Innovations in digital technology (DT) — particularly artificial intelligence (AI) — are transforming economies and societies world-wide, leading to governance quandaries and political debates. AI is unusual for a transformative technology, in that many, perhaps all leaders and ordinary citizens alike come to it with preconceptions derived from fiction and popular understanding, making it unusually easy for policy to be deflected from a scientific basis. Meanwhile, the transformations of the information age alter the landscape of governance, while throwing new light on the problems of governments. This course explores social transformations and corresponding policy challenges relating to AI and DT, highlighting active areas of political debate and policy research. Integrating perspectives from both natural and social sciences, this course examines the impact of AI on individuals, corporations, societies and governments. We explore the deployment of algorithms by corporations, governments and other organisations; issues of ethics, fairness, transparency and accountability raised by AI techniques such as machine learning; balances and interactions between regulation and innovation; the effects of AI on human rights and economic well being; the increasing oppressive capabilities of state- and non-state actors; increasing efficacy and coordination capacities of individuals; and the impacts of AI on security more generally. We consider both the politics and the efficacy of public and private strategies of regulation, observing current efforts at local, national and transnational levels as exercised by both governments and corporations.
This course is for 2nd year MIA, MPP and MDS students only.