Online symposium on 14.09.2023 at 10 a.m. (CET)

Speaker: Julia Ebner

The presentation will explore potential ways in which Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) in the Metaverse might be exploited by extremist and anti-democratic actors. DAOs are digital entities that are collaboratively governed without central leadership and operate based on blockchain. As such, DAOs allow internet users to establish their own organisational structures, which no longer require the involvement of a third party in financial transactions and rulemaking. The World Economic Forum described DAOs as “an experiment to reimagine how we connect, collaborate and create”. However, they might also give rise to new threats emerging from decentralised extremist mobilisation, such as the planning of attacks or coordinated hate speech campaigns. They could pose a risk to minority rights, challenge the rule of law, facilitate election interference campaigns, and disrupt institutions that are currently considered fundamental pillars of democratic systems. 

The event will be held in English.

Julia Ebner is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), where she has led projects on online extremism, disinformation and hate-speech. Based on her research, she has given evidence to numerous governments, intelligence agencies and tech firms, and advised international organisations such as the UN, OSCE, Europol and NATO. Ebner’s first book The Rage: The Vicious Circle of Islamist and Far-Right Extremism won the Bruno-Kreisky-Award for Political Book of the Year 2018 and has been disseminated as teaching material across Germany by the Federal Agency for Civic Education. Her second bestselling book Going Dark: The Secret Social Lives of Extremists was awarded the “Wissenschaftsbuch des Jahres 2020” Prize (“Science Book of the Year 2020”) by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education as well as the Caspar Einem Prize 2022. Her new book Going Mainstream: How Extremists Are Taking Over was published in June 2023. Julia just completed her DPhil in Anthropology at University of Oxford. 

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