[ Question ]

What are some resources to learn how Technology affects longtermism in Policymaking?

by Venkatesh1 min read12th Jun 20201 comment


LongtermismPolicy ChangeCareer Choice

What is needed:

I am looking for links to resources to understand if/how Tech(nology) Policy influences the temporal dimension of Public Policy. I am trying to think about questions like:

1. Should the rapid advancement of Tech deprioritize any efforts to focus on long term Public Policymaking?

2. If yes to 1, can having a proper Tech Policy in place help the situation?

3. Does Tech policy itself become too redundant too quickly?

What I have found so far:

1. A book titled "The Half-Life of Policy Rationales: How New Technology Affects Old Policy Issues" by Daniel B. Klein and Fred Foldvary. It (from a skimming of the introductory chapter) seems to argue that the rapid development of Tech should mean that free-enterprise policy must be the way to go. The authors suggest that Tech makes the market too complex for the policymaker to comprehend its dynamics (and hence make policies) and also that Tech reduces transactional costs hence making Market-failure arguments weaker which in turn reduces the need for regulation. So it feels like their answer to 1 is yes.

I am not able to find good criticisms of this book (supporting or rejecting its claims). Also, it was written in 2003. I wonder if the ideas in it are still relevant given the Tech improvements since then. (Have the book's ideas themselves reached their half life?!)

2. A journal article titled "Policy Making for the Long Term in Advanced Democracies" by Alan M. Jacobs. It actually doesn't talk about Tech at all. It talks about the challenges that Politics imposes on long term Policymaking. But it is still interesting to read.

Why is it needed:

I find the arguments for longtermism that I have heard in the EA community quite appealing. So it feels like a neat idea to concentrate on policies that have a long term effect to maximize the good I can do. This would mean addressing things that stand in the way of long term policymaking. Tech seems like one of those things and learning Tech Policy, a way to regulate Tech's effects. In addition, it feels like knowledge of Tech policy would equip one to work on existential risk reduction as well. So learning Tech Policy seems like a 'one stone, two mangoes' proposition and hence I feel motivated to do so.

The operational words in my last paragraph are 'seems' and 'feels'! So I am looking for resources to learn more and find some evidence to substantiate my current motivation to learn Tech Policy. In fact, I am currently relying on this evidence to help me write an SOP for a short certification course on Tech Policy at a local think tank which is for me a low-cost way of testing if I have a good personal fit with this domain.

Thanks for all your responses in advance!


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1 Answers

A couple RAND reports come to mind. I have not read either yet myself, would be interested to hear your thoughts if you do!

Shaping the Next 100 Years: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/2007/MR1626.pdf

Speed and Security: https://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PE274.html