The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that stem cell methods are not patentable. This is not a particularly exciting piece of news in itself, but I have taken notice because this is yet another example of regulation which I believe is informed by technophobic tendencies. During the first edition of GikII, I gave a presentation which made the point that IP policy can be used to regulate undesired technologies, and that this policy can be shaped by technophobic tendencies in society. According to this hypothesis, societies which are experiencing Luddite resurgence may ban technologies outright, or do so indirectly by removing intellectual property protection. It is my assertion that it is possible to notice these swings in attitudes to technology in the speculative fiction of the era.
I am aware that the ECJ considered other legal issues in their ruling, but I still believe that it may have been informed by the blanket ban on patentability of anything that has the word “human” in front of it. As to whether we are living in a technophobic era, I simply give you the Tea Party, Creationism, and the Daily Mail.