Tech Platforms and the Knowledge Problem
American Affairs, Summer 2018, at 3
17 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 15, 2018
Jeffersonians call for a new era of antitrust enforcement to break up giant firms. These populist and localist critics of leading technology platforms, megabanks, and health care behemoths are decentralizers. They believe that, in a just society, power must be widely dispersed. They promote strong local authorities to counterbalance the centripetal accumulation of wealth and power in multinational firms.
By contrast, Hamiltonians have promoted gigantism as inevitable or desirable, and argue that we simply need better rules to cabin abuses of corporate power. They argue that massive stores of data are critical to the future of artificial intelligence—and thus to the productive dynamism of the economy. They focus on improving the regulation of leading firms rather than on breaking them up.
Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians express very different views on what an optimal economy looks like. In the long run, their visions are probably irreconcilable. In the short run, however, both sets of reformers offer important lessons for policymakers grappling with corporate power.
Keywords: platform capitalism, platform, political economy, ordoliberalism, neoliberalism, capitalism, economics, antitrust, public utility, regulation, political economy, capture, GAFA, search engine, social network, law & technology
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