Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryEconomics

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Crowd of people walking street wearing masks

Critical Lessons From the COVID Crisis — From a Leading Historian

Niall Ferguson sees the economic impact of the COVID shutdown as comparable to fighting World War II — or World War III

Earlier this month, historian Niall Ferguson spoke to COSM 2021 about the real lessons from the strange year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic. A reader might be forgiven for wondering whether, in the cacophony of conflicting claims, opinions, and prophecies of doom, there are any useful lessons to be learned (other than: Turn off the TV). Ferguson thinks there are indeed lessons — if we compare the recent pandemic and how it was handled with pandemics of the past. In his recent book, Doom: The politics of catastrophe (2021), he argues that “All disasters are in some sense man-made” and that — despite advances in science — we are getting worse, not better, at handling them: Yet in…

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Flag of China and clock

Gingrich at COSM: China Is the Greatest Threat to Global Freedom

Newt Gingrich fears America will lose to China. George Gilder argues that thinking that way is self-defeating and stupid

At COSM 2021, philosopher of technology George Gilder and political analyst Newt Gingrich sparred over U.S.–China relations. Gilder and Gingrich, a former U.S. Congressman, exemplify the two predominant views on China today. Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and author Gingrich says the U.S. should decouple from China, while economist and author Gilder sees collaboration with China as our best — and only — option. Gingrich: Optimism about a more open China is waning In his opening remarks, Gingrich recalled that he was once an optimist that Chinese reformist leader Deng Xiaoping’s opening up strategy would usher in a more democratic China because Communism was incompatible with a free market economy. But, Gingrich, who has been a history…

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Ghostwriter In Office. Creative Ghost Writer

Book Review: “Ghost Work” Flops in Economic Understanding

"Ghost workers" are those unseen workers behind artificial intelligence

Here at Mind Matters, we have often covered the way that humans are used to supplement Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence has generally been misunderstood as replacing human effort in society, while, in reality, it is usually leveraging it, instead. Whether using humans to find good training data, mining content for intentionality, or even using humans directly within machine learning algorithms, today’s most prominent “AI” systems are actually strange hybrids of humans and computers. As a matter of fact, the market for human supplementation of AI is so large that Amazon has an entire service built around it. While much of this work is done either for free (oftentimes through games on the Internet) or through traditional paid office work, a growing amount is being done through “microtasks,” through systems…

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Golden coins and hourglass clock. Return on investment, deposit, growth of income and savings, time is money concept.

Economics As If Time, Not Money, Drives the Bus

Business prof Gale Pooley told COSM 2021 that the information society has vastly increased the goods that our time will buy by increasing and automating knowledge

Brigham Young University business prof Gale Pooley figures that not only does time drive the bus but economics is much easier to understand if we take that fact seriously. That was one key point in his wide-ranging talk at COSM 2021 yesterday, “Knowledge vs. Doom.” As we all struggle with inflation, it’s worth looking at the money we earn simply from the perspective of how much of our time was spent earning it: “Money is time” essentially means that we buy things with money but we really pay for them with our time. Instead of dollars and cents, we can use hours and minutes to price things. We can use “time prices.” As he told the audience, Yale University economist…

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Laptop with pendrive, sd card, CD and portable hard drive. Concept of data storage

The Physicality Of Data And The Road To Personal Data Ownership

“The Physicality Of Data And The Road To Personal Data Ownership” was originally published by Forbes, July 2, 2021. David Kruger is co-founder and VP of Strategy for Absio Corporation, and a co-inventor of Absio’s Software-defined Distributed Key Cryptography (SDKC). This article is the first in a series on the physicality of data. I’ll follow up with additional installments of this series over the next several weeks, so check back to see those as they become available. All of us tend to conflate the word “data” with the word “information.” Usually, that’s OK, but collapsing data on a computer and information into one thing rather than two separate things makes thinking accurately about data ownership difficult. Here’s why: Information is…

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Indian ethnicity woman wearing headphones listens educational course studying online

Is Online Learning Poised To Replace Universities?

Perhaps sooner than we think, if present trends continue. A degree may confer only social status — which depends on others’ acceptance

In 2019, freelance writer Allen Farrington wrote an insightful piece, asking a question many have avoided. Does the acceptance of Cancel Culture signal the irretrievable decline of universities? He begins by discussing a short documentary on the Bret Weinstein affair at Evergreen State College in Washington State in 2017. Weinstein, along with his wife Heather Heying, was driven from the campus by angry students because he spoke out against racial exclusion policies. Both were biology teachers with fairly liberal views: No matter how closely you followed the debacle at the time, there is really no substitute for this fascinating glimpse behind the scenes. Evergreen academics can be seen meekly and repeatedly submitting to ideological manipulation, and on a number of…

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money, piggy bank, finance

Destructing the Creative Destruction Myth

Debunking the argument that the Fortune 100 list is evidence of the productive vitality of capitalism

Joseph Schumpeter argued that capitalist economies are not stagnant and calcified but, instead, by nature a form or method of economic change and not only never is but never can be stationary. Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, 1950 He believed that embedded in capitalism is an engine of change that revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in. Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, 1950 Schumpeter was no doubt influenced by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Darwin had written that the “extinction of old forms is the almost…

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unicorn

Tech Stocks: Are the Unicorns Losing Their Horns? Their Magic?

Jeffrey Lee Funk and Gary N. Smith reveal at MarketWatch that widely publicized, iconic unicorns have never made money or made only a little

Technology consultant Jeffrey Lee Funk and Pomona business prof Gary N. Smith are not exactly bullish on the new high tech-dependent startups (unicorns) that everybody talks about. Lots of media interest and commentating, sure, but where’s the money? In a recent op-ed at MarketWatch, Funk and Smith warn, “Unicorn losses are unprecedented in the history of U.S. startups and threaten stock markets and the economy.” Not what you heard? Think about this then: The authors, regular contributors at Mind Matters News, point out that many investors and analysts worry about China’s Evergrande Group’s current woes ($300 billion in liabilities). But Evergrand was once profitable. And the Ubers and Airbnbs? They’ve never been profitable and the liabilities are growing: Unicorn losses…

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Blockchain , cryptocurrencies , bitcoin and distributed ledger technology concept..Block chain , network connect icons and earth furnished by NASA.

Is Bitcoin Just a Flash in the Pan? Peter Thiel Responds

He reveals that PayPal started out as a libertarian project to free money from central control but that proved harder than anticipated

In this fourth and final episode based on his talk at COSM 2019, Peter Thiel — who founded PayPal in part to help break up currency monopolies — offers some thoughts on cryptocurrencies’ future. In the earlier episodes of his discussion at COSM 1919 with philosopher of technology George Gilder, top venture capitalist Peter Thiel offered Three Contrarian Ideas: 1.Big Tech, as it operates today, is communist. 2. Big Tech is also slowing down. And 3. Learning today has almost nothing to do with the so-called educational system. Now, about the future of cryptos: This portion begins at 27:21 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. George Gilder: Peter, you started PayPal, in part to…

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Datenverkehr im Internet im Schneckentempo

Peter Thiel Says, Forget the Hype: Big Tech Is Slowing Down

Second Contrarian Idea: We can see the slowdown clearly if we look past the hype

Philosopher of technology George Gilder revisits world class tech venture capitalist Peter Thiel’s live streamed talk at COSM 2019 in “ The failures and self-hatred of Big Tech.” Ih the first part, Thiel noted that the way Big Tech operates today has more in common with a communist state than with a democracy. His First Contrarian Idea, set out there, is that decentralization is coming. In this part, he talks about his Second Contrarian Idea: If you look at the big picture over the past few years, Big Tech’s progress is slowing. Thiel, the author of Zero to One (2014) will attend COSM 2021 (November 10–12) in person this time, along with Gilder. Note: You can get the best rate…

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Surprised African-American man in denim jacket looks at receipt total in sales check holding paper bag with products in mall

A Market Analyst Explains Why You Should Take Inflation Seriously

Bernard Fickser looks at the tech companies that are worth astonishing amounts, unrelated to their current product lines

Readers may remember Bernard Fickser from his series on non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and how they can be made to work better. Now he looks at a more serious problem, the current (quiet) capitalization crisis: the growth in the perceived market value (market caps) of tech companies, far beyond the market value of any assets they have. He recalls the famous (and costly) Dot.com Bubble (1995–2000), when “tech and internet companies that had no actual products or prototypes or detailed plans for products were receiving enormous valuations simply on a promise and a prayer.” Many prayers went unheard and small investors suffered huge losses. Business prof Gary Smith highlights Bill’s Barber Shop in 2000, where locals had reckoned on secure prosperity…

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Game of chess

Why AI Cannot Successfully Run the Economy

Artificial intelligence is insufficient to predict and plan for the vast complexities of an individual human being, let alone an entire country

Optimists talk about artificial intelligence (AI) as magnificent tools and ultimately a source of world salvation. Pessimists warn that AI can produce the implements of tyranny and ultimately soulless world domination. Many people in both camps take these views without seriously questioning the limits of AI.  To challenge the optimists: Can AI run a human society’s economy better than humans? Governments are expanding and taking more power to run everything, and many people accept or even cheer them for doing so. To carry out that mission, such Leviathan governments invariably increase taxes and impose regulations upon economic activity: prices, wages, investments, interest rates, use of private property, transfers of ownership, and permissible or forbidden transactions.    Leviathan’s cheerleaders don’t explain how all-powerful governments claiming to run national economies can actually succeed.…

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Young woman looking on the black board with mathematical formulas and calculations. Bright idea, way of thinking, discovery and challenge concept.

If You Fear High Tech Debates, Stay Away From COSM 2021

COSM 2021 will be held in person. You will interact with the real movers and shakers.

Recently, George Gilder and Jay Richards enjoyed a wide ranging discussion on the topics and people converging for the COSM 2021 Technology Summit: From Life After Google to Life After Capitalism. In the first portion, they discussed life after capitalism. Who can still innovate? In this portion, they talk about innovations that will make a difference: This portion starts at about 10:30 min. Here is a partial transcript and notes: George Gilder: Kai-Fu Lee will be there to talk about his new book, Ten Visions, about artificial intelligence. We hope that he can give us some ideas that are relevant to the new environment for US-China relations… But people like Kai-Fu Lee are keeping world of knowledge and wealth, then…

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Senior couple watering seedlings in their garden

Scarcity? We have the same resources as Neanderthal Man!

What we do with our resources is different. Economics professor Gale Pooley has spent his career lifting our spirits about the state of the world

COSM 2021 is fast approaching. On the weekend of November 10-12, titans of the tech world will descend on Bellevue, Washington, to discuss the future of technology. Topics to be covered include blockchain, NFTs, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and Big Questions like “Is Technology Soaring or Slumping?” This year, COSM will include Discovery Institute’s own Gale Pooley, senior fellow at the Center on Wealth & Poverty. This isn’t Pooley’s first round at COSM. He addressed the COSM crowd in 2019 with a talk entitled, “Killing Thanos – Defeating the Ideology of Scarcity” (video posted at the end of this article). This November, Pooley’s topic is “The End of Inflation.” The economics professor has spent his career lifting our spirits about…

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door choice

What Do We Need To Know About Life After Capitalism?

At COSM 2021, a number of thinkers will discuss and debate the pressing questions

Recently, George Gilder and Jay Richards enjoyed a wide ranging discussion on the topics and people that will converge for the COSM 2021 Technology Summit: From Life After Google to Life After Capitalism. They cover the paradoxes of the future of technology. Here is a partial transcript of the first ten minutes: Jay Richards: The theme of COSM 2021 is Life After Capitalism, which is also the name of your forthcoming book. What does that mean exactly? What are you referring to, this idea of life after capitalism? George Gilder: In the last few months, literally trillions of dollars of new money has been printed. Money has been deprived of its informational content. It’s now merely an expression of government…

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Business Leadership Attributes and Features in Literature

What Does Super-Investor Peter Thiel Think You Should Read?

Some books to consider include history as well as business strategy. The two cannot be separated

Peter Thiel, whose name is practically synonymous with successful high-tech investing, will be speaking at COSM 2021. He has also offered some thoughts on books worth reading: Here are three of them, courtesy Kevin Rooke: ➤ The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz (Harper Business 2014): From Thiel: “Every management guide presumes that all great companies follow a formula. But successful startups don’t imitate; they build innovations that can’t be copied. Ben Horowitz knows no recipe guarantees success. He has written the first true guide for protecting a startup from self-sabotage.” ➤ Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder (Basic Books, 2010) From Thiel: “He tells how…

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Bull figurine standing on bitcoins, concept of cryptocurrencies

Seven in 10 Institutional Investors Expect To Buy Cryptos

Mainstreaming continues, despite the detractors, with major investment players signing on

Cryptocurrencies are now estimated to be worth roughly $2 trillion and — despite pressure from regulators — demand from investors continues: In July 2021, FTX—the Antigua-based cryptocurrency derivatives exchange which offers futures, leverage tokens and OTC trading—raised $900 million from over 60 investors. This included venture capital firms Paradigm and Sequoia, hedge funds and the private equity group Thoma Bravo. It was the largest private equity deal in the crypto industry’s history, valuing the business at $18 billion—one of the largest rounds of financing for a digital assets startup. In May 2021, Block.one —the Peter Thiel, Alan Howard and Louis Bacon backed blockchain software firm—pumped $9.7 billion into a new cryptocurrency exchange subsidiary called Bullish Global. Even excluding Block.one’s capital…

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グローバルネットワーク デジタルコンテンツ

Peter Thiel Speaking in Person at COSM, Seattle, November 10

As a world class venture capitalist, he is known for bluntness about what works and what doesn’t

COSM 2021 is the place to be, November 10–12, to get the inside track on the converging technologies remaking the world as we know it. This year, iconic Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel will be speaking in person, addressing the question “Is Technology Soaring or Slumping?” At the first COSM in October 2019, Peter Thiel spoke by interactive video. Not one to mince words, he told the attendees bluntly that Silicon Valley is losing its touch and compared universities today to the Catholic Church at its worst. He has a remarkable history in both areas. He has been a prime mover in PayPal, Facebook, Palantir, Airbnb, Lyft, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. And he had intended to found a university. But,…

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Business woman using tablet with cryptocurrency bitcoin link network concept

Will Going Mainstream Spoil the Fun for Crypto?

Crypto exchange FTX.US is, for a tidy sum, naming a Berkeley sports field, with philanthropy thrown in

At least one cryptocurrency exchange seem to be settling into the accustomed round of corporate donorship that creates name recognition with the public. FTX.US, affiliated with global crypto exchange FTX, has given Cal Athletics (University of California, Berkeley) $17.3 million for the right to call the field at field at California Memorial Stadium “FTX Field” for ten years. FTX has been creating recognition with other strategic donations as well: FTX has been on a sports and e-sports sponsorship spending spree this year. In March, the exchange secured the naming rights to the home arena of NBA team Miami Heat for a reported $135 million, while in June, the exchange paid $210 million to acquire the naming rights for e-sports organization…

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For electronic devices, photonic computer

Photonics: Because Light Travels Faster Than Electricity

Fibre optics (light) is used to transmit data via the internet but on the stationary computer, it’s the slower electrons that rule. Some researchers hope to change that

As Ryan Hamerly explains at IEEE Spectrum, optical fibers can carry more than electrical wires. But they face a limitation: But there is a big difference between communicating data and computing with it. And this is where analog optical approaches hit a roadblock. Conventional computers are based on transistors, which are highly nonlinear circuit elements—meaning that their outputs aren’t just proportional to their inputs, at least when used for computing. Nonlinearity is what lets transistors switch on and off, allowing them to be fashioned into logic gates. This switching is easy to accomplish with electronics, for which nonlinearities are a dime a dozen. But photons follow Maxwell’s equations, which are annoyingly linear, meaning that the output of an optical device…