How the New Tech Addiction Model Could Undermine Capitalism

For Immediate Release

As confidence in capitalism declines amid growing income inequality and fiscal unsustainability, new technology business models will test our free market system even further. To study and address those challenges, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has launched “Capitalism, Technology, and the Economy.” This new initiative will examine the impact big data and artificial intelligence are having on consumers and trust in free markets.  

“Our rapidly changing tech landscape is giving rise to new questions about the future of the economy and challenging the basic tenets of capitalism like never before,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “We see this not just in rising income inequality, but an addiction to our smart devices and a widening distrust between the public and our societal institutions. Capitalism, Technology, and the Economy will examine why this is and what we can do to reverse this trend without stifling innovation.”

MacGuineas details in the April edition of The Atlantic how addiction to digital services and products threatens the long-term viability of the free market. In the current digital age, big data and artificial intelligence has the power to both aid and harm consumers. Unlike legacy products that relied on simple advertising and consumer demand to set costs, digital companies are gathering astonishing amounts of private data and leaving many individuals unaware of the true price they’re really paying for these services.

As MacGuineas explains, “Perhaps the most immediate and important change we can make is to introduce transparency—and thus, trust—to exchanges in the technological realm … [W]e are paying, in the form of giving up private data that we have not learned to properly value and that will be used in ways we don’t fully understand.”

The Capitalism, Technology and the Economy program is a part of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s FixUS project, which examines the root causes of the divisions, dysfunction, and distrust that are plaguing the country and brings together leading experts and policymakers from across the aisle to find solutions in a cross-disciplinary environment.


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