The question: Are digital technologies making politics impossible?
Thursday, 31 May 2018 marked the publication of Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy, 'a landmark book' (Observer) by the inaugural winner of the Nine Dots Prize, former-Google employee and Oxford-trained philosopher, James Williams. The book launch took place at CRASSH, Cambridge and included a talk by the author, who was then joined in discussion by John Naughton (Technology Correspondent, The Observer) and Maria Farrell (Writer and Technology Consultant).
Stand Out of Our Light began as Williams’ response to the first question posed by the Nine Dots Prize board: Are digital technologies making politics impossible? In it, Williams examines how the technology we increasingly trust to guide our thoughts and actions is in fact preventing us from achieving our goals and living the lives we desire. He warns that the infrastructure of intelligent persuasion that now dominates the digital environment is undermining the human will, not only at an individual level but at wider societal and even global level too.
The book is already garnering praise from leading experts and intellectuals, including internet activist Wael Ghonim ('If you care about the future of society, pay attention to this book.') and Nine Dots Prize board member and Professor of Politics at the University of Cambridge David Runciman ('Passionate, provocative, personal and funny – this is not your typical academic book about digital technology!')
James Williams was born in Florida and raised in Texas. He received his PhD from the University of Oxford, where his research addressed the philosophy and ethics of attention and persuasion as they relate to technology design. Previously, James worked for over ten years at Google, where he received the Founders’ Award – the company’s highest honour – for his work on advertising products and tools. James is also a member of the Digital Ethics Lab at the Oxford Internet Institute and co-founder of the Time Well Spent campaign.
Stand Out of Our Light is published in paperback by Cambridge University Press and available from all good book shops. It is also available to read for free online via Open Access on the Cambridge University Press website.