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Lawrence  Lessig

Lawrence Lessig

Harvard Law Professor, 2016 Presidential Candidate & the Internet’s Most Celebrated Lawyer

Biography

One of the most inspiring and visionary thought leaders of the digital age, Lawrence Lessig occupies a unique place at the intersection of transformative ideals, citizen activism and the future of the law, digital technologies, and democracy itself. His signature rapid-fire presentation style, known as the “Lessig Method” uses dynamic typography and thought-provoking visuals to seize attention and deeply inform. Read More >

A Harvard Law professor and New York Times bestselling author, Lessig first became known for developing the very foundations of internet law, allowing the sharing of copyrighted content. He has since taken on issues at the core of our system of government, particularly the impact of money on politics. His 2015 effort to enter the presidential campaign was a crusade for campaign finance reform with a clarion call to “fix democracy first.” Throughout his career, Lessig’s farseeing ideas and efforts have drawn support from some of America’s most important business and political leaders and garnered numerous honors and awards. He is one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries and was named to Fastcase 50 “honoring the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” In his latest venture, Lessig is lending his expertise to build the political framework for Seed, a new multiplayer online game in which characters populating a new planet collectively decide how they want to govern themselves.

A popular speaker on the coveted TED main stage, each of his three TED talks have more than one million views online. Known for his compelling, personal and completely non-partisan content, Lessig’s presentations leave audiences informed, awakened, and with a heightened understanding of any topic. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

TEDTalk: We the People, and the Republic We Must Reclaim

TEDTalk: The Unstoppable Walk to Political Reform

TEDTalk: Law That Chokes Creativity

Science & the Data Revolution

Copyright in the Digital Age

Speech Topics

Our Unrepresentative President

In this committedly-nonpartisan talk, Professor Lessig makes understandable the democratic problems with the way we elect our President, and what we could (realistically) do to fix it. Over the life of the nation, we have  evolved a system for electing a President always selects a President who does not represent America, increasingly selects a President who does not even win a majority of votes, and terrifyingly makes the nations elections highly vulnerable to foreign interference. These flaws are not directly caused by the Electoral College itself. They are caused instead by the way states allocate their electoral college votes. Professor Lessig describes efforts to reform the system, including one that he is involved with directly. He also shows clearly why the battle over these reforms is not itself partisan. 

What the Fight Over “Network Neutrality” Is Really About

“Network neutrality” has become the internet’s buzzword du jour. But what does it really mean? Lessig’s work was part of the foundation upon which the campaign for network neutrality was built. Today, too many understand this fight in political terms. Yes, network neutrality is important for free speech and equality. But it is even more important to innovation and the future of Internet competition. In this talk, Lessig shows why network neutrality really is the one issue we all should be able to agree upon—unless, of course, you’re Comcast.

We the People Must Fix America’s Corruption

Corruption is at the heart of American politics, caused by the influence of money. Larry Lessig believes this is the most urgent issue we face as a nation – but recognizes that the dynamic of this sort of corruption is broader than Congress. It is the root problem that makes solving others so difficult. Think doctors taking money from drug companies; academics taking money to give public testimony. U.S. institutions as a whole have lost their way – lost effectiveness and the public’s trust. We, the people, must force lasting change on America’s broken system.

America, Compromised

How is an institution corrupt? In this talk, Professor Lessig develops a conception of corruption that looks beyond bad souls doing wrong, and focuses on good souls in important institutions that have allowed those institutions to be corrupted. Reflecting on Congress, finance, the law and the academy, Lessig maps a common dynamic that has weakened these important and public institutions. His objective is to give the audience a way to identify this form of corruption, increasingly common throughout society. The talk can be fit to any institution, offering the audience way to diagnose its own "good soul corruption." The talk concludes with a reflection on the common source of this corruption, and common strategies to remedy it.

Against Transparency

There is an exploding movement supporting transparency in government and public institutions. In this surprising talk, Lessig advances an argument against it. Building on recent work in political science, media studies and psychology, Lessig argues that while some transparency is obviously good, more is not always better. And that in particular, the rules increasingly adopted by public institutions will weaken the capacity of those institutions to do their work, and earn the public’s trust.

Regulating AIs: How Games Prepare Us for the Future

The future is AIs, yet we have no idea of how AIs can or will be regulated. Building upon his experience helping developers of the largest persistent virtual AI game in history — SEED — Lessig will describe the challenge of regulating machines, and the lessons learned so far.