Regulation of Technology
Many people have active disdain for governmental and other regulation when it comes to aspects of life. Whether it be speech, movement, where one can live, how one can travel and so forth, there are many regulations that just annoy and inconvenience a lot of people. One of those things would be technology. Many might pose the question as to whether technology should be regulated and to what degree. Many hold that the free market should get most of the sway when it comes to what happens and why. Other still say that intellectual property and patent rights when it comes to technology are just a boon for the rich and hurt the less advantaged. Even if there is some disagreement about the subject, the regulation of technology needs to be done on at least some levels and not having that regulation present would be a complete mess for everyone impacted or involved in technology, which would basically be everyone.
As mentioned in passing in the introduction, one arena of technology that is heavily regulated are intellectual rights and patents. Indeed, it is not unlike medications that are patented and cheaper generics are restricted for a good amount of time so as to allow the drug maker to recoup their investment and expense in developing the product. Technology is not all that different. If someone comes up with a novel concept or new technology, the only thing standing in the way of someone else swooping in and using that technology with no compensation to the creator is patent and intellectual property law. To use a real-word example, Samsung has been hand-slapped more than once for using and abusing the technological creations of Apple Corporation that include the iPhone and the iPad (Wakabayashi, 2015). However, patents can obviously be abuse or wielded improperly. Patenting something as basic as a menu or the use of a graphical user interface is pushing the limits and the term “patent squatter” does exist for a reason. Some have gone so far as to try and patent something that is not remotely new (Morrow, 2009). Even with the bad things that happen, the protection of patents and intellectual property necessary. Otherwise, people would steal technology that was the blood, sweat and tears of another person or company and it is quite possible that the actual inventor will not realize any return on investment or other reward for the work completed. No less than Nikola Tesla, the electricity pioneer for which Tesla Motors is named after, was an ostensible victim of this thievery (Falksen, 2010).
The other major reason that technology has to be regulated is that there has to be some sort of approval and regulatory process involved when it comes to certain things that are technological. Whether it be communication signals, vehicles and so forth, just allowing anyone to mass-manufacture technological devices would be a complete and utter disaster. For example, a company that wants to sell cars in the United States has to go through a litany of processes and regulatory messes to get a car on a car lot, let alone get it sold. This is with good reason as the car must be safe, it must conform to the very important standards that all cars must meet, it must be crash-tested to give it a proper star rating in terms of safety and so forth. For example, the “driverless” car is on its way to market. Rest assured that government agencies will make very sure these cars work as they should before they are ever sold to the public (Hirschauge, 2015). Technology that is used for corporate ends is no different. Indeed, Amazon is apparently exploring the idea of using unmanned drones to deliver packages rather than use the conventional means they normally rely on such as FedEx, UPS or the United States Postal Service. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (among other agencies) will surely demand a certain amount of compliance and testing before that every sees the light of day on the Amazon website and their ordering options. This is as it should be, of course (Jansen, 2015).
In the end, regulation and rules can be vexing and problematic. Sometimes, the regulators go too far and/or are inept when it comes to their regulations. Even so, the regulations and rules exist for a reason. Allowing people and companies to wield and create technology with no rules of the road would be asinine and it would create complete chaos. As such, the government needs to set some proper and realistic rules so that no one’s rights are infringed, no one’s safety is endangered and people are not sold pieces of junk that are not workable or usable. Having the rules in place are for the benefit of all people and corporations and this should never change.
Falksen, G. (2010). The Tesla Tragedy. Tor.com. Retrieved 9 November 2015, from http://www.tor.com/2010/11/01/the-tesla-tragedy/
Hirschauge, O. (2015). Are Driverless Cars Safer Cars?. WSJ. Retrieved 9 November 2015, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/are-driverless-cars-safer-cars-1439544601
Jansen, B. (2015). FAA approves Amazon drone research again. USA TODAY. Retrieved 9 November 2015, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/04/09/faa-amazon-drone-approval-prime-air/25534485/
Morrow, S. (2009). legalzoom.com. legalzoom.com. Retrieved 9 November 2015, from https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/patent-squatters-is-it-possible-to-patent-an-invention-that-everyones-been-using-for-years
Wakabayashi, B. (2015). Apple Wins Ruling in Patent Case Against Samsung. WSJ. Retrieved 9 November 2015, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-wins-ruling-in-patent-case-against-samsung-1442504533
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