His lecture, “1788, 1938, and Today: Fulcrum Points in Geopolitical Evolution,” will be held at 12:30 p.m. Monday, August 12 in the Hall of Philosophy, as part of the Lincoln Applied Ethics Series. Allenby is the President’s Professor of Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering and Law, and the Lincoln Professor of Engineering and Ethics, at Arizona State University.
Allenby will be discussing the changes that representative democracy is undergoing.
“We all know that representative democracy has been under attack,” Allenby said. “The latest testimony on (Robert) Mueller went back to the fact that the Russians in particular have been very effective in attacking representative democracy.”
Allenby said that more people should be questioning whether representative democracy is still effective; he said he will discuss the ways in which technological trends have altered the effectiveness of representative democracy.
“The underlying question of whether representative (democracy) remains the most effective form of government has not been asked,” Allenby said. “What I’m going to talk about is the probability that, in fact, the underlying technological trend, particularly in AI and information technology, significantly shifts the balance of effectiveness from representative democracy to soft authoritarianism.”
Allenby said he hopes Chautauquans will leave his lecture with a better understanding of the “deep challenges” of modern-day governance. He said such understanding also involves considering the roots of national challenges and that “by trying to work on some of those issues before they become crises, we may be able to save important parts of the American experiment.”
Allenby will also lead master classes this week in the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall; the classes are fully enrolled.
“(The classes) look in more detail at some of the sources of the challenges applied to case study and what AI, combined with other technologies, might be able to do as soon as 2020, and gives an idea of the kinds of challenges that are posed for fundamental democratic institutions like freedom of speech, checks and balances and others,” Allenby said.