Matt Ridley on the Freedom to Experiment and Try New Things

by on May 17, 2020 · 0 comments

Matt RidleyThere are few things more exciting to innovation policy geeks that than the week a new Matt Ridley book drops. Thankfully, that time is upon us once again. This week, Ridley’s latest book, How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom, is being released. I can’t wait to dig in.

This weekend, the Wall Street Journal published an essay condensed from the book entitled, “Innovation Can’t Be Forced, but It Can Be Quashed.” Here are some of the highlights from Ridley’s piece:

Innovation relies upon freedom to experiment and try new things, which requires sensible regulation that is permissive, encouraging and quick to give decisions. By far the surest way to rediscover rapid economic growth when the pandemic is over will be to study the regulatory delays and hurdles that have now been hastily swept aside to help innovators in medical devices and therapies, and to see whether such reforms could be applied to other parts of the economy too.

Dealing with Covid-19 has forcibly reminded governments of the value of innovation. But if we are to get faster vaccines and treatments—and better still, more innovation across all fields in the future—then innovators need to be freed from the shackles that hold them back.

These are crucial point, and ones I discuss in the launch essay and the afterward of my new book, Evasive Entrepreneurs and the Future of Governance. Alas, as I pointed out in that launch essay and my last book on Permissionless Innovation, a great many barriers stand in the way of the freedom to experiment and try new things. As Ridley points out:

There is nothing new about resistance to innovation. […] Incumbent vested interests, overcautious regulators, opportunistic activists and rent-seeking patent holders combine to oppose or delay almost every innovation.

And that’s a real shame because, Ridley correctly concludes, “It turns out that continuous tinkering to develop and refine a better product is much more important than protecting what you’ve already created.”

Spot on. Head over to the Wall Street Journal to read the entire thing and then go order a copy of Ridley’s new book. He’s one of the most important living defenders of technological innovation and human progress. His work has had a huge influence on my way of thinking about innovation, science, and technology. Thank you Matt!



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