The Financial Revolution: Insights into the Economic Behavior of Young Adults

Goldman, Drew, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Elliott, Travis, EN, University of Virginia

This thesis seeks to examine the potential negative impact on society caused by the exploitation of consumer psychology through machine-learned optimized features. The technical topic of this thesis concerns the ethical and technical challenges of assessing accountability when autonomous agents make decisions with adverse consequences. The extensive use of autonomous agents in behavioral and market economics is also relevant to this research. Specifically, this paper analyzes how the democratization of finance in society has increased the ease with which young adults incur debt and engage in risky behavior, which is causally linked to the overemphasis on data fitting and machine learning in the financial industry. Through a meticulous analysis of various peer-reviewed and literary sources, historical financial statistics, and the theoretical framework of Social Construction of Technology (SCOT), this paper delineates the factors contributing to the gradual increase of debt over time. The unintended side effects of technological and societal progression are also examined.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Financial Technology, Debt, Young adult, Machine Learning, Social Construction of Technology
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