LAW 573

Digital Transformations in the Information Society

Law & Economics, Technology & the Law

Digital transformations are quickly working to reform and rework existing social institutions. A few examples of these transformations include: the rise of informational capitalism which has created new avenues to commercial success that are derived from the collection and processing of large amounts of personal data. In addition, so called “smart contracts” envision a society where agreements between people are guaranteed by the power of code, rather than legal power. And similarly, the turn towards artificial intelligence envisions a future where workers are potentially displaced by sophisticated software. All of these transformations mark dramatic shifts in power across society.

This course examines these digital transformations and the corresponding shifts in power that they entail and, further, considers potential legal and regulatory solutions to upend or mitigate the potential harms of these transformations. More specifically, this course examines solutions across an array of legal regimes that both facilitate and potentially act as remedies against the pernicious effects of informational capitalism. In particular, we will discuss how legal shifts within contracts, property, and trade secrets make informational capitalism possible and, by contrast, we will discuss how shifting legal rules around privacy law, trade secrets, and consumer protection may offer some potential pathways towards reform.

To that end, this course will consist of a few components. You will read and discuss texts and hear from experts about several ways in which technology potentially upends existing social institutions. Second, you will alternate writing weekly response papers about these texts. The class will be broken up into different response groups so that you will only be responsible for writing a paper every three or four weeks. And finally, you will write a final research paper that is related to the ideas that we discuss in this class.

See Full Course Details