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Adaptive Oversight for Emerging Technologies

NSF Award:

Adapting Law to Rapid Technological Change  (Arizona State University)

Congressional Districts:
Research Areas:

The rapid development and commercialization of new technologies, such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology, robotics and surveillance, present a challenge for traditional regulatory models. Emerging technologies develop rapidly, whereas direct regulatory control approaches typically move more slowly. 

Recently, a team of Arizona State University (ASU) researchers and colleagues from around the country demonstrated that the so-called "pacing gap" between rapid technological development and the deliberate pace of traditional regulatory approaches can potentially reduce the benefits of emerging technologies or even increase potential public risk.

The NSF-funded research team is assessing a set of innovative governance tools--including risk registries, programs of early public participation and shared governance, and independent institutes for assessing scientific evidence--that may provide more nimble regulatory management techniques for emerging technologies. These new approaches to regulation can supplement traditional ones to preserve public confidence and ensure the safe development and deployment of emerging technologies.


  • the regulatory environment faces a challenge when keeping up with emerging technologies
A more flexible regulatory environment will improve oversight of emerging technologies.
Renjith Krishnan,

Recent Award Highlights

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Rare speech sounds discovered in African languages

Unusual click consonants in languages of Botswana and Namibia

Research Areas: People & Society Locations: Arizona New York International
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Enforcing immigration law at a local level

Local enforcement is a patchwork of policies marked by limited cross-jurisdictional coordination

Research Areas: People & Society Locations: Arizona