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How should nuisance limits be set for new technology?

Often new technologies initially involve negative side effects, and sometimes those side effects impact even those who didn't choose to use the new technology. Here's an example: supersonic flight. Supersonic aircraft are generally noisier than slower aircraft -- they lay down a sonic boom when they fly over. In the US, supersonic travel has been banned outright since the 1960s due to concerns about boom noise. There's technology to help quiet the aircraft, but no one knows how much "quiet" (and political muscle) it will take to reverse this ban -- and as a result we're still trundling around at 1960s speeds. But this is only one example. Many other technologies (e.g., fossil fuels) initially have some physical impact even on those who choose not to adopt, until they advance sufficiently that the impact is immaterial. In a free society, how should these technologies be allowed to develop? What restrictions should be placed, and how? How does one objectively determine, for instance, how much noise pollution from aircraft constitutes a rights violation?

Blake Scholl , 14.12.2014, 22:22
Idea status: completed


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