14 June 2022
7:00 pm
Public Lecture Tech & Society with William Powers
Auditorio Espacio Fundación Telefónica

Public Lecture Tech & Society with William Powers


Aspen Institute España and Fundación Telefónica held the opening public lecture of the VI Edition of the Tech & Society Program on “Hearing all the voices: How Technology Can Heal the Broken Public Square” with William Powers, CEO of Public Mind, technologist and author of the New York Times best-seller, Hamlet’s Blackberry, next Tuesday, June 14. After a brief presentation, Chema Alonso, CDO of Telefónica, and José M. de Areilza, Secretary General of Aspen Institute España, joined the conversation.


Democracy depends on a healthy public square. Today’s public square is online where 3.8 billion people around the world are gathering each day on social media platforms. They’re speaking up about society’s most urgent issues. But because the platforms are vast and the data complex, most citizen voices aren’t reaching the democratic institutions, media outlets and other organizations that need to hear them. With traditional polling broken, it’s become effectively impossible to get accurate readouts of public opinion. This disconnect between the citizenry and channels of power has exacerbated social disintegration, political turmoil and a widespread loss of trust. What if digital technologies could strengthen democracy rather than eroding it? That’s the mission of Public Mind, a US-based tech non-profit led by William Powers. He will discuss its innovative approach to making the digital public square a more positive and constructive force in the world.

The conference will take place in English, with simultaneous translation into Spanish, and will be interpreted into Spanish Sign Language (LSE). It will also be streamed and can be followed on social media with the hashtag #TechSociety. The auditorium of the Espacio Fundación Telefónica has limited places, soon you will find in this post the registration link to the conference.

William Powers is co-founder and CEO of Public Mind, a non-profit technology organization that’s mapping online discourse about the major questions of our time. Its mission is to serve democracy by objectively detecting, measuring, and reporting on public opinion, based on the voices of the people themselves. A New York Times bestselling author and former MIT research scientist, Powers has spent the last decade conducting projects to ensure that today’s AI-driven technologies reflect human values and enable social progress. He lives in Massachusetts, USA, and is currently Visiting Scholar for Humanistic Technologies at the Max Planck Center for Humans and Machines in Berlin.

Chema Alonso is currently CDO (Chief Digital Officer) at Telefónica, and is responsible for Innovation, Data, Platforms, Digital Products and Services. Previously he was CDCO (Chief Digital Consumer Officer) and CDO (Chief Data Officer) where he was responsible for the launch of LUCA, Aura, 4P, Movistar Home & Living Apps. Previously he was the founder and CEO of ElevenPaths, a Telefónica subsidiary focused on cybersecurity. He also founded, worked and directed Informática 64 for 14 years, a company focused on IT security and training. He holds a PhD in Computer Security from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid, Computer Engineering from the URJC and Computer Systems Engineering from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, which also named him Honorary Ambassador of the Escuela Universitaria de Informática in 2012. In 2020, the URJC has named him Doctor Honoris Causa.

José M. de Areilza Carvajal is Secretary General of Aspen Institute España. He has a dual appointment as Professor at the Law Department and at the General Management and Strategy Department of ESADE Business School. He is the holder of the Jean Monnet Chair-ESADE and a Member of the European Council on Foreign Relations. He has been Visiting Professor at INSEAD Business School, Fontainebleau, France, and has worked as Advisor to the Spanish Prime Minister on European and North American affairs. Since 2017 he serves as Co-Chair of the British Spanish Tertulias, the leading bilateral forum between the two countries and as a Trustee of the Spanish Naval Museum. He writes a weekly column on international affairs in ABC, a national newspaper. José M. de Areilza received an LL.B. degree with Special Graduation Prize from Universidad Complutense de Madrid and holds a Masters degree (LL.M.) and Doctorate degree (S.J.D.) from Harvard University and an M.A. from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He is a Member of the New York Bar.


Recommended readings:


VI Edition of the Tech & Society Program

Aspen Institute España and Fundación Telefónica launched the VI Edition of the Tech & Society Program. The VI edition will bring together leaders from all sectors of civil society to discuss the new technological challenges and their influence in areas as diverse as human relations, politics, education, culture, economics and medicine

Tech & Society Program has become the main forum in Spain for reflection on the major issues raised by advances in digital technologies. The fifth edition will gather different leaders from all sectors of civil society to discuss the new technological challenges and their influence in areas as diverse as human relations, politics, education, culture, economics and medicine.

Leigh Hafrey, Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Sandy Parakilas, Chief Strategy Officer for the Center for Humane Technology, who recently appeared in the Netflix documentary “The Social Media Dilemma”, Cathy O’Neil, author of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens DemocracyBeth Noveck, director of The Gov Lab and professor in the Technology, Culture, and Society department at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, and who led the Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative, are some of the speakers who have participated as speakers through the Tech & Society Program throughout its different editions.

You can access former interviews and conferences of the Program on our  YouTube channel.



More information

  • William Powers
  • José M. de Areilza
Auditorio Espacio Fundación Telefónica
  • Conference