The Fourth Annual Conference on Governance of Emerging Technologies: Law, Policy and Ethics (GET) was recently hosted by Arizona State University. The conference is an interdisciplinary gathering created, in large part due to Professor Gary E. Marchant, to facilitate collaborative responses to emerging technology issues. Academics and practitioners from a vast array of educational and vocational backgrounds participated in the conference, including experts on biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology. Participants came from near and far, with representatives from the Netherlands, France, Australia, and Israel to name just a few.
The breadth of topics discussed at this year’s conference was considerable. Day one’s plenary sessions addressed topics such as big data, sustainability, national security, and the future of machine learning and robotics. The second day delved into the human enhancement debate, neuroscience, existential risks, and the Internet of Things. Day three focused on ethics and risk management of potentially polarizing technologies such as autonomous weapons and gene drives. Keynote speakers included Mildred Z. Solomon of Hastings Center, Dan Christensen of Intel Corporation, and Kay Firth-Butterfield of Lucid Holdings Inc.
The stimulating exchanges arising throughout the conference reflect the premise that interdisciplinary and cross-jurisdictional collaboration is critical for developing prudent and effective governance strategies for emerging technologies. By bringing ethicists, lawyers, engineers, economists, and scientists together, the scope of governance challenges posed by emerging technologies can be better understood. The conference yet again successfully convened diverse expert perspectives to address the growing gap between rapidly evolving technologies and their legal-ethical regulatory frameworks, and to prepare for future challenges.