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Daniel Susser appearing at Knight First Amendment Institute's Data and Democracy Symposium

How much should our economic system prioritize freedom, and to what extent should it rely on market capitalism?
by David Price Oct 12, 2020

Daniel SusserRock Ethics Institute research associate Daniel Susser will present as part of a panel discussion Thursday, October 15, 2020, at the Knight First Amendment Institute's two-day Data and Democracy Symposium.

The symposium is considering how technological advances in data collection, analysis, and manipulation are affecting democratic processes. More information about the panel discussion and the rest of the symposium, including how to register, is found here.

Susser's panel abstract (with Kiel Brennan-Marquez, University of Connecticut School of Law):

Throughout the 20th century, market capitalism was defended on parallel grounds. Defense one: it allocates resources efficiently. Defense two: it promotes freedom by enabling individuals to exploit their own property. Recently, however, both defenses have begun to unravel—as capitalism has moved into its “platform” phase. Today, the pursuit of allocative efficiency, bolstered by pervasive data surveillance, often undermines individual freedom rather than promoting it. And more fundamentally, the very idea that markets are necessary to achieve allocative efficiency has come under strain. Even supposing, arguendo, that the claim was true in the early 20th century when Von Mises and Hayek pioneered it, advances in computing have rekindled the old “socialist calculation” debate. And this time around, markets—as information technology—are unlikely to have the upper hand.

All of this, we argue, raises an important set of governance questions regarding the political economy of the future. We focus, specifically, on two: how much should our economic system prioritize freedom—or better yet, autonomy—and to what extent should it rely on markets?  The arc of platform capitalism bends, increasingly, toward a system that neither prioritizes autonomy nor relies on markets; and the dominant critical response, exemplified by Shoshana Zuboff’s work, has been to call for a restoration of market capitalism. Longer term, however, it would be more productive to think carefully about how “post-market” economic arrangements might promote autonomy more effectively than markets themselves—and the practical steps necessary to realize that possibility.