#RightsCon: NIMD’s Will Derks’ top picks for Wednesday

This week, NIMD’s Will Derks is in Tunis attending #RightsCon 2019. As Innovation Advisor, he’s there to discover the latest ideas and inventions that can help us use technology to further democracy. Every day, he will be sharing the lessons learned and the stories of people he’s met while in Tunis. This is part 1 of his conference diary.

RightsCon in Tunisia’s capital Tunis is picking up steam. Participants from all over the world are registering in the lobby of the Laico Tunis Hotel for three days of presentations, panels, and debates revolving around Human Rights in the Digital Age. Demand is so high that the conference is SOLD OUT, as the organizers proudly announced on their website today.

A completely sold out show means I’m going to have to be early to get a good seat!


This comes as no surprise, because the program is as exciting as it is overwhelming. There are around 18(!) general topics, ranging from ‘Artificial Intelligence, Automation and Algorithmic Accountability’, to ‘Democracy, Conflict and Shrinking Civic Spaces’ or ‘Privacy, Surveillance and Individual Security’ or ‘Tech for the Public Good’ to ‘The Future of Media in the Age of Misinformation’. It is very difficult to choose. A nightmare really!

Take for instance the possibilities to choose from tomorrow, Wednesday 12 June. Just between 9:00 and 10:30am we have 21 sessions, and I’m completely spoiled for choice!

  1. AI Explainability, Explained
  2. Let’s See the Evidence! Algorithmic decisions in real life – where and how are they used?
  3. Building the First Global Perceptions of Gender and Online Violence
  4. Lightning Talks: Tales of (un)lawful data protection
  5. Improving Cooperation to Advance Human Rights Online
  6. Measuring Respect for Human Rights – Using benchmarks to create a race to the top in the ICT sector
  7. Responding to Mass Atrocities in the Digital Age: Challenges and Lessons Learned from Myanmar
  8. Tech Demos: Open (source) for business
  9. Fat Futures: On Reimagining Flesh and Possibility
  10. The big dataset in the sky: challenging geographies of discrimination
  11. Cloudy with a chance of cyber norms?
  12. Combating Cybercrime Laws in the Middle East and North Africa Region
  13. When Two Rights Make a Wrong: Finding a way forward when competing rights fail to protect the most vulnerable in our society
  14. Citizens or Users? Building the global resistance against platform monopolies
  15. Tech Demos: Mischief managed – measuring and mapping for human rights
  16. Smart Cities: Their future or yours?
  17. Big Tech and the Future of Journalism: Reinventing news and information in the age of Google and Facebook
  18. Creating Shared Global Workflows for Social Media Monitoring
  19. Lightning Talks: Understanding and combating misinformation
  20. Millimeter Waves, Small Cells, Beamforming, Oh My! Anticipating and addressing human rights impacts in a 5G environment
  21. The State of Internet Shutdowns in 2019

Hello? Are you still there? Good.

Numbers 1 and 2 are very interesting to me, as it seems that Artificial Intelligence will be explained for dummies and digital illiterates like me. Being a Southeast Asianist, I am naturally drawn towards number 7, but – hey! – what would number 9 be all about? What on earth is meant by ‘Fat Futures’? I would like to check that out, but then, numbers 14, 15 and certainly 16 are so attractive that I can hardly resist them. Not to mention a presentation and discussion of the fundamental changes of our lives in a 5G environment in number 20!

What to do? What would you do? Can anybody help me? Perhaps I’ll just start with the Yoga session at 07:30 tomorrow morning, to chill down and just go with the flow. In any case, I’ll try to keep you posted. To begin with about the Opening Ceremony later today. Stay tuned!

Keep an eye out for me if you’re in Tunis this week, hope to see you all there!