CRCS Seminar: Mathias Risse on Data as Collectively Generated Pattern: Making Sense of Data Ownership


Monday, April 15, 2019, 12:00pm to 1:15pm


Maxwell Dworkin 119

Data as Collectively Generated Pattern: Making Sense of Data Ownership


Data ownership is genuine power. Who should hold that power? How should data be owned?  The importance of data ownership explains why it has been analogized to other domains where ownership is already better understood. Several data-as proposals are on the table: data as oil, as intellectual property, as personhood, as salvage, data as labor, etc. My purpose is to propose another way of thinking about data.  Like the others that view characterizes data in ways that make them accessible to ownership considerations and can also be expressed as a data-as view: data as collectively generated patterns. However, unlike the alternatives, data as collectively generated patterns does not create any equivalence with another domain where ownership is already well-understood. It makes clear how ownership considerations would enter, but we must explore afresh how they do. Accordingly, I propose a way for ownership considerations to bear on data once we understand them that way.


Mathias Risse is Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Philosophy and Public Administration and Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His work primarily addresses questions of global justice ranging from human rights, inequality, taxation, trade and immigration to climate change, obligations to future generations and the future of technology.