Book Review - Future law : emerging technology, regulation and ethics

by @edent | , , , | 450 words

Book cover featuring a cyborg holding the scales of justice.

How will law, regulation and ethics govern a future of fast-changing technologies?

Focuses on the practical difficulties of applying law, policy and ethical structures to emergent technologies both now and in the future. Covers crucial current issues such as big data ethics, ubiquitous surveillance and the Internet of Things, and disruptive technologies such as autonomous vehicles, DIY genetics and robot agents. Asks where law might go next and how to regulate new-phase technology such as artificial intelligence, 'smart homes' and automated emotion recognition. Uses examples from popular culture such as books, films, TV and Instagram - including Black Mirror, Disney princesses, Star Wars, Doctor Who and Rick and Morty - to bring hypothetical examples to life. Bringing together cutting-edge authors from academia, legal practice and the technology industry, this book explores and leverages the power of human imagination in understanding, critiquing and improving the legal responses to technological change.

This is a brilliant introduction to the way new technology will craft the need for new laws, and how new laws alter the way we craft new technology. It's a mish-mash of law, tech, and pop-culture - as per the Gikii way.

It starts with a barnstorming explanation of how GDPR relates to Disney® Princesses! It sounds daft, but it is an excellent way to discuss how a right to privacy can be beneficial - and the risks associated with automated data processing ("Mirror, mirror on the wall... What is your lawful basis for the processing of personal data in this manner?")

There's an fascinating section on how so-called smart contracts could be used to write a person's Last Will and Testament. Can automated decisions - and possibly AI - be used to represent a human after they die? If so, what are the legal and societal ramifications of that?

The essay on port mortem privacy was particularly thought provoking and troubling in equal measure.

Some of the essays are only tangentially related to geeky concepts. Including one weird essay where Boba Fett discussed how to use software vulnerabilities to catch Hans Solo!

A few of the essays were a little to lawyer-y for me. I had to skip over large chunks about sub-clauses of GDPR and old court cases. But that's the deal with any compilation - not everything will be to your taste, but there is something for everyone.

It's a great read for anyone interested in the intersection of new-tech and modern laws.


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