The Polish-U.S Fulbright Commission has proudly supported the Warsaw Euro-Atlantic Summer Academy (WEASA) for the past two years. The 7th edition of WEASA entitled “Humans, Machines, Politics and Truth” was held at the College of Europe Natolin Campus on July 7-17, and included Fulbright alumni among the invited speakers. Over fifty leaders and mid-career professionals from across the Eastern Partnership countries, Western Balkans and Poland participated in this year’s meeting. The experts came from prestigious institutions including POLITICO Europe, investigative journalism bodies, think-tanks, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Participants discussed a broad range of topics, including the impact of algorithms on modern society, the role of journalism in a digital age, social media dilemmas, Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as the issue of disinformation in Europe. They also had an opportunity to participate in workshops devoted to raising awareness on personal digital security.
Darek Jemielniak,* Fulbright alumnus in Poland, delivered the first lecture of WEASA 2019 on the topic of humanity complex relationship with technology. During his interactive presentation, Jemielniak raised several compelling questions, such as: “What will not change in the next 10 years?” “When will artificial intelligence become a threat?” and “What is AI bad at?” Apart from collecting the audience response to these questions, Jemielniak also discussed the advances of new technology in marketing strategies, Big data challenges, as well as contextualized for the audience how Big data may influence both our everyday life, and the future of AI development. Despite the daunting thought of technology taking over the world as we know it, this session concluded on a positive note. While the tech-enabled cooperation is our future, humans are still the most important collaborators on Earth.
During the second week of WEASA, Miranda Spivack** – an independent journalist, who has just finished her term as a Fulbright Scholar in North Macedonia – delivered an insightful presentation on the current state of American and European journalism. Spivack discussed how approaches to journalism, and the organization of media outlets differ between the U.S. and several Europan countries. In particular, she focused on the schism between the freedom of expression as an idea, and the notion of fighting disinformation, or debunking fake news.
In her presentation, Spivack challenged her audience with an interesting task. She asked WEASA participants to pick five or six ways in which journalism as a profession could be saved in each of the countries they represent. They shared many interesting thoughts on how to raise trust in media, promote high-quality journalism, and help media outlets make profit, and thus gain more independence. This discussion also included the question of regulations. In particular, the participants reflected on what could be done to improve journalism ethics and standards, and how media could acquire stronger protection from outer influences.
*Dariusz Jemielniak is Full Professor of Management at Kozminski University (Poland) where he is the head of the Management in Networked and Digital Societies Department (MINDS). He is also an Associate faculty at Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society (Harvard) and Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees member. Jemielniak is the author of “Common Knowledge?: An Ethnography of Wikipedia” (2014, Stanford University Press, winner of Dorothy Lee Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Culture in 2015, and the Chair of the Polish Academy of Sciences academia award in 2016). He has two upcoming books: “Collaborative Society” (2019, MIT Press, co-authored by A. Przegalinska) and “Thick Big Data” (2020, Oxford University Press). Jemielniak had annual appointments at Cornell University (2004-2005), Harvard University (2007, 2011-2012, 2015-2016, 2019-2020), University of California Berkeley (2008), and MIT (2015-2016, 2019-2020). He is a Fulbright Program Alumnus. His research focuses on open collaboration, peer production, and sharing economy.
**Miranda Spivack has been a working journalist for four decades and has spent much of her career writing accountability stories about state and local governments. From 2004-13 she was a reporter at The Washington Post working on stories about development, crime and economic projects, and on occasion challenging public officials to reveal documents that had been concealed. Miranda is a Fulbright Alumna – she spent the Spring 2019 semester teaching journalism at The Iustinianus Primus Law Faculty at Saints Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, and the University of Tetovo Law Faculty, Department of Journalism in Tetovo. While in North Macedonia, she conducted public lectures, seminars, public conversations, and panel discussions on independent media and legal issues, including developing a toolkit with a local journalist to detect and combat fake news. She also lectured on these subjects at other universities in North Macedonia and, at the invitation of Fulbright organizations, in Brussels and Bulgaria. This Fall, she will join the University of Florida’s Brechner Center for Freedom of Information as a Journalist in Residence.