CS378H Public Policy and the Digitally Native Technologist
Honors course. Meets in GDC 2.410 three hours per week: Monday 1-2pm and Wednesday 1-3pm
Instructor: Prof. William Press
Office: POB 3.258
Office hours: Monday, 2-3pm (immediately after class), or arrange time by email
TAs: Urmilla Banerjee and John Hawkins
Prerequisites: Upper-division standing in Turing Scholars program or, with consent of instructor, in Dean's Scholars or Polymathic Scholars programs.
Our Google Group (for setting edit permissions if you post Google Docs): firstname.lastname@example.org
(Archived schedule events here.)
Monday, April 25. Group talks on Forensic Science, Public Sector Service, Mobile Payments.
Wednesday, April 27. Group talks on Internet of Things, Anonymity, Digital IP Rights, Digital Voting, G2.
Monday, May 2. Course Instructor Survey! Also work in teams on projects. (Bill away.)
Wednesday, May 4. Last class! Group talks on Intellectual Property, Public Sector, Internet Governance, EU vs. Google. Final wrapup/feedback.
Complete list of teams and schedule of due dates for talks and papers here.
Post your team or individual papers in this folder.
Are you a digital native? How, and in what roles, can you influence public policy, now and in the future? This course will consider actual case studies as a way to provide practical experience in how policy is made, how to advise a President, a legislator, a judge, a CEO. Exercises may involve coding/scripting (for data collection, fusion, analysis), writing (communication of results to policy makers), and oral presentation.
Individually and in small teams, each student will participate in 4 or 5 topical units in the course of the semester. Each unit will have a fast research phase (starting with an introduction of the topic by the instructor), a writing component, an oral presentation component, and an instructor and peer assessment component. The purpose of each unit is to make a well-supported case to a (simulated) policy maker for a specific set of actions. Teamwork and appropriate division of effort, and fusion of results, will be required, but each student will him/herself do a significant amount of individual writing in each topical unit. Written exercises may include: a draft Presidential decision memo, a draft section of a Senate bill, a piece of an amicus brief to the Supreme Court.
For each topical unit, we will ask questions like these:
- What is the issue? What are the questions that we should be asking about the issue?
- What is known about the answers? Is there data? Could we get data? Where there is controversy, what are the different points of view?
- What economic interests are at stake? What societal interests (other than economic) are at stake?
- What are the policy levers, i.e., what can be changed? Who controls those levers?
- What do we actually want to happen? Who should do what?
- Can we produce a convincing case to motivate the relevant policy-makers to act?
Counts for writing flag.
Topical Units (2016)
- Final report: User Encryption on Personal Devices: Perspectives
- Final report: Self-Driving Cars: Public Policy Implications
- Final report: Mathematics and Computer Literacy for the Public
- Cyber-war, cyber-espionage, and economic intelligence
- Final reports: Individual stories folder
- Individual Topics for Final Unit
Other Topics Considered
- Bitcoin, TOR, and Anonymity
- Digital IP rights: Creators, Consumers, Channels
- Digital Voting
- High-tech public service: Who and How?
- Who should own the Internet? (ICANN? IANA? ITU? countries?)
- International technology regulations (e.g. EU vs Google)
- Jurisdiction for Borderless Cyberspace (e.g., search warrants)
- The Forensic Science of Digital Traces
- How does Internet connectivity affect warfighters and the public's perception of war?
- Digital Millennium Copyright Act: Changes needed?
- Security of mobile-payment systems and other non-traditional payment systems
- The Economics of Digital Rights Management
- Net Neutrality and Internet.org
- Universal internet access, Facebook's ''Free Basics'', municipal fiber networks
- Regulation of the Internet of Things?
- Edward Snowden: How much good? How much harm?
- The future "urban platform"
- The Healthcare.gov platform rollout fiasco
- Cybersecurity in commerce (e.g., Sony, Target, Home Depot)
- Cyber-insurance: Should insurance companies offer insurance for people who get PWND based on their risk? What effect would this have on technology vendors?
- Hacktivism (anonymous and others)
- Laser regulation? (In light of recent incidents where lasers are being shown at passing airplanes)
- Airspace and the regulation of commercial drones
- Tesla and the Car Dealership Lobby
An interesting source of related topics is the Electronic Frontier Foundation's list of legal cases.
Student-Written Course Output
Above is the link to the main output of the course. All students are encouraged to edit all pages. Your overall contribution to this Wiki will be the main part of your course grade. Do not be shy about improving other students' contributions, under Wikipedia-style rules of courtesy (e.g., use the Discussion pages to explain/discuss/debate changes that might be controversial).
Above is link to space for each student to develop draft contributions. You should not edit another student's work in this area, though you are free to read it. Although material in this area doesn't directly count for the course grade (until you copy it into the main Wiki), I will use it to track your progress. Please keep your work log up to date.
Archive from Spring, 2015 Class
Aereo and Copyright Law
The Net Neutrality Debate
The Privacy and Big Data Debate
Patent Trolls: Time for Action?
Additional Topics Investigated (small teams or individuals, less depth)
- Autonomous Vehicles: Ground and Air and Water
- The Sharing Economy
- Disruptive Book Publishing: Amazon and Google
- Europe's War Against Google
- Math/CS Education Reform
- Android and Resulting Lawsuits and Precedents
- More on the Rationale for This Course
- General Stuff You Should Know about This Class and UT
- Link to the team randomizer
- Wiki contribution stats (4/6/15)
- Link to 88th Academy Awards: WSJ odds
Getting started with the wiki
- A helpful MediaWiki tutorial (Google to find many more such tutorials on the web)
- Brief note on references and math notation in this Wiki
- Configuration settings list
- MediaWiki FAQ
- Cool URL Tricks for Google Docs