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In an era of corporate surveillance, artificial intelligence, deep fakes, genetic modification, automation, and more, law often seems to take a back seat to rampant technological change. To listen to Silicon Valley barons, there's nothing any of us can do about it. In this riveting work, Joshua A. T. Fairfield calls their bluff. He provides a fresh look at law, at what it actually is, how it works, and how we can create the kind of laws that help humans thrive in the face of technological change. He shows that law can keep up with technology because law is a kind of technology - a social technology built by humans out of cooperative fictions like firms, nations, and money. However, to secure the benefits of changing technology for all of us, we need a new kind of law, one that reflects our evolving understanding of how humans use language to cooperate.Read more
- Explains how language and law evolve and interact with a multi-disciplinary approach
- Offers a roadmap for evaluating legal rules that will benefit humanity and solve complex problems of future technology
- Analyzes surveillance capitalist messaging around law
Reviews & endorsements
'Can democracy keep pace with technology? Yes, says Joshua Fairfield, but only if we swiftly adapt the language of law itself.' Edward Castronova, Indiana UniversitySee more reviews
'Professor Fairfield has given us a critically important and engaging book. It is urgent, yet has timeless wisdom. It is erudite, but also highly accessible. It is consequential yet still laced with commendable levity. Runaway Technology is a must-read not just because of its insight into whether the law can keep up with modern technology, but because of its perspective on the law itself as a tool for human flourishing.' Woodrow Hartzog, Northeastern University
'Fairfield's Runaway Technology offers a powerful argument for the centrality of law to our efforts to tackle a range of contemporary threats through organization and cooperation. Recent decades have seen a shift in power away from legal institutions and towards private actors and the technologies they control. By rejecting the reductive turn to economics and techno-determinism that drive policymaking today, Fairfield reminds us that law, when properly conceptualized as a dynamic social technology, provides a set of tools for constructing, adapting, interrogating, and justifying the narratives that guide our culture and our future.' Aaron Perzanowski, Case Western Reserve University
‘… stimulating, intelligent, challenging … I encourage you to read the book …’ Christina Spiesel, Metascience
‘This book will appeal to readers who want a deeper understanding of how language, and the language of law, can be cooperatively used to effect social and legal change.’ Sally Sax, Canadian Law Library Review
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- Date Published: February 2021
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781108444576
- length: 306 pages
- dimensions: 227 x 151 x 19 mm
- weight: 0.46kg
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
Part I. Keeping Up: Law as Social Technology:
1. Can law keep up?
2. Rates of change
3. Technology law
Part II. Running on Words: Law as Cooperative Fiction:
4. Language, the human superpower
5. What went wrong with science?
6. Law's fruitful fictions
7. Shifting how we think
Part III. Law and the Language we Need:
8. Why we fail
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