April 19, 2016

Permissionless Innovation & the Clash of Visions over Emerging Technologies | Adam Thierer

Adam Thierer

Former Senior Research Fellow

Technological innovation has exploded over the last two decades—from the invention of the Internet to smartphone technology to ridesharing. Policymakers face new challenges to approaching the innovations of tomorrow as they consider the acceptable level of risk while allowing entrepreneurs to flourish. Will innovators be forced to constantly seek the blessing of public officials before they develop and deploy new devices and services, or will they be generally left free to experiment with new technologies and business models?

Adam Thierer, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, discusses these questions and the ideas in the expanded edition of his book, Permissionless Innovation. 

When public policy is shaped by “precautionary principle” reasoning, it poses a serious threat to technological progress, economic entrepreneurialism, and long-run prosperity. By contrast, “permissionless innovation” has been the secret sauce that fueled the success of the Internet and much of the modern tech economy in recent years, and it is set to power the next great industrial revolution—if we let it.

Permissionless Innovation argues that if policymakers follow the “precautionary principle” over “permissionless innovation,” the result will be fewer services, lower-quality goods, higher prices, diminished economic growth, and a decline in the overall standard of living.