Cass R. Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School. He is also founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy and is the most referenced law professor in the United States. From 2009 to 2012 he served under the Obama administration as Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Cass is the author of “#Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media.”
This past Presidential election created a huge rift within parties, largely propelled by social media and even search engine interference. GOOGLE has the ability to filter your searching, pushing things that are suitable to your interests. They are walking a fine line between giving you an easier searching experience and putting you in an echo chamber and shaping how you think. Cass is a big fan of Facebook and Twitter when people are balanced with it. He uses the analogy of cars, “They are great because they get people from point A to point B, however, they do create negatives such as air pollution.” The same can be said for social media.
The founding fathers of the United States wanted a government that gave the opportunity for exposure to the uncomfortable and to have a forum where both sides could interact and hear each other. Madison and Hamilton were told that to have a self governing system it needs to be little and not diverse, but they thought that the opposite needed to happen: A self governing system needs to be large and diverse. If not, the government would end up as a echo chamber. We are now living in what Cass describes as “Hamilton’s nightmare.” Although government is diverse, people are not listening and learning from one another.
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