To What End? On Infrastructural Governance

The Center for Governance and Markets hosted a talk by Brett Frischmann (Villanova University), on March 4, 2021, as part of the Future of Law in Technology and Governance virtual seminar series. Frischmann presented his research on infrastructure theory, “To What End? On Infrastructural Governance.” His research focuses on the intersection of governance of the knowledge commons, engineering human choices, and the social value of infrastructure. When looking at new infrastructure possibilities, especially those deemed as smart technology, many designs aim for frictionless transactions for speed and efficiency. Frischmann strongly cautions against this, arguing that purposefully building friction into systems allows for humans to deliberately engage with normative questions including how smart should infrastructure be? Should it be a CEO or software programmer who decides the value or logic system of a particular smart technology? These questions don’t have a right answer and the answers will likely vary from community to community. As such, he shows, polycentric and careful approach to designing smart infrastructure is necessary.   




Brett Frischmann is the Charles Widger Endowed University Professor in Law, Business and Economics, at Villanova. A renowned scholar in intellectual property and Internet law, Professor Frischmann is an affiliated scholar of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, an affiliated faculty member of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University, and a trustee for the Nexa Center for Internet & Society, Politecnico di Torino. Professor Frischmann most recently served as the Microsoft Visiting Professor of Information and Technology Policy at Princeton University’s Center for Information and Technology Policy.