Is technology hurting democracy?
And, can technology help save it?

Program Information

While Thomas Jefferson wrote that a well-informed electorate is a prerequisite to democracy, he had little notion of technology’s ability to misinform, manipulate, and mold a free people.

We are living through a period of profound technological change. And just as the Internet has transformed almost every aspect of modern life, it is driving profound changes in democratic institutions — how we relate to one another, seek and share information, and express our will as citizens in a democratic society.

From campaign financing, information dissemination, selective messaging, big data, fake news, and voter fraud, technology has the ability to create an Orwellian dystopia or facilitate informed discussion and choices.

But technology also offers the promise to nurture a more informed, educated, and engaged electorate.  From email to AI, technology has been the driver in fostering more beneficial communication, education, and information dissemination, amplifying the unheard voices of diverse groups while enhancing the interconnectedness of global communities and cultures.

Analyzing the complex forces that are driving these changes can help us understand what ails democracies today and potentially guide us toward compelling solutions.

Join us on Wednesday, September 16 for this FREE ONLINE EVENT.

This program will be moderated by Hans Høeg, board member of the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Central Coast, and former Chief of Staff to US Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky.


  • Douglas T. Hickey, Ambassador and Commissioner General, Board Member of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
  • Brian J. Fox, Founder, Kano.ONE
  • Doc Searls, Fellow with the Center for Information Technology and Society, UC Santa Barbara
  • Donald Nichols, National Lead for US Postal Service Political & Mailing Services
  • Baratunde Thurston, Writer, Activist, Comedian (SPECIAL GUEST)

Reserve your spot now!

About the Speakers

DOUGLAS (DOUG) T. HICKEY, Ambassador and Commissioner General, Board Member of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

As Commissioner General of the United States’ delegation for the most recent World’s Fair, Hickey oversaw the development of a dynamic exhibit that showcased America’s food story and sparked a global conversation about the challenges of feeding the planet.

Prior to his appointment in Italy, Hickey served as President and CEO of San Francisco-based BinWise Inc., the leading provider of analytics to premier restaurant, hotel and entertainment groups around the world. He previously worked as Managing Partner of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, one of Silicon Valley’s leading venture capital firms, for more than 10 years. Prior to Hummer Winblad, Hickey was CEO of Critical Path, the leading provider of messaging services to corporations around the globe.

Hickey served as President and CEO of Global Center, which became one of the first and largest providers of advanced web hosting and content distribution on the Internet. After selling Global Center to Frontier Communications in 1998, he was named president of Frontier Global Center and Executive Vice President of Frontier Communications Corporation. Ultimately, the combined operation was successfully sold to Global Crossing.

His work in the public sector included serving as Northern California’s Finance Co-Chair on Secretary Kerry’s Presidential campaign. He was also a member of the National Finance Committee for President Obama’s campaign in 2008 and 2012, as well as Co-Chair of the California Finance Committee.

Hickey has carried Siena’s Franciscan values and teachings with him throughout his life, working tirelessly on behalf of the poor in the Catholic Diocese of San Francisco.

Recognized as a “Builder of Siena,” Hickey became one of the principal donors to the College’s Values and Visions Capital Campaign in 2000 by creating the Douglas T. Hickey ‘77 Chair in Business. His philanthropy to Siena includes making the lead gift to the Douglas T. Hickey ’77 Technology Center, home of the Will Raub Trading Room. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Siena in 1977 and is currently on the boards of Siena, BinWise, and Plug Power Inc. (NSDQ PLUG).

BRIAN J. FOX, Founder, Kano.ONE

Brian J. Fox, Kano.ONE Founder, is a serial entrepreneur, technologist, investor, and musician. Brian was the first employee of the Free Software Foundation and the creator of Bash, a key component of every modern operating system, and used by millions of developers world wide. He has founded many successful companies including Orchid Labs. He has raised capital from tier one venture capitalists including Andreessen  Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, DFJ, and others.  Brian is active in the open source election system community.



DOC SEARLS, fellow with the Center for Information Technology and Society, UCSB

Doc Searls is a fellow with the Center for Information Technology and Society at UC Santa Barbara, a visiting scholar with the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University, a fellow with the Center for Digital Life, a member of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and an alumnus fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, where he continues to run ProjectVRM, which fosters development of tools that increase personal agency in the digital world—including the kind of tools that should improve the democratic process. He is also an inveterate journalist and author who Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times calls Doc “one of the most respected technology writers in America.” And he’s a podcaster, hosting FLOSS Weekly for the TWiT network, and co-hosting Reality 2.0.


DONALD NICHOLS, National Lead for US Postal Service & Mailing Services

Donald mobilizes a national team of specialists who consult and support political campaigns, campaign strategists and political alliance mailing partners.  He manages USPS strategic sponsorships with political associations, including the development of leading-edge thought leadership.  He also coordinates marketing and sales efforts to support the use of all mailing products.



BARATUNDE THURSTON, Writer, Activist, Comedian

Baratunde Thurston is an Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show, advised the Obama White House, and wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black . He’s the executive producer and host of two podcasts: How To Citizen with Baratunde and We’re Having A Moment which CNET called “the most important podcast of 2020.” He’s also the creator / host of the weekly pandemic show, Live On Lockdown. In 2019, he delivered what MSNBC’s Brian Williams called “one of the greatest TED talks of all time”. Right now, the writer, activist and comedian is using his powerful voice to help people understand this revolutionary moment with his unique blend of insight, humor, and empathy.

Baratunde is a rare leader who exists at the intersection of race, technology, and democracy and seamlessly integrates past, present and future.

Baratunde serves on the boards of BUILD and the Brooklyn Public Library and lives in Los Angeles, California.


HANS HØEG, Board Member, MIT Enterprise Forum Central Coast, and former Chief of Staff to US Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky

Hans Høeg is trained as a mechanical engineer and has founded companies in the medical device space, renewable energy, social media, and education. In 2012 a close friend from the MIT days ended up getting elected to the US House of Representatives and convinced Høeg to become his Chief of Staff. Their experiences on the inside were so shocking that they are now being captured in a book about two engineers who tried to go against the Washington establishment.




Event & Ticket Information

Event Date:  Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

Where: ONLINE EVENT – Zoom


  • 6:00 – 7:00PM Panel Discussion / Q&A
  • 7:00 – 7:30 Post-Event Networking

Everyone who signs up will receive their own link upon registration.

Online event registration is for Technology & Democracy powered by Eventbrite
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