Rejecting New Technology: A Centuries-Old Tradition

According to Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies by Harvard University professor Calestous Juma, there are eight major reasons why society rejects new technologies—even technologies like coffee and refrigeration. Writing for The Washington Post, Steven Overly explores these eight reasons, among which there are several important lessons for regulators and innovators.

For Juma, resistance to new technologies comes from, among other factors, those with competing commercial interests, those who identify with existing products, those who fear changes to their way of life, and those who might lose power as a result of change.

Additionally, because innovation is often exponential and not linear, governments often fail to appreciate rapid technological advancements and therefore fail to regulate them appropriately. Overly references Uber as an example of government failing to adequately prepare for the rapid expansion and demand for ride-hailing services.

Juma’s observations, as Overly summarizes them, serve as a potent reminder of technology’s rapid transformative power on individual lives. Regulators, unable to properly prepare for future, must increasingly embrace a perspective of permissionless innovation that allows consumers to adopt or reject technology at their own pace.

More Blog Posts

01-11-2019 10:01am

Polling Shows Americans Support the Removal of Troops from Both Syria and Afghanistan

Americans remain unconvinced that the United States has a clear purpose in Afghanistan and would support a presidential decision to remove troops from both Afghanistan and Syria within the year.

Read more

10-16-2018 02:10pm

Sensitizing Stories: Rob Wallace

Rob Wallace, an award-winning producer and senior producer for ABC News and CBS News and an adjunct faculty member for the Media and Journalism Fellowship, recounts his career in film and television.

Read more

10-08-2018 08:10am

Occupational Licensing Reforms Remove Roadblocks

New Mexico’s occupational licensing reform shows how making changes at the state level removes barriers to opportunity, especially for low- and moderate income Americans.

Read more

Sign up for updates