Lost in the Super Market
Technological change has transformed American society in ways that present novel questions for public policy. Markets function differently than in the past, less constrained by the need for human relationships or even contact. Media business models present different incentives to content producers and experiences to consumers, while blurring lines between the two groups. The challenge remains to understand the consequences of this transformation and to find our way in the massive, digitally mediated marketplace that constitutes so much of our private and common lives today.
Lost in the Super Market aims to help policymakers find their bearings in the digital age. The foreword, by Oren Cass, provides a framework for disentangling the problem of economic concentration posed by “Big Tech,” the political and democratic implications of our public square moving online, and the novel regulatory issues associated with our new Super Market. The collection then convenes pairs of experts to explore three facets of the Super Market and their consequences: frictionless exchange that bypasses the traditional institutions and relationships of markets, the attention economy’s pursuit of user “engagement,” and all-knowing algorithms that predict user behaviors and preferences. A short primer accompanies each pair of essays, outlining the contours and policy implications of the topic. Podcast conversations between the pairs of writers will explore the issues in further depth.
The biggest tech challenges for policymakers go far beyond “Big Tech.”
What happens to markets as the digital age improves their efficiency and introduces them to new domains?
Gig workers deserve fair labor markets that private platforms cannot provide.
Digital platforms are but the latest innovation to empower workers and unburden consumers.
Wingham Rowan (Modern Markets for All) and Neil Chilson (Charles Koch Institute) discuss the advent of frictionless exchange with Wells King (American Compass).
What happens to media as the digital age enhances their ability to engage consumers?
Attention-harvesting technologies jeopardize our capacity to govern concentrated power—and ourselves.
Digital media’s critics echo the same arguments and attitudes of paternalists past.
Matthew Crawford (UVA’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture) and Peter Suderman (Reason) discuss the ramifications of the “Attention Economy” with Wells King (American Compass).
What happens to personal data as the digital age deepens their quality, widens their availability, and creates new uses for them?
The use and abuse of personal data pose a collective challenge that cannot be solved by individuals.
A pragmatic view of privacy should encourage data collection that benefits users and innovators alike.
Alec Stapp (Progressive Policy Institute) and Wells King (American Compass) discuss the implications of “All-Knowing Algorithms” with Oren Cass.