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Review of “Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity”

This new book on tech, AI, and economic prosperity by Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson is incredibly timely

This book by two MIT economists is very timely because the world is now dealing with the latest in the “Thousand Year Struggle,” in the form of artificial intelligence, the claims that many white-collar jobs will be automated, OpenAI’s call for regulation, and the possibility that AI will bring a further concentration of power among the big tech companies. Much of the book sets the stage for this discussion by summarizing the history of technology. This review focuses on the economic and social impact of automation and information technology over the last 50 years. For instance, “the distribution of income between capital and labor began to change significantly in the late 20th century. While throughout most of the century, about Read More ›

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Gilder: More Tech Equals More Productivity, Not Less

How will artificial intelligence change the economy? George Gilder responds

How will artificial intelligence change the economy? Will it wipe out traditionally human occupations? Or will it end up creating more jobs for people in the long run? George Gilder, co-founder of Discovery Institute and author of the new book Gaming AI: Why AI Can’t Think but Can Transform Jobs, thinks that AI has the potential to drastically enhance human life. His optimistic view on AI focuses more on job creation over the long term, while he firmly recognizes that AI will never become so humanlike that it will replace us. He particularly thinks AI will be able to perform the jobs that most people would prefer to avoid. Vish Gain wrote a piece on Gilder’s views in the Silicon Read More ›

population of a small planet

Gale Pooley on the Humanize Podcast

Are we really living on a dying planet?

Are we living on a dying planet? Are the doomsday prophecies of scarcity and widespread starvation due to population growth real? It’s the mainstream assumption, parroted by a number of influential voices. But not everything has taken the bait. Dr. Gale L. Pooley, senior fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty and co-author of the groundbreaking 2022 book Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing, talked with Wesley J. Smith on the Humanize podcast on his work in economics and the ideas behind the book. Pooley co-wrote Superabundance with Marian Tupy of the Cato Institute. Smith and Pooley enjoyed a conversation pushing back against the widespread pessimism that is inherent in the scarcity narrative. Their Read More ›


Countering Doom with Superabundance

Marian L. Tupy challenges the ideology of scarcity and promotes a refreshing new perspective on human innovation and population

The idea that the higher the human population the scarcer earth’s resources become is prevalent and mainstream. It is behind many of the doomsday alarmist calls for population control and influences much of economic theory and practice. But what if it’s wrong? Marian Tupy, co-author with Gale Pooley of the 2022 book Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet, offers a different account. The earth’s resources and innovation actually increase the more people there are on the planet. Bringing their innovation and creativity to the table, joined with earth’s resources, humans find ways to create “superabundance.” Marian Tupy spoke at the COSM Conference back in November 2022, and his lecture on his Read More ›

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Large Language Models Can Entertain but Are They Useful?

Humans who value correct responses will need to fact-check everything LLMs generate

In 1987 economics Nobel Laureate Robert Solow said that the computer age was everywhere—except in productivity data. A similar thing could be said about AI today: It dominates tech news but does not seem to have boosted productivity a whit. In fact, productivity growth has been declining since Solow’s observation. Productivity increased by an average of 2.7% a year from 1948 to 1986, by less than 2% a year from 1987 to 2022. Labor productivity is the amount of goods and services we produce in a given amount of time—output per hour. More productive workers can build more cars, construct more houses, and educate more children. More productive workers can also enjoy more free time. If workers can do in four Read More ›

red lifeboat

Business Prof: Stop It! The World is NOT Running Out of Stuff!

A famous bet between two top thinkers settled that a long time ago

Recently, Jay Richards interviewed Dr. Gale Pooley, Professor of Economics at BYU-Hawaii, on the myth that we are running out of resources and doomed to future scarcity. Even though media pundits often claim it is true, the numbers say it is a myth. The story begins with a famous bet between two professors… From the interview: The bet was whether basic commodity prices would rise between September 29, 1980 and September 29, 1990. The professors who made the bet were Stanford insect biologist Paul Ehrlich (1932–), author of bestseller The Population Bomb (1968), and economist Julian Simon (1932–1998) Ehrlich bet yes and Simon bet no. Gale Pooley: First of all, what was interesting about Julian Simon, he reads Ehrlich’s book Read More ›

Engineering students using a 3D printer

Why Engineering Can’t Be Reduced to the Laws of Physics

When we reduce the engineer’s mind to a computer, the source of innovation disappears

The fundamental problem of modern science is the problem of innovation. Where does novelty come from? This problem shows up in physics, biology, artificial intelligence, and economics. Within physics, the problem is how to account for the fundamental constants of reality. They are all precisely tuned to make sentient and intelligent life—life that can learn about itself and the universe—possible through science. Within biology, the problem is accounting for the source of highly complex genetic sequences that express finely tuned biological functions. In artificial intelligence, the challenge is identifying solutions that are relevant to a given scenario. In economics the problem is identifying the right products for the market. What do all these situations have in common? In each case, Read More ›


Universal Basic Income? Fear of AI Fuels Bad Economics

If new technology led to mass permanent unemployment, history would be an endless saga of expanding joblessness

Although the coming shift will be abrupt, new technologies enable us to focus, as economists would put it, on our comparative advantage over machines. 

Read More ›

How Can Information Theory Help the Economy Grow?

New information is the true source of new wealth; everyone wins when we learn how to produce it more efficiently
What gives humans the ability to increase in prosperity, according to Eric Holloway, is our ability to “read” from Plato’s Library of new ideas, thus providing an ever-growing supply of side information that powers the economy. Read More ›
People running away from an invisible hand

Does Technology Favor Tyranny?

Part One: Deconstructing Yuval Harari’s Silly Forecast of AI’s Future Impact

Will infotech and biotech erode human agency, subvert human desires, and render free-market economics obsolete?  At first glance, there looks to be a wide gap between the future of AI and the destruction of democracy. Some futurists claim to have jumped that chasm. In a cheery little column published by the Atlantic, Yuval Noah Harari posits AI will ultimately destroy Read More ›