Course Details

Legal & Policy Challenges in Emerging Technologies    

“The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.”- William Gibson Artificial intelligence agents are inventing new languages to talk to each other. They’re beating humans at chess and Go (then “retiring”, having nothing left to prove or improve upon). They’re under the hood in devices we trust our most sensitive data with, privy to our location, our diets, our community and our thoughts. Is the law able to cope with the challenges that emerging technologies like AI throw up? Are our institutions prepared to assess liability for autonomous vehicles and robots, or to regulate the security implications of domestic toasters talking to nuclear power stations? This course outlines the broad legal challenges and shifts triggered by emerging technologies. By examining issues such as algorithmic accountability, transparency and privacy, in the context of AI, self-driving cars, Smart Cities and the Internet of Things, we will unpack the potential for structural bias and discrimination, and the implications for policing, hiring, welfare and democratic engagement. We will explore the shifting of norms around autonomy and trust, and the “baking in” of new ethical values into platforms and architecture. We will consider important questions about social good such as: can machines trained on clean data be trusted in a messy, unequal world, how and what do they learn under conditions of gross disparities, do they replicate and amplify existing biases, can these systems be realistically audited when they are inscrutable even to their developers, what does a viable “kill switch” look like, can one opt out of an AI-enabled universe, what is the price of opting out? Ultimately, these are questions of power, especially the power of the law to uphold essential human values and freedoms. The class will be assessed based on class participation, as well as a short essay describing a potential solution or approach (from any discipline) to one of the law and policy concerns posed by emerging technologies.

Catalog Number: LAWSTUDY 951-0
Additional Course Information: MSL students only


Course History

Fall 2017
Title: Legal & Policy Challenges in Emerging Technologies    
Faculty: Jayaram, Malavika
Section: 1     Credits: 1.0
Capacity: 24     Actual: 20