Skip to content Skip to navigation

System Error, Live! With Rob Reich, Mehran Sahami, and Jeremy Weinstein

October 11, 2021 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Outdoors at Encina Hall (Bechtel Courtyard)

Join Profs. Rob Reich, Mehran Sahami, and Jeremy Weinstein — the authors of System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot — for a discussion hosted by Professor Michael McFaul, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and moderated by Julie Owono, Executive Director of Internet Sans Frontières (Internet Without Borders) and inaugural member of the Facebook Oversight Board. The operating system of Big Tech is broken, and this panel discussion will explore the path to a reboot. Plus, it will also allow you experience Professor Sahami’s famous tradition of throwing candy into the audience!

A forward-thinking manifesto from three Stanford professors — experts who have worked at ground zero of the tech revolution for decades — System Error reveals how Big Tech’s obsession with optimization and efficiency has sacrificed fundamental human values and demands that we change course to renew our democracy and save ourselves.

Armed with an understanding of how technologists think and exercise their power, these three Stanford professors—a philosopher working at the intersection of tech and ethics, the director of the undergraduate computer science program who was also an early Google engineer, and a political scientist who served under Barack Obama—reveal how we can hold that power to account. Troubled by the values that permeate the university and Silicon Valley, these professors worked together to chart a new path forward, creating a popular course to transform how tomorrow’s technologists might better approach their profession. Now, as the dominance of Big Tech becomes an explosive societal conundrum, join us as they share their provocative insights and concrete solutions to help everyone understand what is happening, what is at stake, and what we can do to control technology instead of letting it control us.

Books will be available for purchase at the event, and the authors will be signing copies afterwards in Encina-Bechtel Courtyard.

Health and Safety Guidelines

All visitors coming to Stanford must meet at least one of two criteria: 1) be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 OR 2) receive a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to arrival onsite.

If you are not a Stanford affiliate, before attending, you must complete Stanford's Health Attestation form the day of the event. For your "Stanford Contact," please list "Lorenzo Manuali," whose email is

It is strongly recommended that you bring and wear a mask during the event.

For more information, please visit Stanford's visitor page.

Disability Accommodations

If you need a disability-related accommodation to participate in System Error, Live! (captioning, sign language interpreting, Braille, large-print materials, etc.), please contact the Diversity & Access Office at or 650.725.0326. Requests should be received at least one week prior to the event/activity.


On the day of the event, registration will take place on Arguello Way (by the arches). Please have your health attestation form confirmation email ready, as you will be asked to display it.

Event Sponsor: 
School of Humanities and Sciences, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, School of Engineering
Contact Email: