past event
Around the Institute

Socrates Japan, Nara 2023

Held in partnership with the Aspen Institute Japan, the Socrates Nara Seminar will take place from June 9-11, 2023. Socrates international seminars include three seminar sessions, program meals, and local excursions/tours. Seminar tuition is $3,000, which includes lodging, materials, meals, and an excursion in Nara. Tuition does not include travel. Please contact if you are interested in participating.

Dystopia or Democracy? Rethinking Technology’s Role in Society

Since the late twentieth century, new technologies have been reshaping how individuals navigate their lives, as well as how businesses and other organizations operate. More recently, it’s become clear that these same technologies are having a profound influence on the workings of democracy. But what kind of influence? A decade ago, there was widespread optimism that, by giving everyone a global voice, social media platforms would be a boon to democratic societies. Today there’s rising concern that they represent a threat to democracy itself. Five billion people are now on social media, discussing everything from their hobbies and family lives to the climate crisis and other major challenges. But rather than fostering constructive discourse among users of diverse backgrounds and views, the platforms tend to herd us into ideological echo chambers where our existing beliefs are confirmed and other points of view vilified. With polling in crisis and news outlets increasingly serving partisan agendas, there’s currently no reliable source for public opinion. This is a critical factor in the social disintegration and loss of trust plaguing democracies around the world. Is the online public square hopelessly broken? If technology has put us on the road to dystopia, how can we change course and use it to build a healthier, more democratic world?

William Powers Moderator: William Powers is co-founder and CEO of Public Mind, a non-profit technology organization launching in 2023.


Health and Safety Guidelines for In Person Events

The Aspen Institute is committed to creating a safe seminar experience for all participants. Please see our COVID-19 safety guidelines here.

These guidelines will be regularly updated to meet the latest health and safety guidance of the CDC and local authorities. If you anticipate any issues or have any concerns, please contact us at

Event information
Fri Jun 9, 2023 - Sun Jun 11, 2023
Nara, Japan