July 17, 2018

Across two State of the Field workshops in June, SIPA’s Tech and Policy Initiative further cemented the School as a nexus where academics, policymakers, and practitioners converge to address some of the world’s most pressing technology and policy challenges.

Workshops on Cyber Conflict and Digital Transformation — held on June 13 and June 15, respectively — drew more than 100 attendees and panelists from across industry, academia, and government.

At the Cyber Conflict workshop — co-sponsored by the Cyber Conflict Studies Association — discussions focused on the issues of governance, platforms, and the sociology of cyber warfare. It was the third such workshop held at SIPA under the leadership of Senior Research Scholar Jason Healey.

The aim of the workshop, Healey said, is “to have the historians and the computer scientists and the political scientists all in the same room and step back to think about the more fundamental questions that we might not get to if we’re just asking about it from our own individual disciplines.

“In the cyber world, there is a gap between the operators, technologists, the policy people, and the academics,” said attendee Adam Segal, director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The parallel track discussions that have happened with international lawyers, the historians, and the operators have really helped me think about where the field is.”

Watch: “The Most Escalatory Kind of Conflict We‘ve Ever Come Across”

“The Most Escalatory Kind of Conflict We‘ve Ever Come Across”

The Digital Transformation workshop continued the conversation on critical issues associated with technological transformation (including international trade, platforms, antitrust, digital currency, the internet of things, and elections) but also on the governance mechanisms needed through this period of accelerating technological change.

Mark Wu, Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, spoke on a panel about international trade in the digital age, stressing the importance of this kind of interdisciplinary workshop.

“In trade, the discussions are highly technical, and they are often happening in an echo chamber,” Wu said. “But the areas that [trade] touches upon relate to so many other fields of internet governance — whether it’s privacy, security, or e-payment systems. Discovering the linkages, but also the gaps, goes a long way toward drawing the types of conversations we need to have to push the state of our knowledge forward.”

Watch: Mark Wu on International Trade in the Digital Age 

Mark Wu on International Trade in the Digital Age

Dean Merit Janow of SIPA said she sees the State of the Field events as a way for experts to collaborate on policy-relevant solutions that are “comparative, data-driven, and sensitive to values and views across jurisdictions.”

“SIPA can play a unique role as the interdisciplinary hub of policy research and engagement at Columbia University to bring scholars — as well as practitioners, experts. policymakers, and technologists — together to think through these very complex problems,” Janow said.

Watch: The Tech & Policy Initiative — A Global Hub for Policy-Relevant Research

The Tech & Policy Initiative: A Global Hub for Policy-Relevant Research