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How Much Information Is Too Much?


September 3, 2020 • 3:30 pm PDT

The world is projected to generate 90 zettabytes of data this year and the next. That’s more than all the data produced since the arrival of computers, and if we still used DVDs, we’d need 19 trillion to store it all. Swimming in this massive sea of information, humans are easily overwhelmed; studies suggest we avoid important information because it might make us miserable, while seeking out information of dubious value to make ourselves happy. What information do we need to know? What role should policymakers play in helping us find data that improves our well-being and filter out information—from calorie counts to credit card fees—that wastes our time or even endangers us?

Harvard University legal scholar Cass Sunstein, author of Too Much Information: Understanding What You Don’t Want To Know, visits Zócalo and the Commonwealth Club to explain how we can make information work for us.