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ITIF Announces 2015 Luddite Award Nominees

December 21, 2015

WASHINGTON—The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) today announced 10 nominees for its 2015 Luddite Award. The annual “honor” recognizes the year’s most egregious example of a government, organization, or individual stymieing the progress of technological innovation. In announcing the nominees, ITIF also opened an online poll and invited the public to help decide the “winner.” The result will be announced in late January.

“Innovation is a wellspring of human progress. It provides higher living standards, better health, a cleaner environment, increased access to information, and countless other benefits. Yet too many people stubbornly oppose it,” said Robert D. Atkinson, ITIF’s founder and president. “The purpose of the Luddite Award is to point out glaring examples of how misunderstood self-interest or misbegotten ideology can stifle progress. It is important for policymakers to recognize the pattern and steadfastly champion innovation.”

Highlighting what it refers to as the “worst of the year’s worst innovation killers,” ITIF outlines its rationale for each nomination in a new report. The nominees include:

1. Alarmists, even including respected luminaries such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, touting an artificial intelligence apocalypse.

2. Advocates, including Hawking and Noam Chomsky, seeking a ban on “killer robots.”

3. Vermont and other states limiting automatic license plate readers.

4. Europe, China, and others choosing taxi drivers over car-sharing passengers.

5. The U.S. paper industry opposing e-labeling.

6. California’s governor vetoing RFID tags in driver’s licenses.

7. Wyoming effectively outlawing citizen science.

8. The Federal Communications Commission limiting broadband innovation.

9. The Center for Food Safety fighting genetically improved food.

10. Ohio and other states banning red light cameras.

“Just as Ned Ludd wanted to smash mechanized looms and halt industrial progress in the 19th century, today’s neo-Luddites want to foil technological innovation to the detriment of the rest of society. If we want a world in which innovation thrives, then everyone’s New Year’s resolution should be to replace neo-Luddism with an attitude of risk-taking and faith in the future,” Atkinson concluded.

Read the nominee report.

Vote for the 2015 Luddite Award winner.


The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute focusing on the intersection of technological innovation and public policy. Recognized by its peers in the think tank community as the global center of excellence for science and technology policy, ITIF’s mission is to formulate and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress.

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