It is generally agreed that it is important to create the right kind of regulatory environment for emerging technologies. However, what does this mean? What is it that makes a regulatory nvironment “right”? Is it a question of quantity, that we need more, or perhaps less, regulation? Or, is it a question of quality and direction? Or, is it perhaps unhelpful to put the question in these terms?
In this paper, I will suggest that the adequacy of the regulatory environment should be assessed relative to five criteria, each of which can be expressed as a particular kind of regulatory challenge. First, there is the prudential challenge: where emerging technologies might present risks, regulators need to take steps to ensure and manage those risks; risks should be acceptable. Secondly, there is the challenge of legitimacy; regulatory positions and regulatory strategies need to be compatible with governing values¾regulators should be trying to do the right thing and setting about doing it in the right kind of way. Thirdly, regulatory interventions should be fit for purpose; they should work; they should be effective. Fourthly, regulation needs to engage appropriately with emerging technologies and to
stay connected; the regulatory environment needs to be sustainable. Finally, cosmopolitans will demand that regulators should respect fundamental values as well as tolerate legitimate local difference.
Is there a thread that runs through this? Possibly it is that regulators have to find ways of handling various kinds of pluralism (prudential and moral) in a context of uncertainty, rapid change, and significant