A minor in cyberpolitics enables you to explore linkages between politics and technology, particularly in cyberspace. Connections include the politics of network effects, cyberspace and extremism, the ethical implications of cyberwar, computing and the digital space as disruptors of traditional governance, the political implications of artificial intelligence, and more.
This course examines the mutual influence of science, technology and global politics within the framework of international ethics. Contemporary debates around drones, climate change, cyber security, the Ebola pandemic, hydraulic fracturing, renewable energy, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and nuclear power reveal the field of International Relations must take scientific and technological developments more seriously. In order to comprehend the mutual influence of science, technology, and global politics, the course will examine the political project of the early moderns, who sought the removal of traditional, moral restraints on scientific and technological innovations, as well as the international efforts to regulate scientific and technological innovation beginning in the twentieth century and continuing to the present day. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Innovations in digital communication technologies have the potential to affect many aspects of politics and government. Beyond specific elements such as elections and delivery of government services, these developments have the potential to expand and redefine the nature of political participation and civic engagement, and to alter the structure of political power. This course examines the potential and promise of digital democracy, and attempts to separate hype from reality. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Choose three of the following:
Artificial Intelligence and the Political Good
This course examines the political promises and challenges of artificial intelligence (AI) through the consideration of the technological trajectories and possible scenarios of advanced AI. Possible discussion topics may include: The compatibility of AI with the political principles of liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness to understanding what an AI arms race between countries might entail. Domestically, will the prospect of greater job automation produce mass unemployment with severe consequences? Globally, will the weaponization of AI make going to war easier? Questions like these are inherently political and the movement toward greater AI capabilities raises the more general question of whether humanity will be able to regulate, both domestically and globally, a technology that promises to surpass all technology that has gone before it. This course will seek to anticipate and prepare for the risks that advanced AI poses to domestic and global politics. The goal will be to think about how advanced AI can be prudentially oriented toward beneficial practices for the sake of the political good. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Anarchy, Tech, and Utopia
This course examines the way in which new technologies challenge and provide alternatives to traditional political structures and functions. The course discusses the moral status of the state through the lens of anarchic political thought, with an emphasis on the concept of consent. Themes of anarchic thought are then discussed in light of how new technologies decentralize power and challenge traditional state goals, such as regulation or state secrecy. Technologies to be discussed include social media platforms and nongovernmental, digital currency, as well as decentralized energy sources like solar and wind. The ethical and moral implications of these new technologies, the harms and benefits they present, and their use as challenges to the moral status of the state are all central themes. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
Cyberwar, Robots, and the Future of Conflict
This course examines how advances in computer science, robotics, biotechnology and other emerging technologies are being applied to organized violence. Emphasized are the ways that lethal uses of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), warbots with artificial intelligence, cyber-attacks, and other emerging technologies are changing or will change the character of war and the societies that enact it. Special attention is given to the ethical and legal dilemmas these technologies present to citizens, states, and the international community, assessing both the harm and the good that they make possible. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Introduction to Cybersecurity
This course will introduce many fundamental cybersecurity concepts. The course will teach students to think about information systems using an adversarial mindset, evaluate risk to information systems, and introduce controls that can be implemented to reduce risk. Topics will include authentication systems, data security and encryption, risk management and security regulatory frameworks, networking and system security, application security, organizational and human security considerations, and societal implications of cybersecurity issues. These topics will be discussed at an introductory level with a focus on applied learning through hands-on virtual lab exercises. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Cyber Security Policy and Law
Why are we still so bad at protecting computer systems? Is it because we don’t have good enough technology? Or because we lack sufficient economic incentives to implement that technology? Or because we implement technologies but then fail to use them correctly? Or because the laws governing computer security are so outdated? Or because our legal frameworks are ill-equipped to deal with an international threat landscape? All these reasons—and others— have been offered to explain why we seem to see more and more large-scale cybersecurity incidents and show no signs of getting better at preventing them. This course will examine the non-technical dimensions of this problem—the laws and other policy measures that govern computer security threats and incidents. We will focus primarily on U.S. policy but will also discuss relevant policies in the E.U. and China, as well as international tensions and norms. The
central themes of the course will be the ways in which technical challenges in security can be influenced by the social, political, economic, and legal landscapes, and what it means to protect against cybersecurity threats not just by writing better code but also by writing better policies and laws. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
CyberActivism: Diversity, Sex, and the Internet
Sociologists look to cyberspace to test theories of technology diffusion and media effects on society. This course explores the Internet’s impact on communities, political participation, cultural democracy, and diversity. How have digital technologies and electronic information flows shaped or diminished inequalities of gender, sex, and race? For instance: new electronic technologies have pushed the cultural and physical boundaries of how we have sex; with whom we have sex; and with what we have sex and/or have observed having sex, such as sex toys and avatars. The sociological implications of this new technology depend on economic, legal, and policy decisions that are shaping the Internet as it becomes institutionalized. The course analyzes such new forms of cyber-democracy with a focus on issues of gender, sex, and race. Lecture 3 (Spring, Summer).