Program on Science, Technology and Society at Harvard

Harvard Kennedy School of Government | Harvard University

Mastering The Demons Of Our Own Design

Tim O'Reilly

O'Reilly Media

April 21, 2021, 1:30-3:00pm EDT


Internet pioneers expected freedom and the wisdom of crowds, not that we would all be under the thumb of giant corporations profiting from a market in disinformation. We can still recover, but at least so far, Silicon Valley appears to be part of the problem more than it is part of the solution. Can we master the demons of our own design? The governance of AI is no simple task. It means rethinking deeply how we govern our companies, our markets and our society—not just managing a stand-alone new technology. It will be unbelievably hard—one of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century—but it is also a tremendous opportunity.


Cathryn Carson

Thomas M. Siebel Presidential Chair in the History of Science, UC Berkeley

David Winickoff

Senior Policy Analyst and Secretary of the Working Party on Bio-, Nano- and Converging Technology (BNCT), OECD

Moderated by

Sheila Jasanoff

Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard Kennedy School

About the speaker

Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, one of the preeminent companies for producing manuals, handbooks, and how-to books relating to computer topics. The company’s online learning and knowledge-on-demand platform at is used by thousands of enterprises and millions of individuals worldwide. O’Reilly had a hand in framing a number of core sociotechnical ideas, including “open source software,” “web 2.0,” “the Maker movement,” and “government as a platform.” He is also a partner at early stage venture firm O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV) and on the board of Code for America. He is the author of many technical books published by O’Reilly Media, and most recently WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us (Harper Business, 2017). He is an alumnus of Harvard College. He is currently a visiting professor of practice at the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London, and is working on a new book about why we need to rethink antitrust in the era of internet-scale platforms.