Larry Downes: “How More Regulation for U.S. Tech Could Backfire” (Harvard Business Review)

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If 2017 was the year that tech became a lightning rod for dissatisfaction over everything from the last U.S. presidential election to the possibility of a smartphone-driven dystopia, 2018 already looks to be that much worse. Innovation and its discontents are nothing new, of course, going back at least to the 18th century, when Luddites physically attacked industrial looms. Hostility to the internet appeared the moment the Web became a commercial technology, threatening from the outset to upend traditional businesses and maybe even our deeply-embedded beliefs about family, society, and government. George Mason University’s Adam Thierer, reviewing a resurgence of books about the “existential threat” of disruptive innovation, has detailed what he calls a “techno-panic template” in how we react to disruptive innovations that don’t fit into familiar categories.