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Emerging Technologies, Extreme Uncertainty, and the Principle of Rational Precautionary Reasoning

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This paper argues that, in a context of 'extreme uncertainty' (where it is believed that it is possible that an emerging technology might cause harm to humans, damage to the environment, or some form of moral violation; but where the likelihood of such harm can be expressed only as lying in the range >0<1), regulators should be guided by a 'Principle of Rational Precautionary Reason' (the PRPR). The PRPR, which is to be distinguished from the precautionary principle, is presented as a rational response to cases of extreme uncertainty that regulators might encounter in both their prudential and moral calculations. For illustrative purposes, the application of the PRPR is tested in relation to the Large Hadron Collider, nanotechnologies and food, and the application of neuroscience and neurotechnologies in the criminal justice system.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5235/175799612800650644

Publication date: May 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Stem cell research, cloning, GMOs ... How do regulations effect such emerging technologies? What impact do new technologies have on law? And can we rely on technology itself as a regulatory tool?

    The meeting of law and technology is rapidly becoming an increasingly significant (and controversial) topic. Law, Innovation and Technology is, however, the only journal to engage fully with it, setting an innovative and distinctive agenda for lawyers, ethicists and policy makers. Spanning ICTs, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies, neurotechnologies, robotics and AI, it offers a unique forum for the highest level of reflection on this essential area.

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