Freedom and innovation are keys to Europe’s success

Unleashing free-market force and entrepreneurship is the only way forward for Europe. Instead of mimicking China’s central planning, the West needs to return to the values that initially made it powerful and prosperous: innovation, freedom and entrepreneurship. Only then will it revive its mismanaged economies and boost its global relevance.

Technology is neither good nor bad. It can be used in ways either beneficial or detrimental to society. The innovation process, however, creates fears as many do not sufficiently understand the new products and systems and the advantages they bring. People fear that efficiency- and productivity-boosting technologies will take away their jobs and that no alternative employment will be available. Such anxieties ran very high after electric power, the steam engine and motor cars first appeared. Yet these industrial revolutions had the opposite effect: the unleashing of new forms of energy and machine power ramped up productivity, income and overall prosperity grew. New kinds of economic demand led to new jobs and professions – often in sectors that did not exist before.

Dramatic improvement

Today, a vast majority of the developed world’s population can afford products and services that in the past were reserved only for the superrich. People from all walks of life enjoy manufactured goods that not so long ago did not even exist – be they dishwashers or coffee machines or home movies. The nutritional quality, variety and affordability of foodstuffs have improved dramatically. Medical services have been upgraded far beyond what was even imaginable two generations ago.

All this material wealth was increasing in Europe and the United States – until recently. This growth was driven by free markets, which allowed room for competition and forced businesses to innovate and improve efficiency. The free Western societies rewarded creativity, invention and hard work. The notion of personal responsibility sustained an effective social ecosystem.
In the 19th century and early 20th century, manual work became assisted (and partially substituted) by technical means. Later in the 19th century, communication technologies started with the telegraph and telephone. Broadcasting began soon after.
From the 1960s onward, information technology began to develop at an exponential speed. This brought on radical efficiency increases in the white-collar sector of the economy, especially in research and development.

New dawn

We are now witnessing the dawn of another revolutionary technology of the information era: artificial intelligence and quantum computing. Both will significantly disrupt the way humans work – and, at the same time, open up tremendous new opportunities …

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Freedom and innovation are keys to Europe’s success

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