Imagining Governance for Emerging Technologies

Essay by Debra J.H. Mathews, Rachel Fabi and Anaeze C. Offodile: “…How should such technologies be regulated and governed? It is increasingly clear that past governance structures and strategies are not up to the task. What these technologies require is a new governance approach that accounts for their interdisciplinary impacts and potential for both good and ill at both the individual and societal level. 

To help lay the groundwork for a novel governance framework that will enable policymakers to better understand these technologies’ cross-sectoral footprint and anticipate and address the social, legal, ethical, and governance issues they raise, our team worked under the auspices of the National Academy of Medicine’s Committee on Emerging Science, Technology, and Innovation in health and medicine (CESTI) to develop an analytical approach to technology impacts and governance. The approach is grounded in detailed case studies—including the vignettes about Robyn and Liam—which have informed the development of a set of guiding principles (see sidebar).

Based on careful analysis of past governance, these case studies also contain a plausible vision of what might happen in the future. They illuminate ethical issues and help reveal governance tools and choices that could be crucial to delivering social benefits and reducing or avoiding harms. We believe that the approach taken by the committee will be widely applicable to considering the governance of emerging health technologies. Our methodology and process, as we describe here, may also be useful to a range of stakeholders involved in governance issues like these…(More)”.