a16z Podcast: Making the Case for Permissionless Innovation


The internet as it has evolved in the United States is perhaps the best example of “permissionless innovation” — the idea that you can innovate without first waiting for permission or clearance. And so academics, entrepreneurs, and people took up the internet, developed technologies over it, and in the process created fantastically valuable companies that are now household names around the world.

But such innovation hasn’t happened outside the U.S., argues Adam Thierer — research fellow with the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University — because other regions have reversed the model of “innovate first, regulate later” (or rather, regulate only as necessary and if not already covered by existing laws).

Thierer, who has also authored a book on Permissionless Innovation, joins this segment of the a16z podcast to discuss “technopanic” cycles; emerging areas of interest; and where “best practices” help … or hurt when it comes to soft regulation.