Alek Tarkowski

Director of Strategy
Jump to Alek's
  Blog Posts  
Engage with Alek
Alek's media

About Alek

Alek is the Director of Strategy at Open Future. He has over 15 years of experience with public interest advocacy, movement building and research into the intersection of society, culture and digital technologies. He is a sociologist by training and holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the Polish Academy of Science.

In 2010 he established Centrum Cyfrowe, one of the leading Polish organizations promoting openness and internet users’ rights. He led Centrum Cyfrowe for ten years as the Director and President of the Board. Before founding Centrum Cyfrowe, he was a strategic advisor to the Prime Minister of Poland.

In 2005, he co-founded Creative Commons Poland and had since then been an active member of the Creative Commons network. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Creative Commons organization.

Alek has been involved in a range of initiatives aimed at charting new directions and strategies for a range of organizations and the open movement itself. He led (with Nicole Allen), the 10th Anniversary review of the Cape Town Open Education Declaration. He co-chaired (with Ryan Merkeley) CC’s network strategic review process, which led to the creation of the new CC network model in 2017. He is one of the authors of the Open Policy Index, an effort to map open policies worldwide. In Poland, he has been involved in developing, the open public textbooks initiative. Finally, he co-authored A Vision for Shared Digital Europe, an alternative digital policy vision for Europe.

He is a member of the advisory board of the Inspiring Girls Polska foundation. He is also one of the co-founders of COMMUNIA, the European Association for the Public Domain. Together with other COMMUNIA members, he’s been involved since 2015 in European copyright reform advocacy, related to the European Copyright Directive legislative process. As a member of the Board of Strategic Advisors to the Prime Minister of Poland (2008-2011), he co-authored the strategic report “Poland 2030” (2009) and the Polish official long-term strategy for growth.

He is an alumnus of the Leadership Academy for Poland (class of 2017) and former Junior Fellow at McLuhan Program on Culture and Technology, University of Toronto.

He published, with Mirek Filiciak, a collection of essays titled “Two zero. Alphabet of the new culture and other essays”. Since 2006 he has been blogging for “Polityka,” a prominent Polish weekly.

Alek lives in Warsaw with his partner and two daughters. In his free time, he cooks, runs and bakes bread.



We need frameworks that balance sharing and consent

September 7, 2023 by: Alek Tarkowski
There is a growing need for a new set of community-based principles and governance framework for the digital commons, which combines the achievements of free culture with care for other rights and balances sharing with consent. 

The Mirage of Open-Source AI: Analyzing Meta’s Llama 2 Release Strategy

August 11, 2023 by: Alek Tarkowski
In this analysis, I review the Llama 2 release strategy and show its non-compliance with the open-source standard. Furthermore, I explain how this case demonstrates the need for more robust governance that mandates training data transparency.

Stewarding the sum of all knowledge in the age of AI

July 7, 2023 by: Alek Tarkowski
We need a more holistic approach that considers how machine learning technologies impact Wikimedia — changes to editing, disintermediation of users, and governance of free knowledge as a resource used in AI training. These changes call for an overall strategy that balances the need to protect the organization from negative impact and harms with the need to deploy new technologies in productive ways to help build the digital commons.

How Wikipedia can shape the future of AI

May 4, 2023 by: Alek Tarkowski
The following piece is the first part of a case study on how Wikipedia is positioned to address the challenges of open AI development. It spells out the general argument, which will be followed by more specific suggestions on how a wikiAI mission could look like.

Response to European Commission’s call for evidence on “virtual worlds”

May 3, 2023 by: Zuzanna Warso et al.
Open Future submitted a response concerning the European Commission's call for evidence on "An EU initiative on virtual worlds: a head start towards the next technological transition". In the submission, we showed why policymakers should consider virtual worlds as Digital Public Spaces where the public interest takes precedence over corporate objectives.

LAION petitions for a European public AI mission

April 13, 2023 by: Alek Tarkowski
The LAION proposal calls for a public research facility capable of building large-scale artificial intelligence models. It offers an alternative to corporate development of AI, in which responsible use is ensured in open source environments through the involvement of democratically elected institutions.

AI is already out there. We need commons-based governance, not a moratorium

March 30, 2023 by: Alek Tarkowski
The Future of Life Institute published an open letter asking for a moratorium on generative AI development. Yet social harms caused by AI will not be addressed in this way. Instead, commons-based governance of existing AI systems is needed.

Paradox of Open Redux

January 23, 2023 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
After many conversations on the Paradox of Open, and the series of responses to their essay, Alek Tarkowski and Paul Keller share their reflections on the issue of addressing the power imbalances in the open ecosystems.

Launch of the AI_Commons white paper

September 28, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski
We are publishing today, as a request for comments, a white paper on understanding the implications of face recognition training with CC-licensed photographs.

Data Act impact assessment fails to grasp societal value of data

April 28, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski
Alek finds that the impact of the proposed Data Act was assessed based solely on economic cost-benefit analysis. Important provisions on Business-to-Government (B2G) data sharing were evaluated without any methods for assessing societal value.

Re-opening the internet

March 25, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski
The final DMA proposal mandates that messaging services meeting the definition of "large gatekeeper platforms" will need to become interoperable. As a result, these key types of services will shift from a collection of “walled gardens” controlled by their owners to a connected — more open — ecosystem.


Fields of open

July 6, 2023 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
Fields of open is a report which consists of findings from an exploratory mapping of the movement using network analysis methods and data collected from Twitter. The first part consists of a definition of the open movement, followed by a conceptualization of the movement as consisting of distinct but connected fields of open. The second part comprises methodological information about social network analysis and data visualization. The third part includes a presentation of the network visualizations and their analysis.

Shifting tides

June 7, 2023 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
Our research aims to understand the current state of the open movement, as seen through the eyes of people actively involved in its endeavors and leading organizations within the movement.

Exploring the Intersection of Openness and AI

April 7, 2023 by: Zuzanna Warso et al.
The rapid advancements in AI challenge the concept of openness on the internet, as companies use publicly available data to their advantage, frequently disregarding the concerns and welfare of other parties, such as artists and content creators, and the impacts of the tools they make available for use. There is a growing realization that the […]


January 12, 2023 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
The AI_Commons Final Report summarizes our findings and offers recommendations for commons-based governance of AI datasets.

AI_Commons white paper

September 28, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
This white paper presents the case of using openly licensed photographs for AI facial recognition training datasets. The analysis is part of our exploration of how AI training datasets, and works included in those datasets, can be better governed and shared as a commons.

Data Commons Primer

September 20, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
This primer translates the conceptualizations of the governance of data as a commons into a design framework that brings these ideas to life, in particular through public policies.

Public data commons

May 24, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
This policy brief presents a model for public-interest B2G data sharing, aimed to complement the current proposal of the Data Act. The proposal includes the creation of the European Public Data Commons, a body that acts as a recipient and clearinghouse for the data made available. 

Generative Inter­operability

March 11, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
The report "Generative Interoperability: Building public and civic spaces online" co-authored with Commons Network, proposes to treat interoperability as a policy principle that supports the creation of new public-civic digital spaces.

Data Act: Business to Government Data Sharing

February 23, 2022 by: Francesco Vogelezang et al.
Policy brief on the provisions dealing with Business to Government Data Sharing in the European Commissions proposal for a Data Act that was published on 23 February 2022.

Data Act: Interoperability and Data Sharing Services

February 23, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
Policy brief on the provisions dealing with Interoperability and Data Sharing services in the European Commissions proposal for a Data Act that was published on 23 February 2022.

The argument against property rights in data

December 10, 2021 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
In this policy brief we review the EU policy debate on access and use of data in view of the upcoming Data Act. We provide arguments against the introduction of new property rights–including the sui generis database right–in favor of strengthening data access rights.