The Economist’s Open Future initiative aims to remake the case for the classical liberal values of individual freedom and free markets in the 21st century. Highlights from this week’s activities include:

Women’s and gay-rights are represented as a new generation of Lebanese vote for the first time
Decriminalising homosexuality, abolishing child marriage and introducing secular laws were among the issues backed by independent candidates in legislative elections in Lebanon on May 6th. The independent candidates ran against the established political parties that have presided over the country for decades. The prior election was in 2009—when the iPhone was two years old and Barack Obama was just six months into office. A total of 595 candidates competed for 128 seats; some 66 candidates classed themselves as independent. Read our story here

A posting on why comically skewering Donald Trump is proper free speech
“Calls for press-corps civility are in fact calls for servility, and should be received with contempt,” argued one of our Washington, DC correspondents, about criticism over the comedian Michelle Wolf’s scathing remarks at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. “In open societies, self-censorship—in the name of civility, careerism or access preservation—is a much greater threat to the media than outright repression,” he wrote here. 

An online debate on whether the big tech firms should be heavily regulated
The debate ended with 76% believing that the tech giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon and others should come under heavier regulation. "These private companies are acquiring superpower status," argued Andrew Keen, a critic of the companies. But commenters were persuaded by Roslyn Layton of Strand Consulting’s view that “innovation and competition topples monopolies faster than anything else.” Read the closing arguments here.

A podcast on how big data and AI erodes privacy even as it tackles humanity’s grand challenges
There is a province in China where the security-camera footage and artificial intelligence enable the authorities to monitor people’s movements at unprecedented scale. In the West, Facebook, Google and other big web companies track users to serve them relevant advertisements, a sort of “surveillance capitalism.” Finding ways to prevent the misuse of data is critical, since the benefits of using machine learning and AI to improve healthcare, alleviate climate change and improve society are so great. Listen to the programme here. 

The press is being killed around the world but the victims are the public and free speech itself
After a bomb explodes in Afghanistan, the media descends. But recently a second explosion took place 40 minutes later in Kabul, by a suicide bomber disguised as a television cameraman. Ten reporters were among the 31 people killed. The attacks bring to 26 the number of journalists killed worldwide so far in 2018. The rate has generally been declining since a peak in 2009. See our data visualisation here. 

Making a case for free trade by helping its losers
“Free trade increases the size of the pie. The overall amount of material wellbeing expands. But just because the size of the pie expands, it doesn’t mean that everyone is better off,” explained John Van Reenen of MIT, in an interview. “There are going to be some losers whose slice of the pie is so much smaller that they would have been better off with less trade. However, because the overall size of the pie has got bigger, the government can compensate the losers which can still make everyone better off.” Read the interview here. 

Other news: French handshakes and “Enochonomics”
What the French decision to deny citizenship to an Algerian woman because she refused to shake the hand of the presiding official says about liberal values. Also, the British politician Enoch Powell is reviled as a racist, but his economic thinking (call it “Enochonomics”) is more complex—with lessons for liberals.   

Up next on Open Future: an online debate on the global trading system
Our week-long online debate starting on May 7th examines whether the global trading system is broken. Arguing that it is indeed broken is Greg Autry of the University of Southern California and a member of President Donald Trump's transition team. Against the motion is Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Be sure to comment, vote and join the conversation. Read the opening statements here.