The titans of the digital revolution squabble while the failings of economists continue unquestioned.
What’s the economic value of a stay at home parent? Zero. What’s the economic value of emotional and physical wellbeing? Zero. What’s the economic value of digitally connecting 2-billion people? Natively… a big zero. What is the intrinsic societal value of these things? Priceless.
In 1936, economist John Maynard Keynes wrote that “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”
The whole of society today is enslaved by the absolutely incorrect idea that society and the economy are somehow separate things. That the field of economics using GDP can focus on just one third of human value creation and still be considered a serious field of study.
This is especially apparent with the recent woes of Facebook surrounding the Cambridge Analytica data breach and the ‘extremely glib’ responses of Elon Musk and Tim Cook. Musk deleted the Tesla Motors Facebook page while his own company suffers the fallout of an autopilot fatality and Cook has attacked Facebook’s business model while continuing to devalue Apple’s brand by choosing commoditization over innovation.
Zuckerberg’s mission to connect the world, Musk’s vision of a multi-planetary species thriving on sustainable energy, and Cook’s belief that “science is a search in the darkness” and that “the humanities are a candle that shows us where we’ve been and the danger that lies ahead.” All these lofty aspirations are confined to mediocrity by an economic paradigm that requires innovation conform to century old metrics instead of metrics evolving to value modern innovations.
The titans of the digital revolution are begining to squabble while the failings of economists continue unquestioned.
Facebook is not at fault for monetizing user data to provide their service. That is currently the only economic option available. Technology and big data have been combined to connect over 2 billion people and generate vast amounts of insights into human behavior with both bad and wonderful results. All the while the field of economics looks at that data as a simple black box to extract GDP from. Natively the data, like stay at home parents and societal wellbeing register zero intrinsic economic value.
Facebook’s business model, and other technology sector companies that depend on big data from users, do not have to remain this way. New metrics are emerging that would allow Facebook and others to cultivate collaborative and healthy online experiences. Experiences that build social trust and value intelligent human engagement over “how to make people click ads.” By measuring the social capital value intrinsic in big data we can build Modern Metrics for the Digital Age, we can liberate digital revolutionaries enslaved by industrial age economists.
It is time to #UpgradeEconomics to properly view global society as it is currently and not as some now dead and defunct economist once imagined it.
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