Course Syllabus

LAW 276.6 sec. 1 - Technology Policy (TPRG) (Spring 2017)

Units: 1
Meeting Time: Th 3:35PM-5:25PM
Meeting Location: Boalt 134

Course Start: January 12, 2017
Course End: April 16, 2017
Class Number (1Ls): 32879 (section 1)

A tremendous amount of writing is being generated by lawyers in order to influence public policy on technology issues. The Technology Policy Reading Group will focus on both substance and strategy of this writing. Students will evaluate the quality of this work, attempt to understand the dynamics of the policy conversation, and how such dialogue fits into the larger strategy to influence government technology policy. These procedural questions have become more important in light of recent reporting concerning payola at well-respected Washington think tanks. Students will be encouraged to view the policy tussles through different lenses: markets, organizational behavior, behavioral economics, policymaker interests, competing factions in the technology industry (e.g. intermediaries, content producers, etc), international stakeholders, military, etc. Finally, students will be encouraged to consider how law school has affected their substantive viewpoints and their approach to analyzing policy questions.

The course will focus on 2–3 overarching issues identified and selected by students. For instance, if held in spring 2016, the topics might have included: network neutrality and the reclassification of information services, questions of innovation policy and government funding, the internet of things, the issues raised by advancements in intelligent machines, or the proposed amendments to the computer hacking statutes (including encryption backdoors).


This is a pass/fail course. Students will be required to write 3 reaction papers, of 2-3 pages in length, and to be the lead presenter of policy literature in the course on 2–3 occasions.

Reaction papers are due Feb 9, March 9, and April 6th. Here is a good template to use for your assignments.

The instructor will circulate a sign-up sheet for students to select their lead topics groups (these are likely to be groups of 7 people) and we will find a system to make people within these groups discussion leaders for classes 2–7.

APM-015 Part II statement

This course will deal with material concerning current events and exploration of government actions and their possible consequences. Class discussion will feature such material.

Class meets every other week. Jan 12, Feb 2, Feb 9, Feb 23, Mar 9, Mar 23, Apr 6 (note the irregular schedule--the instructor has to be in Brussels on on Jan 26th, so we will meet Feb 2nd instead)

Course Readings

Most of our readings will be in the public domain, and there is no appropriate textbook for our group. Some readings will be behind paywalls. In order to get the readings at no cost, you will have to use the Berkeley Library VPN or the Library Proxy. These tools enable you to obtain all UCB-subscribed journals and books from your home computer. If you have problems, see your helpdesk.


Date Readings
Thursday, Jan 12

Class, for our first meeting we will introduce ourselves, explore the technology policy interests that the group has, and discuss the material listed below.

In order to get the readings at no cost, you will have to use the Berkeley Library VPN or the Library Proxy. These tools enable you to obtain all UCB-subscribed journals and books from your home computer. If you have problems, see the IST Helpdesk on the 3rd floor of Boalt.

And spend some time thinking about the technology policy issues you would like to pursue over the semester. I am open to many different topics--including government funding for science research, online harassment, intermediary liability, network neutrality, cybersecurity, autonomous systems, algorithmic decision-making, technologies in policing, technology and poverty, cyber war, privacy ala the state, privacy ala the private sector, protection for/policing of digital copyright, encryption,technology's effect on employment, and so on.
Thursday, Jan 19

Class, at our first meeting, we focused on STS literature on how technology regulates, and how law must adopt to new affordances of technologies and platforms. To deepen our understanding of these forces, for the rest of the semester we will focus on 2–3 specific technology policy issues.

To do this, by Thursday the 19th at close of business, please prepare a memo (not exceeding one page long) that proposes participate in the bcourses discussions pages to either 1) propose a topic for our course to focus on for the semester or 2) refine and deepen a topic that someone else has proposed. Proposals should clearly define a single topic, prescribe some bounds for it so that the topic is manageable, explain why it is an important topic for us to study, and suggest some readings. Because technological change has profound effects on society, I encourage you to look to non-legal policy readings where appropriate.

You may work in a group, and submit a single group proposal if you find that your interests align with others.

I will read these proposals, and finalize 2–3 of them, complete with readings by Saturday, January 28th for our next class. During that week, I may circulate an online poll or similar in order to find compromise or to sharpen individuals' proposals. Please respond promptly :) We will meet again in discussion on Thursday, February 2nd.

Thursday, Feb 2

 Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: The basics (Discussion Leads: TK & NM)

  • Peter Stone, Rodney Brooks, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ryan Calo, Oren Etzioni, Greg Hager, Julia Hirschberg, Shivaram Kalyanakrishnan, Ece Kamar, Sarit Kraus, Kevin Leyton-Brown, David Parkes, William Press, AnnaLee Saxenian, Julie Shah, Milind Tambe, and Astro Teller.  "Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030." One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence: Report of the 2015-2016 Study Panel, Stanford University, Stanford, CA,  September 2016.
  • M. I. Jordan, T. M. Mitchell, Machine learning: Trends, perspectives, and prospects, 349(6245) Science 255-260 (Jul. 17, 2015).

BioTech: CRISPR (Discussion Leads: LK)

Thursday, Feb 9

Free Speech: Private Regulators of Expression; Quality of Democracy (Discussion Leads: MK)

BioTech: CRISPR (Discussion Leads: AB)

Thursday, Feb 23

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Safety, Ethics, the Military (Discussion Leads: PDG & EY)

Thursday, Mar 9 Class Cancelled b/c Sotomayor Event
Thursday, Mar 23

BioTech: GMOs (Discussion Leads: KS)

Free Speech: Platform Regulation (Discussion Leads: CM)

Friday, Mar 24 Optional Event: BCLT Privacy Law Forum Silicon Valley
Thursday, Apr 6

The merger of free speech and AI (Discussion leads: RD & IJ)

Thursday, April 13th

Makeup class for 3/9 cancellation.

Conclusion: Regulation and Disruptive Technologies (Discussion leads: ND & CA)

Nathan Cortez, Regulating Disruptive Innovation, 29 Berkeley Tech. L.J. (2014)


Thursday & Friday, April 21–22

Optional Event: BCLT Symposium, Platform Law: Intermediary Liability, Consumer Protection, and Beyond



Course Summary:

Date Details Due