life in the fast lane

Princeton University will establish a new technology and democracy program within the university’s Center for Information Technology Policy, specializing in issues related to artificial intelligence, internet privacy and security, big data, cryptocurrencies, and the impact of digital technologies on society.

The university says the program, funded by an anonymous donor, will include a technology policy clinic that will enable technical specialists to provide nonpartisan studies and expertise on emerging technologies to federal, state, and local policymakers so that elected officials can make better informed decisions on behalf of the public. In addition, CITP will award fellowships that support in-depth policy training for graduate students in technology disciplines, and provide the foundation for more expansive projects.

“This new support will greatly increase CITP’s capacity to provide independent, rigorous insight into technology policy challenges and their relationship to current political, economic and social debates — especially potential technological threats to the democratic process,” said Ed Felten, the center’s director and a professor of computer science and public affairs.

Founded at Princeton University in 2007, CITP is an interdisciplinary center supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. In the past decade the center has become a leader in research that examines how digital technologies interact with society, including studies that analyze security weaknesses in smart, networked devices and the vulnerability of electronic voting machines.

“This gift will amplify Princeton’s leadership in training the next generation of technology policy experts,” said Emily Carter, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. “Our track record for interdisciplinary work places us in a unique position to investigate the complex issues that are at the nexus of technology, engineering, policy, and the social sciences.”

The new technology policy clinic will be modeled after law school clinics, inviting scholars to share their research about real-world policy with organizations dedicated to serving the public good.

Each fellow supported by this gift will be a doctoral student from a computer science, engineering, or mathematics background who can further explore the policy implications of advanced technologies.

Center for Information Technology Policy, 303 Sherrerd Hall, Princeton University 08544. 609-258-9658. Ed Felten, director.