Four Keys to Developing a Sound Technology Policy

The internet, and today’s technology in general, has made policy-making more complex. Yesterday’s model of a rule-based system does not work as well as it used to, because there are too many variants. Consider a model-based reasoning system instead, by following these four steps before crafting policy:

1. Identify critical issues. Think about how technology, when functional, will work: What it will do, how it will do what it does, and what human-computer or human-human situations are affected by it?

2. Anticipate vicarious results (unintended or unexpected consequences of the policy). This process is similar to the one involved in identifying and researching the critical issues, but involves a deeper thought process.

3. Explore the range of policies. Identifying the full range of critical issues and vicarious results will help you put all the possible policy decisions “on the table” for discussion. Each possibility must be considered in a fashion similar to the discussion of critical issues.

4. Consider stakeholders’ views. Although it’s inevitable that someone or some group will be displeased with a policy decision, it is imperative to hear their voices and carefully weigh their positions.

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