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11 years ago, the idea of a smartphone application was incomprehensible, let alone a specialized app that could connect you to a driver for just a few bucks. Now, a decade later, we find ourselves in a technology economy with thousands of smartphone brands, millions of apps, and businesses who are innovating and evolving with technology every day.
Emerging technologies are transforming our lives and businesses are applying them creatively. For example, many finance companies use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect fraudulent transactions. Drones are being deployed to inspect railway tracks, improve efficiency in agriculture, and monitor damaged power lines. And self-driving cars will one day make our roads safer for all passengers. These technological boons span society: 68 percent of American voters say technology will make their communities operate better
However, while emerging technologies hold great potential, they are often misunderstood by consumers and government leaders alike. Advances in technology inherently challenge the status quo – which can drive policymakers to address concerns through prohibitive regulations.
The U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC) addressed these challenges recently during a conversation in San Francisco with TheBridge and Dcode42. All of our organizations exist in part to bridge the gap between those who develop technology and those who develop the policies that govern technology. During the conversation, we heard from Eric and Wendy Schmidt Group (EWSG) Senior Advisor Tom Kalil, Bloomberg Beta Partner James Cham, and Everlaw Director of Policy and Compliance Lisa Hawke (the full conversation can be viewed here).
We need to ensure that government leaders understand the effects regulation can have on the development of new technologies. Often due to misunderstanding, government leaders can be prone to knee-jerk reactions that stifle emerging technologies.
Take efforts to regulate self-driving cars and drones, for example. These technologies still have a long way to go before they become part of our daily routines, yet some policymakers think we should shape their development through preventive rules and regulations.
Instead, we should encourage an open environment to allow for technology to grow and develop without the burdens of regulations. Government leaders should incentivize curiosity and innovation through support for research and development, and they should be aware of the potential impacts technology may have on the American economy and workforce.
Technology is a core business issue that affects businesses of all shapes and sizes, and its transformative power can help all businesses grow. 39 percent of American voters believe that technology is the industry that will create the most jobs over the next 10 years. Rational policy approaches to technology can drive economic growth, spur innovation, and create jobs. We shouldn’t get in the way of innovation.