Keynote Address: Mario Piazza

Mario Piazza, “What Does Arrow’s Information Paradox Say (To Philosophers)”

Kenneth Arrow’s information paradox (AIP, henceforth) diagnoses an inherent conflict between two parties inclined to exchange information: in order for the prospective buyer to ascertain the value of the information, she needs to know its content; but once the seller discloses the information, the buyer has no reason to buy it any longer [1]. While practical implications of AIP have been widely discussed in patent and economic literature, it seems to me that AIP also accomplishes real but underexplored theoretical work about the nature of information. This talk intends to illustrate some aspects of the theoretical significance of AIP. Moreover, I discuss the intriguing conceptual relation between AIP and the notion of zero-knowledge proofs in cryptography: roughly speaking, these are protocols that enable a prover to convince a verifier that a statement is true, without conveying any additional information [2]. Some moral relevant to philosophy, and in particular to philosophy of information, is drawn.


[1] K. J. Arrow. Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention. In R. R. Nelson (ed.), The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity, 1962, pp. 609-625.
[2] S. Goldwasser, S. Micali, C. Rackoff. The knowledge complexity of interactive proof-systems. STOC ’85. Proceedings of the seventeenth annual ACM symposium on Theory of computing, pp. 291-304.

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