with Spencer Greenberg
the podcast about ideas that matter

Episode 112: Content moderation and its dis-content-moderators (with Ada Palmer)

July 7, 2022

How does the current information revolution compare to previous information revolutions? What kind of event or set of events counts as an information revolution? Why do new information technologies usually amplify the most extreme voices first? Why are intentions not very useful as a metric for determining whether a particular kind of censorship is good or bad? When, if ever, is censorship appropriate or morally acceptable? Why were officials of the Inquisition much more worried about slight deviations in theology than outright agnosticism or atheism? What are the implications of using AI to censor certain kinds of information? What do people misunderstand about history? Why are there so many more futuristic dystopian stories than utopian stories? What is "plural" agency, and why do we need more stories about it?

Ada Palmer is a cultural and intellectual historian focusing on radical thought and the recovery of the classics in the Italian Renaissance. She works on the history of science, religion, heresy, freethought, atheism, censorship, books, printing, and on patronage and the networks of power and money that enabled cultural creation in early modern Europe. She teaches in the History Department at the University of Chicago, and her first book is Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance. Find out more about her at

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Host / Director
Spencer Greenberg

Josh Castle

Audio Engineer
Ryan Kessler

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