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New Technology

New Technology

Technology continues to advance at a phenomenal rate, bringing with it many advantages and new opportunities for freedom. The internet, for example, has revolutionized the modern world in the domains of business, retail, employment, education, entertainment, networking, just to name a few. 

Over the past two centuries, the range of transport options available has expanded dramatically, from the development of the steam engine, to space travel and the electric car. New technology has contributed significantly to the advancement of individual liberty.

Maximizing the benefits of new technology 

As stated in an article published by the Cato Institute, individuals should always be free to be innovative and create new goods and services to offer the public, whenever, however, and on whatever mutually agreeable terms they decide. 

This applies to technology in exactly the same way as it should in any other market, No individual or organization has any special entitlement or rights over technological goods or telecommunication service. 

In order to achieve the maximum benefits possible from technological advances, it is vital to limit government intervention and regulation. While the technology sector can and must move rapidly, governments and legislators often struggle to adapt to an ever changing environment.

Therefore, governments should respect the basic principles of individual liberty and exercise regulatory restraint. Fear of progress and the unknown can often result in governments passing unnecessary preemptive legislation. 

For example, the 3D printer provoked exaggerated concerns over the printing of weapons and some countries criminalized the possession of blueprints for these 3D printed firearms. An individual in Australia was prosecuted and found guilty for attempting to sell non-viable 3D printed replica guns online. 

Technological advancements can have a particularly significant impact on economic development in less prosperous nations. Knowledge is now more readily available than ever before throughout the world as more people gain access to the internet. 

In developing countries, newly available educational tools can contribute to providing an increasingly skilled workforce, which stimulates economic growth. 

Allowing the technology industry time to self regulate and embracing change rather than stifling it will permit the economy to expand and develop. Policy makers must respect property rights, promote freedom of contract, and avoid restricting freedom of speech.       

Challenges to new technology 

Although governments pose the greatest threat to technological innovation through regulation, this can be exacerbated by pressure from groups lobbying against certain advances. 

Recent years have seen an increased prevalence of anti-tech sentiment and movements, in response to fears, especially surrounding industrial automation and digital dependency. 

Technophobic extremists have participated in attacking several tech factories in France, while taxi drivers have rioted against competition from Uber. However, this backlash against technological advances, instigated by those who feel adversely affected, is nothing new. 

Indeed, there are many precedents for such opposition to progress throughout history, including the Luddites of early 19th century England, who opposed the Industrial Revolution. This is why the name of Neo-Luddites has been recycled to describe modern anti-technology activists. 

In recent years, there has been much controversy and hostility surrounding the use of electric scooters in some cities. Proponents of this new form of transportation highlight its potential to revolutionize urban commuting, offering an environmentally friendly solution to traffic congestion and inefficient public transport. Rental services represent the development of new business opportunities in an innovative sector. 

Opponents, meanwhile, denounce electric scooters as a serious safety hazard and inconvenience to pedestrians. Certain countries, such as the United Kingdom, have effectively prohibited any use of these scooters, while many other countries have heavily restricted their usage. 

Additionally, there have been many issues arising surrounding concerns over digital privacy. This can represent a significant challenge to technological advances within the online business sector. Government legislation can place a prohibitively heavy burden on businesses, who are obliged to adhere to a range of costly and bureaucratic compliance regulations.    

These examples highlight some of the many ways in which government policy can inhibit liberty and thus impede progress. 

Why new technology matters to SFL

At Students For Liberty, we believe in the importance of technological innovation as a means for improving living standards, creating economic growth, and affording new opportunities to advance the cause of liberty. However, in order to maximize the potential of technological advances, it is necessary to defend the rights of innovators from government overreach.  

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