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The Growing Gap Between Emerging Technologies and the Law

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The Growing Gap Between Emerging Technologies and Legal-Ethical Oversight

Part of the book series: The International Library of Ethics, Law and Technology ((ELTE,volume 7))

Abstract

Emerging technologies are developing at an ever accelerating pace, whereas legal mechanisms for potential oversight are, if anything, slowing down. Legislation is often gridlocked, regulation is frequently ossified, and judicial proceedings are sometimes described as proceeding at a glacial pace. There are two consequences of this mismatch between the speeds of technology and law. First, some problems are overseen by regulatory frameworks that are increasingly obsolete and outdated. Second, other problems lack any meaningful oversight altogether. To address this growing gap between law and regulation, new legal tools, approaches and mechanisms will be needed. Business as usual will not suffice.

It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. . . .

– Isaac Asimov

Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.

– Woody Allen

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Notes

  1. 1.

    A (hopefully) trivial yet illustrative example of the slow pace of courts is a legal action in the European Court of Human Rights to stop the start up of the Large Hadron Collider in Europe because of an alleged risk it could start a runaway reaction that could destroy the earth. After the court denied an interim order to delay the experiment, a news report quoted a court spokesperson as saying it could “take several years” to decide the merits of the case, leading the reporter to caustically remark “[s]o, if a black hole is swallowing up the Earth by 2012, we might have the consolation of knowing it was illegal, at the conclusion of an apocalyptic version of Jarndyce v Jarndyce.” (Warner 2008).

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Marchant, G.E. (2011). The Growing Gap Between Emerging Technologies and the Law. In: Marchant, G., Allenby, B., Herkert, J. (eds) The Growing Gap Between Emerging Technologies and Legal-Ethical Oversight. The International Library of Ethics, Law and Technology, vol 7. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-1356-7_2

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