Regulating technology: Can administrative agencies cope with technological change?
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The debate over scientific issues has made a difficult transition from the scientific community to the public-polity process. The traditional view of scientists undertaking “pure” science in their laboratories did not envision government intervention into scientific and technological discovery through administrative agency regulation of risks associated with the results of such research. Yet examples of government regulation of technological risks abound as the nation grapples with nuclear power issues, new-drug testing, and environmental issues, to name a few. This paper considers whether the presently constituted regulatory apparatus is capable of responding to dramatic advances in technology in a timely and effective way. Concluding that it is not, the paper examines the circumscribing characteristics of the regulatory process. Then it discusses alternate approaches for regulating the risks posed by science and technology without doing too much violence to due process or the notion of public participation in the regulatory function.
KeywordsAgency Regulation Regulatory Process Environmental Issue Regulatory Function Technological Change
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