Politics is traditionally thought of as one of the practices people use to make society more just, secure and enjoyable. Advances in cybernetics, AI, digital media, and robotics have opened up a world in which political decision makers increasingly depend on intelligent non-human systems to provide information and even to make decisions. Data mining, drone surveillance, crowdsourcing, electoral interference through social media, poll bots and killer bots: these new technologies and practices have given rise to pressing problems for national security and for global democracy. This topic addresses the dangers and the promises for democratic governance when intelligent non-human information systems and devices are given an increased role in politics and policy-making.
The topic has two principal educational aims. The first aim is to introduce students to analytic and theoretical frameworks through which to understand the increasing influence of new self-steering and intelligent technologies for purposes of decision making, security, surveillance and intelligence gathering. The second aim is to offer an advanced platform on which to discuss this knowledge in the context of democracy and governance processes, domestically and internationally.