CIBS Conference: The Economics of Post-Factual Democracy
Welcome to the first annual conference of The Center for Information and Bubble
Studies (CIBS) at The University of Copenhagen. CIBS was established in September 2015 by a generous grant from The Carlsberg Foundation to explore the structure and dynamics of bubbles in finance, politics, in science, on social media and in other - ever so often - bubble hospitable environments. In the press release following the news of CIBS, the chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation, Professor Flemming Besenbacher, explained: “The activities of CIBS stem from innovative interdisciplinary thinking about basic research in the humanities. The research activities promise practical impact and thus CIBS is a pivotal example of Scientific Social Responsibility.”
Besides continuously pushing the boundaries of knowledge, science should both address and play an active role in formulating the solutions to the grand challenges the world faces. In 2016, World Economic Forum added “misinformation” on the web as a global challenge.
Our conference, The Economics of Post-Factual Democracy and associated workshops, sit right at the center of this constellation of global challenges from misinformation to growing inequality. If these challenges are not met, the world will indeed become a more unstable place to be economically, politically, socially and culturally. Both the generations of the day and the generations to come deserve better. After all, every generation should have as the overarching ambition that the world they turn over to the next generation is in better shape than the one they took over from their parents. That’s called progress. Even counting setbacks, wars, revolutions, odd presidential elections and exits, fake news, alternative facts and distrust, progress has characterized humanity for as long as we have been humans some 250,000 years – let’s continue on this track.
As we reside increasingly in a post-factual and contextual democracy, the body politic is desensitized to fiction. The ubiquitous lies saturating politics today are a pervasive plague on discourse and governance. Social media proliferate clickbait, fake news and filter bubbles. Algorithms polarize information intake.
So what are possible prescriptions to correct this vicious cycle? How does our digital footprint translate into prosocial or antisocial behavior? What is the future of civil dialogue? These questions and the contemporary state of U.S. media and politics will be explored.
In the late 1970s to beginning 1980s, an epoch changing transition occurred, unnoticed by most. We will present a massive amount of evidence of this transition in all sectors of public and private life. This transition corresponds to a change from a productivity-fueled growth that was seen in the 1950s and 1960s to what I will refer to as the regime of the “illusion of the perpetual money machine”. The result has been a succession of bubbles and crashes,
Absolutes are rarely available in a world of evolving structure. Yearning for order to alleviate fear is human. But the quest for certainty creates dangerous temptations when faced with the new technologies of large scale, rapid-fire and sometimes synthetic information bombardment. The discord that emerges through ”infostorms” beckons us to look at these human construction with an eye toward openness. Neither anarchy nor authoritarian information structures are satisfying. I will argue that a danger lurking beneath our sea of unknowing is to idolize notions such as truth and facts that lead toward...
The debate about finance has long been driven by fiction rather than facts. Media, politicians, and opinion makers often deplore the evils of banks, investment banks, rating agencies, short sellers, private equity funds, high frequency traders, subprime loans, and derivatives. There are few votes to be won by defending the virtues of the financial sector, but to properly regulate we need to understand both the virtues and risks of finance.
Neoliberalism, Austerity, and Post-Truth Politics: A Postmortem Inquiry
Since 2000 we have increasingly experienced neoliberal economics, illiberal democracy, and now post-truth politics. Some suggest that the failure of neoliberalism, as recommended by the Washington Consensus, to promote inclusive development, as well as the inefficacy of austerity as a means to achieve economic growth, have stoked the public’s distrust of expert knowledge. In response to this disruptive phenomenon that demonstrates new ills that arise from information technologies in conjunction with a breakdown of the twentieth-century constructive constellation of free markets, democracy, and science, I focus on a...
To contribute to the quality of EU legislation, and in line with the Better Regulation agenda, The European Commission has set up the EC Scientific Advice Mechanism (”SAM”). Its aim is to support the Commission with high quality, timely and independent scientific advice for its policy-making activities. The Scientific Advice Mechanism draws on the wide range of scientific expertise in Europe through a formalised relationship with national academies and other bodies, as well as the expertise of a High-Level Group of independent scientific advisors. The core...