Socialism and data science

Perhaps the best argument for capitalism is that no central planner can adequately understand the entire economy, however good their intentions. This point is made by Hayek, as Cass Sunstein summarizes in his book Infotopia: Hayek claims that the great advantage of prices is that they aggregate both the information and the tastes of numerous …

Our patent problems go way beyond trolls

UPDATE: More recent data documents the serious uptick in patent troll litigation. Likely still true that the patent problem goes way beyond trolls, but they are a problem nonetheless. Recent research is here. I did a Google Hangout with two intellectual property experts this week, and wrote an article to go along with it. The …

iPhones and Income: Does Technology Change the Middle Class Stagnation Story?

One of the most common responses to my post on middle class incomes was to point out the role of technological progress. If the average American family went back in time to 1989, I wrote, they’d make just as much money but work longer fewer hours to do it. But, some responded, they wouldn’t have iPhones. …

Don’t gamify healthcare — gamify health

There was a piece in Fortune earlier this month with which I strongly disagreed, on the subject of healthcare, technology, and “gamification”. The post centers around a health tech hackathon and, I think, in dismissing the promise of gamification, misses one of the most promising aspects of health IT. Here’s the gist: Several months ago, …

When there is no one right tool for the job

“The problem with [a] spending freeze is you’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel.” -Barack Obama, 2007 presidential debate The implication of the metaphor above is that it’s important to use the right tool for the job; you wouldn’t attempt surgery with a hatchet, after all. It’s a good line, especially when talking …

How I’d Moderate a Presidential Debate on Economic Policy

Just a quick political vent here. I’ve got fairly strong views about economic policy, but even those with whom I don’t agree recognize a lot of our contemporary political debate on the subject is detached from reality. Here’s a quick outline of how I’d structure a sane debate on economic policy. 1) Remind everyone in …

How Much Journalism is Worth Saving?

Back in early 2010, shortly after launching this blog, I put pen to paper on some of the core ideas guiding my views on the future of news. Here’s one of them that I still believe is crucial and often ignored: 1) When I talk about how we will finance news/journalism I’m interested in only …

Lying liars and filter failure

There’s no such thing as information overload; only filter failure. That’s the wonderful Clay Shirky maxim. Now we can add to that the maxim: There’s no such thing as a Misinformation problem; only filter failure and attribute it to ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Ok, he didn’t quite say that. But it was close. This is …