Course Learning Goals
After successfully completing this course the students will have knowledge of important trends in technological developments to the extent that these developments are relevant for regulation and legislation. The students will be able to:
- Discuss the four modalities of regulation, the different regulatory actors and regulatory fora, as well as the prospects and difficulties of regulation of and by technology.
- Compare the different ethical theories (e.g. utilitarianism, Kantian theory, virtue ethics) and apply them to ethical dilemmas involving technology (such as the respect for the sanctity of life since its inception versus the autonomy of the mother with respect to abortion).
- Discuss the mutual shaping of technology and society.
- Explain the tension between fundamental values and new technologies (e.g. the rise of smartphone applications that invade informational privacy).
- Provide an analysis of a legal and/or ethical issue in one of the domains covered by the course and argue how regulation has influenced and/or is influenced by technology
- Explain the role of legal instruments such as IP, competition law and standardization and certification in a modern society.
Content of the course
Technological developments have an undisputed impact on the human condition. Their influence on individual and social life cannot easily be overestimated. Currently, some global trends in technological development are expected to profoundly transform elementary dimensions of individual and societal life and action, thereby challenging traditional and more or less "settled" normative outlooks and regulatory arrangements.
This course provides the students with information about these trends and provides a theoretical and practical background in law, regulatory theory, philosophy, Science & Technology Studies (STS) to help understand the regulatory challenges that technology produces.
The course consists of more theory-based lectures and lectures that focus on concrete technologies and their interplay with society. Examples of the former are: How does the world of bits work? How do technology and society mutually shape each other? How can we understand the domestication of technology? Can and should the Internet be regulated, by what means of regulation and by whom? How do we develop a coherent position in moral issues? Examples of the topics to be addressed in the ‘case studies’ are: Do I have a right to be anonymous on the Internet? What are the legal and ethical implications of robots? What does my consent to the processing of personal data online imply? What regulatory challenges does the blockchain technology pose?
Focusing on problems arising in everyday life, the (im)possibilities and (un)desirabilities of new technologies in our society will be shown from an international legal perspective and the perspective of STS. The course will provide a panorama of the many challenges that lawmakers face in today's technology-pervaded world.
Please note: knowledge of technology is not at all needed for this course. This course aims at providing a thought-provoking introduction to the interactions of technology and society and provides Bachelor students with a basic understanding of the implications of a given technology for law and of the challenges of understanding and regulating these technologies.