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POL 58 — Technology and the 2020 Election: How Silicon Valley Technologies Impact Our Elections and Shape Our Democracy

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Sep 23—Nov 11
Time: 5:30—7:00 pm (PT)
Drop Deadline: Sep 25
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $350
Status: Registration opens Aug 17, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: This course has a different schedule than what appears in the print catalogue. The course will meet over 8 Wednesdays, beginning on September 23 and ending on November 11. In addition, some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
Fall
Live Online
Wednesdays
5:30—7:00 pm (PT)
Date(s)
Sep 23—Nov 11
8 weeks
Drop By
Sep 25
1 Unit
Fees
$350
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Instructor(s):
Registration opens Aug 17, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: This course has a different schedule than what appears in the print catalogue. The course will meet over 8 Wednesdays, beginning on September 23 and ending on November 11. In addition, some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
Students are eligible for a 20% tuition discount if they enroll in both POL 58: “Technology and the 2020 Election" and POL 57: “Election 2020: A Panoramic View of America's Decisive Election." Beginning on September 28, Continuing Studies staff will process the discount for students enrolled in both courses. Students will receive an email receipt when the refund is issued. Please allow one week for processing.

Course Description:

The 2020 US presidential election season will be historic, taking place amid a global pandemic, an upended economy, mass protests, and extreme polarization. While these crises grab the headlines, another force will quietly but no less inexorably shape this coming election: the digital tools and platforms born right here in Silicon Valley. With the help of expert guests, this course will examine the unprecedented influence of technology on America’s democratic process, revealing how an array of digital technologies will affect the election: technologies of the voting booth and reporting results; online filter bubbles, echo chambers, and polarization; amplification and content moderation of political candidates; online political advertising and microtargeting; manipulation, misinformation, and disinformation; the US in global perspective; and tech policy approaches.

This course will seek to draw lessons and insights about the legitimate and illegitimate uses of technology in the 2020 election and take stock of the health of American democracy. We will also explore questions about a tech policy agenda in a Trump or Biden administration. By the end of the course, students will have a deeper appreciation for the multifaceted ways in which Silicon Valley technologies shape American political life and, through their global reach, democratic societies everywhere. We will also consider how these forces can be better managed, if not harnessed, for the public good.

Confirmed Guest Speakers:

Camille Francois, Research Affiliate, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard; Chief Innovation Officer, Graphika

David Kaye
, UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Nathaniel Persily, Co-Director, Stanford Cyber Policy Center

Alex Stamos, Director, Stanford Internet Observatory; Former Chief Security Officer, Facebook

Shoshana Zuboff, Author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism; Professor Emerita, Harvard Business School

Course Instructors:

Rob Reich, Professor of Political Science and, by courtesy, Professor of Philosophy and of Education, Stanford

Rob Reich is the director of the Center for Ethics in Society and an associate director of the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. His most recent book is Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director, Cyber Policy Center; International Policy Fellow, Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, Stanford

Marietje Schaake is the president of the CyberPeace Institute. From 2009 through 2019 Schaake was a Member of European Parliament for the Dutch Liberal Democratic Party where she focused on trade, foreign affairs, and technology policies. As a member of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace, and founder of the European Parliament Intergroup on the European Digital Agenda, Schaake develops solutions to strengthen the rule of law online, including initiating the net neutrality law now in effect throughout Europe.

This course is designed for the entire Stanford community; Continuing Studies students will be joined by Stanford graduates and undergraduates.

DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)