by Tyler Cowen
on December 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm
1. Some advances in science from this year.
2. In praise of edited volumes.
3. Mexico will be doing major educational reform.
4. Interview with me on India.
5. Robert Gordon is too pessimistic about the future (and doesn’t get driverless cars).
When has Robert Gordon NOT been pessimistic about the future.
#5: Gordon in high honor for getting the priorities right: Flush toilets created more consumer surplus than the internet! However, no one knows what future innovations will occur, for it is unknowable.
Much government regulated flush toilet clogs several times a week.
Flush toilet + US government regulations = consumer surplus turned into stinking bowl of human waste
Smuggle in toilets from Canada! 🙂
Stinking bowl of human waste also = eat more fiber.
Where I live most people don’t have flush toilets, but most people do have smart phones.
#1 is all very interesting. However, it’s sub # 8 “Stem Cells Could Extend Human Life by Over 100 Years” makes me wonder:
-Why would anyone want to live so long?
-Will the retirement age be affected?
Why would anyone want to live so long??? You must be joking? We will see how you feel about it on your deathbed.
I want to go cheaply! 🙁
Depends on if you are healthy or not. It would not be all that grand to live to 100 if the last thirty years you are wheelchair-bound and increasingly senile.
#5 Robert Gordon is too pessimistic about the future
He didn’t even mention the problems.
$5, Broadly we could take the Nordic track (pun) to happiness. The answer that we can’t because that would mean lower GDP growth, is self-refuting. At that point you assert that GDP is not just good, but better than happiness.
That’s fine if you think that Sweden or Norway is the end of history. If you can’t imagine a higher standard of living, if in other words you take literally the phrase “developed nation”, then fine.
That may even make sense until you develop incurable breast cancer or give birth to a child with a severe disability.
We need more GDP growth because we need technological progress.
As it happens, the Nordic countries are pretty good on innovation, esp. per-capita. See “Triadic patents per million of population” here.
Wouldn’t it be better to at least put in a couple of decades of very high growth, and THEN revert to the nordic model? At that point you’ll have Singapore-level GDP with Sweden-level happiness and it’s all good.
As it is, the working class in SG has incomes equivalent to the upper middle class in SE, and the gap is only widening.
Of course international income differentials aren’t felt as much as intranational ones, and thus not a great concern right now, but surely at some point income inequality between developed nations will become a significant issue?
If you can arrange a couple of decades of very high growth, I’m down with that 😉
1. That’s not a picture of a DNA helix. It’s a coiled up strand. Still an impressive image though. I’m not going to pick on any of the others. No point being a negative Nelly.
From the Huffington post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/02/dna-photo-double-helix_n_2219803.html#slide=1517722
“X-ray based imaging has improved over the years, yielding clearer and clearer visualizations, but as The Atlantic points out, the technique relies on diffracted light. As such, the images of DNA it produces aren’t actually photographs but more of a rendering.”
But aren’t SEM images also a “rendering”? It’s all signal processing, including our own eyes.
Yeah, “DNA Was Photographed for the First Time” is just stupid.
1. DNA was photographed at least 1,000 times over the past 50 years. And, these pictures actually showed a true double strand.
2. The helix shown has absolutely nothing to do with the true double helix. The pitch is completely wrong for any of the DNA forms. Whatever it is, there is really no point in picturing it.
5. Gordon and Tyler reach similar Great Stagnation conclusions, but Gordon is either more pessimistic or more realistic. And actually I think he gets driverless cars better than Tyler.
I don’t think he does. He’s seemed to have limited the benefits to safety. What about time savings, fuel efficiency increases, more efficient use of cars, more mobility for the elderly and disabled, lower transport costs, etc? Once one stops and looks at all that cars do and fail to do, the possibilities are really huge!
The time lost in commutes is already being eliminated by telecommuting, the fuel efficiency will have little effect and I don’t believe the transports costs will be lower. And if your unable to drive because of age, there’s little else you can do that you can’t do at home.
Not huge. Overrated, by you and Tyler.
Lol. It is called *marginal* revolution.
And Gordon’s piece is about major changes. Apparently, you missed the point.
“And if your unable to drive because of age, there’s little else you can do that you can’t do at home.”
That is silly. Being able to drive is a big deal. The elderly hate to give up driving. And, I would love to be able to get my kids to practices and stuff without being a chauffeur.
Yes, I know, it is a big joke ha ha ha, but Kids Prefer Cheese account of edited volumes does not quite cover all the cases. Yes, Proceedings volumes, particularly if one does not have a paper in it oneself, are certainly a waste of time. OTOH, there are Handbooks and so on where the editor(s) organize the volume and select the authors, which are generally of higher quality, some of them heavily cited. Indeed, some of them have even founded entire fields of research, e.g. Easterlin’s original paper on happiness economics way back in 1974 in an edited volume.
Tyler, your answer to the Kerala question is impressive. Not many western economists, and also Indian capitalist economists understand the nuances that you allude to in that answer. I am quite a bit to the left of you in most of the issues discussed in that article. But, I will definitely give your ideas a closer reading from now on.
To add on to my above comment about Kerala, the high unemployment in Kerala has to be seen in context. The education spending has enabled Keralites to participate in the global economy in a larger proportion than other parts of India. A significant portion of Kerala’s wealth comes from educated Keralites working abroad. It is something that deserves closer study.
I believe it was Grisell who first said “the future is going to be where you are going to spend the rest of your life in the future”?
So far he’s been right.
The banality of academia — really enjoyed #2
#1, the invisibility cloak was the best one, obvs.
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