Can the law keep up with technology?
Joshua Fairfield asks that question in his new book* Runaway Technology: Can Law Keep Up?, expected out on March 1st.
This is a well written and engaging academic treatment of the problem, looking at technologies as diverse as genetically engineered organisms, deep fakes, and the basic problem of robots taking over the world. Virtual reality is increasingly real (in a material as well as legal sense). Fairfield includes a well deserved (but in my mind too narrow) critique of science, and underscores how limitations in thinking about scientific process and technological advances complexifies the legal problems science and technology create.
Ultimately, he argues in favor of a new kind of law, and he situates law itself as part of the science and technology the law is trying to keep up with. This is also an examination of language and culture, and how technology and law are both embedded in, shaped by, and constraining of, basic humanity. You will find some interesting philosophy in these pages.
This is not escapist literature, and it is not a book by a good writer about a thing the writer found interesting. This is an expert treatment by an expert in a critically important area. This book will be assigned in law classes.
The answer addressed in Runaway Technology to the question “can the law keep up?” is really not so much “yes” or “no,” but rather, it will, but can society and democracy keep up the co-evolution of law, science, and technology, and do so in a way that protects society and democracy.
I’m sure most readers of this blog will want to read this book.