Michael Sandel tackles the big questions on new technologies


Michael Sandel — the globally popular Harvard professor who has been described as “the most relevant living philosopher” — was on the line, considering perhaps the most relevant philosophical question of our time:

If there were a sophisticated dating app that could identify well-matched partners for you, which would you trust more: the app or advice from friends and family?

“That’s one example of the bigger question of whether people think machines can replace forms of human judgment,” said Sandel, who is best known for his famous Harvard course, “Justice.”


On Sunday, as part of a forum he’s hosting at Faneuil Hall for HUBweek, “What’s the Right Thing to Do?” , Sandel plans to examine questions that arise from new technologies. Should we try to create perfect children? Is trading privacy for convenience — or a deal on heath insurance — worth it?

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Panelists include Arianna Huffington, Yo-Yo Ma, and Alexis Wilkinson, a former president of the Harvard Lampoon now writing for HBO’s “Veep.” And there will be audience participation.

“We’re trying to offer a glimpse of what public discussion of big ethical and civic questions might look like,” he said.

HUBweek is founded by The Boston Globe, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Beth Teitell can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @BethTeitell.