State Legislature Votes to Embrace New Technology


March 23, 2018 12:44PM

It’s generally understood that governments don’t evolve as fast as technology. Even worse, some governments blatantly ignore or try to suppress technological advancements. Just take the Metro Nashville government advocating for utilizing old technology to try and fix traffic congestion or banning certain types of home sharing opportunities for example. Nashville is not alone, however, as cities for years have tried to regulate, tax or even ban Uber and similar ride-sharing companies from operating. These and other “gig” platforms serve as a great example of the free market, providing a better service, and more importantly, an opportunity for those looking for extra income.

With this kind of track record, it sure is refreshing when a government embraces technology and allows it to develop. Luckily, the Tennessee state legislature has done just that. Last week, the General Assembly voted to allow smart contracts based on blockchain technology to be valid contracts under state law and signatures secured through blockchain to be considered valid electronic signatures.  Blockchain technology is pretty complicated but this law essentially gives legal status to contracts that are signed with this technological advancement.

While there are many that have questions about the value or staying power of Bitcoin, Etherum and other blockchain-based assets, few doubt the future implications of blockchain technology on the economy and society. From medical records, banking, human resources to even voting, some believe blockchain could have ramifications not seen in decades.

Whether or not this turns out to be true is beside the point. The important aspect is that governments should stay out of the way of developers and encourage innovation.  One of the most remarkable events in recent history was the creation of the Internet. What was more remarkable was that it went virtually unregulated for decades, changing the economy and modern life as we know it. Whatever that next transformational technology is, whether it’s blockchain, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles or something else, governments should resist the urge to regulate or hamper it and instead seek to encourage and adopt it in order to provide better more efficient services. Now if we could just get Nashville to learn that.