'Move Fast and Break Things': Law, Technology, and the Problem of Speed

25 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2020 Last revised: 30 Jan 2020

See all articles by Simon Chesterman

Simon Chesterman

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: January 8, 2020


Since computers entered into the mainstream in the 1960s, the efficiency with which data could be processed has raised regulatory questions. This is well understood with respect to privacy. Data that was notionally public — divorce proceedings, say — had long been protected through the ‘practical obscurity’ of paper records. When such material was available in a single hard copy in a government office, the chances of one’s acquaintances or employer finding it was remote. Yet when it was computerized and made searchable through what ultimately became the Internet, such practical obscurity disappeared. Today, high-speed computing poses comparable challenges to existing regulatory models in areas from securities regulation to competition law, merely by enabling lawful activities — trading in stocks, or comparing and adjusting prices, say — to be undertaken more quickly than previously conceived possible. Many of these questions are practical rather than conceptual. Nevertheless, current approaches to slowing down such decision-making — through circuit-breakers to slow or stop trading, for example — are unlikely to address all of the problems raised by the speed of AI systems.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, regulation, globalization, securities regulation, competition law, antitrust

JEL Classification: K21, K22, K24, O32, O38

Suggested Citation

Chesterman, Simon, 'Move Fast and Break Things': Law, Technology, and the Problem of Speed (January 8, 2020). NUS Law Working Paper 2020/001, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3516032 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3516032

Simon Chesterman (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Eu Tong Sen Building
Singapore, 259776

HOME PAGE: www.SimonChesterman.com

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