In a recent statement, billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma expressed his worries about tech regulation in Europe. “Everything they do is full of rules and laws. And everything they think about, they start to worry,” he said at Viva Technology conference in Paris. Ma also said this is the reason why Europe has fallen behind when it comes to tech advancements. The region has not produced any large tech firms, unlike the United States and China. Instead, Europe is leading the way when it comes to regulating large tech companies, particularly those who are developing AI-based solutions. Ma said that instead of blocking technological advancements like AI, the technology should be more widely used to detect cheating or fraud in financial transactions. He noted that the technology revolution is not the problem.
“The only thing is your mentality. If the mentality is now a worry, you’ll worry all the time.” Jack Ma
BeinCrypto reports that Ma openly questioned the EU’s political leanings when it came to define and articulate ethical guidelines for the development and usage of technology. According to Ma, the social regulations by the European Union could impede technological development. “Capitalist models focus on the ability for companies to innovate free of government regulation. On the contrary, socialist models rely on government regulation and infrastructure to facilitate innovative developments,” Ma said.
This drive to regulate tech companies led to the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA) having been established earlier this year. The governing body involves some of the top companies from the blockchain industry and is looking at how to integrate technologies like blockchain in Europe. A drive that slightly undermines Ma’s claims that Europe is blocking tech firms.
However, some countries aren’t waiting around for the EU to produce its set of regulations. Italy is currently looking to become the first country in the world to regulate blockchain in order to promote its use, particularly when it comes to smart contracts. Coin Idol explains that the Simplification Decree was established to give blockchain tech a full legal value in the country. The decree was released in the Senate and Parliament earlier this year.
One reason for this is that the country experienced a €10-billion-euro loss last year because of cybercrime, fraud, and illegal activities associated with cryptocurrency. The Italian government hopes that smart contracts will be able to prevent this from happening again. Creating a smart contract on blockchain gives it an electronic time validation. This will improve its security by making it difficult for anyone to change the data, even it has been shared by a multitude of computers. FXCM describes how smart contracts can eliminate middlemen, which makes it harder for hackers and third parties to access the information. It is this added security that is making smart contracts popular in Italy and why they are leading the way in blockchain regulation.
While Europe may be behind in developing blockchain, the need for blockchain experts across the globe is increasing. Year-over-year, growth for blockchain skills has exceeded 2,000%. In fact, investor interest in blockchain-based startups and products has increased significantly since 2017. Experts predict that by 2020, blockchain investment will reach an all-time high.
There’s no denying that blockchain and other similar technological advancements are here to stay. The question is whether Europe will be at the forefront of these developments or lagging behind as Ma suggests.
What’s your take on this? Do you believe that heavy tech regulation in Europe is an impediment to the advanced tech evolution or, vice versa, an opportunity to make more ethical and better use of blockchain and semantic web?