How should disruptive innovations be handled in a rapidly changing world? 

Innovators of all stripes—such as Airbnb and Uber—are increasingly using new technological capabilities to circumvent traditional regulatory systems, or at least put pressure on public policymakers to reform laws and regulations that are outmoded, inefficient, or illogical. Disruptive innovators are emerging in other fields, too, using technologies as wide‐​ranging as 3D printers, drones, driverless cars, Bitcoin and blockchain, virtual reality, the “Internet of Things,” and more. Some of these innovators just love to tinker. Others want to change the world with new life‐​enriching products. And many more are just looking to earn a living and support their families. Regardless of why they are doing it, these evasive entrepreneurs— innovators who don’t always conform to social or legal norms—are changing the world and challenging their governments.

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Praise for the book

“Adam Thierer provides an important new way of reframing the debate around ‘permissionless innovation,’ with lessons for business, regulators, and everyone concerned with a fair and prosperous future.”
—Virginia Postrel, author and columnist

“Blending real‐​life examples with the theories of social science, Thierer shows why ‘freedom to innovate is a moral imperative’ both for individuals and society at large. If humanity is to have any future at all, it must be along the lines Thierer lays down in this book.”
— Timothy Sandefur, vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute

“Thierer presents a bold and new concept that will disrupt how society manages disruptive technologies.”
— Gary Marchant, professor of law at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

“In his hopeful new Evasive Entrepreneurs and the Future of Governance, Adam Thierer boldly argues that when onerous regulations persist, innovators can and should escape.”
— Arthur M. Diamond, Jr., professor of economics at the University of Nebraska–Omaha

“Adam Thierer bravely takes up arms against a sea of anti‐​technology histrionics, reminding us that the benefits of permissionless innovation far outweigh the costs.”
— Larry Downes, New York Times best‐​selling author

What policy vision will govern the future of technological innovation?

adamcoverjpeg.jpgWill innovators be forced to seek the blessing of public officials before they develop and deploy new devices and services, or will they be generally left free to experiment with new technologies and business models?

In this book, Adam Thierer argues that if the former disposition, “the precautionary principle,” trumps the latter, “permissionless innovation,” the result will be fewer services, lower-quality goods, higher prices, diminished economic growth, and a decline in the overall standard of living.

When public policy is shaped by “precautionary principle” reasoning, it poses a serious threat to technological progress, economic entrepreneurialism, and long-run prosperity. By contrast, permissionless innovation has fueled the success of the Internet and much of the modern tech economy in recent years, and it is set to power the next great industrial revolution—if we let it.

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Praise for the First Edition

“What has made the Internet revolutionary is that it’s permissionless. No one had to get approval from Washington or city hall to offer Google searches, Facebook profiles, or Apple apps, as Adam Thierer of George Mason University notes in his new book, Permissionless Innovation. A bipartisan consensus in the 1990s led Washington to allow commercial development of the Internet without onerous regulations. Unlike the earlier telecommunications and broadcasting industries, Internet entrepreneurs didn’t need licenses to proceed, just good ideas.”

—L. Gordon Crovitz, Wall Street Journal

“In its brevity, Permissionless Innovation is one of the better introductions written to cyberlibertarian thought on innovation. . . . Law has to arise from decentralized and dynamic processes like customs, contracts, and agreements.”

—Waldemar Ingdahl, CEO, Eudoxa

“Sometimes it seems like the only thing that matches the relentless pace of innovation in the technology sector is the relentless change in the language used to describe this innovation. While some of the new words that appear . . . are clearly either marketing lingo or just plain attempts to troll the Internet, there are other buzzwords that hint at deeper changes taking place within the cultural zeitgeist.”

—Dominic Basalt, Washington Post, citing “permissionless innovation” as one of “four recent buzzwords that are changing the way we think about innovation”

About the Author


Adam Thierer is a Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He specializes in innovation, entrepreneurialism, Internet, and free-speech issues, with a particular focus on the public policy concerns surrounding emerging technologies.

Thierer has authored and edited several books, including his foundational book on the freedom to innovate, Permissionless Innovation: The Continuing Case for Comprehensive Technological Freedom. In his latest book, Evasive Entrepreneurs and the Future of Governance: How Innovation Improves Economies and Governments, Thierer makes the case that we should accept—and often even embrace—a certain amount of disruptive entrepreneurship that fosters innovation, drives economic growth, and makes government accountable to the governed. He examines how “evasive entrepreneurs”—innovators who don’t always conform to social or legal norms—are changing the world and challenging the status quo of governance, culture, and the way we earn a living. 

Previously, Thierer was president of the Progress & Freedom Foundation, director of Telecommunications Studies at the Cato Institute, and a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He received his MA in international business management and trade theory at the University of Maryland and his BA in Journalism and Political Philosophy from Indiana University.