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Penn Wharton PPI

B School for Public Policy Monthly 90-minute sessions on Capitol Hill »

Policy Issues


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  • How Should AVs Redistribute the Risks of the Road? December 3 How Should Autonomous Vehicles Redistribute the Risks of the Road?

    The introduction of autonomous vehicles onto American roadways presents not only great technological challenges, but ethical ones too. This brief considers the principles that should govern how companies that produce autonomous vehicles should program them to behave in hybrid conditions, when autonomous vehicles and vehicles controlled by human drivers share the road and potentially come into conflict. Research shows that consumers would prefer to purchase autonomous vehicles that are programmed to prioritize the safety of their occupants. But doing so means that in hybrid conditions, occupants of human-driven vehicles would systematically suffer more harms. This disparity should be of great concern, as it is likely that there will be a correlation between autonomous vehicle usage and wealth, since the large R&D costs that go into the making of autonomous vehicles will probably make them a luxury item, at least early on. The Issue Brief therefore proposes a Fair Risk Distribution principle to govern the programming of autonomous vehicles, and lays out the moral obligations of all manufacturers to not be the first to offer vehicles programmed to systematically prioritize the interests of their occupants.

  • Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law amendments to the California Con... December 1 Your Data Is Shared and Sold…What’s Being Done About It?

    Professor Joseph Turow lauds and explains the recent California privacy bill that he describes as a “big win for data privacy.” He goes on to say that even though “it could be even stronger, the California law is stronger than anything that exists at the federal level.” 

  • Wharton's Exequiel (Zeke) Hernandez discusses his research on how immigrants facilitate cross-bor... December 1 How Immigrant Entrepreneurs Pave the Way for Foreign VC Investments

    The proximity rule of investment states that VC firms rarely invest in start-up more than 40 to 60 miles from their headquarters, yet the recent upshot in Foreign VC Investments upsets this paradigm. Professor Exequiel Hernandez’s research suggests this is due to the presence of immigrant entrepreneurs that facilitate the process.

  • Image: Hand tools. Source: Wikimedia Commons. November 10 Regulating Consumers’ Rights to Repair Products: The Debate Between Convenience and Intellectual Property Rights

    Convenience has become a top priority of many consumers in the 21st century. The onset of new systems that allow people to obtain their necessities (and desires) quicker and easier than ever has individuals increasingly calculating their time as an opportunity cost. This phenomenon extends to the field of consumer products, and has given rise to the “right to repair” movement. This movement refers to ongoing debates in the tech policy/regulation community around whether a consumer should possess the inherent and official right to repair the products they purchase without fear of voiding the product’s warranty. There are opposing sides and perspectives on this matter, both of which will be explored throughout this piece.

  • Image: Voting key, symbolizing the growing connection between elections and technology. Source: N... November 4 Lack of Competition in Voting Machine Market Hurts Voters

    The voting machine company ES&S controls around 50% of the market and they have a reputation of keeping competitors at bay through litigation. When their machines falter, as in the Georgia race for lieutenant governor, it is the voters who lose. The lack of competition in the market leaves local polling officials little choice and when competitors do try to enter the market, ES&S takes them to court over alleged patent violations and other legal tactics.  ProPublica cites “The Business of Voting ,” PPI’s industry analysis report on the election technology industry in their explanation of the added prohibitive cost of voting machine certification.

  • Professor Ioana Marinescu November 1 Testimony for the House Judiciary Committee Hearing, “Antitrust and Economic Opportunity: Competition in Labor Markets”

    On Tuesday, October 29th, Professor Ioana Marinescu testified before the House Judiciary Committee. Professor Ioana Marinescu is an expert on issues of antitrust in the labor market, her research is summarized in the Wharton PPI issue brief, “The Other Side of a Merger: Labor Market Power, Wage Suppression, and Finding Recourse in Antitrust Law .” In her testimony, she highlighted four points. Employers can suppress wages due to limited competition in the labor market; the majority (60%) of US labor markets are highly concentrated; higher labor market concentration tends to lower wages; and antitrust enforcement in labor markets should be strengthened. Watch Professor Marinescu’s testimony beginning at 1:23:00 in the linked video.