Matthias Oesterle/ Getty Images

Innovatie en het verzet daartegen

CAMBRIDGE – Technologische innovatie wordt dikwijls de hemel in geprezen vanwege haar kracht om grote uitdagingen op het gebied van de ontwikkeling te overwinnen, de economische groei aan te jagen en samenlevingen vooruit te helpen. Toch worden innovaties vaak geconfronteerd met hoge barrières bij hun tenuitvoerlegging, waarbij overheden de nieuwe technologieën soms regelrecht in de ban doen – zelfs de technologieën die voor verreikende voordelen kunnen zorgen.

Neem de drukpers. De nieuwe technologie was een godsgeschenk voor de wereldreligies, die plotseling de beschikking kregen over een zeer efficiënte manier van het reproduceren en verspreiden van heilige teksten. Toch heeft het Ottomaanse Rijk het drukken van de Koran bijna vierhonderd jaar lang verboden. In 1515 zou Sultan Selim I hebben gezegd dat “op het zich bezighouden met de wetenschap van het drukken de doodstraf staat.”

Waarom zou je je tegen zo'n weldadige technologie verzetten? Zoals ik betoog in mijn boek Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies, is het antwoord niet eenvoudigweg dat mensen bang zijn voor het onbekende. De weerstand tegen technologische vooruitgang is doorgaans geworteld in de angst dat ontwrichting van de status quo kan leiden tot verlies van werkgelegenheid, inkomen, macht en identiteit. Overheden komen uiteindelijk vaak tot de conclusie dat het makkelijker is een nieuwe technologie te verbieden dan zich eraan aan te passen.

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