Art Carden  

Recent Reading: Adam Thierer, Permissionless Innovation

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This morning, I read Adam Thierer's Permissionless Innovation, which you can get as a $0 PDF.

From a few discussions in which I've been involved regarding Uber's attempt to enter the Birmingham market, it's clear that the idea of a free market is pretty foreign to people: they assume the government is there and should be there to protect us from a world that is out to take advantage of us.

Alas, as computing power falls and new technologies continue to emerge, regulation won't be able to keep up. That's what I've meant in conversations when I've said that the regulatory framework firms like Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and others in the "Sharing Economy" encounter is obsolete. Paraphrasing Thierer, technology changes exponentially while regulation changes incrementally. By the time new regulations are written to accommodate Uber, Lyft, and other firms, they will almost certainly be inappropriate for the next thing that's coming down the pipe. The most recent Michael Munger/Russ Roberts podcast on "The Sharing Economy" is worth a(nother) listen.

It's fashionable in higher ed to tell people to "question their assumptions." Thierer's book is a step toward helping people question their assumptions about the need for permission from governments when they wish to innovate.

Note: an early version of this post began as a Reddit comment.


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CATEGORIES: Regulation



COMMENTS (3 to date)
Hunter writes:

This quote from Star Trek came to mind as I was reading Permissionless Innovation.

"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid."

Tom West writes:

I suspect that the majority are, to a great extent, willing to use government regulation to make society as close to "under their bed" as possible.

They do not see innovation that doesn't happen, and they're well aware of bloody noses.

And which politician wants to tell the victim that their bloody nose is the price they have to pay for someone else's innovation that may occur in the future?

It's a tough sell, and it's mostly accomplished by lying and pretending innovation has no price.

Art Carden writes:

James Buchanan, I think, called this "parentalism" as opposed to paternalism: seeking government protection from innovation, oneself, etc.

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