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Professors co-edit book about lag between technology development, oversight

Gary Marchant
July 27, 2011

A new book by Gary Marchant, ASU Lincoln Professor of Emerging Technologies, Law and Ethics at the College of Law, details the growing gap between the pace of science and technology and the lagging responsiveness of legal and ethical oversight.

The Growing Gap Between Emerging Technologies and Legal-Ethical Oversight: The Pacing Problem was co-edited by Braden Allenby, ASU Lincoln Professor of Engineering and Ethics, and Joseph Herkert, ASU Lincoln Associate Professor of Ethics and Technology.

The book is a result of the three professors’ “Pacing Project,” which was initiated by the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at ASU and currently funded by the National Science Foundation. The project seeks to open a dialogue among ethicists, legal scholars, engineers and others facing the challenge of closing the gap between lightning-speed technologies and plodding ethical and legal systems.

In the book’s forward, Peter French, Director of the Lincoln Center, writes: “Ethics and law have typically lagged far behind technological change. If we allow that lag time to increase, it will grow exponentially until both ethics and law will be realistically viewed as an irrelevant antique of a time long past and not fondly remembered.”

The four-part book includes contributions from, among others, Marchant, who is Executive Director of the College of Law’s Center for Law, Science & Innovation, Allenby and Herkert, Professor Ken Abbott, a Center Faculty Fellow, and several law students.

The chapters explain the pacing problem, and the oversight dynamics for emerging technologies, and they offer a toolbox of solutions, including the creation of a framework convention to govern emerging technologies. The book also addresses voluntary or “soft law” regulatory approaches which may be necessary with many technologies, and institutional reforms that can assist with the pacing problem.

The Growing Gap Between Emerging Technologies and Legal-Ethical Oversight: The Pacing Problem was published by Springer. For more information, click here.

Marchant’s research interests include the use of genetic information in environmental regulation, risk and the precautionary principle, legal aspects of personalized medicine, and regulation of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, neuroscience and biotechnology. He teaches courses in Environmental Law, Law, Science & Technology, Genetics and the Law, Biotechnology: Science, Law and Policy, and Nanotechnology Law & Policy. Marchant is a Senior Sustainability Scientist in the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability, Associate Director of the ASU Origins Initiative and a professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences.

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law