A Brave New World: How does the Internet Affect Societies?

As part of our 25th anniversary, we hosted an event with the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House in London.

In a little more than a generation, the Internet has transformed ways of communicating, transacting and accessing knowledge. For the earliest adapters, the Internet promised a new home of the mind and offered new possibilities for addressing the challenges facing the world. Yet, mounting concerns over the impact of globalization, rising social and cultural divisions, and the spread of false or misleading information online all raise an uncomfortable, pressing question: is the Internet eliminating divisions in society, or is it accentuating them?

As part of our 25th anniversary, we hosted an event with the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House to address this critical question.

This event brought together Internet experts, industry influencers, senior government officials and opinion-formers to consider some of the most challenging questions relating to the impact of the Internet on society: will the Internet of the future be a force for social cohesion or will it contribute to the fragmentation of the public sphere?

The day consisted of two sessions. The first was on the record and video-streamed in front of an audience, including Chatham House members. It began with opening remarks:

  • Prof. Dr. Erik Huizer, CTO SURFnet, Internet Hall of Fame inductee

It was followed by a panel discussion:

  • ModeratorMs. Kathryn Brown, President and CEO, Internet Society
  • Dr. Ismail Syed Shah, Chairman, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority
  • Mr. James Arroyo, OBE, Director for Data, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Ms. Unoma Ndili Okarafor, Ph.D. Founder & CEO at Herbal Papaya, WAAW Foundation
  • Ms. Rebecca MacKinnon, Director of the Ranking Digital Rights project at New America

The second session was a smaller, roundtable event of approximately 20 experts and was held under the Chatham House Rule.

Date and Time

11:30 – 13:00 UTC

Thursday 11 May 2017


Chatham House, 10 St James’s Square, London, UK, SW1Y 4LE