There has been a vigorous, decades-long debate around the governance of digital technology – one conducted variously in the public sphere, in academia, and among regulators and legislators, with a discernible impact on the development and use of consumer-facing technologies. These technologies include the Internet and applications built on top of it; the use of AI and machine learning; and the rise of digital platforms that began as individual apps but then became themselves a more comprehensive, at times totalizing, infrastructure of ubiquitous sensors, data, and user analysis.
This course will contextualize today’s technology-driven policy challenges in terms of some of the complex technical, legal, and political arcs of digital governance. Throughout the semester we will trace a broad range of urgent, seemingly novel governance problems back towards their roots for the purpose of charting potential paths forward. We will take a long view on questions of technology policy, looking for the limitations and opportunities confronting both regulators and private-sector decision makers -- and the users of these technologies.