Sebastian Benthall is a Senior Research Fellow at New York University School of Law, where he leads NSF-funded research into the use of agent-based modeling for software accountability and regulatory design. He is also a Research Engineer for Econ-ARK, an open source economic modeling library, fiscally sponsored by NumFOCUS. He holds a PhD in Information Management and Systems from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in Cognitive Science from Brown University.

Talk: Governing Technology: Questions, Agent Models, and Impact

Abstract: Regulations governing computation impose requirements on the design of systems. These regulations are, at their best, designed to achieve policy goals in society. Both design projects depend on a crucial third term: theories about technology’s social and economic context. In this talk, I will chart how interdisciplinary collaborations focused on ambitious questions have identified where new social theory is needed to effectively govern technology. To build this theory, I work with paradigms of agent modeling drawn from sociology, epidemiology, computer science, and economics to formulate system requirements and simulate the outcomes of regulation. This approach drives the engineering of new tools that draw on recent advances in both scientific computing and the social sciences. This technology, guided by questions of regulatory salience, is poised for impact.