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GVU Center Brown Bag: Dhanaraj Thakur — Finding the Sweet Spot: Working At The Intersection Between Research and Technology Policy

Thakur Photo 2022


How can we design research that informs technology policy debates?
How can research help advance human rights advocacy in those debates?
And at the same time how can that research be novel and offer a contribution to the field?
These are some of the factors that guide research in advocacy organizations. In this talk I will discuss some of the ways we address these challenges drawing on practical experiences as well as my research. I will refer to our research in three broad areas - content moderation, surveillance, and disinformation. Specifically, I will share our experiences addressing problems such as detecting harmful content in end-to-end encrypted messaging services, understanding the extent to which school issued devices monitor students and in what ways, and an ongoing project examining the potentially disproportionate impacts of disinformation on women of color political candidates in the U.S. These diverse examples will also demonstrate how we bring together interdisciplinary teams of researchers to tackle these problems and how we create spaces for researchers and policy-makers to learn from each other.

Speaker Bio:

Dhanaraj Thakur is Research Director at the Center for Democracy & Technology, where he leads research that advances human rights and civil liberties online. Over the last 15 years, he has designed and led several research projects aimed at tech policy audiences and ranging in scope from multi-national studies to community level work. He has been interviewed and his work quoted in several news media, including WIRED, CNN, the WSJ, the Economist, the Guardian (UK), and the Financial Times, among others. In addition, he has published over 35 peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers; as well as reports for several civil society organizations, multilateral development banks, and governments. He holds a PhD in Public Policy from the Georgia Institute of Technology (USA), and is a graduate of the London School of Economics, the University of the West Indies, and the University of Technology in Jamaica.

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