Public Policy on the Technological Frontier

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


Over the past 30 years, we have passed through multiple technological frontiers at rapid rates – biotechnology (1970s), genetics (1980s), cognitive neuroscience (1990s), nanotechnologies (2000s), now synthetic biology (2010s), and the growing convergence between these areas. Though rules and responsibilities are different on the technological frontier (and ignoring these differences can create or amplify risks), it has become more obvious that governments have no coherent “frontier strategy” beyond ad-hoc and lagging responses to emerging problems. This chapter explores governance challenges on the technological frontier, including how behavioral dynamics and biases, both at individual and organizational levels, can actually create new risks and how framing strategies can create blind spots in governance and oversight approaches. In addition, the chapter explores ways of addressing the increasing gap between the rate of technological change and the pace of governance innovation, including the use of frugal decision heuristics, open-source innovation models, prediction markets, new organizational forms (which include workforce preparation), and methods for prototyping new governance paradigms. The goal is to move towards a persistent co-evolution model that links innovations in governance with discovery and innovation in science and technology.


Technological frontier Technology change Nanotechnology Red Queen Co-evolution Safety reporting 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Woodrow Wilson International Center for ScholarsWashingtonUSA

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