Sunstein’s Infotopia

Michael Giberson

On September 12, the AEI-Brookings Joint Center will be hosting a presentation of Cass Sunstein on his new book, Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge. Their announcement indicates that Professor Sunstein “will present an optimistic account of the human potential to aggregate information without resorting to prejudice and preconceptions.? Just judging by the capsule summary, it appears like Sunstein has adopted a more positive view of matters than offered in his previous book, Republic.Com. (The BusinessWeek review of Republic.Com said Sunstein “fears that the Internet is contributing to a fragmentation of public discourse that is undermining democracy.?)

Sunstein was just beginning his book last year when he spent a week guest-blogging on the Lessig blog, talking about prediction markets and information aggregation, Wikipedia, Hayek and other topics. (Of course, the problem of “how many minds produce knowledge? and related Hayekian insights are fundamental to our thinking here at the Knowledge Problem. Some of Lynne’s reaction to Sunstein’s guest-blogging remarks be found here at KP as well as in the comments at the Lessig blog.)

Commenters at the AEI-Brooking event are two George Mason University economists – Tyler Cowen and Robin Hanson. I think of both of them as optimists, about the human potential to aggregate information and about much else too, but each in his own way. Should make for an interesting program.