Adam Thierer, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A., wrote that there exists a gap between technological innovation and the ability of laws and regulations to keep up. He refers to this as “the pacing problem”.
This is bad because it has “profound ramifications for the governance of emerging technologies.”
He reckons is fuels debate over technological governance because “it forces governments to rethink their approach to the regulation of many sectors and technologies.”
Academics like Yale University bioethicist Wendell Wallach, author of A Dangerous Master: How to Keep Technology from Slipping Beyond Our Control, worry that the “pace of change has been kicked into overdrive, making it more difficult than ever for traditional legal schemes and regulatory mechanisms to stay relevant.”
In Asia, Anne Petterd (photo right), principal at Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow, is less concerned about this pacing problem. She says this lag has not stopped businesses from operating, going ahead with innovation.
“If we all wait for the law to catch up we’d never get anything done,” she opined.
She also suggests that “businesses can take a proactive strategy by trying to understand what regulators and the public would be concerned, where the laws might go, and where the regulator's might intervene if they think there is an issue.”
In this exclusive with FutureIoT, she points to the direction of data, as created by the Internet of Things devices and sensors – how these are created, used, and the oversight that needs to happen to protect consumer data.
The law review article entitled, “Soft Law for Hard Problems: The Governance of Emerging Technologies in an Uncertain Future,” authors Jennifer Skees, Ryan Hagemann, and Thierer discuss how “soft law” mechanisms—multi-stakeholder processes, industry best practices and standards, workshops, agency guidance, and more—can help fill the governance gap as the pacing problem accelerates.
“Many agencies are already tapping soft law tools to help guide the development of new technologies such as driverless cars, drones, the Internet of Things, mobile medical applications, artificial intelligence, and others. In fact, we argue that soft law has already become the dominant form of technological governance for emerging tech in the US,” according to the paper.
The OECD paper, Regulatory Reform and Innovation, cautions that the regulatory process must take into account the effects of regulation on innovation as well as the implications of technical change for the rationale and design of regulation. The regulation/innovation interface is mutual and dynamic; an understanding of this interface is crucial to regulatory reform efforts.
The paper is not totally discarding the importance of regulatory oversight, suggesting instead, that careful consideration be placed on benefits be weighed in the debate.
Discarding the over-imaginative suggestions of The Terminator movie franchise, the PwC blog post, 2030 series: What if innovation rules the world?, opined that “automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks, changing the skills that organisations are looking for in their people.
It draws the reader to imagine a Red World future where innovation rules and few rules exist to impede innovation’s progress. With speed and agility as essential drivers, it postulates the rise of specialism with employers “built from individual blocks of skills, experience and networks.”
In this future, organisations will use technology, the supply chain and intellectual property, rather than human effort and physical assets, to generate value.
Welcome to the Rise of the Machines! Is Elon Musk right to be concerned about artificial intelligence?
We’ll cover that in another story. Stay tuned.
For now, Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow’s Petterd, it is important for businesses to put themselves in the shoes of regulators and consumers, to communicate how data is being used. This will help them in the future as regulations are formed.