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76106 Technology Law, Policy and Ethics (Capstone 1)

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2019 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Law
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): ((120 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C10124 Bachelor of Laws AND 108 credit points of completed study in spk(s): STM90832 LLB Core Subjects) OR 108 credit points of completed study in spk(s): STM90691 144cp Law Stream )

Description

This subject explores the policy and ethical issues that arise in light of the impact that technology is having on the world and the role of lawyers in shaping policy and protecting vulnerable populations. Lawyers need to be adaptive and technically capable. This subject explores the ethical and policy issues arising from these new threats to our freedoms, privacy, and security, caused by innovative technologies; as well as possible uses of new technology to find solutions to some of the world's wicked problems.

This subject engages with changes and challenges as a result of technological developments that could be addressed by the law including:

  • the automation of legal and discovery processes, which erodes the possibility for human review and oversight
  • social media, online payments, and big data enable governments and private organisations to monitor our moves and listen to our conversations
  • changes to the nature of transactions and ways of conducting business including less cash, digital signatures, and decentralised peer-to-peer economies create challenges and opportunities for regulators and governments to ensure compliance with 'know your customer' and 'anti-money laundering' legislation along with principles of good governance.

Additionally, technology offers an opportunity to resolve some of the United Nations' problems in achieving its 22 Sustainable Development Goals.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Identify policy and ethical issues considerations arising from the governmentís increasing access to more sophisticated means of surveillance and the legal tensions between secrecy vs privacy; and public safety vs civil liberty.
2. Evaluate new risk, obligations and ethical issues for the courts and practitioners arising from the use of technology in the delivery of justice and legal services and collaborate in groups and online to generate ideas and possible solutions to the challenges arising from new technologies.
3. Prepare and present lightning talks and case studies to the rest of the seminar, based on each topic in the subject.
4. Explore and reflect on the way that disruptive technologies challenge regulators across global jurisdictions, in particular the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the UNís 22 Sustainable Development Goals.
5. Investigate how existing statutory instruments can regulate new business and payments models enabled by disruptive technologies.
6. Investigate how existing statutory instruments can regulate new business and payments models enabled by disruptive technologies.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes which reflect the course intended learning outcomes:

  • Ethics and Professional Responsibility
    A capacity to value and promote honesty, integrity, accountability, public service and ethical standards, including an understanding of approaches to ethical decision-making, the rules of professional responsibility and an ability to reflect upon and respond to ethical challenges in practice (2.0)
  • Critical Analysis and Evaluation
    A capacity to think critically, strategically and creatively, including an ability to identify and articulate legal issues, apply reasoning and research, engage in critical analysis and make reasoned choices (3.0)
  • Communication and Collaboration
    Effective and appropriate communication skills, including highly effective use of the English language, an ability to inform, analyse, report and persuade using an appropriate medium and message and an ability to respond appropriately (5.0)

Teaching and learning strategies

Strategy 1: Students’ Preparation for Learning

Students engage in independent study to develop, deepen and consolidate knowledge and understanding of relevant issues. Students read cases, legislation and articles and listen to TedTalks and similar online resources before attending seminars (see Strategy 2 below) to prepare for tutorial activities including collaborative discussion and applying game theory to the analysis of hypotheticals. It is a goal for students in this subject to familiarize themselves with the United Nations 22 Sustainable Development Goals and consider which of them may be more readily achieved with the use of technology; and the key role lawyers can play in ethical policy-making.

Strategy 2: Learning though Seminar Discussion, Lightning talks and Collaborative Activities

This subject is taught by academics and guest lecturers who specialise in legal technology. Students build on their preparation and engagement through participation in interactive seminars. Each week, students engage in discussion and oral presentations (including lightning talks) on various aspects of legal issues arising from disruptive technologies. Students receive immediate feedback from their tutor and peers (see Strategy 4 below). Students have the opportunity to ask questions of their peers and of the teacher to assist them in consolidating their own learning. By testing their knowledge and learning from others the class discussions allow students to gauge how successful they have been in their critical reading,

Students are allocated their Lightning Talk topic at least one week prior to presentation. Students are given guidance as to the best resources for their research and are invited to draft a practice Lightning Talk in their preparation week, based on an exemplar provided via UTSOnline. All students who provide a draft Lightning Talk will receive feedback about their draft version, before they embark on preparing and presenting the assessable version (based on a new topic).

These presentation and distillation skills are important because lawyers need to be able to explain or summarise complicated concepts into brief descriptions in plain English so that they may readily be understood their client or the Court. It is also important for students to acquire and improve presentation and public speaking skills.

Collaborative in-class activities will include a one hour mid-session panel style hypothetical problem based on real cases; ranking certain types of conduct in order of severity; and, drafting in teams submissions for one of the parties in a case with a number of types of breach of fiduciary obligations and equitable remedies. Students also conduct a practice-authentic online dispute resolution (ODR) process, using a commercial ODR application. Finally, students collaborate in problem solving exercises in the legal technology context, often considering problems from different stakeholder’s perspectives including regulators, legal practitioners, disruptors developing new technologies and business. Students receive feedback on their problem-solving strategies and modes of expression (see Strategy 4 below).

Strategy 3: Online learning

Students access material for self-directed learning and engage in student-led discussion on key topics on UTSOnline. Throughout the session, students share their questions and ideas on this open discussion forum, with prompt guidance and contributions from the Subject Coordinator. Additionally, in Week One, students listen to a podcast ‘Can we teach ethics to Robots?’, then participate in a guided discussion via an online discussion forum. This initial activity prepares students for their first face-to-face seminar and is not assessable.

Strategy 4: Ongoing Feedback

Detailed guidance as to the assessment criteria and the provision of timely feedback form an important part of the learning process. The marking criteria for assessment tasks 1, 2 and 3 are provided in the Learning Guide prior to the commencement of formal classes. As an early low-stakes, non-assessable task, students are invited to submit a practice Lightning Talk by the end of Week 1 of the session, upon which feedback will be provided. In Week 2, students will choose a Lightning Talk topic to prepare and present to the class during the session. Students will receive a mark and feedback for their Lightning Talk immediately following presentation.

Subject delivery

Three hour seminars once a week, over 11 weeks.

Content (topics)

  1. The law’s obligation to keep pace with technology
  2. Lawyers as advocates for vulnerable populations in a world disrupted by technology
  3. Innovation in the age of statutes
  4. Surveillance, smart phones, and sensors: drawing a line on what’s legal
  5. Defending the automation of evidentiary processes
  6. The end of financial privacy in cashless societies
  7. Personhood for Robots
  8. Trust and distrust in decentralised economies
  9. Blockchain (and other technology) solutions to the world’s wicked problems
  10. Case Studies

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Preparation, Participation and Collaboration

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

2.0, 3.0 and 5.0

Weight: 25%
Length:

1,000 words equivalent

Criteria:

Preparation, Participation and Collaboration will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • Regular and active attendance and participation in seminars and in the hypothetical panel sessions (SLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6, GAs 2, 3 and 5)
  • Collaborative engagement in discussions and problem solving exercises; generating ideas, making decisions, resolving conflicts, adopting various roles and undertaking core leadership functions within a group discussion (SLOs 3 & 4; GAs 3 & 5)
  • Giving and receiving effective feedback on contributions and collaborative encounters (SLO3, GAs 3 & 5).
  • Logical, succinct and persuasive oral presentation of findings and arguments to the class, often on behalf of their discussion group (SLOs 3 & 4, GAs 3 & 5)
  • Identification of relevant issues in the context of the subject themes (SLOs 1 & 2, GA 3).

Assessment task 2: Lightning Talk

Intent:

Students present a Lightning Talk. Students are not required to submit a hard copy of the Lightning Talk presentation. The marking criteria feedback sheet for Lightning Talks will be available at the start of the session in the Learning Guide (via UTSOnline). The mark for this task will be provided in writing immediately after the presentation.

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

3, 4 and 5

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

3.0 and 5.0

Weight: 10%
Length:

500 words equivalent

Criteria:

Lightning Talks will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • Generates ideas and possible solutions to the challenges arising from new technologies (SLO3, GA 3, 5).
  • Prepares and presents a succinct, clear and relevant lightning talk (SLO4, GA 3, 5);
  • Explores and reflects on the way that disruptive technologies challenge regulators across global jurisdictions, in particular the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the UN’s 22 Sustainable Development Goals (SLO5, GA 3).
  • Identifies three keywords, which if used as internet search terms would find this Lightning Talk online (SLO4, GAs 3 & 5).
  • Lightning Talk evidences professionalism and appropriate pace of presentation (SLO4, GAs 3 & 5).

Assessment task 3: Article (nominally for submission to The Conversation)

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2 and 5

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

2.0, 3.0 and 5.0

Weight: 25%
Length:

1,000 words

Criteria:

Articles will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • Introduction includes a clear thesis statement and outline (SLOs 1 & 2 GAs 2, 3 & 5)
  • Identifies relevant issues (SLOs 1, 2 & 5, GAs 2 & 3)
  • Correct and persuasive application of rules and case law (SLO 5, GAs 2 & 3)
  • Development of a sustained accessible argument (SLO5, GA 3)
  • Critical analysis, evaluation and original insight (SLO5, GA 3)
  • Reaching logical and supported conclusions (SLOs 1, 2 & 5, GAs 2 & 3)
  • Succinct plain English academic expression referenced in accordance with AGLC (GA 5)

Assessment task 4: Take home exam. Mix of quiz-style and short answer questions, as well as a brief reflective statement task

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 5 and 6

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

2.0, 3.0 and 5.0

Weight: 40%
Length:

2,000 words

Criteria:

Exams will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • Identification of relevant issues in the context of the subject themes (SLOs 1, 2, 5 & 6, GAs 2 & 3)
  • Identifies and applies rules and case law (SLO 6 and GA 3);
  • Critical analysis, evaluation and original insight (SLOs 1, 2, 5 & 6, GAs 2 & 3);
  • Academic writing and plain English expression (GA 5).