What should I ask Glen Weyl?

I will be doing a Conversation with him, mostly about his ideas on Covid-19 response and testing, though we will cover other topics as well.  So what should I ask him?


Ask him if Brazil can hold America hostage if its cure succeeds.

I’d like to know when he soured on libertarianism. The relevamt context to thise question is that Glen and I were acquaintances in high school. He was clearly brilliant and intellectually quite precocious. As a freshman he was very political and was a vocal supporter of Steve Forbes. I believe he founded a right-leaning student newspaper called “The Right Side,” though I could be mistake. I was very left-leaning at the time and I recall a few Interesting political discussions with him. In subsequent writings he seemed to have converted to progressivism, whereas I slowly became a soft libertarian. I’d love to pick Glen’s brain on all this but we haven't spoken in many years, and he has gone on to become a superstar intellectual and I a mere neurologist.

How to kick- start this dad gummed economy.

And why Epstein was so ridiculously wrong.

Then, for fun, ask him what coronavirus thinks about quadratic voting.

Should we apply the COST proposal to ventilators and access to ventilators? (This seems like a great application for exploring both the extreme upsides and the extreme downsides of Weyl's ideas on the matter.)

One thing I've never seen really clearly laid out in a lot of his wonky governance schemes (like Quadratic Voting) is how they approximate Coasean bargaining!! The way it is typically told is: "well we need influence to grow logarithmically so it converges with utility functions", or something silly like "bees do it!", and I'm kind of left cold with how it relates to economic realities and efficiency. It feels more like some mood affiliation along the lines of "We're appropriately balancing Capitalism and Democracy!" rather than anything that has to do with actual economics...

Here is my primer on quadratic voting that hopefully explains why QV as a compromise between one-person-one-vote and one-dollar-one-vote actually is mathematically optimal:


Here is my critique of QV: https://priorprobability.com/2020/02/25/the-costs-of-quadratic-voting/

Ask him about that!

You want derivatives to be linear in utility space.

Conceptually it's quite close to the idea that regression minimising mean squared error gives you the conditional mean, while minimising mean absolute error gives you the conditional median.

A regression with just a constant, minimising MSE with a few extremely high values and many low values will give you value further from the low values, whereas MAE will give you the median, amongst the low values.

Similarly an election where a few people care really strongly one way, but most feel weakly the other will be won by many with weak preference with linear voting rule, but won by the few with strong preferences with quadratic voting.

We have been hearing about testing, but there are a lot of different tests. What kind of tests are needed and in what quantity to tell us that it is safe(r) to reopen? How might the testing needs of an employer differ from an airline? What kinds of tests will be widely available first? How soon will (reliable) home tests be available, and what will they really tell us?

Ask about spectrum auction corruption

His view on the current debate whether the industrial concentration of our time is due to "superstar economics" or classic monopoly causes.

Can you please ask Glen why Universities shouldn't fire all the staff (that actually do the work) and leave the tenured professors to make great advancements in science from their house offices?
It just makes total sense and it's fair to the endowment accounts.

How have the events around COVID-19 changed Glen's views on radicalxchange related issues?

Building on the question about radicalxchange, I'd like to know whether COVID-19 has increased Glen's enthusiasm for "Data Cooperatives".

All of the most effective group coordination mechanisms (private or public) are in part sustained by some shared foundational myth and some shared rituals (which may not be efficient). It helps people reason about edge cases, and motivates some shared preferences.

Can you radically, rationally reform these group coordination mechanisms without undermining these cohesive myths?

If not, what takes their place?

The obvious question: What are the best ideas for applying Radical Markets to the COVID-19 crisis?
Follow-on: What are the chances that radical ideas could be palatable to both sides as a "third way" with popular support? In which countries?

He says that part of his innovative political economy ideas come from reading widely, in the likes of sociology, so something about how he does that or where that perspective comes from. Clearly he has a great skill in synthesising disparate ideas, so that seems like something worth delving into.

Do you think we created enough panic to allow for sufficient voter fraud in November to swing the election for the Dems? If not, what else can we do?

Ask about his paper, "Whose Rights? A Critique of Individual Agency as the Basis of Rights," in the context of Derek Parfit's notion of the self.

What does he think of the claims some IO economists make that there is a trend of increasing market concentration in many European and markets, and that this is generally reducing consumer welfare.

Personal financial liquidity. Would his block chain ideas work helping people earn money on their data during current coronavirus and high unemployment time?

Ask him why he didn't get tenure at Chicago

Ask him what does he do at microsoft nowadays? I have absolutely no idea what he does.

Also I would ask him something about what he would tell to young economists just looking to graduate school.

What does he think about the relevance of economic epidemiological models (e.g. Philipson and Posner) for covid-19 and related policy analysis?

Please ask questions about things besides COVID-19. I'm very bored of exclusively hearing about the pandemic when I listen to podcasts.

Ask why not use Fibonacci Voting?
Since the cost of each additional vote increases at a slower rate, might this result in better alignment between voter utility and "reasonable-ness"?

Ask him how he squares the autistic libertarian wet dream of everything being for sale with the reality of massive levels of wealth inequality, logarithmic utility, and prospect theory around certain assets (e.g., what would happen if someone forcibly had to sell their childhood home to a trolling billionaire who they picked a Twitter fight with?)

challenge his knowledge on new acute infection testing protocols based on Next Gen Sequencing and Crispr approaches. These exist and are scaleable to 10's of millions of tests a day, we don't actually need govt intervention to get there.

Does quadratic voting have pitfalls as outlined in Arrow's impossibility theorem? It seems like you might still get agenda manipulation similar to the case in a Borda count method. This might not happen in any single ballot, though I think it certainly could, but also in ballots over time.

Ask him whether a good system is super smart people thinking hard and then imposing the rules they’ve come up with. that change everything, on us all. Ask him if that’s a robust system.

He posted something on twitter in mid-February about ethical lapses in the roll out of the FCC's spectrum auction (and in other places). Considering Weyl has been so enthusiastic about mechanism design in the past, is this evidence of a changed mind? A more nuanced understanding? What gives?

1. What does Glen Weyl know that enabled him to be so much more successful before the age of 27 than nearly every other aspiring academic?

2. Given Glen's support for BDS, would he ever exit/boycott the USA (and how does he reconcile these views)

3. What does Glen think 40 or 50 year old Glen will look back upon and think current Glen is most wrong about?

In the long run, which has more benefit: a) implementing aggregate voter preference through policy or b) maintaining the expression but imperfect implementation of aggregate voter preference?

What lessons can doctors learn from science fiction writers as some of the scenarios penned 20 or more years ago appear to be hitting realities today ...

Such as https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-this-israeli-author-wrote-about-the-2020-pandemic-23-years-ago-1.8747689



How do leases change under COST/SALSA/Harberger taxation? Must someone who purchases a rental property at the owner’s self-assessed price honor the leases, or may evict all the tenants? If leases bind the new owner, would the strategy be to lease units to friends and family at sweetheart rates for a century, and pay negligible tax?

What personal incentives might be designed to keep most people indoors while allowing highly preferable activity to continue. For instance, you could imagine a system of "leave the house passes" where everyone gets one a week with online exchanges so that employers could buy them up if needed. Then the government could tweak the distribution of passes to simulate "the dance" as the economy opens and closes as the disease fluctuates. Just a crazy idea, but would be curious if G.W. had similar thoughts or a better one along the same lines.

What has Glen learned from being a new dad?

Does he do anything to keep skin in the game that might help back up the advice he gives?

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