Soc(AI)ety Seminars Series: “Technology and Democracy”

Video Recording Now Available


U.S. society is in the throes of deep societal polarization that not only leads to political paralysis, but also threatens the very foundations of democracy. The phrase “The Disunited States of America” is often mentioned. Other countries are displaying similar polarization.  How did we get here? What went wrong?

In this talk, distinguished Israeli mathematician and computer scientist, Moshe Vardi, will argue that the current state of affairs is the result of the confluence of two tsunamis that have unfolded over the past 40 years. On one hand, there was the tsunami of technology — from the introduction of the IBM PC in 1981 to the current domination of public discourse by social media. On the other hand, there was a tsunami of neoliberal economic policies.  Vardi will suggest that the combination of these two tsunamis led to both economic polarization and cognitive polarization.

Guest Speaker Bio:

Moshe Y. Vardi is University Professor and the George Distinguished Service Professor in Computational Engineering at Rice University. His research focuses on the interface of mathematical logic and computation — including database theory, hardware/software design and verification, multi-agent systems, and constraint satisfaction.  He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the ACM SIGACT Goedel Prize, the ACM Kanellakis Award, the ACM SIGMOD Codd Award, the Knuth Prize, the IEEE Computer Society Goode Award, and the EATCS Distinguished Achievements Award.  He is the author and co-author of over 750 papers, as well as two books. He is a Guggenheim Fellow as well as fellow of several societies, and a member of several academies, including the US National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Science, and the Royal Society of London. He holds nine honorary titles. He is a Senior Editor of the Communications of the ACM, the premier publication in computing.