The Invisible Hand of Prediction
Moritz Hardt, Ph.D.Director Social Foundations of Computation, Max Planck Institute
Simons Foundation Presidential Lectures are free public colloquia centered on four main themes: Biology, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, and Neuroscience and Autism Science. These curated, high-level scientific talks feature leading scientists and mathematicians and are intended to foster discourse and drive discovery among the broader NYC-area research community. We invite those interested in the topic to join us for this weekly lecture series.
Algorithmic predictions steer markets, drive consumption, shape communities and alter life trajectories. However, the theory and practice of machine learning have long neglected the often-invisible causal forces of prediction. A recent conceptual framework, called performative prediction, draws attention to the fundamental difference between learning from a population and steering a population through predictions.
In this lecture, after covering some emerging insights on performative prediction, Moritz Hardt will turn to an application of performativity to the question of power in digital economies. Traditional economic concepts struggle with identifying anti-competitive patterns in digital platforms, not least due to the difficulty of defining the market. Next, he will introduce the notion of performative power that sidesteps the complexity of market definition and directly measures how much a firm can benefit from steering consumer behavior. Finally, he will discuss the normative implications of high performative power, its connections to measures of market power in economics, and its relationship to ongoing antitrust debates.
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