The consequences of contemporary technological innovations for the lives and values of future generations are enormous. The wide range of expected – and unexpected – applications require rethinking governance arrangements, legal regimes, economic structures, and social relations. Exploration of such topics is the subject of the 2017-18 CASBS symposium series.
In the third and final installment of the 2017-18 series, held on March 6, 2018, CASBS presented a conversation featuring two 2017-18 CASBS fellows – Stanford professor Nate Persily, an expert on law, democracy, and the internet; and Carrie Cihak, a senior policy expert and practitioner at one of the most innovative county governments in the U.S. They outlined the challenges that recent technology-based advances pose to democracy, public policy, and governance systems. Social media platforms increasingly are viewed as vehicles for exploiting political discourse, rather than as democratizing forces. How should our institutions respond? Though modern technological innovations more easily connect people, what are the implications for issues of “digital equity,” government capacity, and regulatory frameworks? Though the positive impacts are substantial, how do we address the numerous negative impacts of the technology sector’s concentration in certain regional economies – including the San Francisco Bay Area and the greater Seattle area? These are just a few questions that stimulated a thought-provoking discussion between the panelists and with the audience.