Introduction: Disruptive Technologies and the Law
Citation: 102 Geo L.J. 1685 (2014)
It’s great to be here with all of you. This symposium actually has its origins in a sort of technology: I was on a flight to Silicon Valley, and despite living thousands of miles away from him, bumped into Professor Desai. We got to talking about disruptive technology, and ultimately began spinning out thoughts on 3D printing. Soon thereafter The Georgetown Law Journal asked for ideas for their symposium, and thus this fantastic event was born.
Disruption: In the past two decades, the concept has gone from theory, to buzz word, to the captivation of the popular imagination. Disruptive innovation goes beyond improving existing products; it seeks to tap unforeseen markets, create products to solve problems consumers don’t know that they have, and ultimately to change the face of industry. We are all the beneficiaries of dis- ruption. Every smartphone carrying, MP3-listening, Netflix-watching consumer is taking advantage of technologies once unimaginable, but that now feel indispensable. Silicon Valley’s pursuit of disruption will continue to benefit and delight a world of consumers. But where disruption may once have been the secondary result of innovation, disruption has become a goal in and of itself. Today, I want to urge a cautionary note: The tech community’s solipsistic focus on disruption, to the exclusion of human and legal values, can be problematic. We can see these potential problems in the development of three areas: mass surveillance, 3D printing, and driverless cars.