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Week 5: Our Mannkal intern in Wellington

Hidden Figures

I’ve titled this blog ‘Hidden Figures’ not just because I went to see the film the other day, but because I realised this week that think tanks are the hidden figures pushing for sensible public policy reform.

In my experience working for a politician back home, I’ve never come across a think tank that is as prominent in political discourse as the New Zealand Initiative is here. The Initiative is as genuinely non-partisan as they come, and it’s refreshing to be in an environment where ideas flow so liberally (if you’ll excuse the double entendre).

This week, I’ve continued making head way on the digital regulations report, as well as proof reading the Initiative’s Annual Report.

In terms of digital regulations, I’ve been researching the precautionary principle that usually dictates the way regulators respond to disruptive technologies versus permissionless innovation. Legislators are reactive rather than trying to pre-empt what the negative effects of a technology might be.

The precautionary approach is misguided in that it attempts to engineer regulations based on hypothetical worst-case scenarios, and thereby risks stifling benefits that could not be anticipated before said technology were introduced. Permissionless innovation, by contrast, acknowledges the value failure has in helping us to develop better ways of doing things.

Experimentation is fundamental to innovation and for the continued growth of society. I don’t think paternalism has ever incentivised anything, let alone innovation. Regulators should be wary of their tendency to veer towards the precautionary principle when responding to innovation.

I was treated to another long weekend last week, which I spent travelling to a nearby suburb called Petone, climbing Mount Vic (getting moderately sunburnt in the process), going to the local market to buy all my fruit and veg for the week ($2 strawberries are what I’m about), and walking through the Botanic Gardens.

                                At Mount Victoria Lookout                                Petone Beach

I’ve also started reading The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine in an attempt to better understand the financial crisis of 2007-08.

This weekend I’m hoping for some nice weather so I can explore a few more of the bays we have in Wellington.


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