academic, author and techno-sociologist. She is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina and a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times, where she writes about technology, the internet, politics and culture. In 2017, she published Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest (Yale University Press) described by The Washington Post as “a work that will be long cited – and deservedly so – by activists, technologists and others grasping at the relationship between our causes and our screens”.


“We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads.”