At the Niskanen Center, we believe innovation and technological progress are driving forces for economic growth, individual empowerment, and the betterment of humankind. But technological progress is never a foregone conclusion. A policy landscape that promotes regulatory forbearance and a healthy tolerance of disruption and innovation are key to ensuring economic growth and a flourishing ecosystem of opportunity.

Our goal is to promote that ecosystem with a focus on the next major battlefields in technology and innovation policy: artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, drones, the Internet of Things, and the ongoing commercialization of space.

We believe that pessimism and fear-mongering over robots taking our jobs, artificial intelligence, and an increasingly interconnected world should not be the focal point for policy debates. Instead, policymakers should weigh potential benefits against real, knowable costs associated with emerging technologies. Stoking fears over hypothetical harms, and couching the rhetoric in apocalyptic terms, doesn’t spawn good policy. Instead, debates over new and innovative goods and services should focus on how we can maximize benefits, minimize costs, and tear down barriers for future innovators and entrepreneurs.

A dynamic economy and society are only possible if we embrace an optimistic disposition towards the future. Tolerating dissent, embracing a culture of experimentation, and investing trust in our fellow citizens are crucial to realizing a future of abundant possibilities. Such an ecosystem, however, requires more than just regulatory forbearance: it requires a wholehearted embrace of free speech. To that end, government policies that favor a maximalist approach to surveillance do more than simply violate the civil liberties of average Americans—they reduce the potential for opportunity and economic growth.

By embracing techno-optimism and political pragmatism, we can ensure that innovation continues to flourish.


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