How Computer Scientists Can Wrest Tech Policy Out of the Cold, Dead Grip of the Invisible Hand

  • Starts: 12:45 pm on Monday, February 5, 2018
  • Ends: 2:00 pm on Monday, February 5, 2018
Tech Policy has an economics problem. Due to a concerted, multi-generational effort of economists operating under the banner of the Chicago School, today we are expected to assess every tech policy proposal using a crabbed, narrow, sometimes even cruel conception of economic analysis, one embracing a libertarian-inflected central focus on economic efficiency, rational actor theory, and economic harm to the exclusion of other approaches from within economics and even more so from other disciplines. The problem with this narrow focus is it misses a richer conversation about the harms of some technologies, conversations rooted outside this small corner of economics and, indeed, outside economics entirely.

In this talk, Professor Paul Ohm of the Georgetown University Law Center will argue that computer scientists have begun to demonstrate how to break away from this cycle of economic dominance. Many of today's contemporary tech policy debates, around privacy, intellectual property, speech, and civil rights, focus on the decisions of engineers and designers. These technocratic decisionmakers often reject the tools and argot of conventional economics to help them resolve the conflicts they face, favoring instead rigorous approaches borrowed from other disciplines such as sociology, psychology, anthropology, and philosophy, disciplines far better equipped to confront many of the problems of the modern age.

Please send your RSVP to Tyler Gabrielski at
Hariri Seminar Room at the Hariri Institute for Computing, 111 Cummington Mall