Thursday, February 14, 2013

Call for Abstracts: Governance of Emerging Technologies

Call for Abstracts

Governance of Emerging Technologies: Law, Policy and Ethics

May 20-21, 2013
Chandler, Arizona

The Center for Law, Science & Innovation at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University has issued a call for abstracts for proposed presentations at its upcoming First Annual Conference on Emerging Technologies: Law, Policy and Ethics.  Eleven other organizations from across the nation with an interest in emerging technologies are co-sponsoring this path-breaking event.

The national conference is slated for May 20-21 at the scenic Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa in Chandler, Ariz., just south of downtown Phoenix. Abstracts are due March 1, and should be submitted at Successful applicants will be notified by March 22.

The conference will consist of plenary and session presentations and discussions on regulatory, governance, legal, policy, social and ethical aspects of emerging technologies, including, but not limited to, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, biotechnology, genomics, personalized medicine, stem cell and regenerative medicine, human enhancement technologies, telecommunications, information technologies, surveillance technologies, geoengineering, neuroscience and robotics.

Keynote speakers include George M. Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Director of, George Poste, Co-director and Chief Scientist, Complex Adaptive Systems Network, Regents' Professor and Del E. Webb Chair in Health Innovation, ASU, and Andrew D. Maynard, NSF International Chair of Environmental Health Sciences, and Director, University of Michigan Risk Science Center.

There is much to be learned and shared from and across the governance experience and proposals for these various emerging technologies, said Gary Marchant, Faculty Director of the Center for Law, Science & Innovation.

"What's clear is that for every single technology – from nanotechnology and neuroscience to robotics and surveillance technologies – the way we regulate them and their risks is not working," Marchant said. "Traditional forms of regulation fail because they lag so far behind the science. These technologies are going forward at an unprecedented pace, and they cut across many different industries and sectors. And the set of governance issues they raise are of unprecedented diversity and importance."

An example is autonomous weapons systems, which are capable of accomplishing military and other missions with little or no human intervention. "We are on the verge of having the technological capability to enable robots to make decisions about killing people, but we don't yet have in place any principles or methods for governing this capability," Marchant said. "We need to look at both the substance – what is the ethical thing to do? – and the process – how do we make these decisions in society? We will be exploring these issues at our conference."

The conference will bring together government regulators, technology innovators, scientists and engineers, scholars from law, public policy, philosophy and ethics, policymakers, non-governmental organizations, students and journalists.

Participants will have a unique opportunity to explore the challenges that cut across many fields, the convergence of emerging technologies, and the societal impact of a bewildering array of transformative tools and techniques, said Wendell Wallach, of the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics at Yale University, a co-sponsor of the conference.

"We have entered a critical juncture," Wallach said. "There are still opportunities to provide direction as to which technological possibilities should be embraced and those potential harms that must be addressed. But some of the opportunities to effectively monitor, manage and modulate the emerging technologies will disappear relatively soon."

Multidisciplinary discourse, creative thinking and innovative approaches are fundamental to striking an appropriate balance between the risks and rewards, said Diana Bowman, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan Risk Science Center and the Department of Health Management and Policy. The Risk Science Center also is sponsoring the conference.

"Autonomous vehicles – drone warfare – sophisticated materials for tissue engineering – what once belonged only in the pages of science fiction is very much science fact today," Bowman said. "And with the promise of new, emerging and disruptive technologies on the horizon, our capacity to grapple with the legal, policy and societal issues posed by the promised applications shall be challenged."

Additional sponsors of the conference are the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU; the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at ASU; The Hastings Center; Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies; Initiative on Governance of Emerging Technological Systems, University of Minnesota; Ethics & Emerging Sciences Group, California Polytechnic State University; Neuroethics Studies Program, Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University Medical Center; The Science & Technology Innovation Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; and Center for Earth Systems Engineering and Management, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU.  For additional sponsorship opportunities, email For more information about the conference and to register, visit

About the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law is one of the leading public law schools in the country. Currently ranked No. 26 nationally by U.S. News & World Report, and No. 8 among all public law schools, the College has moved up further and faster in national rankings than nearly any other law school. The College is the preeminent law school in metropolitan Phoenix, the nation's sixth-largest city. In addition to its renowned faculty, the College is home to several leading centers and programs recognized for excellence, including the Center for Law, Science & Innovation, the Center for Law and Global Affairs and the Indian Legal Program. Its students choose and benefit from numerous opportunities for experiential and practical-skills training as well as an array of theoretical courses. With a writing program that is ranked No. 8 nationally by U.S. News, a wide range of clinical opportunities, a breadth of externship offerings, and a pro bono program that annually contributes more than 100,000 hours of legal and law-related services to the community, the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law is pursuing a path of boundless impact, excellence, engagement and opportunity. For more information, visit