Welcome to the New “Tech Roundup Podcast”

Adam Thierer

Looking to stay on top of breaking policy developments surrounding the world of emerging technology? The new “Tech Roundup Podcast” has you covered.

The Tech Roundup Podcast is part of the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project (RTP) “Fourth Branch Podcast Series.” The goal of these podcasts is to highlight the many issues covered by the RTP’s dozen working groups, which cover different aspects of administrative regulation.

I know what you’re saying: Haven’t we reached peak podcast? Do we really need another? Yes, we actually do! Both existing and emerging high-tech sectors are suddenly the focus of countless regulatory inquiries at the federal, state, and global level. The list of technologies and sectors coming under the political spotlight is growing: drones, driverless cars, micro-mobility options (like scooters), the Internet of Things and wearable health tech, artificial intelligence and machine-learning, big data, 3D printing, virtual reality, Bitcoin and cyptocurrencies, and so on.

Our new Tech Roundup Podcast features leading policy experts debating the major legal issues surrounding various emerging technology sectors. Some of the key fault lines in today’s tech policy debates include: privacy, online safety, digital free speech, cybersecurity, automation and the future of employment, intellectual property protection, competition and antitrust issues, and much more.

We have already covered some of these issues in our first three shows. On the first installment of the Tech Roundup, William Rinehart, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy at the American Action Forum, hosted a conversation about “The Brave New World of Deep Fakes.” The episode tackled the problematic issues associated with new machine learning algorithms that can be used to create synthetic videos and photos that are difficult to distinguish from reality.

Will was joined on the show by Robert Chesney, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Texas School of Law, who recently released a major paper on this topic and its implications for policy. Matthew Feeney, Director of the Project on Emerging Technologies at the Cato Institute, also joined this episode. Both Will and Matthew are members of the RTP working group on emerging technology, and I am the chair of that working group.

Following that inaugural episode, I hosted the second and third installments of our new podcast.

The second episode was on, “The Techlash: Big Tech and Antitrust.” I moderated a fun debate between my old friends Hal Singer, Managing Director of Econ One, and Geoffrey A. Manne, President and Founder of the International Center for Law & Economics. Hal and Geoff engaged in a wide-raging discussion about the growing movement—on both the political Left and Right—to regulate or even breakup leading tech firms like Google, Facebook, and Amazon. We discussed the challenges associated with applying traditional antitrust remedies to fast-moving markets, as well as new proposals for how policymakers might intervene.

Our third and most recent episode of the Tech Roundup Podcast then shifted gears to discuss the contentious world of modern privacy policy. This podcast featured a fascinating and instructive back-and-forth on the implications of California’s new privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), as well as efforts to expand it. I was joined on the show by privacy law gurus Ian Adams, Vice President of Policy at TechFreedom, and Joe Jerome, formerly of the Center for Democracy & Technology.

Ian and Joe helped me explore the timeless question of just how much leeway should be granted to the states when it comes to regulation of technologies and markets that have a national reach. Is California setting the law of the land in the absence of federal action on privacy issues? What will this mean for interstate online commerce and speech rights? Even those of us who favor a healthy amount of devolution and state-based experimentation are a little uneasy about the growing patchwork of conflicting privacy regulatory regimes at the state level. Add to that the growing pressure from the European Union on this front and you have a recipe for a real regulatory headache. Federal action may be needed to address these conflicts of law, but federal preemption could be accompanied by a host of burdensome new mandates, as Neil Chilson pointed out in a recent RTP white paper.

In coming episode, we’ll be expanding on these issues and also doing a deep-dive on many other topics, including efforts to modify Section 230, various advanced transportation policy fights (drones, driverless cars, scooters, and more), and the thorny legal and philosophical issues surrounding facial recognition tech and accusations of “algorithmic bias” in various AI systems.

All that and much more is in the works, so I hope you will consider listening to our new Tech Roundup Podcast and subscribing to it on whatever podcast platform you use regularly. Finally, we would love to hear from you about what other topics we should be covering on the show and what we can do to make the podcast more useful to you.

Adam Thierer

Senior Research Fellow

Mercatus Center, George Mason University


Emerging Technology

Federalist Society’s Administrative Law & Regulation Practice Group

The Federalist Society and Regulatory Transparency Project take no position on particular legal or public policy matters. All expressions of opinion are those of the author(s). To join the debate, please email us at rtp@regproject.org.

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