Runaway Technology: Can Law Keep up?

Is technology doomed to always be regulated by out-of-date rules? Or, worse, will the world become lawless as technology leaves dusty law codes behind? The recent QUT Global Law, Science and Technology Seminar with Professor Joshua Fairfield discussed these challenges and is now available to watch online.

The seminar included various topics such as how law often seems to take a backseat in the face of rampant technological change and in an era of rampant corporate surveillance, artificial intelligence, deep fakes, genetic modification, automation, and more.

Professor Fairfield discussed his upcoming book, “Runaway Technology: Can Law Keep Up?”, and how it provides a fresh look at law, what it actually is, how it works, and how we can create the kind of laws that help humans thrive in the face of rapid technological change.

The presentation can be viewed online at The QUTube, the official YouTube channel for Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

About Joshua Fairfield

Professor Joshua FairfieldProfessor Joshua Fairfield (William Donald Bain Family Professor of Law) is an internationally recognized law and technology scholar, specialising in digital property, electronic contract, big data privacy, and virtual communities. He has written on the law and regulation of e-commerce and online contracts and on the application of standard economic models to virtual environments.

Professor Fairfield’s current research focuses on big data privacy models and the next generation of legal applications for cryptocurrencies.

About the series

The QUT Global Law, Science and Technology Seminar Series aims to bring together national and international speakers who will explore the personal, societal and governance dimensions of solving real world problems which are influenced by, and through the interactions of science, technology and the law.

The series will host speakers who think about ‘technology’ and ‘science’ as broadly construed to refer to methods of framing or interacting with the world, and that enable the critical and imaginative questioning of the technical, science, environmental and health dimensions of law and life.

1 Comment

  1. I’m a bit less confident than Professor Fairfield about our ability to keep law in step with technological change. At a meta level, consider Zuboff’s work on ‘surveillance capitalism’. Twenty-five years into the internet revolution, legislation is still far behind and scrambling to catch up with the collection and use of big (personal) data for commercial purposes. Sure, we all know it’s an issue, but the law itself has a long way to go. And, having worked in creating legislation (for intellectual property), I’m mindful that crafting new law is naturally a very reactive game. Even with foresight, it can take years for a bill to make its way through Parliament. So on balance I think the best we can hope for during times of major rapid technological change is that some law will sometimes keep up with technology, and the rest won’t be terribly far out of date. But can law keep up? I would still say ‘no’. Interesting seminar, though!

    Matthew Ginn
    Principal Trade Mark Attorney
    Acorn Trade Mark Attorneys

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