Sunstein on information

by Russ Roberts on February 26, 2007

in Complexity & Emergence

Cass Sunstein writes about Hayek and information in the Washington Post:

In the past year, Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that "anyone
can edit," has been cited four times as often as the Encyclopedia
Britannica in judicial opinions, and the number is rapidly growing. In
just two years, YouTube has become a household word and one of the
world’s most successful Web sites. Such astounding growth and success
demonstrate society’s unstoppable movement toward shared production of
information, as diverse groups of people in multiple fields pool their
knowledge and draw from each other’s resources.

Developing one of
the most important ideas of the 20th century, Nobel Prize-winning
economist Friedrich Hayek attacked socialist planning on the grounds
that no planner could possibly obtain the "dispersed bits" of
information held by individual members of society. Hayek insisted that
the knowledge of individuals, taken as a whole, is far greater than
that of any commission or board, however diligent and expert. he magic
of the system of prices and of economic markets is that they
incorporate a great deal of diffuse knowledge.

The rest is here. (HT: J. Bradley Jansen)

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kebko February 26, 2007 at 2:27 pm

Don't you know? Since the government put a few dollars into early internet infrastructure & development, the internet is actually proof that every advance we have is the product of government foresight & planning. The only reason we have YouTube is because we had ARPANET, or so the story goes.

Brian Moore February 26, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Yeah, I've always found that argument humorous, Kebko. As if the eventual course the internet took were entirely within the plan of the government design.

I was reading a science fiction novel the other that posited that eventually "distributed knowledge" and therefore capitalism would become obsolete because one day we would actually have enough processing power (and the attendant information gathering appendages) to efficiently centrally plan the economy. I'm certainly fine with that, given that day is probably quite a bit off in the future.

frui May 27, 2007 at 8:52 am
riobe June 2, 2007 at 11:08 am
zammbi June 9, 2007 at 1:42 pm
titten November 14, 2007 at 3:01 pm

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