Tech Policy Podcast
#310: Algorithmic Amplification

#310: Algorithmic Amplification

January 20, 2022

Algorithmic amplification is the latest hot topic in the (seemingly endless) debate over social media content moderation. Legislators are introducing bills that would regulate when and how social media websites may “amplify” content by placing it near the top of people’s newsfeeds. But are these bills constitutional? Do they even address the problems the legislators claim to care about? Daphne Keller, a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, is the author of Amplification and Its Discontents, a seminal paper on these subjects. She joins host Corbin Barthold and Ari Cohn, Free Speech Counsel at TechFreedom, to discuss her paper, the obstacles to regulating speech-related algorithms, the fact that there is no “un-amplified” social media Eden to return to, and more.

#309: Conspiracy Theories and the Internet

#309: Conspiracy Theories and the Internet

January 11, 2022

Is social media accelerating the spread of conspiracy theories? It sure feels like it: look at anti-vaxxers, claims about election fraud, and QAnon. Professor Joseph Uscinski, a political scientist at the University of Miami, argues that this widespread hunch is not supported by the evidence. He and host Corbin Barthold examine that view, with a focus on what polling data says about the prevalence of conspiracy theories over time. They also discuss how the Internet affects public opinion (or not), when conspiracy theories become dangerous, how people should form beliefs, whether birds are real, whether King James II fathered a “warming pan baby,” and more.

#308: All Eyes on the FTC

#308: All Eyes on the FTC

December 21, 2021

The Federal Trade Commission is making headlines lately, as its new chair, Lina Khan, seeks to impose a “neo-Brandeisian” antitrust agenda. Adam Cella, an attorney advisor to FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson, joins the show to discuss what’s happening at the agency. For more, see Commissioner Wilson’s speech, The Neo-Brandeisian Revolution: Unforced Errors and the Diminution of the FTC, given last month at the ABA Antitrust Law Section’s Fall Forum.

#307: Complexity Theory in One Lesson

#307: Complexity Theory in One Lesson

December 14, 2021

Neil Chilson has written a great new book: Getting Out of Control: Emergent Leadership in a Complex World. He and host Corbin Barthold discuss the book, complexity, emergent phenomena, effective leadership in a fast-changing world, and the need for epistemic humility in policymaking (and elsewhere). Also covered: fractals, free will, and the risks of taking advice from hermits in caves. Neil is a senior research fellow for technology and innovation at Stand Together and a former chief technologist at the Federal Trade Commission.

#306: The New Space Race

#306: The New Space Race

November 23, 2021

Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and even William Shatner have just been to space. Elon Musk is building rockets, launching satellites, and dreaming of going to Mars. The reaction on Twitter has been . . . snark!? TechFreedom’s own James Dunstan (a bona fide space lawyer) and Corbin Barthold (who’s been on Disneyland’s Space Mountain ride) discuss the new space entrepreneurs, the regulatory hurdles they face, and why people should root for them to succeed. For more, see Jim’s Medium post, “Bring on the Space Barons,” and Corbin’s article in The Bulwark on SpaceX’s Starlink satellite project.

#305: FISA at the Supreme Court

#305: FISA at the Supreme Court

November 3, 2021

On November 8, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in FBI v. Fazaga, an important case on the meaning and scope of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The system of domestic foreign-intelligence spying created by FISA has been plagued with abuse and controversy. Could the Court use Fazaga to address some of the system’s shortcomings? Elizabeth (Liza) Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security Program, joins the show to discuss the case, to give a preview of the argument, and to explain the broader flaws in the FISA framework. For more, see the amicus brief the Brennan Center (joined by TechFreedom) filed in Fazaga.

#304: Gen Z and Social Media

#304: Gen Z and Social Media

October 26, 2021

Generation Z are the first true digital natives—people who cannot remember a time before the internet. This gives Gen Z a unique perspective, but it is also driving concerns (mainly among older generations) about the potential drawbacks of growing up in a digital age. Kir Nuthi, public affairs manager for NetChoice, and Rachel Altman, director of digital media at TechFreedom, join the show to discuss how Gen Z use social media, the challenges of content moderation, and the moral panic over teen social media use. For more, see Kir’s op-ed on content moderation at Fortune.com.

#303: Antitrust and Innovation

#303: Antitrust and Innovation

October 18, 2021

The lively debate over the future of antitrust law continues. The Neo-Brandeisians want an aggressive, “big is bad” approach. The Chicago School defends the current system and its consumer-welfare standard. Which side has the better of the argument? Could it be that neither does? Aurelien Portuese, Director of ITIF’s Schumpeter Project on Competition Policy, joins the show to discuss the problems with antitrust populism, the flaws in the antitrust debate more generally, and his vision for a dynamic antitrust policy centered around innovation. In addition—naturally!—Aurelien has some thoughts to share on the great Joseph Schumpeter, the economist who popularized the term “creative destruction.” Also joining the show is TechFreedom Legal Fellow Andy Jung.

#302: Epic v. Apple

#302: Epic v. Apple

September 16, 2021

Last year, Epic Games made a splash with its lawsuit / ad campaign challenging the rules and commission structure of the Apple app store. Last week, a judge ruled in favor of Apple — but only just, and not in full. Geoff Manne, president and founder of the International Center for Law & Economics, joins the show to discuss the decision, what it means for Apple, and how it could shape the future of antitrust policy.

The quote that Geoff and Corbin grasp for, about seven minutes in, is John Hicks’s quip that “The best of all monopoly profits is a quiet life.”

#301: The Realignment

#301: The Realignment

September 8, 2021

American politics, media, and culture are realigning in ways that are, as of yet, hard to identify and define. Marshall Kosloff, co-host of The Realignment podcast, joins the show for a wide-ranging discussion about what these shifts are, what they mean for the country, and how institutions like Big Tech and the Republican Party are adapting (or failing to adapt) to them. For more, check out The Realignment, as well as another of Marshall’s podcasts, The Deep End.

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