Digital is dead, long live digital!

BY Christian Borggreen
February 25, 2015

We are in the midst of a major paradigm shift in which our societies have become ever more digitized.  In consequence, we can no longer consider “digital” a separate phenomenon that must be addressed differently by policy-makers.  Instead, we must embrace digital to obtain all benefits from this historic Internet opportunity.

Have you ever asked yourself when you stopped posting letters or buying your newspapers, CDs, and books in an actual store?  Yes, we have been told for a few decades now that digital would revolutionize our societies.  And now it is really happening.  This major shift creates new industries, new jobs, and fantastic new services.

Sometimes the accompanying technological disruption hits us unprepared.  Overly protected industries, sometimes with close ties to governments, often seem to be the least prepared.   The knee-jerk reaction is often a desperate call to regulate their new digital competitor.  We have seen this in transportation, taxation, online platforms and accommodation and we will see more of that as other sectors go digital.  Sometimes loud minorities of tech-afraids or entrenched businesses try to persuade us that this digital change is something alien that governments must keep out.

While there surely are legitimate questions to be considered, we must resist the temptation to just protect the old.  As we consider how to embrace this shift, be that at European, OECD or beyond, we must be careful not to put in place regulation targeted at disruptive digital technologies.  We should refrain from creating new roadblocks to protect the industries of yesterday at the expense of the industries of tomorrow.

The good news is that we now have a pretty good understanding of the digitalisation process.  We can prepare our societies and shape our adaption to fully reap the benefits of the Internet, in accordance with our values and policy goals.

In conclusion:  We are in the midst of paradigm shift in which our societies are becoming increasingly digital.  We must resist the temptation to self-handicapping ourselves by putting in place protectionist anti-technology legislation.  Instead decision makers should embrace digital to ensure we reap the full benefits of the Internet opportunity.

“Digital is dead, long live digital!”

 

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