The U.S. Congress is only now begrudgingly considering what to do with self-driving cars. Don’t smile too much. Most of you are aware that deciding who is responsible in case of a fatal collision is not a piece of cake (lines of code won’t repay the families’ victim or spend time behind bars).
So, on the one hand, this is a famous story on how innovation is about changing the social order and not about inventing technologies. On the other hand, this is also a story about the innovator’s dilemma. The Congress doesn’t want to go there until American incumbent automakers are ready to embrace this shift themselves (remember my previous post on how Biden doesn’t talk about Tesla?). The message is, “We embrace the technological disruption of our societies if workers unions don’t have to adapt to anything new, and the billionaires funding our parties feel they can profit on this within a few months.”
Europe is in an even larger pickle on this one. The political decision-making is too fragmented to allow for any disruptive decision-making; getting from 50km/h to 30km/h in urban centers is already quite a struggle. Again, preserving incumbents is of utmost importance.
That being said, some countries do better and leverage national regulations and policies to attract innovators:
Finland has made Helsinki an innovation hotbed on mobility by strategically deregulating to experiment with autonomous vehicles, attracting many high-profile startups and larger companies.
Estonia invested massively in digitizing its government, and the administration opened up its immigration policies with a digital nomad visa allowing most foreign workers to legally work for their employer or their own company registered abroad.
Singapore authorized the commercialization of chicken lab-grown meat, aiming for 30% food autarky within 2030.
How Europe could leverage at scale new regulations to solve its innovator’s dilemma and open up a +450m people market to the future might be the most crucial discussion we’ll ever have about innovation.