Governing Emerging Technology in an Age of Policy Fragmentation and Disequilibrium

20 Pages Posted: 23 May 2022

Date Written: May 2, 2022


Traditional governance mechanisms are being strained by modern technological and political realities. Newer technologies, especially digital ones, are developing at an ever-faster rate and building on top of each other, blurring lines between sectors.

Congress has failed to keep up with the quickening pace of technological change. It also continues to delegate most of its constitutional authority to agencies to deal with most policy concerns. But agencies are overwhelmed too. This situation is unlikely to change, creating a governance gap.

Decentralized governance techniques are filling the gap. Soft law - informal, iterative, experimental, and collaborative solutions - represents the new normal for technological governance. This is particularly true for information sectors, including social media platforms, for which the First Amendment acts as a major constraint on formal regulation anyway. No one-size-fits-all tool can address the many governance issues related to fast-paced science and technology developments; therefore, decentralized governance mechanisms may be better suited to address newer policy concerns.

Keywords: Innovation, technology, tech, emerging, policy, law, governance, rules, regulation, administrative, procedures, multistakeholder, guidance, guidelines, standards, consultation, formal, informal, content, speech

JEL Classification: O38, O31, O30, O35, O2

Suggested Citation

Thierer, Adam D., Governing Emerging Technology in an Age of Policy Fragmentation and Disequilibrium (May 2, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Adam D. Thierer (Contact Author)

R Street Institute ( email )

1050 17th Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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