Thinks 1055

Reason: “”The direct use of physical force is so poor a solution to the problem of limited resources that it is commonly employed only by small children and great nations.” This spicy little sentence is typical of the zingers littered throughout David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom. The anarcho-capitalist classic turns 50 this year, and it’s worth revisiting for both its spirit and substance…The appeal of Friedman’s anarchism is not that he has the answer, but that he has dozens of them and he’s not at all bothered by the idea that none may be the perfect one. “It is fashionable,” writes Friedman, “to measure the importance of ideas by the number and violence of their adherents. That is a fashion I shall not follow. If, when you finish this book, you have come to share many of my views, you will know the most important thing about the number of libertarians—that it is larger by one than when you started reading.””

Arnold Kling: “I think that artificial intelligence is in that same chaotic, high-potential state in which the Web found itself in 1993. Yes, the field of artificial intelligence in computers has been around a long time. By the same token, as of 1993, the Internet had been around for a quarter century. But the release of NCSA Mosaic did for the Internet what the release of ChatGPT did for AI. The newest buzzword in AI is “multimodal,” meaning combining text, images, and possibly other sensory inputs as well as data. Today’s text-only chatbots may soon look as primitive as the text-only Web of 1992. Tim B. Lee’s recent essay foresees powerful results from combining AI’s with cameras: “Until recently, computers needed human help to understand what was in an image. Now computers can glean a ton of actionable information directly from images. And that data can then become an input to other software.” My advice is to set aside time to play with AI’s now. But imagine directions that the technology might take in the future. We’re in early days.”

FT: “Studies by McKinsey, the CFA Institute and others consistently show that companies that invest less in long-term growth relative to their peers end up underperforming over the medium or long haul. The bonus is largest for companies that continue to invest during difficult periods like the one we are in now. So who is to blame for this short-sighted short-termism? Corporate executives finger sellside analysts and greedy investors. The former, who dominate on earnings calls and at conferences, ask for quarterly targets for use in their models and punish those who fall short. Activist investors are accused of seeking to profit from short-term moves in a company’s share price and demanding that earnings be spent on dividends and share buybacks. While there is some truth to these complaints, corporate leaders and chief financial officers in particular also need to take a hard look in the mirror.”

AIER: “[Thomas] Sowell’s insightful angle on this is that “the more other things there are, influencing outcomes, the lower the chances of all of those things being equal.” That is critical because “At the heart of the social justice vision is the assumption that, because economic and other disparities among human beings greatly exceed any differences in their innate capacities, these disparities are evidence of proof of the effects of such human vices as exploitation and discrimination,” but “we can read reams of social justice literature without encountering a single example of the proportional representation of different groups in endeavors open to competition—in any country in the world today, or at any time over thousands of years of recorded history.” In other words, given zero real world examples where other things were equal enough that proportional representation made any sense at all as a standard from which any deviation can be judged proof of malfeasance requiring coercive redress, buttressed by mountains of evidence to the contrary (much of which Sowell cites), the central assumption or premise of much of social justice discussion is false. And that faulty core premise cannot establish the truth of the conclusions so many wish to reach…In Sowell’s words, “We might agree that “equal chances for all” would be desirable. But that in no way guarantees that we have either the knowledge or the power required to make that goal attainable, without ruinous sacrifices of other goals, ranging from freedom to survival.”

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.