Special Issue— Governing Emerging Technologies Through Soft Law: Lessons For Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence & Robotics

Governing Emerging Technologies Through Soft Law: Lessons for Artificial Intelligence—An Introduction

ABSTRACT: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is positioned to be a foundational technology in most industrial sectors, societal interactions, as well as in many other technological advantages. AI is rapidly evolving with the promise of bettering our businesses, keeping us safer, and transforming us into a better society. At the same time, we know there will be concerns, some anticipated, and many that will develop alongside the technology itself.


Environmental Soft Law as a Governance Strategy

ABSTRACT: Soft law governance relies on nongovernmental institutions that establish and implement voluntary standards. Compared with traditional hard law solutions to societal and economic problems, soft law alternatives promise to be more politically feasible to establish and then easier to adapt in the face of changing circumstances. They may also seem more likely to be flexible in what they demand of targeted businesses and other entities. But can soft law actually work to solve major problems?


The Role of Soft Law in Governing Nanotechnologies

ABSTRACT: The entry of nanotechnology-based products into the market in the early to mid-2000s was accompanied by hype and hyperbole, along with cries of concern over the potential risks posed by the technology. Known unknowns and unknown unknowns about potential human and environmental risks associated with nanomaterials appear to have been key drivers for industry, government, and nongovernmental actors to proactively experiment with different governance mechanisms, which could help mitigate potential risk and prevent potential consumer backlash.


Soft Law in U.S. ICT Sectors: Four Case Studies

ABSTRACT: Traditional hard law tools and processes are struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation in many emerging technologies sectors. As a result, policymakers in the United States rely increasingly on less formal “soft law” governance mechanisms to address concerns surrounding many newer technologies. This Article explores four case studies from different information technology areas where soft law mechanisms have already been utilized to address governance concerns.


Soft Law Governance: A Historical Perspective from Life-Science Technologies

ABSTRACT: This Article considers and assesses soft law oversight measures reflected in four historical life science models: (1) recombinant DNA (rDNA) guidelines; (2) gene synthesis self-regulatory programs; (3) professional guidelines for stem cell researchers; and (4) UNESCO declarations. The purpose of the following analysis is to ascertain how certain soft law structures have fared governance-wise with the aim of applying them in the future, in whole or in part, to frameworks not necessarily limited to life science.


Lessons for Artificial Intelligence from Historical Uses of Soft Law Governance —A Conclusion

ABSTRACT: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the latest example of an emerging technology that pushes regulatory and social boundaries. Stakeholders tasked with resolving these up-and-coming issues face a variety of choices in the selection and implementation of the most appropriate solution. In an effort to contribute to the analysis of alternatives, this Article summarizes the lessons learned from the utilization of soft law in the governance of four emerging technology fields as described in this special issue: (1) Environmental Technologies; (2) Nanotechnology; (3) Information and Communication Technologies (ICT); and (4) Life Sciences.