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Prof. Coglianese contemplates a future of digitally automated government

April 19, 2021

In a new paper, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s Edward B. Shils Professor of Law and Political Science Cary Coglianese considers a key question raised by government agencies’ increased use of digital automation powered by artificial intelligence: Can U.S. administrative law accommodate a future in which most government functions are automated?

“Not only might a highly automated state readily meet longstanding administrative law principles,” writes Coglianese, “but the responsible use of machine learning algorithms might perform even better than the status quo in terms of fulfilling administrative law’s core values of expert decision-making and democratic accountability.”

Coglianese writes that while algorithmic governance “clearly promises more accurate, data-driven decisions,” he cautions that it could also “risk being less empathetic,” thus creating a new challenge for administrative law: namely, ensuring that “an automated state is also an empathetic one.”

The full paper, “Administrative Law in the Automated State,” can be downloaded here and is forthcoming in Daedalus.

Coglianese specializes in the study of administrative law and regulatory processes. He was a founding editor of the peer-reviewed journal Regulation & Governance, and he founded and continues to serve as advisor to the Penn Program on Regulation’s widely read daily publication, The Regulatory Review.

His research and scholarship focuses on the empirical evaluation of alternative regulatory processes and strategies as well as the role of public participation, technology, and business-government relations in policy-making.

Coglianese’s books include Achieving Regulatory Excellence (Brookings Institution Press, 2016); Does Regulation Kill Jobs? (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014); Regulatory Breakdown: The Crisis of Confidence of US Regulation (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012); Import Safety: Regulatory Governance in the Global Economy (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009); Regulation and Regulatory Processes (Ashgate, 2007); and Leveraging the Private Sector: Management-Based Strategies for Improving Environmental Performance (Routledge, 2006).

He has also recently written on judicial review and administrative delegation, climate change policy, voluntary environmental programs, and public participation and transparency in federal rulemaking.

Read more Law School faculty papers and publications.