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2021-05-31

What Can Science Fiction Teach Us About Governance and Ethics?

Nicolas Petit

__In this episode of Are You A Robot? Nicolas Petit joins us to discuss if we can use sci-fi to predict our future. we ask what teachings can derive from science fiction, when it comes to today’s governance and what can it tell us about the need for ethics?

Nicolas is a Professor of Law at the EUI focusing on competition policy, digital regulation, and law and technology. You can follow him on Twitter @CompetitionProf or LinkedIn.

“Fiction allows us to think about social responses to facts which might be invented.”

He argues that whilst fiction cannot give us detailed insights into our futures, it gives us some sense of how to react to change, in particular, technological change. This could allow policymakers to think about how technological innovations might affect society as a whole. In a previous conversation with Harriet Moore, we also discussed her novel and the impact of technological innovation on unemployment rates. Therefore, theoretical ideas allows us to discuss what might be our near future.

Nicolas doesn’t believe that we’ll be travelling in time in our near future, but he makes a great point about how there are many blind spots in technological innovation — society 100 years ago could never predict communication with other humans around the planets on a video call. Humans are never going to be able to predict reactions to every technological change, but sci-fi might be able to give us a glimpse into how to manage the changes.

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