As part of our European Tech Policy Primer, our Managing Partner Ton shared some of his reflections based on his industry experience and the input from our distinguished speakers. The driverto organise this Primer in close partnership with the US Embassy and CTA was to bring togetherfrontrunners from both government and businessesto stimulate the much needed debate to make European and domestic technology policies fit for the future.
We require governments andpoliticianstosetoutthe boundariesandwork out the core principles for our society. Businesses, start-ups and universitiesshouldbring us innovation. The challenge isthatgovernments and tech companies are different beasts anddon’t naturally understand each other. Another challenge is that nobody knows in advance where technology will be heading. This simply means that weareall still exploring and none of ushave all the answersor solutions yet. Trying to understand each other is key to be able to move forward in the technology debate.
However,in practicewe oftenseethatregulation takes placeson the basis of incidentsrather than strategies, which isn’t beneficialtoreachour full innovation potential.Politicians and governmentscan stimulate this by providing principle-basedguidelines with room for experimentation. Tech companies should take a role by means of getting involved in the policymaking process earlier and bydeveloping the narrative on how their technologies workand taking others into consideration when rolling out their innovations.If we don’t leave room for experimentation, and sometimes insightful failures, there will simply not be enough innovation. This is also a choice.
We are not going to move forward if we want all innovations to fit into the existing policy frameworks.So,we shouldbeactivelyopen to change. Hence, it’s of the upmost importance that we find ways to involve innovators, challengersanddisruptorsin policymaking processes. Thesenew players do not necessarilyfit intothe existing mold. Therefore we need to put extra effort in to reaching them and getthem to take part in the conversation in order tomake surethatsociety as a whole benefits fromtheirinnovation. And we know from experience that thereare many individualson their sidewith astrong desire to contribute to the greater good andaprosperous futurefor all.
We strongly believe thatwe should innovateresponsiblywith respect for fundamental human rights. However, the speed at which we do this is also critical.While dialogue is essential, it is not the objective: it should lead to outcomes.Aninteresting example is the introduction of the digital signature already years ago:in the Netherlandswe had extensive debates about all possiblepolicyaspectsandit took us8 yearsto come up with apolicy frameworkand make it work in practice.The same policydevelopment tookSingapore 2 years.
If we need four times longer to embed innovations into our society,than we run the risk that the future will not be decided by us, but by others who have moved much faster.Let’scherish ourdebateand democraticprocesses,butlet’s also make choicesat one pointand move forward.We might have it wrong every now and then, but the biggest risk we see thatwe’ll be overtaken left, right and centre whilst we're still locked in debate.
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