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date: 07 March 2021

(p. v) Acknowledgements

(p. v) Acknowledgements

The proposal for this book was first conceived in 2008 in what feels like an earlier technological era: Apple’s iPhone had been released a year earlier; Facebook was only four years old; discussions about artificial intelligence were, at least in popular consciousness, only within the realm of science fiction; and the power of contemporary gene editing technologies that have revolutionized research in the biosciences in recent years had yet to be discovered. Much has happened in the intervening period between the book’s inception and its eventual birth. The pace of scientific development and technological innovation has been nothing short of breathtaking. While law and legal and regulatory governance institutions have responded to these developments in various ways, they are typically not well equipped to deal with the challenges faced by legal and other policy-makers in seeking to understand and grasp the significance of fast-moving technological developments. As editors, we had originally planned for a much earlier publication date. But time does not stand still, neither for science or technological innovation, nor for the lives of the people affected by their developments, including our own. In particular, the process from this volume’s conception through to its completion has been accompanied by the birth of three of our children with a fourth due as this volume goes to press.

Books and babies may be surprising comparators, but despite their obvious differences, there are also several similarities associated with their emergence. In our case, both began as a seemingly simple and compelling idea. Their gestation in the womb of development took many turns, the process was unquestionably demanding, and their growth trajectory typically departed from what one might have imagined or expected. The extent to which support is available and the quality of its provision can substantially shape the quality of the experience of the parent and the shape of the final output. To this end, we are enormously grateful to our contributors, for their thoughtful and penetrating insights, and especially to those whose contributions were completed some time ago and who have waited patiently for the print version to arrive. We are indebted to The Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London, which provided our shared intellectual home throughout the course of this book’s progression, and serves as home for the Centre for Technology, Ethics, Law & Society, which we founded in 2007. We are especially grateful to the School for providing funds to support research assistance for the preparation of the volume, and to support a meeting of contributors in Barcelona (p. vi) in the summer of 2014. This physical meeting of authors enabled us to exchange ideas, refine our arguments, and helped to nurture an emerging community of scholars committed to critical inquiry at the frontiers of technological development and its interface with law and regulatory governance. We are also grateful for the assistance of several members of the Oxford University Press editorial team, who were involved at various stages of the book’s development, including Emma Taylor, Gemma Parsons, Elinor Shields, and Natasha Flemming, and especially to Alex Flach, who has remained a stable and guiding presence from the point of the book’s conception through to its eventual emergence online and into hard copy form.

Although a surrounding community of support is essential in producing a work of this ambition, there are often key individuals who provide lifelines when the going gets especially tough. The two of us who gave birth to children during the book’s development were very fortunate to have the devotion and support of loyal and loving partners without whom the travails of pregnancy would have been at times unbearable (at least for one of us), and without whom we could not have managed our intellectual endeavours while nurturing our young families. In giving birth to this volume, there is one individual to whom we express our deep and heartfelt gratitude: Kris Pérez Hicks, one of our former students, who subsequently took on the role of research assistant and project manager. Not only was Kris’s assistance and cheerful willingness to act as general dogsbody absolutely indispensable in bringing this volume to completion, but he also continued to provide unswerving support long after the funds available to pay him had been depleted. Although Kris is not named as an editor of this volume, he has been a loyal, constant, and committed partner in this endeavour, without whom the process of gestation would have been considerably more arduous; we wish him all the very best in the next stage of his own professional and personal journey. Eloise also thanks Mubarak Waseem and Sonam Gordhan, who were invaluable research assistants as she returned from maternity leave in 2015–16. We are also indebted to each other: working together, sharing, and refining our insights and ideas, and finding intellectual inspiration and joint solutions to the problems that invariably arose along the way, has been a privilege and a pleasure and we are confident that it will not spell the end of our academic collaboration.

While the journey from development to birth is a major milestone, it is in many ways the beginning, rather than the end, of the journey. The state of the world is not something that we can predict or control, although there is no doubt that scientific development and technological innovation will be a feature of the present century. As our hopes for our children are invariably high in this unpredictable world, so too are our hopes and ambitions for this book. Our abiding hope underlying this volume is that an enhanced understanding of the many interfaces between law, regulation, and technology will improve the chances of stimulating technological developments that contribute to human flourishing and, at the same time, minimize applications that are, for one reason or another, unacceptable. Readers, (p. vii) whatever their previous connections and experience with law, regulatory governance, or technological progress, will see that the terrain of the book is rich, complex, diverse, intellectually challenging, and that it demands increasingly urgent and critical interdisciplinary engagement. In intellectual terms, we hope that, by drawing together contributions from a range of disciplinary and intellectual perspectives across a range of technological developments and within a variety of social domains, this volume demonstrates that scholarship exploring law and regulatory governance at the technological frontier can be understood as part of an ambitious scholarly endeavour in which a range of common concerns, themes, and challenges can be identified. Although, 50 years from now, the technological developments discussed in this book may well seem quaint, we suggest that the legal, social, and governance challenges and insights they provoke will prove much more enduring. This volume is intended to be the beginning of the conversations that we owe to each other and to our children (whether still young or now fully fledged adults) in order to shape the technological transformations that are currently underway and to lay the foundations for a world in which we can all flourish.

KY, ES, and RB


3 March 2017 (p. viii)