Technological innovation is the wellspring of social and economic progress. Despite this, a growing array of interests—some economic, some ideological—now stand resolutely in opposition to innovation. These “neo-Luddites” have worked to convince the public and policymakers that technological innovation is something to be feared and contained. Their targets include genetically modified organisms, new Internet apps, smart electric meters, health IT, big data, and increasingly productivity itself. And if these advocates are successful Americans will suffer in the form of lower quality of life and reduced societal growth.
To highlight the worst neo-Luddite ideas of the year and the negative impacts they could cause, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation is releasing a new report presenting its first annual Luddite Awards. It recognizes the ten organizations and or individuals that have done the most in 2014 to smash the engines of innovation. ITIF is also asking the public to vote on which of the ten nominations is the worst Luddite idea of the year. The “winner” will be announced on February 5.
“The central challenge of our time is the need to rapidly increase living standards and quality of life for all of the world’s citizens,” says Robert Atkinson, President of ITIF and author of the report. “Innovation and technological development are absolutely essential to achieving this goal, but increasingly interests are uniting to thwart technology at every corner. By highlighting the most egregious examples of these efforts we hope to better educate the public and policy makers on why Luddite opposition is profoundly mistaken.”
The ten Luddite nominees are:
-The National Rifle Association’s Opposition to Smart Guns
-The Vermont Legislature Passes Law Requiring GMO Food Labeling
-Arizona, Michigan, New Jersey, and Texas Take Action to Prevent Tesla From Opening Stores to Sell Cars Directly to Consumers
-The French Government Stops Amazon From Providing Free Shipping on Books
-“Stop Smart Meters” Seeks To Stop Smart Innovation in Meters and Cars
-Free Press Lobbies for Rules to Stop Innovation in Broadband Networks
-New York State Cracks Down on Airbnb and its Hosts
-Virginia and Nevada Take on Ride Share
-The Media and Pundits Claiming That “Robots” Are Killing Jobs
-The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Opposition to Health IT