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Event Details

Counterfeit People

25 August 2024
11.45am – 12.45pm AEST

Lizzie O'Shea | Patrick Stokes | Emily van der Nagel | Rob Brooks 

The late philosopher and scientist, Daniel Dennett talked about ‘counterfeit people’ as one of the great dangers of AI – but are we now willing to court the same dangers through our adoption of multiple identities across the metaverse. Moving from the confinement of physical reality to the landscape of the metaverse, where looks, preferences, and genders are limitless, we can each acquire many digital selves. Is a ‘virtual you’ a truer reflection of your deepest self – revealing desires and aspects that otherwise remain hidden? What is the human cost of leaving the physical world behind? What are the ethical implications of living without boundaries in a digital space where the borders between morality and legality, in the ‘real world’, begin to dissolve? 

This session is presented as part of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, and supported by UNSW Sydney.


UNSW Sydney is the exclusive university sponsor and proud Principal Partner of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. Explore more events featuring UNSW academics and researchers here



Single Tickets
Standard – $33 
Concession – $30
Youth – $28

Plus booking fee.

A multipack consists of three or more tickets to different FODI talks. After you have selected three or more tickets to different paid talks*, you may also add additional individual paid and free tickets to your order. Purchasing a multipack will provide a 15% discount across your entire cart (discount applied at check out).  

*Free sessions are not included in the three different sessions needed to create a multipack. No concession pricing is available for multipacks, and booking fees apply.  

For more information, head here


This event will take place live at Carriageworks


Wheelchair Accessible
Carriageworks has a wheelchair ramp and level access at all entrances. There is level access and accessible seating available in all venues along with multiple accessible toilets. Accessible parking is available at the end of Carriageworks Way, with entry via 229 Wilson Street. The closest train station with wheelchair access across all platforms is Redfern Station which recently underwent upgrades to improve accessibility.

Access Services
For all access services, please contact the Festival of Dangerous Ideas directly at


Carriageworks is easily accessible via public transport. It is an eight-minute walk from Redfern Station, a 10-minute walk from Macdonaldtown Station or 15-minute walk from Newtown Station along with numerous bus routes available. For trip planning, maps and ticket info, visit or call 131 500.

Limited on-site (with entry via 229 Wilson Street) and street parking is available. For additional transport information visit the Carriageworks website.


Festival of Dangerous Ideas 
For all event enquiries, please email or visit here.

UNSW Centre for Ideas
For all other enquiries, please call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485 or email

The Centre for Ideas is happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for 02 9065 0485. Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 02 9065 0485. Internet relay users, visit, then ask for 02 9065 0485. 

Lizzie O'Shea headshot

Lizzie O'Shea

Lizzie sues companies and governments that do the wrong thing. She has run major cases against major technology companies on behalf of thousands of people who have been harmed by them. She is also a founder and the chair of Digital Rights Watch, which advocates for human rights in online spaces. She is the author of Future Histories which was shortlisted for the Premier's Literary Award. 

Headshot of Patrick Stokes

Patrick Stokes

Patrick Stokes is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Deakin University, and a writer, radio producer, and media commentator on philosophical matters. He is currently engaged in a three-year Australian Research Council-funded project, ‘Digital Death and Immortality.’ His most recent book is Digital Souls: A Philosophy of Online Death.  

Headshot of Emily van der Nagel

Emily van der Nagel

Dr Emily van der Nagel is a Lecturer in Social Media at Monash University. She researches social media identities, platforms, and cultures, with a particular focus on digital intimacies. Her book, Sex and Social Media, co-authored with Katrin Tiidenberg, takes a feminist, sex-positive approach to how social media platforms shape and restrict sex. Emily is currently working on a research project about how Australians use social media to create and subscribe to content on OnlyFans.  

Rob Brooks

Rob Brooks

Rob Brooks is Professor of Evolution at UNSW Sydney and a popular science author. He has spent his career understanding the complexities and conflicts that sex and reproduction bring to the lives of animals, including human animals. His popular writing explores the murky confluence of culture, economics and biology, and how new technologies interact with our evolved minds and bodies. He has won the Queensland Literary Award for Science (for his first book Sex, Genes and Rock ‘n’ Roll), and the Eureka Prize for Science Communication. His articles have been published in Psyche, CNN, The Atlantic, The Sydney Morning Herald, Areo, and many other publications. His latest book Artificial Intimacy: Virtual Friends, Digital Lovers, and Algorithmic Matchmakers considers what happens when new technology collides with our ancient ways of making friends, growing intimate, and falling in love.  

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