Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryEconomics

bitcoin-cryptocurrency-virtual-money-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
Bitcoin cryptocurrency, virtual money concept

Has the Bitcoin Supply of Greater Fools Finally Been Exhausted?

It’s a bubble fueled by babble

The Declaration of Bitcoin’s Independence, endorsed by numerous celebrities, states that, We hold these truths to be self-evident. We have been cyclically betrayed, lied to, stolen from, extorted from, taxed, monopolized, spied on, inspected, assessed, authorized, registered, deceived, and reformed. We have been economically disarmed, disabled, held hostage, impoverished, enervated, exhausted, and enslaved. And then there was bitcoin. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are, in reality, not useful alternatives to cash, checking accounts, debit cards, credit cards, and the other components of the financial system that powers the economies of developed countries. Blockchain technology is slow, expensive, and environmentally unfriendly. In 2021, Cambridge University researchers estimated that bitcoin blockchains consume as much electricity as the entire country of Argentina, with only Read More ›

wheat-field-ears-of-golden-wheat-closeup-harvest-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
Wheat field. Ears of golden wheat closeup. Harvest concept

Pesticides Bad, organics good! But how do we know it’s true?

Thinking that pesticides are bad and organic is good is thinking is ingrained into our common wisdom. Few question it

Josh Gilder, who worked with the State Department and was a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan (1911–2004 ), opened by quoting the 16th century Swiss alchemist Paracelsus, who reportedly said “The dose makes the poison.” For example, a very small amount of arsenic will have “no detectable physiological effect on you whatsoever,” whereas drinking too much water can kill you. (Recall the woman who tragically died in the “Hold your Wee for a Wii” contest.) The body produces electricity but “you get hit by a lightning bolt, you’re dead,” Gilder explained. These and innumerable other examples confirm the wisdom of Paracelsus.The relevance for us today, Gilder explained, is that many chemicals that are regulated or even banned — due to their Read More ›

growing population
Crowd of people on the street. No recognizable faces

Living in a Superabundant Age

Marian L. Tupy talks economics, falling birth rates, and human creativity at the COSM conference

On November 10th, Marian L. Tupy, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, spoke at this year’s COSM technology summit on behalf of his new book Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet. Tupy co-wrote the book with Gale L. Pooley, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute and associate professor of business management at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. Their book takes a contrarian view of economics, scarcity, and the idea that an excessive human population diminishes the world’s resources. As the book’s title suggests, Tupy and Pooley take the opposite view: the world’s resources increase with population growth. During the COSM session, Tupy said, The caveman had the same natural resources at Read More ›

hipster-breakfast-at-home-stockpack-adobe-stock
Hipster breakfast at home

Tech bubble? Our Progress Towards Value to Users Has Slowed…

We should be wary of glowing forecasts when newer technologies don’t offer anywhere near as large benefits

Today’s new technologies, from virtual reality to nuclear fusion have recently received record investments from venture capitalists, but their revenues are not growing as fast as technologies of past decades. Startup losses are unprecedented — far larger than in past decades. Share prices and private valuations have also been collapsing in 2022. Optimists mostly focus on the good news and ignore these facts. They believe that the heavy funding for these new technologies is a good measure of potential and thus any criticism is unjustified. Here is their typical argument: Paul Krugman and other “experts” criticized the Internet, personal computers, and other technologies in their early years. But these technologies succeeded. Therefore, criticisms of the new technologies are unfounded — Read More ›

stock-trader-sleeping-at-multiple-computers-desk-stockpack-adobe-stock
Stock Trader Sleeping At Multiple Computer's Desk

More Hard Math Does Not Necessarily Mean More Useful Solutions

It is sometimes tempting to overemphasize the math and underemphasize the relevance

Math is said to be the language of science in that most (but definitely not all) scientific models of the world involve mathematical equations. The Pythagorean theorem, the normal distribution, Einstein’s energy-mass equivalence, Newton’s second law of motion, Newton’s universal law of gravitation, Planck’s equation. How could any of these remarkable models be expressed without math? Unfortunately, it is sometimes tempting to overemphasize the math and underemphasize the relevance. The brilliance of the models listed above lies not in mathematical pyrotechnics but, if anything, in their breath-taking simplicity. Useful models help us understand the world and make reliable predictions. Math for the sake of math does neither. Examples of mindless math are legion. I will give three very different examples. Read More ›

robot-hand-putting-fresh-cherry-on-top-of-the-cupcake-stockpack-adobe-stock
Robot hand putting fresh cherry on top of the cupcake

As the Robot Fry Cook Takes Over the Kitchen …

… Jay Richards’ new short “Science Uprising” special dismisses philosophical claims that humans are mere “meat machines”

Science Uprising released an extra feature on Tuesday, following Science Uprising 10, in which philosopher Jay Richards discusses what underlies the myths of artificial intelligence: It isn’t a superior grasp of the technology involved that drives some (Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and others) to warn that AI will achieve superiority over human beings, drive us out of work, and finally out of existence. It’s the hidden premise that humans are just “meat machines” rather than spiritual beings in a creator’s image. If that were true, of course it would follow that other, faster machines would likely overtake and replace us. David Klinghoffer, “Jay Richards: Myths, Metaphysics, and Artificial Intelligence” at Evolution News (October 4, 2022) However it plays out among Read More ›

Statistics Carlos Muza on Unsplash 84523

The Hyper-Specialization of University Researchers

So many papers are published today in increasingly narrow specialties that, if there is still a big picture, hardly anyone can see it

The Bible warns that, “Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Nowadays, the endless making of books is dwarfed by the relentless firehose of academic research papers. A 2010 study published in the British Medical Journal reported that the U.S. National Library of Medicine includes 113,976 papers on echocardiography — which would weary the flesh of any newly credentialed doctor specializing in echocardiography: We assumed that he or she could read five papers an hour (one every 10 minutes, followed by a break of 10 minutes) for eight hours a day, five days a week, and 50 weeks a year; this gives a capacity of 10000 papers in one year. Read More ›

COSM-2022-george-gilder

Is AI Sentient? Where’s the Economy Headed? Join Me at COSM 2022!

We’ll find out together from a remarkable lineup of insightful movers, shakers, and thinkers

Where is the U.S. economy headed in the next year? Is decoupling from China realistic, or even possible? Is our country ready for widescale electric vehicle adoption? And what are the cutting-edge technologies that will change the world? These are just a few of the questions we will grapple with at COSM 2022. Register now for COSM 2022, Nov. 9-11 in Seattle Another is whether AI will ever achieve consciousness. Remember the Google engineer who made national headlines a month ago for claiming that the company’s AI had become sentient? His name is Blake Lemoine, and he will be making his case — in one of his first public appearances — at COSM 2022 in November. We have also added Read More ›

unicorn-stockpack-adobe-stock
unicorn

Why People Keep Investing in Cool Companies That Lose Money

If money is all that matters, a beautiful loser is still a loser,… But wait. IS money all that matters when we are buying unicorns (exciting startups)?

Recently, we’ve been looking at unicorns — those tech companies that are just so Now! that, like Uber, Airbnb, and DoorDash, they are part of our everyday conversation. But as Gary Smith and Jeffrey Funk have noted, they don’t make money. And seldom or never have. For years on end. The recent downturn could mean some don’t survive. So Mind Matters News asked Dr. Funk, “Why don’t people notice, year after year, that these companies are not good investments? Is the buzzy idea more important than the financial outcome?“ Here’s what he told us: There are many ways to answer this question. My favourite answer uses Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller’s concept of irrational exuberance. Some of the following words are Read More ›

Peter Thiel with George Gilder at COSM 2021

Peter Thiel Will Be Luncheon Keynoter at COSM, November 9

Billionaire venture capitalist Thiel made waves earlier this year, calling Warren Buffett and other investment gurus a “finance gerontocracy”

Some iconic tech venture capitalists go with the flow — and then there’s Peter Thiel: In an age when some computer scientists prophesy that AI will soon rise up and destroy mankind, he says no, that’s not happening; the big story is the End of Privacy. He also sees Big Tech innovation as slowing down, in the sense that most Wow!! new developments are successfully hyped riffs on earlier ones. He goes so far as to say that, contrary to expert views, cryptocurrency is not just a flash in the pan. At Bitcoin 2022, he blasted “Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon, Larry Fink as ‘finance gerontocracy.’” That is, they are over the hill though not yet under it. So Thiel is Read More ›

unicorn-on-gold-cube-mountain-start-up-illustration-concept-of-leader-on-a-market3d-rendering-3d-illustration-stockpack-adobe-stock
unicorn on gold cube mountain . start up, illustration concept of leader on a market.3d rendering. 3d illustration.

Warning: Unicorn Stocks May Be Nearing Bankruptcy, Fire Sales

Uber, Airbnb, and DoorDash seem so lifestyle-friendly … they even became part of our vocabulary

In an article today, Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith puzzle over the way investors have “rained cash” on unprofitable companies like Uber, Airbnb, DoorDash, etc. Yes, they are icons of popular culture. No, unlike Apple and Google, they do not make money: Here are their stats from the table the authors offer: Company Founded Funds Raised Cumulative LossesUber Technologies 2009 $25.2 billion $31.7 billionAirbnb 2008 $6.0 billion $6.0 billionDoor Dash 2013 $2.5 billion $4.6 billion Only one of the 15 companies they list — including some other culture icons — has ever had a profitable quarter: Any hopeful arguments that profitability is just around the corner ring hollow when every company is at least nine years old and two are Read More ›

Chinese microchip
Macro image of a motherboard with the inscription

How Safe Is Our Tech If It Depends on Non-Free Nations?

Europe’s energy woes, in the wake of the Russia–Ukraine war, should spur us to take the question seriously

Keith Krach, former chairman and CEO of Docusign, the app that enables you to conveniently buy a house in Delaware while selling one in Oregon, is speaking at COSM (November 9–11 in Seattle). Docusign was of immense help during the COVID pandemic when in-person transactions were often impractical, illegal, or just impossible. Go here to get the Early Adopter rate before September 15. Krach, former Under Secretary of State and current Chairman of the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue University, has been thinking a good deal about our future and new technology. He is committed to the importance of rehoming technology Americans need in the United States, as he told Fierce Electronics recently: Our adversaries, starting with the Read More ›

china-taiwan-and-usa-flag-print-screen-to-microchip-on-electronic-board-for-symbol-of-military-conflict-war-and-economic-business-partnership-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
China Taiwan and USA flag print screen to microchip on electronic board for symbol of military conflict war and economic business partnership concept.

Taiwan Has Bet Its Uncertain Future on Advanced Microchips

An increasingly belligerent China has long claimed to own Taiwan, which manufactures 90% of the world’s *advanced* microchips

Taiwan is the world’s largest manufacturer of microchips*, and not just by a small margin. Taiwan manufactures 65% of the microchips used in everything from smartphones to missiles. This compares to the U.S. at 10% and China at 5%. South Korea and Japan produce the rest. More important, Taiwan manufactures 90% of the world’s advanced microchips. In other words, without Taiwan, the world’s supply of microchips would come to a standstill, something that has been keenly felt since 2021 when chip shortages affected the auto industry. So far, the world’s dependence on Taiwan’s chips has protected the self-governing island nation from a potential invasion or ruinous trade sanctions from China. Earlier, we looked at U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit Read More ›

set-of-red-glass-dice-isolated-on-black-background-3d-rendering-illustration-stockpack-adobe-stock
Set of red glass dice isolated on black background. 3d rendering - illustration.

Don’t Worship Math: Numbers Don’t Equal Insight

The unwarranted assumption that investing in stocks is like rolling dice has led to some erroneous conclusions and extraordinarily conservative advice

My mentor, James Tobin, considered studying mathematics or law as a Harvard undergraduate but later explained that I studied economics and made it my career for two reasons. The subject was and is intellectually fascinating and challenging, particularly to someone with taste and talent for theoretical reasoning and quantitative analysis. At the same time it offered the hope, as it still does, that improved understanding could better the lot of mankind. I was an undergraduate math major (at Harvey Mudd, not Harvard) and chose economics for the much the same reasons. Mathematical theories and empirical data can be used to help us understand and improve the world. For example, during the Great Depression in the 1930s, governments everywhere had so Read More ›

technician-with-wafer-stockpack-adobe-stock
technician with wafer

Pelosi’s Visit to Taiwan Matters to China. And to Your Computer

China staged an impressive display of military firepower at U.S, lawmaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit Taiwan — prominent in the globally crucial semiconductor “chips” industry

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan at the beginning of August included a meeting with Mark Liu, head of the Taiwan Manufacturing Semiconductor Corporation (TMSC), which is the world’s largest producer of computer microchips — and makes most of the world’s advanced ones. Plans for Pelosi’s visit were first reported in Financial Times, after the trip was rescheduled due to COVID. China responded to the announcement with a global propaganda to present the visit as an act of defiance against the U.S. One China Policy. The U.S. One-China Policy recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China but it does not necessarily agree with the PRC on Taiwan being a part of China. Read More ›

metaverse-world-nft-art-gallery-avatars-and-vr-glasses-3d-illustrations-stockpack-adobe-stock
Metaverse world NFT Art Gallery Avatars and VR Glasses 3D Illustrations

Are NFTs a Bubble That Has Just Plain Popped for Good?

Despite the crypto crash, they seem to be developing a life of their own — in ticket sales, for example

Here’s the first part of Episode 3 of the discussion between computer engineering prof Robert J. Marks and computer engineering grad students Adam Goad and Austin Egbert on that wild new online world. They’ve been discussing what gives NFTs (non-fungible tokens) their value. Now, in “The NFT Anti-bubble” (August 18, 2022), they are looking at how NFTs are faring in the vast crypto crater. What still sells?: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/08/Mind-Matters-200-Adam-Goad-Austin-Egbert.mp3 This portion begins at 00:15 min. A partial transcript, notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: We have talked about non-fungible tokens kind of hitting the skids. Is this a bubble pop? Are non-fungible tokens going to disappear as kind of an interesting thing in history? Or are they going to Read More ›

nft-non-fungible-tokenscrypto-art-on-colorful-abstract-background-pay-for-unique-collectibles-in-games-or-art-3d-render-of-nft-crypto-art-collectibles-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
NFT non fungible tokenscrypto art on colorful abstract background. Pay for unique collectibles in games or art. 3d render of NFT crypto art collectibles concept

What Gives NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) Their Value?

But first, a tour through the seamier side of the internet, supported in large part by the very blockchain that mints NFTs

Here’s the second part of Episode 2 of the discussion between computer engineering prof Robert J. Marks and computer engineering grad students Adam Goad and Austin Egbert on the wild new online world of digital money, fan gear, contracts, and art. In the first part, Adam and Austin explained how digital collectibles — non-fungible tokens (NFTs) — work (or don’t). In this second part, What are NFTs?, they look at how people use them, with a sidestep into the swashbuckling world of crypto crime: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/08/Mind-Matters-199-Adam-Goad-Austin-Egbert.mp3 A partial transcript, notes, and Additional Resources follow. The discussion continued with the NBA’s use of NFTs as the new “trading cards.” How are NFTs like or unlike the iconic cards? Adam Goad: That one Read More ›

bank-stockpack-adobe-stock
Bank

Debanking… When Your Bank Acts Like a Political Party

In Canada, ordered by the government, banks began to act like the party in power. Panic, chaos, and bank runs ensued

Earlier this year, we looked at debanking, during the Convoy protests in Canada. The government ordered the banks to freeze the private bank accounts of protesters against the federal government’s contested COVID-19 policies. As we’ll see, debanking, in various forms — where the bank decides, for political reasons — to freeze or end accounts, is becoming a “thing” in the United States too. What really happens? An investigation uncovered some sobering findings: The government invoked the rarely used Emergencies Act on February 14, insisting that doing so was constitutional (“Charter compliant”) and that freezing individuals’ bank accounts “did not amount to a seizure” of them. What happened afterward might give pause for thought: The banks were essentially handed a list Read More ›

crypto-virtual-museum-and-metaverse-internet-nft-display-as-a-futuristic-streaming-media-symbol-as-augmented-reality-and-computer-media-concept-stockpack-adobe-stock
Crypto Virtual Museum and Metaverse internet NFT display as a futuristic streaming media symbol as augmented reality and computer media concept.

When You Buy a Non-Fungible Token (NFT), What Do You Own?

You are buying someone’s digital idea. Just what legal rights that NFT confers is an open question. But the NBA is now selling them…

In the first episode of the discussion between computer engineering prof Robert J. Marks and computer engineering grad students Adam Goad and Austin Egbert (here and here), the discussion started with the projected metaverse and slowly turned to the wild world of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens — like Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet. What’s worth knowing about this burgeoning digital world? Here are Bob, Adam, and Austin again in Episode 2, What are NFTs?, Part 1: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/08/Mind-Matters-199-Adam-Goad-Austin-Egbert.mp3 This portion begins at 00:10. A partial transcript, notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: We have been talking to Adam Goad and Dr. Austin Egbert both at Baylor University about Web3. Web3, which uses distributed computing, is the tool that’s Read More ›

business-finance-savings-money-wages-payroll-or-accounting-concept-calendar-with-pink-marker-circle-in-word-payday-for-remind-stockpack-adobe-stock
Business, finance, savings money, wages, payroll or accounting concept : Calendar with pink marker circle in word payday for remind

Can Your Social Media Posts Sink Your Credit Rating? Maybe…

With AI tools, your posts or the time of day you apply for a loan might matter. Is that fair to you? Did you even know?

University of Georgia law prof Lindsay Sain Jones and Virginia Tech law prof Janine Hiller offer what should be startling news: What does your SAT score mean for your ability to pay off a car loan? What does your Facebook feed say about your chances of landing a mortgage? And, what does your propensity for snacking on road trips mean for your credit score? The answers: More than you think. Traditional credit scoring is based on a person’s demonstrated ability to take on debt and pay it off. But with the dawn of larger data pools and access to more sophisticated modeling programs, lenders and credit agencies are taking more nonfinancial factors into rating creditworthiness, particularly those without an extensive Read More ›