Monday, November 27, 2006

Introduction to the Law & Technology Theory Symposium

Creators of new technologies seek to signal a message of novelty and improvement. Instinctively, many of us want to endorse the message and believe that this new technology will make our lives better. We want to believe that the new technology is special and unique. This causes us to look at each new technology in isolation. For example, scholars tend to specialize in the study of Cyberlaw or Law & Genetics or Law and the Neurosciences. Similarly, legislatures often formulate special legislation to deal with specific privacy threats. An example of a recent trend is legislation targeting privacy threats imposed by cell-phone cameras.

The goal of this symposium is to inquire whether we should continue to assess and react to each new technology in isolation or whether we could also implement a broader approach. In other words, should we have a general theory of law and technology that will formulate principles of how the law should react to technological change? Particularly, we would like to focus on whether it is possible to formulate a generalized legal approach to the use and adoption of new technologies. Is it possible to formulate a uniform approach to these instances where new technologies threaten existing social institutes and social values?

In this symposium we have assembled an international group of young scholars working in the United States, Canada and Australia, who have started to think about the possibility of a counter-specialization trend. We hope that by bringing this group together will be able to start answering the many questions that accompany the idea of developing a general theory of law and technology. I would very much like to thank Jim Chen who has offered us not one but two forums in which to develop these ideas: The Minnesota Journal of Law, Science and Technology and this blog.

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