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LAWS428 Law and Emerging Technologies

Introduction to the unique problems of attempting to regulate emerging technologies: ‘future-proofing’ the law; descriptive and normative disconnection; regulating uncertain risks; ethical diversity and prudential pluralism.

The paper will consider the law's relationship with emerging technologies from a number of directions. The first part of the syllabus will consider some of the challenges confronted by law-makers and regulators when attempting to regulate technologies that elicit divergent moral responses, such as reproductive and genetic technologies. The second part will look at the challenge of regulating against a background of uncertain risks. Part three will consider the particular challenges of regulating the Internet. The final part will consider the actual or potential uses of emerging technologies as regulatory tools, including surveillance technologies, genetic databases and the use of neurotechnologies in the courtroom.

Paper title Law and Emerging Technologies
Paper code LAWS428
Subject Law
EFTS 0.1
Points 15 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $710.30
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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LAWS 201 and 66 further LAWS points
Pre or Corequisite
Any 200-level LAWS paper not already passed
LAWS 102, LAWS 528
Limited to
LLB, LLB(Hons)
May not be credited together with LAWS483 passed in 2012-2014.
Teaching staff

Professor Colin Gavaghan


Course readings via eReserve.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will

  • Understand the conceptual challenges facing courts, legislators and regulators when attempting to respond to, and anticipate, fast-changing technologies
  • Comprehend and utilise key concepts in the "techno-regulation" literature
  • Be able to critically evaluate the various strategies for regulating in the face of uncertainty about risks and benefits
  • Understand and analyse the various perspectives around regulation of "cyberspace", and the practical and conceptual challenges facing attempts to do so
  • Apply these approaches and critiques to real-life and hypothetical examples

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system