There are several potential policy issues—beyond those associated with education—that may need to be addressed. These include changes to institutions, laws, regulations, policies, systems, etc. that are needed to address the generally undesirable consequences of new technology. However, our list is only suggestive of the issues that might require changes in policies and programs.
West (2015) provides a good discussion of some policy issues associated with new technology:
- Workers in both the sharing economy and the on-demand economy are, generally speaking, at a disadvantage in comparison to traditional employees. They are not covered under federal and state laws that protect or provide benefits to employees (Lowenstein 2017).
- To the extent that the new technologies result in large employment losses, consideration should be given to programs to address these losses. Among the suggestions that have been made by West and others are:
- A universal basic income program, under which every individual or household would be given a fixed payment.
- A guaranteed jobs program under which every adult would be offered a job paying some basic wage level.
- Employment subsidies, for example, an expanded earned income tax credit program.
- Changes in industrial structure due to new technology suggest a possible need for a change in industrial policy, including antitrust and price-fixing policies.
- To the extent that more individuals are not employed, there will be more individuals with a lot of free time. Thus, it may be desirable to establish policies and programs that make productive use of the free time individuals will have. If a universal basic income program is added, the question arises about whether there will be a need for programs that address the lack of income-driven status or prestige due to more equal income.
- Consideration of how healthcare is financed will be an issue if large numbers of individuals no longer work for firms that provide health insurance.
- Public policy implications regarding the ethical issues associated with the use of new technologies. Specifically, there are issues of privacy and concerns about predictive algorithms, which have already been proven to discriminate by race or gender. See Gillingham and Graham (2017) for a discussion. While there are potential ethical issues regarding the use of new technology, we did not find literature that provides detailed discussions of the issue.
- Autonomous vehicles will require new regulations. Information collected from AV could be used by public transit systems to analyze the movement of people and by vehicles to adjust services, and also for long-range planning. Additionally, expansion of the use of noncommercial drones and the issues of air space will require governments to focus on their regulations. Autonomous vehicles will require that governments attend to legal issues regarding accidents, liability, and regulatory issues (Desouza et al 2015).
Proceed to the implications for Social Science and related fields.
Return to the Implications section of the “Identifying the Landscape of New Technology” report.
Proceed to the implications for Education and related fields.