Reality Studies
Urgent Futures with Jesse Damiani
Brittan Heller: Can Human Rights Law Adapt to the Era of AI & Spatial Computing? | Urgent Futures Ep. 10

Brittan Heller: Can Human Rights Law Adapt to the Era of AI & Spatial Computing? | Urgent Futures Ep. 10

🎙️ Jesse sits down with pathbreaking human rights lawyer, ethicist, and professor Brittan Heller to dig into privacy, online harassment, spatial computing & AI ethics, 'biometric psychography' & more

Welcome to the Urgent Futures podcast, the show that finds signal in the noise. Each week, I sit down with leading thinkers whose research, concepts, and questions clarify the chaos, from culture to the cosmos.

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My guest this week is Brittan Heller.

Brittan Heller works at the intersection of technology, human rights and the law. She is currently a lecturer at Stanford University and a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, examining XR's connection to society, human rights, privacy, and security. Heller is on the steering committee for the World Economic Forum's Metaverse Governance initiative and studied content moderation in XR as an inaugural AI and Tech Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Carr Center for Human Rights. She is a visiting fellow at the Yale Information Society Project, a Senior Non-Residential Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab, and an affiliate at the Stanford Program on Democracy and the Internet. Heller has been awarded a 2024 Bellagio Residency to write about the intersection of spatial computing and AI.

Brittan is my go-to source for anything that sits at the intersection of human rights law, ethics, and emerging technologies. I first met her in the early(ish) days of VR, and she was already developing the body of research that would culminate in her groundbreaking notion of “biometric psychography.” The term refers to body-centered information that can be gathered using sensing technologies including spatial computing and AI, which reveal a given person's physical, mental, and emotional states. Given how poorly we’ve managed to protect people’s privacy with more basic forms of technology, the notion of advertisers, scammers, or governments getting this biometric information is…alarming. Which is why it’s so critical to establish foundations for developing new frameworks in privacy law. This is just one aspect of Brittan’s practice, but it gives a sense of the kind of urgent, necessary work she does.

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CREDITS: This podcast is edited and produced by Adam Labrie and me, Jesse Damiani. Adam Labrie also directed, shot, and edited the video version of the podcast, which is available on YouTube. The podcast is presented by Reality Studies. If you appreciate the work I’m doing, please subscribe and share it with someone you think would enjoy it.

Find more episodes of Urgent Futures at: Past conversations include Taylor Lorenz, Asad J. Malik, Lia Halloran & Kip Thorne, Cherie Hu, Eric Czuleger, Idris Brewster, Dennis Yi Tenen, Lisa Messeri, Legacy Russell, and more.

Reality Studies
Urgent Futures with Jesse Damiani
Welcome to the Urgent Futures Podcast, the show that brings you TOMORROW'S IDEAS TODAY. Each episode, I sit down with leading thinkers for big idea dialogues that clarify the chaos, from culture to the cosmos. Stick around to hear the research, concepts, and questions that animate their approaches to reality.