The integration of tangible and virtual elements in cyber-physical systems is growing. Autonomous cars, surgery and rehabilitation robots, smart home appliances, toys, and natural language processors are just a few examples of technologies that increasingly interact with humans in private, professional, or public settings. Public administration and private corporations also use algorithms to automate decision-making processes that affect and condition the life of citizens and users. These systems unleash opportunities that only seemed far-fetched a few years back: they provide the ability to automate, monitor and control infrastructures that are critical to modern life, such as power plants, and production processes; they effectively manage city resources, reducing traffic congestion, pollution or optimizing the air condition; or empower users with reduced mobility in healthcare settings. Robots are present at homes, schools, or care facilities embodied as dolls, companions, customer assistants, pets, or innocent speakers blurring the line between the cyber and the physical world.
Due to the novelty of practices and impacts, the development of technology may bring about unclear rules and areas of legal ambiguity. In other words, there might not be an immediate applicable legal rule or precedent to a particular use or development of technology. The exponential growth of supercomputing power, the ability to store and process large quantities of data and improve the performance of the Internet do not seem to facilitate either way the reaction capacity of society to face the problems arising from the use and development of technology. These factors altogether hinder the identification and addressing of the ethical, legal, and societal issues (ELSI) associated with the use and development of technology by governments and public regulatory bodies, who struggle to catch up with technology (r)evolution.