We have officially announced the theme for WEASA 2019 – Humans, Machines, Politics, Truth
WEASA 2019 applications have officially closed – thanks to everyone who applied!
Programme and topics
The final WEASA 2019 timetable is still a work on progress, but we’re looking to focus on the following themes:
Algorithms and their impact on our information infrastructure
A news article can be shared on a social media page, or found through a search engine. Still, it is ultimately an algorithm that delivers this piece to a particular reader. Algorithms are based on billions upon billions of data points: this, along with their ability to seemingly learn and optimise without human intervention, means that no single individual can easily comprehend why an algorithm took a particular decision. We as a society need to discuss who designs such algorithms, what data they are based on, and what biases this could lead to.
Digital, information- and cyber-security
There are two dimensions of security in a digital era that we need to focus on: the first one looks at how large institutions, governments, and others deal with information and digital security. The second one investigates how individual journalists, civil servants, NGO workers, and others can encrypt, manage, and protect their own data and digital assets
The relationship between people and technology
To what extent is technology something that is part of ourselves, and to what extent is it an external intrusion that must be managed? If technology is part of ourselves and a way of managing our public sphere, then what role should private firms play in the creation thereof? We need to investigate such puzzles in order to gain a better understanding of how our political and social systems approach issues such as digital security or the role of algorithms in democracy.
Social media and democracy
Social media is a great source of information and misinformation, but all the major platforms are controlled by huge companies, backed by massive advertising budgets. This leads to tough discussions and decisions. What type of content should be allowed on social media? What should be banned? Do such platforms enhance democracy, hinder democracy, or do both at the same time?
Journalism in a post-truth era
There is increasingly good money to be made from generating fake news and collecting the resulting ad revenue. In many cases, fake news, poor-quality news, and disinformation are even amplified by automated bots, adding a whole new dimension to the problem. WEASA 2019 will therefore include long discussions on what the future of journalism looks like in an algorithmic and post-truth era and what steps media outlets need to take in order to adapt to it.
Dates and location:
WEASA 2019 will take place from July 7th – July 17th, 2019. It will be hosted at the Natolin Campus of the College of Europe (Warsaw, Poland).
Participants and eligibility:
WEASA 2019 is addressed to participants coming from a cross-section of society and specifically from public administration, academia, think-tanks, media and civil society organizations.
We welcome applicants who are citizens and residents of the Eastern Partnership and the Western Balkans. We typically look for mid-career professionals (usually those with at least five years of professional experience), who work as policy analysts, experts, advisers, civil servants, journalists, private sector specialists and in NGOs and are interested in WEASA related topics.
Please note that WEASA 2019 sessions will all be designed with a non-technical audience in mind – you don’t need to be a digital expert in order to sign up!