Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics and biotechnology, greatly transform society and reshape the global economy. However, these technologies also come with a significant challenge regarding ethical and social implications. Global collaboration by governments, regulators and industry leaders can help ensure that emerging technologies are developed and deployed responsibly.
Challenges of Regulating Emerging Technologies
Emerging technologies have led to complex situations that traditional governments might find difficult to manage. For instance, today’s advanced technologies also come with new forms of crime. This requires law enforcement and public safety organizations to keep up with new and innovative crimes. Today’s governments face challenges that affect the development of effective digital laws.
One of these challenges is the independence of technology from physical state territories. The interconnection of technology devices over the internet has no boundaries. This makes it impossible for any country to regulate all aspects of the technologies. Secondly, all states are not the same, and each enhances its technology-related laws according to its capabilities. While strong economies can afford robust IT infrastructure, other countries do not have the technical capacity.
Other factors that complicate technology regulation include the ability of major technology companies to bypass established regulations. Additionally, states are consumers of technology products and services developed by private corporations. Since they are not the innovators, policymakers and regulators do not understand the intricate technology systems that affect the regulatory decisions that must be made.
The above mentioned are only a few of the challenges that make technology regulation complicated. Still, there is a growing need for digital governance and a digital constitution.
Why Global Collaboration is Crucial in Regulating Emerging Technologies
- Address ethical and social issues – significant ethical and societal issues, like data privacy and security, are brought up by emerging technology. However, international cooperation can help ensure coordinated and efficient responses to these issues.
- Growing competition for technological dominance – political, societal and economic rivalries are driving technological dominance. Increased competition for elements of technology supremacy can only result in conflict, obstructing technology’s ethical use.
- Technology diffusing globally – in most cases, new technologies are available for adoption anywhere in the world. Thus, international regulatory frameworks must be coordinated to prevent competing or incompatible laws.
- Harmonizing standards – global cooperation can assist in harmonizing standards and laws for new technology, making it simpler for businesses to comply and lowering entry barriers for new players.
- Promote inclusivity – emerging technologies have the potential to make existing social and economic inequalities even worse. Collaboration on a global scale can ensure that these technologies are usable by everyone and do not reinforce or introduce new forms of exclusion.
- Enhance innovation – collaboration across borders can facilitate the exchange of knowledge, ideas and best practices, leading to more innovation and faster technological advancement.
- Avoid existential risks – technology can potentially introduce threats that endanger life globally. Such risks might include nanotechnology weapons and engineered pandemics. However, developing strategic global legal frameworks that identify potential risks can help avoid the proliferation of dangerous and harmful technologies.
Existing Efforts for Global Collaboration in Regulating Emerging Technologies
There are numerous initiatives for international cooperation in regulating emerging technologies. For example, the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) brings together governments and business executives from across the world. Its goal is to ensure artificial intelligence (AI) is developed and deployed responsibly in a human-centric manner. GPAI’s main focus is on responsible AI, data governance, the future of work, and innovation and commercialization.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is another international organization where governments work together to solve common challenges and develop global standards. A good example is their recommendation on responsible innovation in neurotechnology, adopted by the OECD Council in December 2019. Other organizations working toward promoting global collaboration and coordination on emerging technology issues include the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the United Nations.
Unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to be done. Continued global cooperation is crucial to ensure that emerging technologies are created and used to benefit society. Currently, there is no global agreement on technology regulation; instead, regulators take different and sometimes conflicting standpoints.
The pace and impact of emerging technologies are likely to keep increasing. Although these developments improve human experiences, the potential for these technologies to disrupt social, economic and political systems worldwide means that it is essential for governments, private companies and civil organizations to work together to ensure that they are developed responsibly.