Archive:
Economics

Wealth inequality is even worse in reputation economies

Cory Doctorow on how reputation economies (like the rating system satirised in the Black Mirror episode Nosedive) have a series of undesirable effects.

…reputation is useless as a hedge against the real nightmare of a setup like Ebay: the long con. It doesn’t cost much, nor does it take much work, to build up sleeper identities on Ebay, fake storefronts that sell un­remarkable goods at reasonable prices, earning A+++ GREAT SELLER tickmarks, even for years, until one day, that account lists a bunch of high-value items on the service, pockets the buyers’ funds, and walks off.

Reputation works badly and fails badly – it’s a lose-lose situation all around.

Nick Clegg meets Richard Thaler: ‘All it would take to stop Brexit is a couple of dozen brave Tories’

The Guardian set Nick Clegg up for a Skype interview with Richard Thaler, who has recently been awarded the Nobel economics prize.

Thaler was a big influence on the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition and it is clear from this interview that Thaler and Clegg admire each other somewhat.

At times the interview may come across to some as typical smug metropolitan centrist dadism, with the pair shaking their heads at how stupid everyone else is being. But when you read Nick Clegg’s anecdote about speaking to a voter in Chesterfield, you understand why he feels that way.

I remember speaking to a guy leaning on the fence outside his house and saying: “Any chance you’ll vote for the Liberal Democrats?” And he said: “No way.” And I said: “Why not?” And he said: “Because of all these asylum seekers.” And I knew for a fact that not a single asylum seeker had been dispersed to Chesterfield. So I said to him: “Oh, have you seen these asylum seekers in the supermarket or the GP’s surgery?” And he said something to me that has remained with me ever since. He said: “No, I haven’t seen any of them, but I know they’re everywhere.”

The bumpy road to autonomy

Autonomous vehicles — driverless cars — are coming. There will be bumps in the road along the way. But they are essential to fix our cities.

Official ballot for the 2000 United States Presidential election, November 7, 2000, from Palm Beach County, Florida

Not voting is a valid democratic act

People often claim that if you do not vote then you automatically lose your right to have a say in any way. This idea is dangerous and wrong.

Ignorance is inevitable

A survey showed that the British public is “wrong about nearly everything”. But the main lesson is not that so many people are stupid. It is that we are all ignorant, no matter how well-informed we like to think we are.

Living your life at random

A shortage of spare time has seen me deciding how to spend my spare time by using a random number generator. An experiment by Steve Levitt of Freakonomics fame has got me wondering if I could make even bigger decisions at random.