Mar 202017

In a new paper published with the Centre for European Policy Studies, Kenan Institute for Ethics Senior Fellow Andrea Renda reflects on needed changes in governance and regulation methods as the European Commission works toward Sustainable Development Goals in its policy process as part of its approach to implement its 2030 Agenda.

Through his analysis, Renda takes the Commission’s new commitment to better regulation and Sustainable Development Goals at face value, exploring the changes that might be needed to ensure better regulation can be deployed in the most effective way to support the 2030 Agenda.

“At 15, the EU better regulation agenda is currently in its deepest adolescent phase: reaching maturity requires a deeper embedding of its principles and tools in the overall multi-level governance of the Union,” Renda writes. “In order to allow for a fully fledged policy cycle, the future better regulation agenda should, however, be able to rely on a number of additional actions, aimed at delivering on the stated commitment to mainstream SDGs in the EU policy process.”

To read the full paper, visit the Centre for European Policy Studies website.


 March 20, 2017
Feb 102017

Kenan Institute for Ethics Senior Fellow Andrea Renda is featured in a Bloomberg article exploring President Trump’s “New Math on Old Regulations.”

Renda, who also serves as Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies, wrote a study on cost-benefit analysis for the European Commission in 2013. In his assessment of President Trump’s Executive Order to require Congress to phase out two federal regulations for every new one, Renda noted that “it’s impossible to affix a dollar amount to any total estimate of regulatory impact.”

Probably, it’s on the hidden part of the envelope,” he says. “It’s farther than the back of the envelope.”

Will there be an easy way for the Trump Administration to evaluate the benefits of decreased regulation? Read the Bloomberg article for more information.

 February 10, 2017
Feb 032017

sarah-kerman-colorizedIn a new post on the Bass Connections website, junior Sarah Kerman reflects on her time working with a group that investigated efforts of government agencies to evaluate impacts of regulatory programs. The 2015-2016 project, titled “Reviewing Retrospective Regulatory Review,” included Kenan faculty leads Jonathan Wiener and Lori Bennear, co-directors of the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Rethinking Regulation program.

In her post, Kerman noted the value of attending Kenan’s 2016 Rethinking Regulation Symposium, where she presented initial findings from the group as part of the Regulatory Cooperation and Administrative Oversight Panel:

“Participating in the panel, responding to questions about our project and hearing about the work of other researchers focusing on regulatory issues revealed lots of possible venues for further research and really helped me get a better sense of how our team’s project could fit into the field of existing research on ex-post regulatory review.”

The Silver Family Kenan Institute Ethics Fund provided additional support for the project.

For more insight and to learn about Kerman’s work, visit the Bass Connections website.

 February 3, 2017
Jan 272017

FA_Ancell_AaronAaron Ancell, Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy, coauthored a paper that was published this month in Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics.

The paper, “How to Allow Conscientious Objections in Medicine While Protecting Patient Rights,” challenges those who propose an outright ban on conscientious objections in medicine, arguing that many conscientious objections must be permitted simply because they fall within the range of freedom doctors have to define the scope of their own practices. The latter half of the paper proposes a framework for permitting certain conscientious objections while mitigating the unjust burdens that such objections often impose on patients.

Read more on the Interdisciplinary Studies website.

 January 27, 2017
Jan 192017

When Edward J. Balleisen launched the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Rethinking Regulation program in 2010, he was already deep into research on a history of business fraud in the United States.  Through a series of interdisciplinary conversations, research collaborations, and engagements with journalists and policy-makers made possible by Rethinking Regulation, he developed new questions and perspectives on that research.

ed balleisen-fraud book-coverThen, in early 2014, KIE sponsored a day-long manuscript workshop for Balleisen, which brought together scholars from across the Triangle and from disciplines ranging from history, political science, sociology, and economics to philosophy, neuroscience, and law, as well as North Carolina’s Deputy Attorney General for Consumer Protection. Feedback from the workshop was crucial as Balleisen crafted the final version of his newly published book, which pieces together a modern history of fraud, its far-reaching impacts on America, and the regulatory policies put in place to contain it.

In “Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff,” Balleisen, an associate professor of history and public policy and vice provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke, weaves stories of dishonesty and efforts to limit deceptive marketing going back to the early 19th century. He explores challenges of social trusts in a modern, capitalist economy and investigates what makes consumers and investors vulnerable to fraud.

“Fraud is a perennial problem for any capitalist society,” Balleisen said. “We tend to go through periods of generational amnesia about regulatory structures that we put in place after sufficient recognition of the costs associated with widespread fraud, but there’s always a tradeoff. To enact policies that tend to restrict opportunity for deception means inevitably restricting opportunity for competitive sales practices. In moments when economic stagnation becomes an abiding concern, policy-makers tend to pull back on the regulation of deception.”

Finding an appropriate middle ground, Balleisen noted, can be difficult in a country with a longstanding history of facilitating and promoting innovation. The freedom provided to entrepreneurial firms that offer new products, services, and ways of doing business inevitably generates cases of financial and consumer fraud, he said.

“It’s also sometimes hard for people to agree about what is fraudulent in the first place,” Balleisen said, especially in the midst of rapid changes in the business environment.

For more information about Balleisen’s book, “Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff,” visit its page on the Princeton University Press website.

 January 19, 2017
Jan 162017

From February 6th to the 9th, Jamie Kalven will be a visiting Kenan Practitioner-in-Residence with the Cover-Ups project at KIE. Mr. Kalven is an investigative journalist who has done groundbreaking reporting on police abuse and corruption in Chicago, including exposing the truth about the police killing of Laquan McDonald. More recently he has written the four-part series for the Intercept, “House of Cards: How the Chicago Police Department Covered Up for a Gang of Criminal Cops” and worked with the Exoneration Project to overturn wrongful convictions of citizens associated with the cover-up. Two individuals have been released so far, which one member of the Exoneration Project remarks is the “just tip of the iceberg.”

Mr. Kaven is also the founder and executive director of the Invisible Institute, which has the mission to “whose mission is to enhance the capacity of citizens to hold public institutions accountable.” His work extends beyond issues of police abuses, and has focused on Chicago’s inner city housing projects. He has created a program of “grass roots public works” to provide alternatives for ex-offenders and gang members and has worked to establish new human rights monitoring strategies.

During his week-long visit, Mr. Kalven will engage students, faculty, and the community about his work. He will meet with a number of undergraduate and gradate groups, as well as with a faculty working group on cover-ups. He will participate both in a “Conversation in Human Rights” panel with investigative journalist for the News and Observer Mandy Locke on Tuesday, February 7th at 4:00 pm at Duke Law School, room 3037 and in a community workshop.

He will give a public talk, “Police Abuse and Accountability: The Struggle for Police Reform in Chicago,” on Wednesday February 8th, in Gross Hall 103 (West Campus), beginning at 6:30 pm.

 January 16, 2017
Dec 202016

Submission deadline: Friday, January 27, 5:00pm

The Rethinking Regulation Program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics invites graduate and professional students to apply for research awards. Recipients are current, or will become, members of the Rethinking Regulation-Graduate Student Working Group (RR-GSWG), which provides a forum for student-led interdisciplinary discussion, research, and analysis of issues related to regulatory governance. RR-GSWG members represent a variety of Duke disciplines/programs and are united by a common interest in regulatory governance and a shared commitment to interdisciplinary collaborative inquiry in the service of society.

Read the full call for proposals and submission instructions here.

 December 20, 2016
Dec 092016

By Alex Martin, PPS’19

cummings On Tuesday, November 29th, Dr. Missy Cummings, Director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab in the Pratt School of Engineering, led a seminar related to her paper on automation and its consequences, “Man versus Machine or Man + Machine?” From a regulation standpoint, Dr. Cummings touched upon a plethora of issues in current regulatory standards and practices that are not aligned with technological automation. While her paper explores the proper balance between human decision-making and computers, the discussion highlighted several points essential to Rethinking Regulation’s mission of interdisciplinary research in bettering regulatory policy.

At one point, the seminar explored concepts related to how regulatory strategy needed to evolve with technological advancements, and how technology can assist regulatory implementation. Dr. Cummings referenced her experience working with drones in suggesting that the government could give them a greater role in industry-specific regulation, such as assisting with Alaskan pipeline inspections. She also pointed to drones in warning that higher cyber security standards must accompany the incorporation of drones into greater industry-specific roles. Her drone example segued into a broader but murkier topic of definitively reconciling ambiguities that arise from commercialized automation. It remains unclear how exactly policymakers can effectively guard against people’s “automation bias,” in which people become complacent and yield too much control to technology, while also properly harnessing automation capabilities to compensate for human skill deficiencies. Dr. Cummings noted studies showing a majority of airline pilots surveyed had limited knowledge of automated controls in their planes, while a study her lab conducted revealed humans as dangerously accident-prone when caught in boring situations: subjects struggled to stay focused for 4 consecutive hours in a driving simulation. On one hand, regulatory policy for automation must foster comprehensive knowledge of what exactly is being automated. Doing so ideally would prevent tragedies such as in the case of a Tesla owner who may have died because he did not understand the Tesla’s sensor limitations. How exactly regulators can get autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle operators to fully grasp their machine’s capabilities remains in question. At the same time, Dr. Cummings stressed that regulation must not hinder technological integration but promote automation, pointing out that transitioning to fully-autonomous vehicles would lead to a safer equilibrium than the intermediate mix of semi-autonomous and conventional vehicles.

Dr. Cummings’ talk also touched upon the relationship between automation in infrastructure and regulatory governance. While it may be in the technology sector’s best interest to sell automobiles after thorough testing, the fact that the self-driving car industry has not established universal safety standards opens the door for further regulatory developments. That said, Dr. Cummings previously expressed “no confidence” in the government’s authority to put together safety standards and tasked the industry itself with their implementation. She nevertheless maintained that the government’s increasing expenditures into the market for driverless cars must find a way to streamline new regulations without crowding out investments in automation for infrastructure. Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has not pursued greater automation despite the poor condition of railroads on a national scale. This may be because railroad workers’ unions do not advocate for automation in order to protect human jobs, there is no emerging consumer demand for trains, or current regulatory safeguards for railroads (which may explain recent derailments and crashes) are not strictly enforced. Dr. Cummings lamented that this was a missed opportunity not only because of America’s dire need for infrastructural development, but also because it is easiest to automate the “skills-based reasoning” associated with operating railroads.

There are also several ethical issues relevant to this discussion. Is there a threat to public safety in devoting more resources to automobile automation than to infrastructure improvements? The former might increase accidents in the near term while the latter could reduce accidents caused by outdated infrastructure and procedures. Is the government allowing market forces, specifically the boom of the emerging autonomous car industry, to supersede those of the public interest in setting the regulatory investment agenda? There is a substantial effort devoted to catching up regulations to meet the developing autonomous automobile industry. That said, current infrastructure such as the aging railway system has failed to conform to existing regulatory standards and lacks a level of automation that would increase safety and efficiency. Are these the right priorities for regulatory agencies? Dr. Cummings’ seminar underscores a need for adaptive regulation – one that continually reconciles short-term risks and long-term benefits, flexibly updates regulations in light of technological advancements, and initially prioritizes adaptability during the initial stages of policy implementation. Altering current regulatory strategy to meet such complexities, though challenging, is crucial to enhancing the relationship between emerging business, government, and society as a whole.

 December 9, 2016
Dec 012016

Vishy Pingali Dr. Viswanath (Vishy) Pingali is the 2016-17 George C. Lamb, Jr. Regulatory Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics and an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Ahmedabad, India.

What is the Indian Institute for Management Ahmedabad and what kind of research are you involved in?

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad is a management school in India (duh!) based in this city called Ahmedabad. It is widely recognized as one of the best (if not the best) management schools in India (and Asia). We run several masters’ programs in management lasting one to two years, as well as several short duration programs tailored to the executives of several firms.
My research area, broadly speaking, is government regulation and firms’ subsequent reaction to the regulation. My current research focuses on two recent laws enacted in the India. First one is the law that regulates prices of essential medicine, and the second one is the law pertaining to corporate social responsibility in India. I am in the process of understanding how firms perceive these laws, and react to this law. What kind of reaction firms have determines if the law has had the intended benefits for the economy.

How do you gauge whether or not firms’ reactions to new laws and regulations benefit the economy?

Laws are passed with certain objective in mind like making finances available to small businesses, medicines to people in all economic segments, healthcare etc. Let us take the example of weakening patent laws. If firms continue to behave in the exact same way as they are doing before passing the law – namely invest huge amounts in research and development – then the law would be beneficial. However, firms seldom do that. They change their behavior keeping in mind governmental regulation. In the above example, firms will stop investing in research and development if intellectual property is not protected. So, can we say unambiguously that relaxing patent laws has benefited the economy? Here, benefit is clearly number of diseases cured.

Why were you interested in the George C. Lamb, Jr. Fellowship?

These two questions fall broadly in the category of regulation and how regulation has to be amended after keeping firms’ reactions in mind. So, it fits nicely with the rethinking regulation program at Duke. This Fellowship gives me an opportunity to come to a new place and concentrate on my research in this area. This is the main motivation for applying for the fellowship.

What are you most looking forward to during your time here at the Kenan Institute for Ethics?

Several things that are difficult to sort in an order: Meeting with some well known names in the research areas; presenting my work to an audience comprising people from across disciplines; understanding how academia in top notch places functions; completing my ongoing research projects; laying a roadmap for my future research plans; garnering new friends and research partners. In short, meeting some great minds, and taking some time off to contemplate on where I see myself heading into the future. I also developed a new course on development and game theory. Given that I enjoy teaching, I eagerly look forward to the spring semester where I can teach that course.

What have you enjoyed the most about Duke so far?

Presenting my research work, and meeting some very brilliant people. Given that I am a PhD in economics from Northwestern University, I have a few friends who are working in Duke as faculty. Meeting them after a long time was also a very enjoyable experience. International House is another place that my family and I had a lot of interaction. We enjoyed meeting so many people from different cultures there.

And what have you enjoyed the most about Durham and the surroundings?

Research Triangle has several points of interest. In the one month we have been here, we have become regular visitors to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, Raleigh Museum of Natural Science, Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, etc. We also intend to explore Pittsboro, Asheboro, etc.

What will your research focus on while you are here, and what kind of work will you be doing with the Rethinking Regulation Program?

As I explained earlier, my research focuses on government regulation and the subsequent firm reaction. This is going to be the main focus for while I am at Kenan. While specific focus has been pharmaceuticals, there are other industry segments that I am interested in. The idea is to explore these common interests with the people in Rethinking Regulation and develop collaborations.

What is the class you will be teaching in the spring, and what is its focus?

Game Theory and Public Policy in Developing Economies.” People do attempt to think strategically. And this strategic thinking influences outcomes, which shape how a society progresses. The field that understands strategic thinking is game theory. Using elementary game theory (non-mathematical), I attempt to build an understanding of how do practices evolve and how do these practices shape the development of the economy. Strategic thinking also influences policy making. We will look at several issues faced by the developing economies and how policy making ought to be done, keeping in mind the strategic behavior.

What do you hope to gain or contribute during your time here?

Exposure to academic environment away from my home institution; Progress in research; Developing new thought processes that would have improve our understanding of policy making; etc.

 December 1, 2016
Nov 152016
Regulation & Emerging Technologies (ETHICS 590S.02/ENVIRON 590S.01/POLSCI 690S-2.01/PUBPOL 490S.04)
Modes of Inquiry: SS, EI, STS, W
taught by KIE Senior Fellow Andrea Renda, Ph. D.
M 10:05am-12:30pm, West Duke 08C

This new special topics course introduces students to the main tools used to evaluate the impacts of new regulation, and then focuses specifically on new technologies such as fracking, precision medicine, robotics, artificial intelligence and human-machine interaction. How can we enable innovation without compromising privacy, security, civil rights, pluralism and other important public policy goals? How can we appraise the possible economic, social and environmental impacts of these new technologies, and enable constant learning, monitoring and retrospective evaluation of relevant regulation? What should be the relative weight of short- and long-term impacts? Should governments use algorithms to regulate technology, and if yes when? This course discusses these and other issues, in a highly interactive way. It is being launched by the Kenan Institute as many governments around the world discuss the ethics of algorithms and artificial intelligence, as well as the best way to regulate new medicines, fracking, drones, search engines, chatbots, etc. After a general introductory part, students will be allowed to propose topics and focus on those technologies that meet their interest in a final essay. Guest lecturers and scheduled debates, plus participation in seminars and public events will complete this comprehensive introduction to “regulating the future”.

 November 15, 2016