Google Now predicts where you want to go next, big data knows what you’re going to buy next. Neuroscience knows what you are going to do before you do (A horribly scripted clip, but it gets the idea across).  Whatever the details of the philosophical wrangling, free will as we naively like to imagine it is under attack.

It’s interesting to contrast this with the political rhetoric that is dominant in UK and US currently. Freedom and ch ch change are the clear themes. You might not have free will, but at least the leader has their own agency, the Prime Mover. Perhaps these messages soothes the collective unconscious’s anxiety about free will.

We like the idea of personal agency, and if our leaders can embody the concept we reward them with votes.

Whatever we may like to think, world leaders probably can’t claim any more free will than anyone else.  Fashionable theories or development economics prefer to emphasize the importance of institutions over individuals. Probably what politicians will do is even more predictable than what the private individual will do, we have the framework of Public Choice Theory to understand political behavior.


Comments are closed.