|Tilburg University, The Netherlands|
Datafication has massively influenced processes within organizations, on markets, and more generally throughout society. Machine learning pushes the loop between data accumulation and innovation even further. After four economic governance workshops that focused on the role of competition (in 2010), organizations (in 2013), social preferences (in 2015), and data-driven markets (in 2017), respectively, we now strive to stimulate the debate about the economic, political, legal, and social effects of big data and artificial intelligence.
As a case of special focus, algorithm-driven platforms such as social media, search engines, and news aggregators have become dominant players in news dissemination. This has transformed the media sector and the way we think about democratic political elections and the legitimacy of those elections’ outcomes, with yet unknown consequences for our political systems and for many markets that are tipping towards the technological leader.
These developments challenge our rules of the game: are Western institutions, formal and informal, set up appropriately to ensure fair competition among firms, innovators, politicians, or political parties? What does it mean for competition law, privacy and data access laws, international treaties, election commissions’ procedures, and the codes of conduct on online platforms if most of us can be traced and monitored most of the time – but these masses of data can only be accessed, worked with, and potentially be manipulated by a few parties? Are we heading towards a future with virtually unbounded opportunities and progress for humanity – or towards a setting, where the state or large private actors control every aspect of life and the net profits of global technological progress are enjoyed by very few very rich and influential individuals?