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Adam Thierer

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Much of the progress in technology today has come about as a result of innovators who did not seek prior approval from regulatory bodies and such. Yet, even with the beneficial results from innovations like the commercial Internet, mobile technologies, and social networks, a disposition exists to be overly cautious with respect to new things.  Adam Thierer calls this the “precautionary principle” in his new book Permissionless Innovation: The Continuing Case for Comprehensive Technological Freedom (Mercatus Center, 2014). The "precautionary principle"–which, Thierer argues, is based on fear and concern about loss of control–limits the creativity inherent in unfettered tinkering. In contrast, Thierer advocates “permissionless innovation,” an attitude that would allow experimentation to continue without hinderance. Of course does not mean that there is no use for policies for new technology, as some developments require regulation. Policymakers should, however, take a “wait and see” approach to setting rules for innovative products.

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