New Netflix documentary 'The Social Dilemma' - what do our experts think?

Posted by Keran Boyd on Sep 22, 2020 8:44:31 AM

Several news sources have cited the new Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma as the "most important documentary of our times" (The Independent). Released just over a week ago, the documentary has caused waves in a number of different circles, ranging from scrutiny of the surveillance capitalism to which we are all seemingly indifferent (The Guardian) to whether the documentary really addresses some of the biggest issues in big tech (Slate). 

Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of issues that the documentary raises, it is clear that there is a huge problem with the power wielded by big tech companies. We've been keeping an eye on this debate and given that we are elbow deep in our Inspired AI series, we thought 'hey, why don't we do a session on the Social Dilemma?'

So we called some of our people, namely Ivana Bartoletti, Co-founder of Women Leading in AI, Bronwyn Williams, Futurist, Economist and Business Trends Analyst, Dr Alex Hanna,Sociologist and Research Scientist at Google, Dr Christina Jayne Colclough, Expert Future of Work(ers) & Politics of Technology at The Why Not Lab, Dr John Danaher, Senior Lecturer - School of Law at NUI Galway and Gry Hasslebalch, Co-founder

And Bob's your uncle, we have a discussion which will be taking place on 24 September from 14.00 CEST during our Inspired AI series episode: The State of AI.

Here are our main talking points: 

  • What was your first reaction about the Social Dilemma, and what elements made you feel uncomfortable?
  • Undoubtedly, there is merit in mainstreaming all this and bringing it to a wider audience but what is the risk of erasing the tech workers, especially women and POC, who have been working from within and framing the discourse around tech ethics? 
  • In what sense do you think the Social Dilemma fails/succeeds at examining the real issues around tech? And what are they? 
  • '[W]e built these things, we have the responsibility to change it' Harris says - but if the film is a 'redemption tour that allows a bunch for Silicon Valley insiders to rebrand themselves as critics', where does change come from? So many have exposed the dark side of tech (Virginia Eubanks, Ruha Benjiamin, Saniya Noble, Sarah Roberts, Meredith Broussard and SO many others) - yet they are not mentioned. why this erasure? Why is the Social Dilemma deciding who is worth being the dissenter? 
  • The film ends with the claim that we need humane technology - but what is the real social dilemma we are facing? 

We're pretty excited about this debate as this speaks to our core values of democratic access to technology and inclusivity when examining/creating ethical boundaries around tech. 

What now? If you aren't registered for the Inspired AI series, then you should head over to this page to book your tickets. If you are registered, then you will find this session in the 'sessions' tab on the event platform at 16:25 CET. And if you'd like a free ticket to attend the entire series, you can find a booking code on our Founder, Sarah's Twitter feed here, but be sure to say hi to Sarah first. 🤓

Team WSAI 💛


Topics: AI ethics, Ethics