Law in an Age of Disruptive Technology

November 11, 2013 —

“We are all the beneficiaries of disruption — every smart-phone carrying, MP3-listening and Netflix-watching person is taking advantage of technologies that were once unimaginable and are now indispensable,” said Professor Neal Katyal, who delivered the keynote speech at the Georgetown Law Journal’s symposium “Law in an Age of Disruptive Technology” on November 8. 

The first panel of the day explored the legal challenges surrounding mass surveillance technology. How should government data collection, drones and camera systems be regulated? Should Fourth Amendment search-and-seizure rules apply if the government simply collects data and does not analyze it? Georgetown Law Professors Martin LedermanLaura Donohue and Irv Gornstein joined Vanderbilt Law Professor Christopher Slobogin to discuss these issues.

Additional panels, moderated by Professors Rebecca Tushnet and Lisa Heinzerling, took on the legal questions raised by such technologies as driverless cars or 3-D printers that allow people to replicate objects from guns to plastic chairs.   

Presenter Bryant Walker Smith of Stanford noted the danger of talking about technology in isolation. Asserting that driverless cars can reduce crashes is like arguing that robot surgeons can prevent human doctor error — it’s just one possibility. And it’s easy to forget that technology is not the only thing that will change in the future — everything else will, too. “This the ‘Jetsons’  problem, where you have flying cars, but you also have misogynistic social structures from the 1950s,” Smith said.

Volume 102 Editor-in-Chief Shauna Kramer (L’14) and Symposium Director Michael Zubrow (G’13, L’14) hosted the event, sponsored in part by student chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Federalist Society and the National Security Law Society.