Live From DC: Truth, Disinformation, Censorship, and Governance of the Online World
Social media platforms are conduits for user-generated content, offering essentially infinite bandwidth to target specific audiences with content that is much less moderated than traditional media organizations’ editorial boards. Instead, these platforms use complex algorithms, often exposing users to more radical posts than they may have sought out on their own. How can truth, disinformation and censorship be governed in the online world?
The panelists include:
- Host: Ryan Kellett ’09, Vice President of Audience at Axios
- Eric Einhorn P’25, P’21, Chief of Staff, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)
- Eli Sugarman ’02, Director of Content, Oversight Board
The content segments below indicate the approximate time marks in the recording during which the specific content is discussed.
The segments include:
- Session introduction (0:00 to 2:43)
- Framing of the challenge with Senate Hearing video: mime or sophisticated understanding of finsta (“fake Instagram”) (2:48 to 7:18)
- Governance primer on regulation of content, e.g., section 230 and congresses intentions historically to today (7:18 to 13:11)
- Governance challenges of today and in the future (13:20 to 17:48)
- Government regulation of content vs self-regulation vs third party oversight using something like Facebook’s Oversight Board (17:49 to 31:38)
- What other countries are doing in regulating online activity/content and possible learnings for the U.S. to apply (31:49 to 40:02)
- Student Q&A (40:09 to 58:43)
This Future Forward segment features Lan Ye who is the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Teams, a product in the communication & collaboration software market with which we are all familiar by now. Lan has been with Microsoft in various roles for many years since graduating from Middlebury in 1998 with a degree in Computer Science and Studio Arts. She is joining us to share her perspectives on technology’s impact over the past year, how the current change dynamics are shaping the future, and action steps current students may want to consider to position themselves for that future. Watch Lan’s Videos
MIDDVantage is a virtual career exploration program that offers Middlebury students and alumni—through the perspective of Middlebury alumni and guests—exposure to fields of interest. Watch the interviews below.
Will Hanley ‘15 is currently a Manager on the Project Finance team at Stem, Inc., a leading energy storage software and project development company located in San Francisco, CA. At Stem, he manages relationships with investment partners and oversees the financial transactions with them to enable energy storage projects to be built. With the support of the Stem team, he has funded over 100 energy storage projects worth more than $50 million. Prior to his role at Stem, Will worked as an Analyst at Cadmus Group, LLC a sustainability consulting firm located in Boston, MA. In this role, he aided government agencies with the development of policies and programs to grow solar and energy storage markets. Notable clients included the U.S. Department of Energy, New York State Energy & Research Development Authority, and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Will graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in Film & Media Studies.
Robert Skiff ‘90 has three decades of experience in the area of business formation, education, and consulting. He co-founded the Vermont Commons School and has done consulting work in blockchain, online learning, higher education finance, system dynamics, and drug discovery optimization. Skiff served on the Board of Advisors for the Carnegie Program on the Educational Doctorate. He has an undergraduate degree from Middlebury College and a doctorate in leadership and policy studies from the University of Vermont.
Olivia Lew ‘07.5 went into the non‐ profit sector after graduating from Middlebury, where she quickly became engaged in recruiting and activating passionate business leaders to support environmental causes. She felt that lessons from the corporate world could offer an opportunity to make a larger impact, leading her to earn an MBA at Georgetown. From there, she went into public and private sector consulting with Booz Allen Hamilton and then Capgemini, which included opportunities to work in Europe and Asia. Implementing enterprise transformations while consulting Global 500 companies allowed Olivia to develop valuable experience in collaboration, creative thinking, and change management which she applied to her role on the early stage investment team at General Catalyst.
At General Catalyst, her investment focus was on early‐stage founders building transformative companies at the intersection of software and health care. Earlier this year, Olivia joined the team at Heart Health Intelligence as Chief Commercial Officer. Their goal is to enable healthcare in the home.
Alden Woodrow ‘02.5, was most recently the co-founder and CEO of Ike, a developer of automated trucking technology, which was acquired by Nuro in January 2021. Alden has over a decade of experience building industrial technologies in logistics, energy, and aerospace. He previously held senior product management roles at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, Google’s X lab, and wind energy startup Makani Power. Early in his career, Alden was an economic and environmental consultant on projects ranging from tradable fishing quotas to dog house manufacturing. At Middlebury, Alden majored in economics and philosophy, wrote the original business plan for the College’s organic garden, and was a captain and four-year starter on the ultimate frisbee team. He holds an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business with a focus on new product development.
Ellery Berk ‘14 runs Business Operations at Myst AI, a Google-backed, Series A startup focused on accelerating the renewable transition through better near-term electricity forecasting. Prior to Myst, Ellery worked as economic consultant on grid reliability and on the US’s first mandatory cap and trade program. She spent her MBA summer at Valo Ventures, a purpose-driven venture firm. Ellery holds a B.A. in Economics from Middlebury College, as well as an MBA from the Stanford GSB.
Bryan Rich ‘86, majored in English Literature and Latin American Studies. He joined Accenture Federal Services in 2018 and founded the Applied Intelligence business to build and scale advanced data science, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation into a unified delivery framework. In the last two years, he has expanded the Accenture Applied Intelligence workforce to nearly 700 data scientists and engineers including a team of 70 applied research scientists with deep expertise in NLP, CV, CNN, ML. Bryan also started the Accenture Federal Applied Intelligence Lab (Discovery Lab) strengthening AFS leadership in scientific research. Before joining Accenture, Bryan worked in Europe, The Middle East and Latin America for 20 years leading leveraged data science technology businesses globally. He founded a decision intelligence software technology business with domain expertise in national security that he sold to the Carlyle Group via Novetta Solutions in 2015.
Brian Sirkia ’12.5 is the CTO and Co-Founder of Lately, a marketing AI platform based in NYC. He leads the company’s product development and engineering, which is focused on using AI prediction models to augment and create marketing content for customers like Foursquare, SAP, Microsoft, and Samsung. Before Lately, he co-founded a Craigslist competitor startup and ran a digital marketing agency building websites for clients including Mass MoCA, Ellsworth Kelly, and the San Francisco Film Festival. At Middlebury, he studied Economics and Computer Science and played rugby.
Nima Alidoust ‘09 majored in Physics at Middlebury and received his Ph.D. in Quantum Chemistry from Princeton University. He worked for Mckinsey for a number of years serving clients in high-tech industries. He subsequently served as Vice President of Strategy and Head of Product at Rigetti Computing. Nima is now the CEO of a new company that is working on quantum simulation of materials.
Nicole Fazio ‘11, is a Technical Product Manager at Amazon Alexa building o to 1 products that customers love. With training in econometrics, she started her career analyzing big data using SAS and Python, translating data-driven insights into strategic recommendations. She currently leads product thinking in the brand new space of voice advertising, launching the first-ever Alexa-actionable TV ad that allows customers to discover and browse products in the ad using their voice. Nicole Fazio mentors aspiring techies through the Built by Girls program. She has an MBA from MIT Sloan and was a Div I captain for the Middlebury Ski Team.