When Machines Decide: The Promise and Peril of Living in a Data-Driven Society: Home

Honors 3700-002, Fall, 2016-Spring 2017 Thursdays 2:00 pm-5:00 pm MHC 1205

Student Survey

Course Introduction


We live in an age of information abundance. An age where every aspect of our daily life is monitored, tracked, recorded and stored.  An age where society is generating more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day.  All this data is being collected and analyzed by governments, businesses, scientists and others who use sophisticated algorithms and data analytics to empower machines to make decisions that impact our lives. Machines are inherently agnostic — neither good nor evil. But, they may be used for both good and bad purposes. Big Data technologies can improve health and education, enhance economic vitality and make our nation safer and more energy efficient. On the other hand, when machines use algorithms and artificial intelligence to supplement or even supplant human decision-making, fundamental values like privacy and fairness may be at risk.  Will Big Data and machine learning usher in a new age of enlightenment and prosperity or undermine our values and result in an erosion of autonomy and self-determination?  In this Praxis Lab, we will explore the ways in which the data revolution is changing our laws, our society and even the way we think of ourselves as free-willed humans. Join us as we explore this complex and fascinating new world. 

Faculty Profiles


Randy Dryer, J.D.
Presidential Honors Professor
Professor of Law (Lecturer)

Suresh Venkatasubramanian, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
School of Computing

Libguide/Research Librarians

Valeri Craigle, MLS
Associate Librarian
Faust Law Library

Donna Ziegenfuss, MLS
Associate Librarian
Marriott Library

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