tl;dr We were gonna do bioengineering this week, but
Dylan is way too busy with classes, so he let Eduardo take over
this meeting. Hence, the enormous email, and the emojis.
Open Tech Club presents:
THE REGULATION AND LEGISLATION OF TECHNOLOGY
~~~ To our new members: Welcome! ~~~
Open Technology Club meets on Mondays, 6PM at Open Tech Lounge, BBB B101
Discussion topics are announced on the Open Tech Club mailing list and posted on the Open Tech Forums (part of the GSC forums)
If you ever want to lead a discussion on a topic, let us know!
~~~ Today’s discussion is a labour of love brought to you by Dylan & Eduardo ~~
~~Basically, think of a domain of technology where you think there should be more (or less) regulation and bring it up for our discussion. Extra points if you slip in blockchain somewhere. ~~~
The way that new laws and regulations (traditionally) come about (in America especially) is:
i) In the beginning, everyone is free to do anything in a certain domain
ii) Bad things happen because of something people did in that domain
iii) People get mad
iv) Bad things continue to happen
v) Eventually a bad enough thing happens, or enough bad things happen, that the government steps in specifies what people can do in that domain, and how.
vi) Go back to (i) and iterate for ever finer subdomains
vii) As t→∞ , or until the government collapses or the sun explodes, there’s eventually so much accumulated regulation that you can’t do anything anymore, since most laws, like diamonds, taxes, death and the blockchain, are forever.
Eventually people get used to them and just consider it to be a fact of life. For example, did you know what:
Prior to 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, the labeling and sale of food and especially drugs were virtually unregulated, leading to abundant shady practices and general misleading of consumers. Together with a series of extensions and other laws, this lead to the creation of the Food and Drug Administration and 1927.
In more recent times, the pattern continues. The trigger for a new wave of regulations is often a new technology that enables new ways to do bad things. For example:
Model airplanes, gas balloons and other “drones” have been around for over a century, but it was only when quadcopters became immensely popular, less than 10 years ago, that the [FAA got tough and heavily regulated their use
Money, banks, stocks and financial things have been regulated since the dawn of time, and get regulated again every time they lead to a new crisis. A few years ago people realized that appending the words “blockchain” and “crypto” to their financial instruments was an excellent excuse to ignore regulations. After a sufficient amount of fraud and scams, the regulators stepped in, fined a bunch of people, and issued guidelines for using the word blockchain.
Back when the cyberspace was invented, you could do anything. Then hacking, spam, and evil corporations spying on you and being evil happened, and they were all regulated. Most notable is the European General Data Protection Regulation dictating how companies should deal with personal data, but this is a fad everywhere. For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act deals with many of the same issues, and there’s even a new law about bots. Stay tuned for the next chapters worldwide.
For billions of years, nobody cared about how natural selection, transposons and horizontal gene transfer affected the DNA of living things. It was only when humans started doing much of the same things with new tools that people got worried about genetically modified [crops](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_crops#targetText=Genetically%20modified%20crops%20(GM%20crops,occur%20naturally%20in%20the%20species.), mosquitos, and crispier babies (albeit KFC is looking into crispier chickens).
But! Not all laws about technology are about trying to keep terrible things from happening! Every now and again, governments try to encourage good deeds with technology! This can be done not only by directly leveraging technology to improve government services, but also by clarifying or creating a regulatory framework so that potential good faith entrepreneurs are not afraid of getting smacked by the government for moving fast and breaking things. For example:
The government of Singapore developed a blockchain based platform for issuing and validating academic certificates.
The California government has passed bills defining blockchain technology and allowing companies to use it for corporate records.
The Government of Estonia offers almost all of it’s’ services online, including voting. It’s also extremely easy for foreigners to become e-residents and access thgose services to do things like banking and starting businesses. If you are interested in Estonia you should join the group of rascals meeting on BBB B101 this Wednesday at 6PM to talk about it.
Can you think of ways to leverage legislation and technology to make the world a better place? For this week’s discussion, think what kind of technology related laws you would like to create (or remove). You’ll pitch your idea and try to get more than half people on board, so that it becomes law in Open-Tech-Club-Landia.
Dylan & Eduardo
PS: Coincidentally, tomorrow (Monday October 6) at noon the following lecture will be happening on Crellin 151: “Science Policy in the Current Era and How You Can Get Involved”, by Dr. Kelsie Krafton. RSVP here.
PPS: This is how to get to Open Tech Lounge