Cyberlaw Clinic Professor of Law Susan Crawford wrote an op-ed explaining why universities should offer public interest technology courses:

Policymakers at all levels of government are struggling to thoughtfully harness data in the service of public values. Many public servants grew up in an era of firmly separate disciplines: You were either an engineer or an economist, either a programmer or a social worker, but never both. In an era in which data is everything, the risks to core democratic principles—equity, fairness, support for the most vulnerable, delivery of effective government services—caused by technological illiteracy in policymakers, and policy illiteracy in computer scientists, are staggering.

This has happened because traditional academic disciplines, as they currently operate, often aren’t designed to help students study and apply technical expertise to advance the public interest (as distinct from advancing commercial interests). Students doggedly find their own public interest paths; in fact, the digital generation now in college and graduate school craves meaningful work that will change the world. As long as they can make ends meet, they’ll happily work for less money in public interest jobs in government and nonprofits. But most universities haven’t provided pathways for these digital natives to cross-train in policy and computer science by working on real problems, or to combine expertise in data science with the capacity to think deeply about the ethical and social implications of the use of digital technology.

Read more here.

Filed in: In the News

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