The Luddites’ Veto
…Global cereal production has quadrupled from 740 million metric tons in 1961 to 3 billion tons in 2020. Before 1700, about 300 out of 1,000 infants died before their first birthday; the number is around 30 now. As a result, global average life expectancy has risen from around 30 years to more than 72 years over the same period. Global literacy has increased from roughly 10 percent in 1820 to around 90 percent today. In 1900, no country allowed women to vote; now nearly all do.
All of these positive trends occurred either as a direct result of technological innovation or as a result of the economic development that innovation made possible. Adam Thierer of the R Street Institute calls this a system of “permissionless innovation.” This is, in his words, “the idea that experimentation with new technologies and innovations should generally be permitted by default and that prior restraints on creative activities should be avoided except in those cases where clear and immediate harm is evident.” In other words, innovators engage in trial-and-error experimentation to develop new products and services, whose desirability they then test in the marketplace…
“Fostering innovation requires a certain amount of self-sacrifice,” Thierer and James Broughel of the Mercatus Center wrote in 2019. “Sometimes we must tolerate disruption today for a better world tomorrow.” That is the core truth that the RRI movement refuses to recognize.