MR sentences to ponder

Also, I finally had a chance to meet Tyler Cowen and tell him that his blog played a bit part in how I ended up dating my now-wife. Back when we were messaging on OKCupid (to clarify: my wife and I were messaging; I have not contacted Tyler Cowen on OKC), I wanted to establish my Internet-nerd bona fides, so I mentioned that I’d been linked by a prominent economics blog. She mentioned that she had been linked by a very prominent economics blog. It was Marginal Revolution, both times. (Her post: on taking oneself seriously. My post is lost to history, but I believe it was about the causes and consequences of onion futures being illegal.)

Since Cowen is an expert on many topics, it should come as no surprise that he’s an export on MR lore, so he informed me that at least one couple has gotten married on the site. One economic story you can tell about the last hundred or so years is that, as economies globalize, we compete head-to-head with more people, and need to define our domains ever more narrowly if we hope to be #1. Apparently “used Marginal Revolution to get married” was, in fact, far too broad a domain for me to have any hope of excelling.

That is from Byrne Hobart, with the essay mostly on his recent visit to Bloomberg and the Bloomberg AI panel.


Sounds like what the French call a virtual "menage le trois".

Bonus trivia: failure to disclose you met your wife on an online dating site is grounds, under US law, to having your wife deported, in theory, and I bet sometime in the unfortunate future, with Trump xenophobia, in practice.

Maybe MR should create a dating site on the side!

OKCupid could maybe hook up some of the cucks and incels here on MR. But then again there might not be an AI powerful enough to do that.

Congratulations! You should call the baby Tyrone.

Tycho (Brahe?) methinks.

If it was onion futures, you just might have provided credit to the wrong person as the motivation to comment, since Prof. Tabarrok is the one with an interest in onion markets, with fairly recent posts concerning his experiences in India, for example.

And really, google ensures that nothing on the web needs to be lost, without even using

Don't worry about precise credit, or the fact that this is a shared website (interesting bit of internet trivia - according to a whois query, it was Prof. Tabarrok that registered MRUNIVERSITY.COM on 2001-03-07 - this website was registered on 2003-08-18, in interesting contrast, after blogging had gone very mainstream).

Especially since it appears that Tracy W's comment was plagiarized. Even a decade ago, there were commenters interested in proper crediting -
'Concerned September 7, 2010 at 4:30 pm

You plagarized an article without giving credit. This was written by By Jon Birger on June 30, 2008, titled: "What onions teach us about oil prices:Onions have no futures market, yet their recent price volatility makes the swings in oil and corn look tame."

Shame on you.'

(Time for a Paul Harvey voiceover? Sometimes, this place is just so entertaining.)

You seem learned. What do you think of Mosaic (the company) and the prospects for potash? Reversion to the mean for this stock? Why is it giving an anemic 0.7% dividend?

Bonus trivia: the first US patent was for an improved method of producing potash (used for bleach, glass making and soap). While it's true just burning hardwood trees in the open will yield potash, to get the really good stuff like pearlash you need you to use a kiln with high temperatures and limited oxygen. Wikipedia: "Hardwood could generate ashes at the rate of 60 to 100 bushels per acre (500 to 900 m3/km2). In 1790, ashes could be sold for $3.25 to $6.25 per acre ($800 to $1,500/km2) in rural New York State – nearly the same rate as hiring a laborer to clear the same area" - so potash was 'self-funding', not a profit maker, but enough to give a colonial farm family bleach, soap and maybe a bit of surplus to sell to city folk.

I once found Tyler's daughter on OKC (a few years ago). I intended to message her but she had taken down her profile in the interim. Oh, what could have been!

Or not that entertaining - matter of perspective, of course.

Interesting essay by Hobart, especially the public good vs. private good part. He seems okay with making the AI for self-driving cars a public good to avoid the risk of incompatible algorithms causing the cars to crash into one another. My frequent comment that self-driving cars will need their own right of way (i.e., they will need to be operated much like public transit) is meant to highlight that self-driving cars are private transit but will require a large public expenditure (for the separate right of way) to make them safe. In other words, a public-private partnership in which the public pays the costs and the private collects the revenues. Can we avoid the costs of a separate right of way if the AI is made a public good? No, not as long as the UI (the unintelligent) are driving non-autonomous cars on the same road. Of course, there's a much simpler solution, one that was used efficiently in the distant past: public transit. Hobart would object because public anything cuts out the opportunity for the boys in tech to invest in cool stuff like spaceships to Mars funded by the rewards of the AI that runs social media and internet commerce. He has a point. We will need those spaceships to Mars to escape the lunatics on social media. A simpler solution (simpler than spaceships to Mars) would be to regulate social media like we used to regulate the airwaves, the regulation intended to keep the lunatics off the air so they don't stir each other into committing public mayhem.

The de novo consumer surplus can be construed as a public good, no?

I have not contacted Tyler Cowen on OKC

Yet - growth mindset!

Professor Cowen should be invited to be one of the matchmakers on the Washington Post 'Date Lab'

Outside of the three-mile limit, economists can solemnize marriages.

Inside of the three-mile limit, it's too dark to see.

It was very good of Tyler to link this, because it does have the best criticism of "Bloomberg AI."

Perhaps it has the best defense as well, but I am not convinced.

Frankly, the world is overrun with tofu experts who treat AI as a linear problem, with some percent progress and completeness, rather than as a mass of overlapping work, some with potential and some tapped-out.

The best thing any interested generalist or popularizer could do would be to learn what is now called an AGI, and how it is different, often completely different, from so much commercial work in AI.

Economic outcomes will vary depending on which ventures, under this vast umbrella of AI, bear fruit.

In my ancestral culture, marriage brokers get a fee. The couple might owe some money.

i like the Tofu adjective. Good, very dense well written essay. Of course it is a very NYC present tense view - imagining the world of AI as if the current reality is just perturbed. I believe this will be a fleeting episode - in a very few years AI will result in a world none of us will recognise so that current concerns will seem very quaint.

Do you mean that in the sense that we will have AGI "in a very few years," or at that weak AI will be transformative in itself?

Personally, I think the second is tough to argue, but it is the only interpretation that is arguable.

but with economists


I met my husband online (I think it was OKC. One quickly forgets such things.). What got me before meeting in person was that he wrote in complete paragraphs and used words like "suburbia". He indicated intelligence and conscientiousness but he wasn't trying to show off intellectualism. Upon meeting in person, we discovered that we had both used our limited funds as undergrads to bet on the price of oil rising. We had both lost money doing this. Now, if that's not a soul mate, I don't know what one is.

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