End bad regulations, make good onesThe steam car invented in the United Kingdom in 1826 threatened the existence of coachmen. In 1865, the Red Flag Act was legislated as the horsemen’ petition was granted. Vehicles had to be accompanied by a walking man holding a red flag and drive slower than horse-drawn carriages. The law was in effect until 1896 and became the cause of the British automobile industry falling behind that of Germany and other rivals.
German legal philosopher Gustav Radbruch said that laws exist to provide stability to the society. Scientific technology constantly pursues new things and is bound to clash with the law. However, the speed of innovation is the key in global competition today, and we need to review whether Korea’s laws and regulations are outdated like the Red Flag Act in the 19th century.
It has been featured in media that regulations exist without guidelines in key industries of the future, such as drones, self-drive vehicle, genetic scissors, cord blood stem cell, and researches are conducted in other countries to avoid regulatory restrictions in Korea. Diagnostic technology of various diseases and illnesses can become more useful when combined with remote medical services, but commercial use is progressing slowly due to related laws. Companies like Uber that pioneer new industries have a hard time finding business opportunities due to tight regulations for now.
We need to prepare countermeasures. The Fourth Industrial Revolution Committee is to be launched soon, and it should establish a system to discuss related laws and regulations comprehensively. It should chase two hares at once, social stability and acceleration of innovation. We need a testbed to discuss and experiment the impact of new technologies on our society by bringing researchers, entrepreneurs, innovators and legal experts together. For coexistence of social stability and technological innovation, their experiences and trial and error should be shared to overcome the limits of reality.
We need the wisdom to identify bad regulations and make good regulations to boost innovation.
*President of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology