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PWR 194KD: Technology and Human Values

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Catalog Number: PWR 194KD

Instructor: Kevin DiPirro

Schedule: Last offered Winter 2016

Units: 4

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP) 

Prerequisite: PWR 1 or equivalent

Course Feature: Digital Media and Communication track; WAY-ER

This course does not fulfill the WR-1 or WR-2 requirement

Pining for a job in Google X but a little afraid of what disrupting the next social system will do to humans when all is said and done? Unsure where the real conversation is happening on Stanford campus about how to think carefully and thoughtfully about the cultural impacts of developing such dazzling—but daunting--tech possibilities? Curious to know what underlying common ground might link fuzzies with techies, humanists with engineers, scientists with philosophers? In this advanced seminar, you will have the chance to collaborate with precisely these diverse seminar mates who are commonly interested in knowing what others think and why on such pressing matters. Toward that end you will be able to choose your own current topic—drones, tech and medicine, Big Data, Cloud applications, AI and consciousness, cybersecurity, tech and the law—for which you will choose readings and write a seminar paper and then co-lead discussion on the pressing matters that interest us.

Offered a contextual and historical frame of 20th century thinkers such as Kuhn, Merton, and White, we will read voraciously from Stanford Report, MIT Press, the NY TIMES, and critically unpack the various ways that stakeholders like techno-optimists, entrepreneurs, philosophers, and social scientists alike frame their own values, differences, and potential common grounds. The goals will be to know better the ethical value of one’s tech work and research and to be able to express to scientists and non-scientists alike the ways in which this work contributes to the greater human good (beyond strict convenience or short-term profit). Your work will be evaluated in a Final Portfolio you create that showcases your writing, your reading, and your discussion work over the quarter using criteria that we collaboratively agree upon. Guests to class to include: Yahoo Employee number 5, Srinija Srinivasan; Thomas Mullaney in History, and John Willinsky of STS and Education, as well as former 194 students and STS students. We’ll also be planning field trips. Completion of PWR 1 and PWR 2 or permission of instructor required.