Do you need permission to innovate?
“Permissionless innovation”—the general freedom to experiment with new technologies and business models—has been the secret sauce that fueled the success of the Internet and the digital economy, and it is set to power the next great industrial revolution—if we let it.
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About the book
What policy vision will govern the future of technological innovation? 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?
In Permissionless Innovation: The Continuing Case for Comprehensive Technological Freedom, Adam Thierer argues that if the former disposition (“the precautionary principle”) trumps the latter (“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.
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.
About the Author
Adam Thierer is a senior research fellow with the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. His writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Forbes, and he contributes to The Technology Liberation Front, a leading tech policy blog.
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- I. Introduction: Why Permissionless Innovation Matters
- II. Saving Progress from the Technocrats
III. What Prompts Precautionary Thinking and Policy Today
- IV. Taking Adaptation Seriously
- V. Preserving Permissionless Innovation: Principles of Progress
VI. Conclusion: It’s about Freedom, Progress, and Prosperity
Adam Thierer discusses the major themes from Permissionless Innovation
Research & Essays on Topics in Permissionless Innovation
- Mercatus filing to the Federal Trade Commission, “The Sharing Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators” (with Christopher Koopman & Matthew Mitchell, Adam Thierer), May 26, 2015
- Mercatus working paper, “How the Internet, the Sharing Economy, and Reputational Feedback Mechanisms Solve the “Lemons Problem’” (with Christopher Koopman, Anne Hobson, Chris Kuiper), May 26, 2015
- Mercatus working paper, “The Sharing Economy and Consumer Protection Regulation: The Case for Policy Change” (with Christopher Koopman & Matthew Mitchell, Adam Thierer), December 8, 2014
- Adam Thierer, “Embracing a Culture of Permissionless Innovation” (Cato Online Forum, Cato Institute, Washington, DC), November 2014.
- Mercatus working paper, “The Internet of Things and Wearable Technology: Addressing Privacy and Security Concerns without Derailing Innovation” (November 2014)
- Adam Thierer summarized the major themes and conclusions of the book in his Medium essay, “Why Permissionless Innovation Matters” (4/24/14), as well as follow-up essays on “How We Learn to Cope with Technological Change” (6/30/14), and “Problems with Precautionary Principle-Minded Tech Regulation & a Federal Robotics Commission” (9/22/14).
- Adam Thierer slide presentation for Capitol Hill staffers on “Permissionless Innovation & the Grand Tech Policy Clash of Visions to Come” (6/6/14).
- Mercatus working paper, “Removing Roadblocks to Intelligent Vehicles and Driverless Cars,”(with Ryan Hagemann), September 17, 2014.
- Adam Thierer slide presentation delivered at the Federal Communications Commission on “The Internet of Things & Wearable Technology: Addressing Privacy & Security Concerns without Derailing Innovation” (9/11/14)
- Filing to the Federal Trade Commission on “Privacy and Security Implications of the Internet of Things,” (5/31/13).
- Filing to the Federal Aviation Administration on drones and model aircraft regulation, (with Ryan Hagemann), September 23, 2014.
- Filing to the Federal Aviation Administration on integration of drones into national airspace system, (with Jerry Brito & Eli Dourado), April 23, 2013.
- Law review article: “Technopanics, Threat Inflation, and the Danger of an Information Technology Precautionary Principle,” Minnesota Journal of Law, Science and Technology, (Winter 2013).
- Law review article: “Privacy Law's Precautionary Principle Problem,” Maine Law Review, (2014).
Adam Thierer discusses the sharing economy at FTC workshop
Adam Thierer speech to Capitol Hill staff on “What Drives Innovation: Permission or Freedom?”
Adam Thierer slide presentation on “Permissionless Innovation & the Grand Tech Policy Clash of Visions to Come”
Adam Thierer discusses private drones & Permissionless Innovation on Stossel show
Adam Thierer discusses ridesharing & Permissionless Innovation on Stossel show