Thursday assorted links

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Look at what has already happened ---today the typical young person does not know howto drive a standard transmission.

So when self-driving cars become the norm will the young drivers be able to take over when the auto control system encounters serious problems?

For a self driving taxi I don't think passengers will be permitted to take over on account of liability issues. There's not likely to be any manual controls.

A car that is mostly self driving would need a licensed driver at the controls. It will also need a system to ensure the driver pays attention when necessary. In Japan they keep train drivers awake with a kind of hand signal dance.

IMO by 2030 there won't be any controls in most new vehicles and by 2040 or 2050 humans won't be allowed to control any vehicles except on designated routes or tracks.

By 2060, Progressives/Environmentalists will outlaw the manufacture and possession of unnecessary objects (everything from tools to collectibles), both for environmental (manufacturing damages the environment) and social equality (to prevent some people from owning more objects than other people) reasons, reducing people's need for space and thus allowing them to live in vehicles full time (allowing nature to reclaim the landscape), which will stop only to change batteries, but will be limited to the most efficient speed. In fact, humans will control only the destination of the vehicle. The Social Progressive Environmental Council will manage all other aspects of the vehicle, including route to the destination and resource consumption of inhabitants.

"The Social Progressive Environmental Council": nah, it'll be managed by the Council of Socially Progressive Environmentalists.

You deviant splitter!

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I can't wait to see the campaign slogans:

"Vote for The Social Progressive Environmental Council. The opposition doesn't give a fork, but we will give you exactly one fork each."

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Future Man season three loses some of its punch.

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I think it will be called The Committee for Public Safety.

OTOH, Progs could merge all transit into one national org that runs the entire universe

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There's a famous California state law decision at the appeals level that said a knife can be considered a dangerous instrumentality to the point that strict liability incurs if somebody cuts themselves with it, meaning there's no defense if somebody cuts themselves with a knife you manufacturer or sale. You just have to pay (that's what strict liability means). It may have been a dissenting decision, but it's on the books for quite a while (since the 1970s?). Tort lawyer are the original 'snowflakes'.

Bonus trivia: a domestic dog is allowed to bite somebody once without strict liability attaching, but not the second time (the two-bite rule) but a wild animal kept as a pet always has strict liability attaching to the owner for anything the wild animal does.

Interesting!
What if the wild animal's shit has a compound that's a cure for aging, but it's bite causes a mild fever. if it's strict liability for the bite but no compensation for the cure, the owners of the wild animal are like shareholders of an oil company! They make a little money selling the cure, but very little compared to the overall benefit to society that the cure provides. Yet they're forced to pay and pay for every bite.

That's Green: Strict liability for the negative impacts, no compensation for the positive impacts.

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Look at what has already happened ---today the typical young person does not know how to cultivate an acre of land.

So when markets for food become the norm will the young eater be able to take over when the market encounters serious shortages?

You could have said that in 1950.

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2. I think the headline might be true, without this bit being true:

"By 2030, the standard car will evolve from merely assisting the driver to taking full control of all aspects of driving in most driving conditions."

Or as Rodney Brooks puts it:

Crying wolf is getting old. Even me tweeting about crying wolf getting old is getting old...

The Long and Lucrative Mirage of the Driverless Car

Still, there is a lot of IoT goodness and refinement to be done to improve the human driving experience.

Americans have been lied to by Wall Street

Have you seen the Tesla Autonomy Day presentation? It wasn't perfect, but I think Tesla might be the dark horse in this race (or not so dark horse but definitely a player that the "experts" have been dismissive of). When they announced 4 years ago that they'd be putting self-driving cameras and sensors in EVERY car regardless of whether the buyer purchased that feature, they did so because they knew they'd be able to collect data in order to use in machine learning systems. Well, they go into more detail on the Autonomy Day presentation, and again it's not a Steve Jobs level of polish, and Elon is proposing an extremely aggressive timeline, but I think that the existing fleet of data-collecting cars really might be a significant advantage.

For example, they can tell the entire fleet of hundreds of thousands of these cars "if you get cut off in traffic, send us the data of how your driver responds", and then from the thousands of examples that come in they feed the driver behavior data into the machine learning system and that human behavior is captured.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ucp0TTmvqOE&t=4260

That's what they've already been doing: machine learning. The problem isn't going to be solved by more-better of the same. The problem is that machine learning does not result in INTELLIGENCE, so they have the Artificial part of AI only. Machines in fact have never shown the slightest ability to become intelligent, the intelligence some think they see is entirely the intelligence of the team of designers. The same is true of machine learning, they analyze and copy the end result, but the original result came from processes, once again the one called INTELLIGENCE, that are not done at all in the machine-learned algorythm.

I think I drive using my unconscious brain rather than consciously reasoning every decision, in other words my brain has developed a collection of algorithms to drive. So my view is that collection of automatic responses likely could be automated without “true” intelligence.

Are you saying your unconscious has no intelligence? Intelligence is not an algorythm, it's ability to create one that works.

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You say we understand nothing. But we are better at everything.

So WTF does your claim of "intelligence" actually mean?

AI is not getting better because it doesn't exist. Highly sophisticated and useful pattern matching is being done, THIS is getting better, and very important too. None of these systems can create and extend themselves beyond the bounds of what it has been trained. There is no Artificial Intelligence, it's a futurist notion in it's entirety.

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A better headline would have been: "Cars will change more in the next decade than they have in the past century, Tyler."

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#5 "10. Some people have never, ever used a telephone. Especially older women. Their husband did it for them."

Ah the good old days when men were men and women took notes!

Of course woman can use telephones; we need them to work the exchanges! A fine occupation for working class girls! Though the operator was a bit sassy the other day when asked for #312 in New York.

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The future used to be flying cars, but we seem to have mostly given that up. Now we are saying "self-driving" cars. In 70 years, will we be sitting around joking about "where's my self-driving car"?

"...Sensors designed to recognise and communicate with upgraded road signs, markings, networks of cameras..." on a network of roads and infrastructure that is barely maintained as it is?

I have other pessimistic thoughts about the article, but you know, mood affiliation....

>In 70 years, will we be sitting around joking about "where's my self-driving car"?

Guaranteed, yes.

Agree 100%!

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But highway driving is actually much easier for autonomous systems, and that's the bulk of the "crumbling infrastructure". Cities have their own budgets and plenty will fall all over themselves to become an autonomous compliant "city of the FUTURE". You'll just have to take the wheel yourself at the offramp to less affluent destinations.

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"Self-driving cars? Where we're going in 2090, we won't need "self-driving cars"" - Doc

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Not just that but if the sensors are maintained and do work, they will be two way, meaning Big Faceborg will control your car

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Tyler is such a dummy who easily falls for every "wizz-bang" tech article that comes out. He should stop posting anything about technology because it makes him look like a moron every time he does and starts gushing over every proclaimation from SV like a schoolgirl

Nah. I'd rather have gushing whizz-bang than the "kids with acne have higher grades" stuff that is clearly noncausal and barely statistical.

Tyler Cowen is the dumb guy's idea of a smart guy

Why on earth do you read his blog then?

I barely read his posts, I skip right to the comments

Because the commenters are all geniuses. Especially me.

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A very good point although I can imagine some special highways e.g. the interstate highway system, having such controls installed. Lots of cost -- but lots of benefit too.

The passage that bugged me more was this one: "Cars will also be able to help authorities maintain road infrastructure, for example with tyre sensors that notify them of deteriorating road conditions."

This is the giveaway that the author is living in at best a science-fiction -- and more likely a fantasy -- world. Every city that I know of has a phone number or website where you can report potholes. There's plenty of data already on where the potholes are.

Fixing those potholes is another matter entirely, an important fact that the author, like other Utopian dreamers, ignores.

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"In high-end models, we may even see some early versions of brain-computer interfaces, which would associate patterns of brain activity with commands to control the car or entertain occupants."

On top of all the skeptical comments above, this line from the article is just a howler. The whole thing reads like the corny ad copy from every auto show since 1955. "In a decade your car will be driving YOU home... to your two-storey bungalow on MARS! How about THAT, daddy-o? And with a built-in steam iron for pressing shirts, Ma thinks it's swell, too!"

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5 was fun and probably mostly correct

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4. "Adults between the ages of 18 and 25" are getting out and making their lives. It is entirely reasonable for them to be self-absorbed.

At some point later, when they've got that life, they can and should shift toward altruism.

This strikes me as subtly wrong. Accepting that young people may fall from the ideal of altruism because they lack experience and maturity is different from presenting that behavior as somehow an optimal part of growing up that it is better to experience than skip.

Reminds me of liberal approaches to parenting (not widely held among the great mass of sensible folk, I'd add) that stress that rambunctious rebellion and misbehavior (lying to parents, etc) are all a healthy part of growing up, and it's suspicious and concerning if that behavior is absent. Compared to the 'traditional' perspective (which I endorse) that such behavior is just little shits being little shits, and even if you love 'em despite it, and not some sort of necessary stage in growth and development towards being a better and stronger adult than the kids that never showed such behavior.

I thought modern parents were all into helicopter parenting, which stop/repress most outward signs of rebellion but produce fragile children as mom and dad do all the hard work to get their kids into the right schools and then later into the right jobs.

Helicopter parenting is really all about excessive monitoring compared to old school parenting, not about being less permissive of rebellious kids. Different issues, and the liberal parenting trend described can coexist with copter parenting (though most copter parents, like most parents always have, have the good sense to reject it). Copter parenting is about hovering around the kids, not about being more or less permissive or an attitude to bad and bratty behaviour, which is an orthogonal issue.

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we all are going to die someday, absent certain unpredictable events.

everybody knows that, so stop pretending some people have significantly harder lives than others.

Someone might say: Hey, I have to drive around a lot to my kids events!, which a self-selected minority of people claim as their great hardship in life ....

but that is not a big deal compared to ....

Hey ! I am going to die some day ....

which almost all of us can say (Thessalonians is your first reference for why I said almost).

Grow up , sheeple. You are not better than the people who you imagine you are better than. No amount of "chauffeuring" your kids, no amount of "imagining you would do anything for those you loved" means anything compared to the question of whether you are willing to be a good person, who prays to God for those you love, or not.

Wake up sheeple.

or at least stop pretending you are better than other people.

all of us have the same challenge - to love those we have been gifted enough to have met in a world where we can care for our friends - and to pray for them, and to follow the Lord.

Sure you can be theatrical about it and say "as for me and my house, we will follow the Lord" ... or "some day you may read that Preacher Smith, of such and such an address, has passed away and died. Don't you believe it! --- Preacher Smith has eternal life!" .... but my best advice is, don't be theatrical, unless you need to be to convince someone of this truth ....

life in this world is not easy for anyone.
God loves us all.
Don't be arrogant.
Pray for those who need to be prayed for.
Wake up sheeple.
Be a friend to someone who needs a friend.
Abandon the foolishness of "atheism": abandon the foolishness of "existentialism": abandon the foolishness of "modernism" and "art for art's sake", those are all sad delusions.

The truth is this.
God loves you, and wants you to do what is right, and to follow his commandments, to never do anything harmful to another human being or to an animal or even to a plant or something like a plant, and to show that you care about others, without being selfish about it.

So wake up.

It is so easy to understand.

life in this world is not easy for anyone.

wake up.

God respects the hardships you have overcome, even if you are an atheist.

and God loves atheists.

Even I love the Stooges more than the Marx brothers.

But at some point the Stooges will have to say, hey, maybe we should no longer be figures of fun, but should be real men, we should be proud to be something more than foolish.

I mean I love the Stooges but I know that they were not destined to be Stooges forever

God hates cucks though. Really hates cucks.

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(the Stooges were more atheist than the Marx brothers)

everybody knows that

and seriously, the Stooges were funnier, back in the day.

But Time goes on, and "back in the day" is gone.
Don't be arrogant.
Pray for those who need to be prayed for.

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"Ce qui m'étonne, dit Dieu, c'est l'espérance"

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The opposite of self-absorbtion is not altruism, it's self-possession - this is what the young are lacking now. The self-absorbed are often altruistic, just go to any charity gala if you need proof.

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To answer both above, what is self-absorption but focus?

Is anyone going to say 18-25 year olds should not focus on finding their place and launching a career?

A Peace Corps hitch might be nice, but it might worry the average middle class parent as well.

Hey, if you want someone to defend high middle class norms of careerist focus + hedonism (work hard, party hard, me me me) as young adults, supplanted by a philanthropic stage when older and comfortably affluent then I .... will not do that, of course. (The whole thing is not necessary and certainly not admirable. Have a little balance. Bug, not feature.).

But such norms have pretty much nothing to do with why young people show self absorption and obsession, so its rather a side topic.

You seem to be missing the key, that this is not something new or unique, this is same as it always was.

Your job at 18-25 is to leave your childhood home and find your place.

That requires some focus.

I'm pretty sure I'm addressing it enough, but to be specific:

That experience affects comparatively few young adults. Always has, and we'd want to hope it always will. And that number would and probably should be less, if it were understood to what degree elite universities add limited educational value beyond selection, and that cities provide limited productivity and income gains beyond selection, much of which is eaten up by cost of living.

To the extent that experience applies to some few 18-25 year olds, it doesn't follow that it either causes young adults to become self absorbed - if we're parsimonious, 18 and 20 year olds are more likely to be self absorbed for the same reason as they were during their teens; lack of life experience and a still immature developing brain. Which is the same reasons 18-25 year olds who don't uproot their lives continue to show teenage self absorption. (This sort of thing is understandable, but let's not present as somehow desirable or necessary).

To the extent that it could ever be the case that it could be better to be self absorbed while uprooting yourself and seeking to "find your place", it still probably would help you to find another community to take part in and your live in by being open to ideas and thoughts that are not about yourself, and those that actually are about other people that you are around, rather than to be self absorbed.

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#2
Which is why we will lease our next car.
It will not make sense to buy and keep for 10+ years as frugal people have done for decades.

Or buy current cars cheap used - these cars easily go to 250k miles.

For us, 250K miles is 60 years of driving.

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2. Your car is about to change a lot.
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Communicating cars cut traffic volatility by over half, likely three quarters, a huge easy Green trade, some software for oil, best trade available. And the cars can go fast, top end, 140 MPH trip from LA to Vegas, which is Ungreen. But party buses taking a 140 MPH from LA to Vegas, that is big business.

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#1...I enjoyed it. It's not a good argument to say that acquisitions improve companies because you've no idea what would have happened if competition had been enhanced. That's the point. It's not a good argument to say there's a particular problem with drugs when the problem is caused by the power of the drug companies. It's not a good argument to say the problem is patents if businesses are responsible for the patent laws. It's not enough to look around and be awed since you've no idea if things could have been better. You have to make a principled choice as to what is more important. There's no doubt that many big businesses provide services since they're big. We have prudent laws in oder to assure our citizens that there's a modicum of fairness in the system. The airline industry is a good example. Something can be better over time and also worse. Prudent laws should address what's worse, if it has to do with collusion, etc. It' not enough to say more people are flying. Big business needs apologists, enablers. Having read you for twelve years, I don't see you as doing that. However, you do seem to be one of the people who get irked by certain types of arguments. Did you really need an entire book to say some people make arguments I consider silly? I guess you did, and it's entertaining, but the issues concerning crony capitalism remain unanswered.

No, something can't be better and worse at the same time. What you can have is diverging definitions of what is best, Tyler likes more travel for everyone at lower prices, Wu likes less travel with more comfort at higher prices.

Sad, Yes, that's probably part of it, but, for me, it's good that more people are flying but there are issues of service that I believe don't get addressed because they don't have to be addressed, and more competition might help address those issues.

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Brazil's president, Mr. Bolsonaro, has offically worn a cowboy hat. As a Texan myself, I must say he looks good, a real cowboy.

https://canalrural.uol.com.br/noticias/nos-eua-bolsonaro-recebe-homenagem-como-personalidade-do-ano/

I thought you were from Kentucky?

No, you may be mistaking me from another person. I am a Texan, born and raised.

"Ye men of valor gather round the banner of the right

Texas and fair Louisiana join us in the fight

Davis, our loved President, and Stephens statesmen rare

Now rally round the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star."

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Can someone explain the Brazil / Bolsonaro jokes to me? Just trolls? An actual meme that is whooshed over my head?

Brazil's leader, Mr. Bolsonaro, has been elected Personality of the Year by the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce. He is Dallas, a famous city from Texas, my home state, to accept the prize.

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>Can someone explain the Brazil / Bolsonaro jokes to me?

Happy to help!

For years now, MR has been home to one of the internet's most bizarre trolls. His latest name is Thiago Ribeiro. He posts endlessly about the greatness of Brazil (and its leaders) for no apparent reason, and claims to live there, though he clearly does not. There have been many giveaways about this, the best of which was when he stated it was a Spanish-speaking country.

Not sure if he is a drunk or just semi-literate, but his posts typically contain several typos and some very bizarre turns of phrase. He also says things that do not need to be said quite often. All of this gives him away pretty easily.

For example, Thomas Winthrop is almost certainly him, as he just wrote this:

"He is Dallas, a famous city from Texas"

Leaving out the word "from" and explaining that Dallas is in Texas -- famously, no less! -- is textbook "Thiago."

Why does he do this? No one knows. He is one of THE most fascinating mental patients on the internet.

"He is one of THE most fascinating mental patients on the internet."

LOL! Thanks haha. Much appreciated.

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Sir, you are stupid.

1 - He is clearly Brazilian.
2 - He has already said he misplaced the words "Spanish" and Portuguese. Do you really think, Mr. Stupid, that a typicsl American would think that South American has ONLY one Spanish-speaking country?!
3 - Mr. Bolsonaro is not "from" Dallas. He is "in" Dallas, stupid!!!!

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"Not sure if he is a drunk or just semi-literate, but his posts typically contain several typos and some very bizarre turns of phrase"

He has already said his tablet is too small.

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Balls On Arrow is a shape in the sky, sketched with vapour trails from US fighter jets.

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Tyler - to your list (referenced in the Tim Wu debate among other places) of social networks which compete with Facebook, you might want to add Marco Polo, which I have seen act as a competitor to Facebook and Instagram in my life and others. My wife, for example, exchanges video messages on a daily basis with a group of 7-8 friends who one year ago may have shared the same news with a larger group on Facebook.

My wife and her friends are apparently not the only LDS women who use Marco Polo: https://www.ksl.com/article/46381553/marco-polo-app-more-popular-in-utah-than-anywhere-else-in-the-world

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#2: Whoa! You mean they're going to make self-driving electric vehicles?

Wait 'til the press gets a hold of this!

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Great debate, Tyler, thanks for the link. Both you and Tim provided great insights (I would award Tim a full point on MSFT over your thesis, but award the others to you or declare ties on rest of topics), but I appreciated how you demonstrated some graciousness, poise, and specific citations in response to sweeping equivalences and sarcasm.

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I cover the automotive industry for an investment firm. Cars are changing for sure, but they have changed in the past as well. And it's quite unclear exactly how much the average new car will sell by 2030. Regulators are forcing significantly more expensive propulsion systems, that's for sure. But the median car will likely still have an internal combustion engine in 2030, unless something like the Green New Deal is passed and the government says "let them eat cake" after outlawing bread. As for autonomous cars, journalists looking for clicks, consulting firms and sell side brokers seeking clients have discovered that the easiest way to get attention is by making very aggressive forecasts that create bold headlines. Forecasting dramatic change is better advertising than focusing on most likely scenarios. In the US, adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and some amount of lane-keeping seems likely to be included in a median car of 2030. It's less clear whether the median car will have true self driving (at a level 3, 4, or 5 level). Elon Musk is years behind his original promises. Most forecasts from a couple years ago on self-driving timelines are being revealed as aggressive. Some more sober companies have targeted 2022 for Level 3 autonomous systems, but such cars are only going to be able to operate fully under certain conditions. There's a bigger than appreciated gap between level 3, and level 5 when a car designer can rip out the steering wheel and pedals and sell to autonomous fleets.
See what a big deal it is when Boeing's MCAS system fails? Imagine being a car company facing class action lawsuits coming from the inevitable economic and routing tradeoffs that have to be made in designing autonomous driving systems. Carmakers would have to deal with that liability if they tell you that they are taking over driving decisions for you. Most carmakers will go slow, offer these systems as expensive options that deliver less than what is technologically possible. Tesla is an exception because they have much less to lose - a profitable car company will be afraid of bankrupting their company if they overpromise but underdeliver in autonomous driving. Elon Musk probably realized his company would go bankrupt UNLESS he overpromised and underdelivered on autonomy.
Forecasts about autonomous progress in cars would also likely be slowed by economic downturns or economic crises that would squeeze the flow of venture capital and R&D currently gushing into the field.

Thanks

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The MCAS issue is more about cutting corners on already existing regulations and technology which is less the case with Tesla which is exploring the frontier in the automotive world. So although Tesla has already had a few fatalities associated with its self drive tech it is still given the green light by the public and the regulators to continue ahead.

The big diff between MCAS and autonomous vehicles is that airplanes operate in 3-D but cars only operate in 2-D, which makes errors on planes way more significant.

But flight is automatable mostly because there are less planes in the sky worldwide at any one moment than there are cars on the road in mid-sized US city. For all practical purposes, a plane has almost zero chance of encountering a single other plane closeup, much less two.

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#1 Wu did nothing but hurl cheap shots and bring in extraneous issues. The "moderator" challenged you a lot, but I don't think she challenged Wu even once. I wouldn't have blamed you if you had stood up in the middle and left. In fact, that may very well have been the most appropriate way to respond under those circumstances.

I'm glad Tyler stayed through to the end. That is how a person of class acts. Don't be a cuck snowflake like Ben Shapiro who acts like a crybaby because the BBC journalist asked him hard questions.

If Prof Cowen was winning so handily, why on Earth would he get up and leave? I saw the show. I enjoyed it, and for all I know, Prof Cowen won the debate. Honestly, there wasn't enough time for a real debate, but there were enough comments made for people to have a taste of the book, and Prof Cowen came off as entertaining. I'm not going to comment on Wu because I haven't read his book, but I guess I will now.

I have been waiting a long time for this debate, and I sadly agree with Arnold's conclusion that Tim Wu was not always arguing in good faith. He is, after all, a lawyer. Still, his side of the argument is so much more persuasive, I can't count his disposition too much against the overwhelming conclusion that too much concentration of power, whether public or private is un-American.

I would also note that, Tyler failed to argue in good faith as well, pulling out many stops (against protectionism!? How do you think the policy sausage gets made? Overly concentrated industries lobby for protectionism). Tyler simply did not address the idea that consumer welfare is not the end-all, be-all of antitrust. As a big fan of MR and Tyler over the years, I would say his single greatest blindspot is a complete lack of understanding of what it means to live in a society, not just a collection of market based agents.

For those interested in the paper Tyler mentioned (https://www.princeton.edu/~erossi/DTNLC.pdf), it really is a good read. To summarize, it states that "evidence for the rise in concentration is uncontroversial; the share of the largest firms and the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, among other measures of concentration, have increased consistently in most sectors since 1990," but that local competition has increased. In layman's terms, when Amazon (Home Depot, Lowes, et al.) comes to town, your local hardware store no longer has a monopoly, and when this happens across the country, you end up with just Amazon and your local relationship based businesses, instead of a choice between multiple low cost options and multiple relationship based businesses. The new equilibrium is the hollowing out of the middle, i.e. "The Average Is Over," to borrow Tyler's book title.

The American dream was built on some amount of inefficient local monopolies like car dealerships, local newspapers, regional wholesalers and so on. Now you either work for a "super-firm" or you work for subsistence wages at the artisanal local bookstore, if your region can support it. This is what made up the fabric of our culture. Small business leaders and community minded entrepreneurs were the bedrock of society. It used to be vicious competition nationally and local monopolies. Now it's vicious competition locally and national monopolies.

In the end, I found myself disliking both arguments more than I did prior to listening. Wu's snark and sarcasm combined with his inability to marshal even basic specific economic consequences that abound (falling rates of entrepreneurship, less negotiating power for labor, increasing concentration of market power, skewed distribution of profits, lackluster national competition, lack of accountability and oversight, etc. etc. etc.) did not elevate his argument. How do the Big Four accounting firms and Arthur Anderson not come up once (Bethany wrote the book about it and her husband prosecuted Enron execs)? Still, I found Tyler digging himself in an even deeper hole. This is best exemplified by Tyler's argument that inaction is better than action with uncertain outcomes. If we are to determine our future, we cannot be afraid to improve our systems of governance and resource allocation. His fatalistic attitude reminds me of a European or Asian sensibility, not the American frontier mentality, which has made this country the greatest source of human progress in history.

I appreciate your comment.

Reading "Glass House," about Lancaster, Ohio a few years ago, around the same time I read a Times' story about the Chinese push to empty the countryside having (apparently) led to a rash of suicides among the idle residents of a government housing bloc, which article mentioned that one of the residents' former houses nearby had been preserved intact as a museum of their way of life (a way of life only a short few years or less in the past for some of them) - made me think of the local businesses mentioned in the book, existing mainly to serve a hoped-for Renaissance of tourists, or retirees, there mainly for the town's museum-like quality: the "All-American town of the 20th century." I don't remember specifically what those businesses were, but they were not likely to cater to the drug-addicted idlers with which the author chose to frame the story of his town.

I've also retained in memory a quote from the longtime, long-dead owner of one of the glass factories (before a succession of entities from Wall Street "invested" in it). A hard man, he was asked by his lawyer, in connection with his will, are you sure you don't wish to leave a sum to the town, something it could use to build something substantial, and name for you?

No, he did not. "I gave them all those jobs, didn't I?"

I think he was on to something. Maybe our definition of philanthropy has been a dodge.

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3. Voynich manuscript in fact appears uncracked.
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Some things we do know. This was written by a single 'scholar' with access to 250 blank sheets of sheepskin. Since 1912, no linguist have identified any more ancient language this may have copied. Nor can anyone find any group of readers, from that mideival period, who were reading this. The text was written within some 80 year period via carbon dating, a period of monks sitting in rooms transcribing on sheep skins. I seems to have a coherent content by statistical analysis, and the original author, not signed, knew zodiac and latin symbols, and seemed aware of Egyptian hierglyphs.

So? Some psycho nut locked in a room? He had no history, no followers, never claimed authorship. Via history, what great secret would some monk in a room have in those times?

Where was your quote from? According to the article, the Voynich manuscript may be a hoax; have they C-13 dated it yet?

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Loving the Voynich journey here! All of this has been very fun to read about.

The article on cars is super dumb, though.

"By 2030, the standard car will evolve from merely assisting the driver to taking full control of all aspects of driving in most driving conditions."

lololol

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#2 - this strikes me as displaying a charmingly trusting expectation of software quality

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2. But. . . but, I just bought a 1990 Ford Probe GT :(

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The idea that American kids these days are more narcissistic comes mainly from the finding that on Narcissism self-reports, kids (on average) either endorse one item more than previous samples, or that they endorsed the same number of items more strongly ("strongly agree" rather than "agree", or "agree" rather than "not sure", for example).
The results were always questionable (although widely accepted, or at least not utterly rejected. Probably most social psychologists didn't care one way or the other but it is the type of finding (or claim) that would entice journalists and talk show hosts. "What's the matter with kids today?" is a topic that never goes out of style.

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#4 - There's an old saying in psychology: "How can you tell if someone's a narcissist? Ask them." The point is that narcissistic people tend to openly admit that they are narcissists. Now this study confirms that people within a certain age group also think they are narcissistic. Rather than trying to explain this away as a self-perpetuating media narrative, perhaps the article's author should simply accept the findings at face value as a straightforward illustration of increasing narcissism.

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#2 This reminds me of the Popular Science articles I'd read as a pre-teen and early teen. It got me all excited about the future, but terribly disappointed when the future actually arrived.

If self driving cars do arrive, the city of Atlanta is going to have to up its game in the road department. What a bunch of incompetent losers.

There were plenty of others, but the only technology I remember from Popular Science that actually came true was the CD. Seems ho-hum today, but when you're listening to records, the idea of digital music coming from a laser beam seemed amazing.

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Re: #1 Let's not forget that Tim Wu is the guy who wrote the white paper introducing the term "net neutrality". He literally thinks the government should regulate the internet *at the packet level*. He's an extremist.

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Tyler was at zuchocago and I missed it? I:: disappointed

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