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The work of keeping up with regulations on emerging technology never ends

Faculty at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law strive to prepare new lawyers for rapidly changing tech law landscape

Law Prof Marchant works in his old office
September 07, 2018

Autonomous cars, 3D printing, blockchain technology: With so much emerging tech, how are we ever going to keep up with regulation? 

“We call it the pacing problem, where the speed of technology outpaces the speed of governance and regulation," said Gary Marchant, Regents’ Professor at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

“The way governance traditionally works is they looked at safety and efficacy," he said. "But there’s other issues that these new technologies are raising like privacy, autonomy and enhancement — all of these things which are outside traditional government regulation.”


So how do we fix this?

"In some ways, we don’t want our regulators to put in place statutes for 20 years for a technology we don’t even understand yet," Marchant said, "because they’ll be obsolete in six months. We need to think of new tools, and we have to have a more adaptive governance system.”

Marchant added that it’s going to necessitate additional responsibilities by everyone — not just regulators, but also by companies who create these products, think tanks, NGOs and academics. 

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has been at the forefront of addressing these emerging technology issues by offering students a range of new courses, including Artificial Intelligence and the Law, and BlockChain and the Law, as well as a host of workshops.

The College of Law also holds an annual international conference called "Governance of Emerging Technologies & Science" where people from all different disciplines and technology backgrounds converge to discuss common governance problems and tools across different technologies. The next conference will be held May 22-24, 2019, in Phoenix.

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