Category Archives: MPhil in Technology Policy

Week 8 on the Tech Antitrust Paradox

Last week, many of you raised a diverse set of technologies that might disrupt including VR, 3D printing, gene drives, drone swarms and meatless meat.  The question, of course, is not just how technology can disrupt, but whether firms and institutions can act to facilitate or impede that disruption.

For example, this week’s Economist raises the question of whether big technology firms are a ‘friend or foe of competition’.  Apart from a litany of (often contradictory) complaints about the problems of tech giants, they acknowledge the growing potential for malign effects on competition.  They offer four possible solutions: (i) Break them up; (ii) Regulate them as utilities; (iii) Rely on ‘people power’ or customer unions; and (iv) encourage competition through mandatory licensing and other IP sharing.

At the same time, there are also arguments for Big Tech acting as a disruptive force that can benefits markets and consumers.  Much of the discussion in our last lecture of TP1 focuses on competition within the conventional bounds of a given industry (e.g., large firms seeking to gain advantage over smaller rivals and enhance their market power).  But there also exists the potential for non-traditional firms to enter these sectors.  The irony (or paradox in the Economist’s view) is that even as tech firms become more entrenched in their domains and difficult to dislodge in platform markets they also provide competition and innovation in other markets as diverse as automobiles, drug-distribution, cable television and operating systems.

So that leaves us with a final set of questions for the term:

Do the benefits from tech firms fostering competition in other markets outweigh the threats from the dominance of such large actors in key tech sectors?

Do we need a more radical approach or incremental change to competition policy in a world dominated by large tech firms?

Is the main driver of future disruption found in the tech firms or the technologies themselves or some combination?

Are the main sources of competition and future challenges to incumbents found from within an industry or from without?

Returning to this week’s theme, to what extent can firms use regulatory competition to gain an advantage?

As always, try to find good examples in your country or sector of interest.

Week 7 on Anticipating Disruption

There are, of course, many reasons to engage in technological foresight including firms seeking competitive intelligence, countries looking to improve their international competitiveness or research agencies looking to invest in the most promising technologies of the future.  One of the obvious reasons to consider employing any of the various foresight mechanisms is to anticipate andContinue Reading

Week 6 on Bad Policy

Political debates and the media play important roles not just in driving high-level goals and shaping discourse in different areas but in having an impact on policy design and implementation. While this might help in legitimating policy, public attention can often focus on outliers or spurious data and lead to efforts to bypass existing mechanismsContinue Reading

Week 5 on Market Failures

One of the dangers of using words like ‘market failure’ and ‘moral hazard’ is that terms can be bandied about in a quite flippant or fuzzy manner.  Having started to some research into concerns that negative emissions may lead to ‘moral hazard’, it became to me clear that many authors were simply using the term toContinue Reading

Week 4 on Patents

Since Christos just covered patents in TP2 and we touched on it in Lecture 1 of TP1 (and will be briefly returning to the subject next week), I thought this seemed like a worthy topic for discussion, particularly if we can give it an ‘institutions’ spin. The main question for this is whether the existingContinue Reading

Week 3 On Transitions

Transitions can be difficult.  The speed, scale and scope of the transformation being proposed for trajectories consistent with 1.5 °C in the recent IPCC Special Report (or even for a 2 °C target) are daunting, almost unimaginable.  In large part, skepticism is driven by the unprecedented nature of the change, which is seen as divergingContinue Reading

Week 2 Endogenous Growth Theory, Technology Policy and the Quest for Ideas

This post was suggested by my colleague Christos Genakos. Paul Romer recently was awarded the Nobel memorial prize in Economics for his work on endogenous growth theory (shared with Bill Nordhaus who conducted early work on the economics of climate policy).  For some additional background see Romer’s excellent website or recent articles from the WEFContinue Reading

Week 1 Global Competition over Leadership in AI

We discussed national competitiveness in R&D in our first lecture, which reminded me of a recent article in the Economist (and associated leader), which raises the question of whether Europe can claim a place in global leadership in Artificial Intelligence, which is currently dominated by the United States and China.   Several countries have independently soughtContinue Reading

Week 0 – Book Review

As a first effort at blogging on technology policy, I thought it would help to reflect on your favourite (or least favourite or most memorable) book that you read in the past year.  Ideally, this would be from the 2018-19 Tech Pol Summer reading list, but you are welcome to offer any appropriate book. Rather than emphasising engagement for this week before fullContinue Reading

Welcomes and some initial logistics for our Technology Policy blog

Welcome to our Technology Policy Blog for the new academic year.   I will be teaching Introduction to Technology Policy.(and the Negotiations elective) this term as well as acting as ‘keeper of the blog’.  I am back after a sabbatical last year and ready for a new academic year of blogging.  In the past, we’ve onlyContinue Reading

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