BERGIT Meeting | Philip Reiner "How digital technologies influence cognition and democracy" | 3/22/23


Headshot of Philip Reiner against a leafy background

Philip Reiner

Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Security and Technology


At this meeting, Philip Reiner will share important findings from a two-year project of the Digital Cognition and Democracy Initiative which brought together experts in neuroscience, AI, digital media, psychiatry, government, and more to investigate how digital technologies influence cognition and democracy. You can download the report here. BERGIT's Faculty Director, Jodi Halpern, participated in the project and will lead a Q and A.

We will discuss questions including the following:

  • There is now strong evidence that the political economy of major digital companies depends on manipulating our attention and that this manipulation is degrading our capacity for cognitive autonomy. Why is cognitive autonomy important from an ethical standpoint? Is it a good that can be traded off for other goods like efficiency? Or do we have a right not to be manipulated to the degree that we are now being manipulated?
  • If we look at cognitive autonomy not just as an individual good or right but as a condition for democracy and justice, how does this change our obligation to protect it?
  • Who is responsible for protecting individual and collective cognitive autonomy?
  • From a legal, regulatory and policy view, how can the magnitude of digital manipulation be delineated as crossing a line given that advertising itself has long been part of human society?

Berkeley Ethics and Regulation Group for Innovative Technologies

This is a meeting from the Spring 2023 BERGIT Series, "Innovation Within Society: The role of markets and the political economy in the governance of innovative technology."


  • When: Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023, 12–1 pm PT
  • Where: 621 Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley (In-person preferred, hybrid available to those out of town)
  • Who: All