'Regulation' is the antigen to fuel adoption.

1920s Prohibition.

1920s Prohibition.

Technological terraforming is awesome to watch. Super processors, cloud, blockchain and cheap money resulting from quantitative easing are perhaps the key sources of terraforming fuel.

At the same time, central banks have proven they can no longer control inflation and millennials have proven that autonomous transport, AI and blockchain can cut out a range of middlemen.

This is all yet to be scaled, and for scaling to work a number of barriers must be removed. Some of these are technological, but others go to a lack of credibility, safety and accessibility and point to a lack of balanced regulation.

I mention this now because today's headlines illustrate how bad we are at finding the right balance when it comes to regulation.

Too much and the relevant authority stands on the throat of progress. Too little and people die, or they have their identities compromised or stolen.

Here are a few examples, all taken from today's 'most read' list from Bloomberg.

1.  "Uber halts Autonomous Car Tests After Fatal Crash in Arizona"

Tragic outcome and we pray for those left behind. Technologically, a headwind. But the ripple effect is not just technological, a scary comment made by law enforcement posed that charges against the human 'backup' driver of that taxi should not yet be ruled out. More uncertainty and risk.

2. "Apple is Secretly Developing Its Own Screens for the First Time"  

This is not really about whether Apple should be a manufacturer, it is about Oled and given Samsung's interest it will most likely ripple into questions about IP ownership, another form of regulation where the balance may or may not be right. Uncertainty and risk.

3. "Stocks Slump as Facebook Hits Tech: Bonds Recover: Market Wrap"

This is about the Facebook privacy scandal with Cambridge Analytica and the 270,000 paid personality test sign-ups through Facebook that reportedly resulted in 50 million friends' data being exposed, without their consent. 

Not in the 'most read' as it's now old news, but the poster boy for uber-regulation via protectionism - the US steel and aluminium tariffs. I recently wrote about this blunt instrument favoured by President Trump.

In another recent move, President Trump has issued an executive order to ban Venezuela's oil reserve-backed national cryptocurrency by making it unlawful for it to be bought by US citizens, or by anyone residing inside a US territory.

Rightly or wrongly, these are forms of prohibition which will incentivise the rise of the modern-day speakeasy.

Whether we are talking about social, legal, political, fiscal/tax, environmental or other regulation for autonomous vehicles, drones, cryptocurrencies, private crowdfunding, robots, trade or anything else - the right balance needs to be struck so there can be viability and progress with acceptable levels of trust, safety and security.

What good is a theoretically 'trustless' public block chain, autonomous vehicle or drone if unregulated actors can't be trusted or held accountable; or if the legal system and insurers can't decide on 'fault'?

For that matter, regulation by exchanges, commissions, tax authorities and governments also need to be clear - not an easy challenge.

Why? Because the issue is social, biological, legal, philosophical, financial, environmental and global.

So, if this causes some pause for discussion and some cleansing of the 'old' in the great scheme of the global transformation, so be it, and bring it on.

Looked at in a different way, regulation may be the antigen needed to promote the health and abundance of people, along with some of the most exciting innovations we have witnessed thus far.

Mike


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