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Technology, Self and Society in an Era of Digital Rankings

Seminar Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

Frank Pasquale

Frank Pasquale

Member, Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society

We have always competed for better deals, for popularity, for prominence as an authority or a desirable person. But just as our metabolic systems are ill adapted to a world of cheap, hidden sugar, the social cues and instinctive emotional responses that we’ve developed over evolutionary time are not adequate guides to the platforms on which our algorithmic selves now must compete and cooperate. To navigate them properly, we need the help of thoughtful observers who can understand today’s strategies of self-making within a larger context. The first step toward protecting the self in an age of algorithmic manipulation is to recognize such manipulation as a problem. One also needs anchors of integrity, in more substantial “sources of the self” (in Charles Taylor’s evocative formulation) than points, likes and faves. Protecting oneself from algorithmic domination requires more than deploying counter-manipulation to nudge ourselves back to optimal states. Rather, we must accomplish a nimble fusion of old and new — a commitment to renewing the traditions from which one draws meaning and value.


Frank Pasquale’s research addresses the challenges posed to information law by rapidly changing technology, particularly in the health care, internet, and finance industries. He is a member of the Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society and an affiliate fellow of Yale Law School’s Information Society Project. He frequently presents on the ethical, legal, and social implications of information technology for attorneys, physicians and other health professionals. His book The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms that Control Money and Information (Harvard University Press, 2015) develops a social theory of reputation, search and finance.

Assigned Reading

Frank Pasquale, The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms that Control Money and Information (Harvard University Press, 2015)


A reception will be held at 5:00 pm at the UNE Art Gallery.


Center for Global Humanities


(207) 221-4435

Technology, Self and Society Event Poster
6:00 PM
WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion

Portland Campus

Free and open to the public