Ignoring Bad Behavior Then Complaining When Government Regulates

I feel the drone space is a poster child for the overall technology space for me lately. I'm heavily influenced because it is what I have been doing for the last couple months, but as I turn my head back to paying attention to mainstream tech, what I'm seeing with drones has taught me lessons that I'm finding apply very nicely to the wider technology landscape.

I read three separate articles this week where authors were outlining what is next for drones, and what is holding the industry back, and all three mentioned government regulations as being the number one thing holding drones back. Which is interesting to me because I do not feel the requirement to register my drone is holding us back. What I do feel looms over the whole space is the badly behaved drone operators out there--which naturally the coming regulations and current concerns are in response to.

When you do encounter rules about drones, or pushback from people out in the field, it is in direct response to drone operators behaving badly, yet you don't see the drone industry going out of their way to police, or reign the industry in. You do see manufacturers like DJI building in some limitations when it comes to forest fires, airports, and other no-fly zones, but you don't see the average drone blogger or drone operator telling each other to be a responsible drone operator so you don't screw this up for everyone.

I see this as an inherent flaw in how markets work. People who love markets, love to bitch about government regulation, but rarely ever work to police themselves, or regulate the bad things that regulation are often responding to. In fact, I've heard people defend bad behavior as, "it's not illegal yet", and "if I didn't do it my competitors will". Then fall in line with the other anti-regulator rhetoric when laws are put in place limiting what people can do in their industry. 

Do not get me wrong. I am not pro-regulation. I have a realistic understanding around why we need healthy regulations and enforcement to help balance market activity, but I am not pro-regulation just for the sake of more government. It would make more sense if as an industry we have more ethics, and we worked to educate and police each other, helping set a healthy tone, so the government wouldn't need to step in. Actually, as I write this, I realize how badly behaved our own government is being when it comes to drones. Uggghh!

I predict we will see this with every new area of technology out there. The overeager entrepreneur(s) go too far, can't control themselves with their greed, and do things to make money that is ultimately questionable, then they bitch and complain when the government steps into course correct the behavior. So much of what we are doing is brand new in tech, and when you bundle that with young millennials, you get a rich environment for thinking everything is new, and that we are entitled to do whatever I want--establishing a pretty dangerous cycle. 

I'm applying what I've been learning from watching the drone space, to other areas like healthcare and education data, and other important areas where I am seeing APIs being used for some pretty shady stuff. I am seeing folks make claims it is for healthcare or education when it is really about getting their hands on users data that they can sell on the open market--making for some prety troubling stuff.