Special Lecture

Freedom and Ethics in the Era of Big Data

Thursday, October 4, 2018
12:45 pm to 2:00 pm
170 Boalt Hall
Peter Dabrock, German Ethics Council

Hosted by the Berkeley Institute of European Studies. Co-sponsored by the Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law, the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, and the School of Information.

In this talk, Peter Dabrock, chair of the German Ethics Council, explores the potential of big data to constrain the real-world exercise of freedom and self-determination in ways that raise the question whether humans can still act and decide freely and responsibly. Dabrock calls for a responsible shaping of the digital transformation based on concerted action which unites all forces of society, individual self-determination as well as the cultivation of the regulative idea of the public sphere. Dabrock’s 2017 opinion piece “Big Data and Health” focuses on the right to informational freedom that motivates traditional data protection law, and proposes careful consideration about how to implement it in the age of big data and machine learning. He argues that this can be achieved if we steer away from the traditional input orientation of data security law (consent, data minimization, purpose limitation) and towards a more output-oriented approach on the handling of data.

Professor Peter Dabrock is the chair of the Deutsche Ethikrat, the German Ethics Council, and chair of systematic theology (ethics) at the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. Dabrock studied Protestant and Catholic theology, philosophy, and social sciences in Würzburg, Bonn, and Bochum. After a vicarship at the Protestant church in Holzwickede, Germany (1995), he previously held several positions in academia as researcher, assistant, associate, and full professor in Bochum and Marburg. He has also served in many high-level national and international advisory bodies in academia, church, and society including the Central Ethics Committee at the German Medical Association (2004-2013), the DFG-Permanent Senate Commission on Animal Protection and Experimentation (since 2011), and the European Group on Ethics (2011-2016). He has been an appointed member of the German Ethics Council since 2012 and has chaired the council since 2016.

Last updated:

September 25, 2018