Innovation in information and production technologies is creating benefits and disruption, profoundly altering how firms and markets perform. Digital DNA provides an in depth examination of the opportunities and challenges in the fast-changing global economy and lays out strategies that countries and the international community should embrace to promote robust growth while addressing the risks of this digital upheaval. Wisely guiding the transformation in innovation is a major challenge for global prosperity that affects everyone Peter Cowhey and Jonathan Aronson demonstrate how the digital revolution is transforming the business models of high tech industries but also of traditional agricultural, manufacturing, and service sector firms. The rapidity of change combines with the uncertainty of winners and losers to create political and economic tensions over how to adapt public policies to new technological and market surprises.
The logic of the policy trade-offs confronting society, and the political economy of practical decision-making is explored through three developments: The rise of Cloud Computing and trans-border data flows; international collaboration to reduce cybersecurity risks; and the consequences of different national standards of digital privacy protection. The most appropriate global strategies will recognize that a significant diversity in individual national policies is inevitable. However, because digital technologies operate across national boundaries there is also a need for a common international baseline of policy fundamentals to facilitate "quasi-convergence" of these national policies. Cowhey and Aronson's examination of these dynamic developments lead to a measured proposal for authoritative "soft rules" that requires governments to create policies that achieve certain objectives, but leaves the specific design to national discretion.
These rules should embrace mechanisms to work with expert multi-stakeholder organizations to facilitate the implementation of formal agreements, enhance their political legitimacy and technical expertise, and build flexible learning into the governance regime. The result will be greater convergence of national policies and the space for the new innovation system to flourish.
Peter F. Cowhey is Dean and Qualcomm Endowed Chair in Communications and Technology Policy, School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego Jonathan D. Aronson is Professor of Communication, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and Professor of International Relations, University of Southern California