Monday, March 10, 2008
Policy and law in a changing world
This past Friday and Saturday we had the pleasure of co-hosting, together with Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society, the inaugural Legal Futures conference -- a mix of traditional, structured conference discussions, and unstructured, Foo-style panels.
We decided to support Legal Futures in order to facilitate a discussion of the new principles of law and policy needed in the wake of the Information Revolution. As ever more people participate online -- not just as consumers, but as creators, authors and artists -- policies from the previous era are increasingly difficult to apply. This shift is more than old wine in new bottles: it is a systematic change in the way people live, work and communicate that could result in tectonic shifts in law, business and public policy.
Legal Futures was a chance for a group of leading experts from academia, business, government and the non-profit sector to share their views on a diverse collection of topics: privacy, intellectual property, openness and interoperability, the rise of virtual worlds and the ideal balance of free expression and social responsibility. Because we're all about ambitious, long-term goals at Google, we were fascinated to hear a range of insightful projections of the future of the law in these areas, and we were pleased that a standing-room-only crowd came to join the conversation.
As always, everyone is smarter than anyone, and we learned a lot from the collective (but not always conventional) wisdom of those gathered. Our thanks go to our inspiring and eclectic group of participants for taking the time to meet and contribute to the dialog. Based on the success of this past weekend, we hope to make this an annual event, but in the meantime, we'll continue to welcome input from them and from all of you as we continue to struggle with these issues.