Kickstarting Reconnection: An Approach to Legal Problems Arising from Emerging Technologies


  • Kayleen Manwaring



Socio-technical change, eObjects


A new model, or ‘third wave’, of computing is emerging, based on the widespread use of processors with data handling and communications capabilities embedded in a variety of objects and environments that were not previously computerised. Various terms have been used to describe this third wave, including ‘ubiquitous’ and ‘pervasive’ computing, ‘ambient intelligence’, the ‘Internet of Things’ and ‘eObjects’. With the socio-technical change brought about by this third wave comes the possibility of a disconnection between the law and the new things, activities, and relationships enabled by this new model of computing. This disconnection may lead to legal problems of uncertainty, under- or over-inclusiveness of conduct in existing law, obsolescence, or the complete absence of laws regulating new behaviour. Early and rigorous identification and categorisation of legal problems is crucial for emerging technologies, to assist in avoiding two problems: the first being the stifling of beneficial innovation by over-regulation, the second the cementing of socially undesirable outcomes when vested interests are left too long unchecked. Although the technologies in the third wave are diverse, common attributes can be identified, and from examination of these attributes significant innovations are revealed. This paper examines these innovations to assist in identifying legal problems arising from the third wave.