Ars Frontiers, the first Ars Technica conference, comes to the capital

Oric Lawson

Ars Technica is pleased to announce its inaugural one-day conference, which will take place on May 12 in Washington, DC. The conference will explore the interconnectedness of innovation in today’s most pressing matters. As we do this, we’ll explore one key question: Can we still drive explosive growth in these areas while prioritizing ethical technology and sustainability?

We’re trying something a little different here but with Ars’ spirit in mind: conversation encourages innovation. Readers who visit the front page every day already know that Ars Technica is the web’s premier destination for smart talk about the intersection of science, technology, politics, climate and culture. We are excited to bring this approach to you in a place and format that will entertain and clarify. At Ars Frontiers, our editors will interact with experts from the real world who span many interconnected topics and offer real-life networking opportunities. While this will be an invite-only event, many sessions will be streamed live on Twitter. More details on how to request an invitation to join us in person can be found at the end of this ad.

Let’s talk about who’s coming and what they’re going to talk about.

The road to Ars Frontiers

In the week of the event, we’ll kick off a series of virtual broadcast talks that will take place from May 9 to May 11. These streams will be free for anyone to watch online, and we’ll make sure to promote them here and on social media when they get close. Stay tuned!

The main event

Our in-person conference will take place in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 12, and will include a series of panel discussions moderated by Ars Technica editors. Each panel will bring together a group of recognized industry experts to discuss a topic in a live chat or panel format, and audience participation will be encouraged.

Encryption and privacy

We will have two different panels focused on IT, both managed by Ars Security Editor Emeritus Sean Gallagher. The first will deal with encryption, privacy and how to deal with the first with attention to the second. This panel will feature security researcher Rona Sandvik, with more names to be announced soon, and will discuss the ways technology keeps our information safe — and how it also makes us vulnerable.

Security and Electronic Warfare

The second dashboard, also directed by Gallagher, will flip the view from personal security and privacy and look at the large-scale business of nation-states — and how those nation-states can attack each other in future wars. We’ve already gotten a taste of futuristic cyber warfare in the past few years, and things are going to get a lot more saturated from here. This panel will include industry experts Wendy NatherAnd Vinita ParochoriAnd Liz Wharton.


Ars Senior Writer Jennifer Owlette will chair our Climate Committee. Against a rather perilous backdrop, Ouellette will speak with a climate scientist Michael Mann and Ars Senior Science Editor Dr. John Timmer about the world we make for ourselves and what state we leave for the next generation. We know the broad outlines of how to deal with climate change: cut emissions and increase efficiency – and the panel will discuss some of the difficult details of this shift.

One of the biggest challenges will be the speed we need to act to avoid the worst effects of climate change. But this speed must be balanced with our ability to ensure that efficient and renewable technology is built sustainably and its benefits spread to the disadvantaged and those in developing economies.

Commercial space and orbital debris

Eric Berger, Senior Space Editor at Ars, will sit down with the former NASA Deputy Administrator Laurie Garver To discuss the role of NASA not only in space exploration, but also in protecting the Earth. In public surveys, studying our ever-changing planet is ranked among Americans’ top priorities for NASA, and the agency spends more than $2 billion annually on Earth sciences. This science project seeks to identify changes in the planet’s climate and surface to better inform policy makers. In recent years, the emergence of commercial space companies has greatly increased NASA’s remote sensing business.

During a panel discussion with experts, Berger will discuss protecting low Earth orbit from space debris. This problem has become even more acute with the combination of the ever-increasing numbers of satellites and modern experimental anti-satellite tests. Today, there is more debris, and more satellites than ever are striving to avoid it in the precious space above Earth’s atmosphere. This session will discuss the problem of debris, the solutions the US government can implement, and how there is an urgent need to act internationally to preserve these space commons.

Hope to see you there

The afternoon will be packed with programming, and space for attendance will be limited. In light of COVID, in-person attendance will be limited to 150 people, which gives us a somewhat intimate relationship. (COVID restrictions will be in effect.) If you are interested in attending and would like to request an invite, please fill out the form below. We will reach as many people on the list as possible through invitations.

List image by Oric Lawson

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