Real Talk, Real Listening, and Trust in the Age of Social Media and Generative AI

CCC Inaugural Symposium

A day long symposium to learn about CCC’s groundbreaking work on new tools and communication networks to foster constructive dialogue, listening, and bridging across divides.

PhD candidate Hope Schroeder demonstrating work conducted with fellow graduate student Shayne Longpre on understanding the spread of Covid-19 information on Twitter.


Positioned at the intersection of technology, media, and democracy, the Center for Constructive Communication is working to create solutions that address the growing toxic polarization and social fragmentation across our country. Our goal is to convene and nurture a network of individuals and organizations that share our commitment to constructive communication for a healthier democracy.

Over the course of this informal day, you will learn about CCC’s groundbreaking work on new tools and communication networks to foster constructive dialogue, listening, and bridging across divides.


May 10, 2023

9:00 AM

Continental breakfast

10:00 AM

CCC research overview by Deb Roy, MIT CCC

10:30 AM

Fireside Chat with Frank McCourt, Founder, Project Liberty and Deb Roy

11:00 AM

Research open house (interactive demos by CCC researchers and Cortico)

12:15 PM

Lunch + Fireside chat with Raney Aronson-Rath, editor-in-chief and executive producer of FRONTLINE & Kathy Cramer, University of Wisconsin-Madison

1:45 PM

Workshops I

Journalism, trust, and democracy

Workshop lead: Andrew Heyward, MIT CCC

How is the rapidly changing technology landscape impacting journalism and the media today? Where might generative AI best fit into journalists’ processes? What guardrails and guidelines should we be thinking about? What are the hopes and concerns for building trust in journalism, especially in public media? 

Institutions and community listening

Workshop leads Kathy Cramer, University of Wisconsin-Madison & Deb Roy, MIT CCC

How can public/community listening revive trust in institutions, especially in the local government? What kind of resources, processes, and tools need to be in place to foster community-powered understanding? How can we translate community listening into actionable insights that inform decision-making processes?

3:15 PM


3:30 AM

Workshops II

Mediation and deliberation

Workshop lead: Dimitra Dimitrakopoulou, MIT CCC

How can we harness the power of technology to enhance mediation and deliberation processes? What are the opportunities and challenges for constructive conversations, facilitation, and multi-layered sensemaking within the context of mediation and deliberation? How can we reimagine democratic spaces for everyday people to listen to one another, find common ground to address societal challenges, and revive their trust in institutions?

Social networks and decentralized protocols

Workshop lead: Wes Chow, MIT CCC

A robust and resilient communication infrastructure is essential to the development of democratic processes and knowledge formation. Decentralized systems have the potential to enable and defend a broad spectrum of constructive speech, if they are able to provide the necessary mechanisms to counteract attacks on the system such as from AI, private interests, and state controlled influence campaigns. How might we design decentralized systems to deal with these issues? Can they avoid context collapse and promote normative coherence, but still allow space for evolving ideas and constructive debate?

Featured Participants