Information Asymmetries and Paying it Forward15 Dec 2017
The Internet and the scale of transparency it has brought to human civilization has changed everything.
Near-free information flow between all humans on planet earth has brought light to the dark corners of the earth where terrible human-on-human atrocities have been performed for millenia.
Genocide, rape, enslavement, total disrespect of physical property rights.
Light being shown on evil acts is a pre-requisite to justice being served.
One of my favorite quotes is from a Civil War-era abolitionist:
Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.
Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Jefferson trembled when he thought of slavery and remembered that God is just. Ere long all America will tremble.
I agree–and there are empirical signs that Theodore Parker is right.
However there is another type of injustice that becomes more pervasive and harder to eliminate than physical violence.
This is a type of injustice caused by the existince of “information asymmetries.”
An information asymmetry is where two parties to a transaction do not have the same factual information on hand.
A great example is purchasing a car:
- The salesperson knows what they paid for the car last week (and all sales made at their car dealership in the past month).
- The buyer does not know any of that information–he or she knows what the car’s advertised prices is and what comparable cars on the lot are being priced at.
The salesperson preys on the buyer’s ignorance and obtains an immmoral advantage in negotiation:
I believe that eliminating this type of information asymmetry will become the next piece of the “arc” towards justice.
Education in its various forms has helped me out of more predatory situations than I can count.
You don’t have to be a formal K-12 school teacher, but please, pay it forward!