Here are sketches of some of my latest research projects:
Are democratic forms of government justified because democracies are better at "tracking the truth" than any other conceivable form of government? To what extent can the aggregation of distributed information improve collective decision making, and does "the wisdom of crowds" exist? In joint research with Franz Dietrich, Bob Goodin and Christian List I investigate these questions. We are particularly interested in the applicability and limitations of the Condorcet Jury Theorem. Franz Dietrich and I also developed a set of new jury theorems with more realistic premises and conclusions. In May 2018, the book "An Epistemic Theory of Democracy" (with Bob Goodin) will appear with OUP.
Artificial Intelligence and Political Theory
I intend to build up a research programme on digital technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and political theory. Among the questions to be tackled are: 1. If data is the “oil” driving new technology industries, who should own data, how should we regulate the use of open access data, and should data use be taxed? 2. Given the amount of real-time data available, actors with wide access to data and data-processing AI can derive very precise knowledge about individuals. Should we limit which data may be aggregated for what purpose and by which type of AI systems? 3. The owners of social networks have become major institutional designers, without much democratic oversight. How can political theory provide guidance for new regulation? 4. The ability to encourage or discourage the creation of links between different individuals gives social networks influence over social choices. How should this new power be kept in check? 5. Should we allow AI agents to participate in the public sphere, and under which conditions?
Self-Serving Biases and Social Moral Epistemology
How do individuals respond to social norms if what the norm demands depends on what they know about the situation? By strategically avoiding some and seeking other information, individuals are able to shape the normative context they operate in to their advantage. In joint experimental and theoretical work with Arne Weiss, I investigate the interaction between norms and knowledge acquisition. We find experimental evidence for strategic information uptake. We show in a formal model that one potential source of such strategic incentives is the relatively coarse definition of social norms.
Reversal of Fortunes
Why do we find lotteries fair when allocating indivisible goods to claimants with similar claims to the scarce good? In joint work with Alex Voorhoeve, I develop a new theory of lottery fairness. We argue that the fairness of lotteries partly depends on the reasons it can provide to the loser of the allocation process.