Technology, Competition, and Values
11 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2007 Last revised: 29 Jul 2012
Law can advance or retard the distributive effects of innovation and its diffusion in many ways. Certain technologies merit special monitoring because they promote the leveraging of economic advantage into social or cultural advantage without substantially increasing overall social welfare. Others threaten to undermine collective values and perceptions commonly used to evaluate technology. A final category threatens to do both, creating unfair or wasteful competition while blunting our capacity to recognize its morally dubious character.
As new sectors of life become more game-like and competitive, methods of leveling the playing field developed in sports and college admissions might become more broadly relevant. Inequality impact statements may be as important to our cultural environment as environmental impact statements are to the natural world. Finally, current laws regulating the use of controlled substances may need to be extended to precision chemical-based emotional enhancement, even if such pharmaceutical interventions are non-addictive. Technology should not be allowed to accelerate wasteful or unfair arms races or to undermine the very values we rely upon to evaluate it.
Keywords: technology, health, safety, inequality, positional externalities
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