Does Information Overload Cost The United States A Trillion Dollars Per Year?

information overload

Will contemporary society’s ever-growing, never-ending stream of information gradually paralyze and destroy us all? In 2008 the IT consulting firm Basex claimed this as a conservative estimate, with the figure presumably rising since then:

According to our latest research Information Overload costs the U.S. economy a minimum of $900 billion per year in lowered employee productivity and reduced innovation. This is a fairly conservative number and reflects the loss of 25% of the knowledge worker’s day to the problem. The total could be as high as $1 trillion.

Information overload describes an excess of information that results in the loss of ability to make decisions, process information, and prioritize tasks. It is nothing new – it was very much on the minds of thought leaders centuries ago, including Roger Bacon, Samuel Johnson, and Konrad Geßner whose 1545 Bibliotheca universalis warned of the “confusing and harmful abundance of books” and promulgated strategies for coping with the overload of information.


  • InfvoCuernos

    Just take your aderol and shut up.

  • Jin The Ninja

    can you even put a price on decimation of culture and the mental environment?

    • echar

      I’ll need to check the culturally applicable holy book and the mainstream media before answering this.

  • emperorreagan

    This just in: US corporations believe everything in the world costs labor hours and productivity.


  • BuzzCoastin

    if you count all the money spent of spying & weapons
    info overload costs about $3 trillion a year
    but very profitable for the Carlyle Group nonetheless

    But this rough magic
    I here abjure, and, when I have required
    Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
    To work mine end upon their senses that
    This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
    Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
    And deeper than did ever plummet sound
    I’ll drown my book.

  • BuzzCoastin

    “One of the effects of living with electric information is that we live habitually in a state of information overload. There’s always more than you can cope with”.
    Marshall McLuhan put it on The Best of Ideas on CBC Radio in 1967

    McLuhan: Electric Overload Simplified

  • Jonas Planck

    Are we laying the groundwork for a case in favor of widespread censorship here?

    How much money does it cost us to live somewhere other than our workplaces? Perhaps we can check to see how much money is being lost due to basic bodily functions such as consumption of food and excretion of waste? Perhaps the best course of action for profitability is to remove the human element from the equation entirely. Just think of all the money it would save!

    • echar

      They want our precious bodily fluids, to boot.

      • Jonas Planck

        And our WOMEN!

      • The Well Dressed Man

        We still have our distilled grain neutral spirits to protect us!

        • echar

          Bourbon please.

          • The Well Dressed Man

            The 4 Roses small batches have been nice lately, but I’m on more of an Evan Williams budget.

          • echar

            I prefer Basil Hayden.