Evan Selinger speaking

Evan Selinger Keynote Speaker

  • Professor of Philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Author of Re-Engineering Humanity and The Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Privacy
  • Keynote speaker on tech ethics, privacy and responsible innovation

Evan Selinger's Biography

Evan Selinger is a Professor of Philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology and a keynote speaker specializing in tech ethics and privacy. An internationally recognized expert in responsible innovation, he is also a contributing writer for The Boston Globe.

Evan’s most recent book, Re-Engineering Humanity, was named one of The Observer’s “Best Books of 2018” and one of “Thirty Books to Help Us Understand the World in 2020.” Zadie Smith told The Wall Street Journal that it was one of her favorite reads of 2019. Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft, praised Evan’s most recent anthology, The Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Privacy, for bringing “together a diverse set of important voices from leading academics, business leaders, and policymakers to discuss the opportunities and challenges of this new data economy.”

Since 2003, Evan has taught at a university with renowned engineering and science programs. Working with bright students who are training for careers in competitive technical fields enables him to focus on two professional goals: making philosophical insights accessible and applying philosophical ideas to pressing real-world problems.

To improve privacy research and policy, Evan has been a Scholar-in-Residence at the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a Senior Fellow at the Future of Privacy Forum, and an Affiliate Scholar at Northeastern University’s Center for Law, Innovation, and Creativity. Evan has also collaborated with organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, Fight for the Future, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development.

To improve military policy, Evan is a member of the Institute for Defense Analysis’s Legal, Moral, and Ethical (LME) Working Group. The group contributes to a DARPA-funded project that uses artificial intelligence to responsibly enhance the autonomy of non-lethal technological systems.

To improve responsible innovation in the corporate sector, Evan has advised companies like Microsoft, Meta, IKEA, and Seekr.

To help governments improve ethics education, Evan’s sponsored research includes being a co-PI on a major (approx. $399,000) National Science Foundation grant on sustainability ethics education and co-authoring a New South Wales Department of Education report on AI ethics and privacy for their Education for a Changing World initiative.

Evan regularly writes for newspapers, magazines, and blogs to foster critical conversations beyond the necessary yet narrow academic circles. His essays and op-eds appear in The New York TimesThe Washington PostWiredThe AtlanticSlateThe Wall Street JournalThe Boston GlobeThe NationThe Guardian, Salon, CNN, One Zero, Bloomberg OpinionThe Daily News,  The Daily BeastMTV NewsMotherboardThe Christian Science MonitorBBC FutureNew ScientistAeonProject SyndicateForbes, and HuffPost. Relatedly, Evan has written several review essays for The LA Review of Books.

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Evan Selinger's Speaking Topics

  • Innovation Needs Tech Critics

Innovation needs sharp tech criticism infused into research and development to be successful. In this talk, Evan Selinger identifies the biases, harms, and critical limitations that prevent products from successfully launching and can ultimately lead to them becoming reputation-damaging disasters.

  • Waking Up From The Great Tech Delusion

Why do we keep believing that technology will save us from our complex problems when it never has? In this talk, Evan Selinger will walk you through how to stop lying to yourself, fight back against tech opportunists, and spot the top 10 tech delusions.

  • Obscurity: The Privacy You Can’t Afford to Lose

In this talk, Evan Selinger discusses obscurity, the invisible shield that gives us privacy in public groups and protects us from government, corporate, and social snoops. For most of history, technological and biological limitations saved our obscurity, not the law. But now, given surveillance technology’s threats, our freedom and ability to flourish are in jeopardy until lawmakers, corporate leaders, and citizens begin to value obscurity and start protecting it.

  • We Now Work For Our Machines

We’ve become the tool of our tools. Our minds and bodies are constantly optimized by digital systems that try to get us to behave like simple machines. Our success at improving efficiency has, therefore, led to one of the greatest threats of our time. In this talk, Evan Selinger explains how the digital age is re-engineering humanity and covers why the quest to improve smart AI systems overlooks the problem of creating a society filled with predictable, programmable people.

  • Avoiding A Dystopian Metaverse

In this talk, Evan Selinger discusses the urgency of working out metaverse governance before it’s too late. Once the metaverse’s infrastructure is created, technical standards will solidify that entrench power dynamics and limit interventions into the areas where fundamental values collide, like liberty, privacy, and safety.

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Videos of Evan Selinger

Digital Age Etiquette: Evan Selinger at TEDxFlourCity
Digital Age Etiquette: Evan Selinger at TEDxFlourCity
The Outsourcing Illusion: Why Tempting Technology Can Lead to Dangerous Delegation | UF Center for Humanities and the Public Sphere
The Outsourcing Illusion: Why Tempting Technology Can Lead to Dangerous Delegation | UF Center for Humanities and the Public Sphere
Innovations Talk: Evan Selinger | ASU School for the Future of Innovation in Society
Innovations Talk: Evan Selinger | ASU School for the Future of Innovation in Society
PBS University Place | Must Technology Rule Our Lives?
PBS University Place | Must Technology Rule Our Lives?
The Threat of Normalizing Automated Surveillance April 8, 2021 | UMass Boston
The Threat of Normalizing Automated Surveillance April 8, 2021 | UMass Boston

Articles, Media & Podcasts

Books by Evan Selinger

The Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Privacy
The Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Privacy
Re-Engineering Humanity
Re-Engineering Humanity

Comments & Testimonials

“Evan Selinger is a compelling speaker. I first met Evan after he gave a talk at the annual meeting of the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Evan’s talk was the best I attended at the conference – so good, in fact, that I urged a mutual friend to introduce us during the break after his talk. I couldn’t wait to have him give a talk at Microsoft. In my role as Senior Director of Academic Relations, I periodically invite professors to visit Microsoft, meet with subject matter experts, and give a lunchtime talk to up to 100 people. Over the almost 9 years I’ve had this job, I’ve hosted many academics; Evan’s talk was hands down the best I’ve ever hosted. He’s engaging and witty. He challenges the audience to rethink their (sometimes long-held) assumptions – but in such a gracious manner they love every minute of it.”
Sue Glueck Senior Director, Academic Relations Microsoft
“Evan Selinger is the most gifted speaker I have ever heard in explaining complex and challenging ideas in ways that are easy to understand without sacrificing an ounce of nuance or subtlety. He is quite skilled at avoiding jargon and empty clichés without dumbing down his message. Just as importantly, Evan speaks with an infectious urgency that makes the stakes clear and vivid. He is concise, candid, and compelling.”
Woodrow Hartzog Prof. Law Boston University

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