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Regulation refers to “controlling human or societal behavior by rules or restrictions.” Regulation can take many forms: legal restrictions promulgated by a government authority, self-regulation, social regulation (e.g. norms), co-regulation, and market regulation. One can consider regulation as actions of conduct imposing sanctions (such as a fine). This action of administrative law, or implementing regulatory law, may be contrasted with statutory or case law.

Regulation is an important issue as it relates to Emerging technologies. While market fundamentalists generally assume that the free market will take care of risks such as un-Friendly Artificial general intelligence, technoprogressives believe that a certain amount of regulation is necessary to ensure safety. However, technoprogressives do not the advocate the extreme regulations or bans on emerging technologies favored by bioconservatives or bioluddites. Regulation of nanotechnology, Biotechnology, and information and cognitive sciences (NBIC) in its most extreme form would be Relinquishment, which is not a feasible or realistic policy position.

Regulation mandated by a state attempts to produce outcomes which might not otherwise occur, produce or prevent outcomes in different places to what might otherwise occur, or produce or prevent outcomes in different timescales than would otherwise occur. Common examples of regulation include attempts to control market entries, prices, wages, pollution effects, employment for certain people in certain industries, standards of production for certain goods, the military forces, and services.

Types of regulation
Regulations have costs for some and benefits for others. Efficient regulations may only be said to exist where the total benefits to some people exceed the total costs to others. The ethics of regulation become much more challenging when Existential risks are present.

Regulations are justified using a variety of reasons and therefore can be classified in several broad categories:
1. Market failures - regulation due to inefficiency. Intervention due to a classical economics argument to market failure. (Risk of monopoly; Collective action, or public good; Inadequate information; Unseen externalizations.)
2. Irreversibility - regulation that deals with the problem of irreversibility – the problem in which a certain type of conduct from current generations results in outcomes from which future generations may not recover from at all.
3. Diverse experiences - regulation with a view of eliminating or enhancing opportunities for the formation of diverse preferences and beliefs
4. Social subordination - regulation aimed to increase or reduce social subordination of various social groups
5. Endogenous preferences - regulation’s purpose is to affect the development of certain preferences on an aggregate level
6. Collective desires - regulation about collective desires or considered judgments on the part of a significant segments of society
7. Interest group transfers - regulation that results from efforts by self-interest groups to redistribute wealth in their favor, which may disguise itself as one or more of the justifications above.

IEET Links:
Nanofactory Regulation Revisited
Anissimov on the Responsible Regulation of Emerging Technology
Global Technology Regulation and Potentially Apocalyptic Technological Threats