CULP 326 - Gov&Liberty in Digital Age

This course invites you to explore three questions central to the processes of governance and the concept of liberty in the “Digital Age.” First, how do the architecture of the global Internet and the design of Internet-connected devices encode values and norms? Second, how are laws and policies responding to shifts in power dynamics among citizen, state, consumer, and company brought about by the digital age? Third, how is our increasing reliance on technology to govern and deliver services shaping our cultural conceptions of choice and liberty? Although many of the assigned readings are U.S.-centric, the course explicitly incorporates international perspectives, drawing most frequently on developments in China and India. In Part 1, we will consider how technical design choices reflect the constant negotiation of social values like innovation, security, openness, and inclusiveness. In Part 2, we will apply these principles of technical design to policy issues that illustrate how the interests of various stakeholders are balanced and mediated. These issues include cybersecurity and data protection, privacy, speech and expression, and national security and government surveillance. In Part 3, we will apply lessons from these policy debates to specific case studies in the United States, China, and India on network neutrality, the regulation of online speech, and artificial intelligence and biometrics. In each of these three phases, we will consider how power dynamics and the nature of culture and community are shaped by deliberate, but often hidden, technical and policy decisions. How should you think about governance and liberty in the digital age, and how can you influence the technical decisions and behavioral rules that will shape societies for decades to come? This interdisciplinary course offers analytical tools to guide your approach as citizens and consumers.
SFS/CULP Social Science, SFS/IPOL International Law
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Spring 2018, Fall 2017
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