The twenty or so years legal and other academics have spent studying the Internet have paid the dividends of structure and clarity that one would hope. The problem is that technology has not stood still in the meantime. The very same institutions that developed the Internet, from the military to household-name Internet companies like Google and Amazon, have initiated a significant shift toward a new transformative technology: robotics. The word "significant" is actually pretty conservative: these institutions are investing, collectively, hundreds of billions of dollars in robotics and artificial intelligence. – Ryan Calo
ASPEN, Colo.—Law professor Ryan Calo believes that robots are soon going to constitute a more abrupt departure from the technologies that preceded them than did the Internet from personal computers and telephones. Robotic technology is changing so fast, with such significant implications, that he believes the federal government is ill equipped to regulate the society we'll soon be living in. Hence his Friday pitch to an Aspen Ideas Festival crowd: a new federal agency to regulate robots.
The idea is not without precedent. Transformative advances like radio, vaccines, railroads, autos, and airplanes have prompted new federal agencies. Anticipating the objection that overzealous regulation might slow innovation, Calo argued that robots aren't now unregulated, they just fall under the purview of various agencies that lack the expertise to make sound, timely decisions, and who, fearing the unknown, often say "no" to desirable innovations as a result.