As the dire history of planned economies highlights, small well-informed groups of people will often make far worse decisions than large numbers of people, acting independently, would make. In Infotopia, Cass Sunstein looks at the "wisdom of the many"--particularly as seen on today's Internet--illuminating many new ways of collecting and evaluating information and making effective decisions.
Sunstein shows how the on-line efforts of many people coming together help companies, schools, governments, and individuals to amass ever-growing bodies of accurate knowledge. He describes for instance how Wikipedia, through an endless flurry of self-correcting exchanges, collects information on everything from politics and business to science fiction. Open-source software--which licenses programmers to use, change, and improve the software--taps the power of large numbers of people to spur technological development. And prediction markets--such as the famous Iowa Electronic Market, where people bet real money on the outcome of local and national elections--collect information in a way that allows companies, ranging from computer makers to Hollywood studios, to make better decisions about the future. Sunstein reveals why these revolutionary new methods are so astoundingly accurate and he also shows how people can take advantage of "the wisdom of the many" without succumbing to the dangers of herd mentality.
"Sunstein, one of the biggest of America's internet big thinkers, has written an intriguing new book in which he argues that Hayek's insights about the genius of markets are equally true of the internet."
--Patti Waldmeir, Financial Times
"This extraordinary work synthesizes the latest in how we know, with the latest in what the web has become, to map more compellingly than any other book the promise and risk of the information society."
--Lawrence Lessig, author of Free Culture and The Future of Ideas
"Vivid, readable, and informativea show-me-the-money guide to what soars and what stumbles from the stable of Internet dreams."
--Jedediah Purdy, American Prospect