lunes, julio 30, 2012

Information and Market Economy


University of Chicago; 27

In his famous 1945 article, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” F. A. Hayek argued that despite their inequity and inefficiency, free markets were necessary in order to allow the incorporation of information held by dispersed individuals into social decisions. No central planner could hope to collect and process all the information necessary for social decisions; only markets allowed and provided the incentives for disaggregated information processing. Yet, increasingly, information technology is leading individuals to delegate their most “private” decisions to automated processing systems. Choices of movies, one of the last realms of taste one would have guessed could be delegated to centralized expertise, are increasingly shaped by services like Netflix’s recommender system. While these information systems are mostly nongovernmental, they are sufficiently centralized that it is increasingly hard to see how dispersed information poses the challenge it once did to centralized planning.

Information technology thus fundamentally challenges the standard foundations of the market economy. For many years to come, economists will increasingly have to struggle with this challenge. Some will harness the power of the data and computational power provided by information technology to provide increasingly precise and accurate prescriptions for economic planning. Others, who value the libertarian tradition that has often been associated with economics, will be forced to articulate other arguments, perhaps based on privacy, that are not susceptible to erosion by the increasing power of centralized computation.

Empirics and Psychology: Eight of the World’s Top Young Economists Discuss Where Their Field Is Going