Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, allegedly believes that regulations by the European Union could impede technological development. If he is right, blockchain research and development within the content may be hindered.

For example, Ma criticized the European Union’s plans to define and articulate ethical guidelines for the development and usage of Artificial Intelligence (AI). His assumptions, however, seem based on a capitalist model of development.

The European Union’s Socialist Tendencies

According to CNBC, Ma believes that tightened regulations will “restrict companies’ ability to innovate.” A socialist model for technological development is different. While a capitalist model is profit-driven, the socialist model is theoretically driven by social good.

Furthermore, as Ma notes, 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.

While China and the United States appear to embrace the capitalist model, Europe may have moved in the socialist direction. For the last several years, various governmental bodies within Europe and the European Union have been researching, developing, and integrating blockchain services and infrastructure within the geo-body.

In the list below, we highlight several important dates:

  • June 21, 2016: Various bodies within the European Union hosted a workshop titled ‘Blockchains for Social Good.’
  • October 2017: The European Commission is asked by the European Council to research the strengths of the blockchain.
  • Feb 1, 2018: The European Commission launches the EU Blockchain Forum and Observatory. It has since released five thematic reports.
  • Apr 10, 2018: 26 EU Member States along with Norway and Liechtenstein create the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP). Each agrees to select a representative. Together, they use the research from the Observatory to define use-values, governance models, framework conditions, and regulatory requirements for cross-border blockchain-based digital public services within Europe.

International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA)

The capitalist and socialist models of technological development are not necessarily oppositional. They can intersect in various ways. Socialist bodies can promote innovation while capitalist firms embrace profit. Together, they can balance the vices of the other and create a possibly virtuous mean.

It appears that the European Union is aware of this potential intersection.

On Mar 6, 2019, the EU Commission helped found the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA). Approximately one month later, an official ceremony was held in Brussels to commemorate its foundation.

The INATBA includes 105 companies from the blockchain industry and beyond. Some of these include Ripple Labs, Bitfury, Consensys AG, SWIFT, IBM, and Deutsche Telekom.

Ma may be skeptical of EU regulation over AI and other advanced technologies. Nonetheless, it appears as if the EU is making strides to promote research, innovation, development, usage, adoption, and integration of blockchain technology within the continent and beyond.

By bringing together multi-national governmental bodies, blockchain companies, and traditional industry leaders, Europe appears poised to be a leader in blockchain technology — despite Ma’s pessimism.