Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have become flashpoints for what ails democracy. But what if the technologies that power public discourse could serve society’s best interests instead of undermining them? William Powers, CEO of Public Mind, best-selling author, and former Washington Post columnist, has dedicated the last 15 years to rethinking the role of these technologies in our individual and collective lives.

Join William Powers in conversation with Bina Venkataraman, editor-at-large for The Boston Globe and fellow in the Technology and Public Purpose Program at Belfer, for an in-person discussion on inventing a new future for social media.


William Powers Headshot

William Powers, Co-founder and CEO of Public Mind

William Powers is co-founder and CEO of Public Mind, a non-profit technology organization launching in early 2023. Its mission is to strengthen democracy by objectively reporting on public opinion as reflected in online social discourse. A former Washington Post staff writer, his work in technology began with a paper he wrote as a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy’s School’s Shorenstein Center. Powers is the author of the 2010 book Hamlet’s BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age. A New York Times-bestseller, the book took him to MIT, where he spent five years as a research scientist working on ways AI technologies can help build better societies. He lives in Massachusetts and is currently Visiting Scholar for Humanistic Technologies at the Max Planck Center for Humans and Machines in Berlin.


Bina Venkataraman Headshot

Bina Venkataraman, Editor-at-Large, Boston Globe

Bina Venkataraman is an American journalist, author, and science & technology policy expert. From 2019 to 2022, she was the Editorial Page Editor of The Boston Globe; she is currently Editor-at-Large at the Globe and a fellow at New America. Since 2011, she has taught in the program on science, technology, and society at MIT. She formerly served as senior adviser for climate change innovation in the Obama White House, directed global policy initiatives at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and reported on the science desks of The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Venkataraman is an alumna of Brown University and the Harvard Kennedy School.