Friday, June 30, 2017

Against cultural appropriation

NPR Radio broadcast this opinion:
Last week, the New York Times published an op-ed titled "In Defense of Cultural Appropriation" in which writer Kenan Malik attempted to extol the virtues of artistic appropriation and chastise those who would stand in the way of necessary "cultural engagement." ...

But the truth is that cultural appropriation is indefensible. Those who defend it either don't understand what it is, misrepresent it to muddy the conversation, or ignore its complexity — discarding any nuances and making it easy to dismiss both appropriation and those who object to it. ...

All of this lies at the root of why cultural appropriation is indefensible. It is, without question, harmful.
I haven't checked the ethnic background of the author, but if she is a white supremacist, then I assume that she objects to blacks, orientals, and latinos trying to act white and take advantage of white culture.

Now that a jury has failed to find Bill Cosby guilty of any sex crimes, maybe we should move on to his cultural appropriate crimes. He used white technology (television) to portray a black family that acted white all the time. He made many millions of dollars exploiting white culture.

The NPR opinion says this is harmful. Cosby should have portrayed black ppl acting black. Now he is accused of raping white women, but none of that was on this TV show.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

No moral obligation for refugees

From an atheist blog:
As [atheist podcaster Sam] Harris said in response to this slander doing the rounds, “I’ve said on multiple occasions that I think we have a moral obligation to let in as many Syrian refugees as we can properly vet. I’ve also said that secular, liberal, tolerant Muslims are the most important people on earth — and that if I had control of our immigration policy, I’d move them to the front of the line for citizenship.”
Of course the Syrians cannot be properly vetted, so this ought to be the same as excluding the Syrian Moslems.

There are only about 5 "secular, liberal, tolerant Muslims" in the whole world, so I am not sure it matters where they go. But I would think that he would prefer that they stay in Muslim countries in order to help reform movements there. We have no need for such ppl in the USA.

However peaceful those refugees may seem, they have been taught from the Koran to kill infidels. He is not going to hear anything else from an Islamic source, as far as I know.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Free oneself from the climate illusion

I just found this 2010 article:
The latest case in point comes from United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) official Ottmar Edenhofer. In a recent interview with Germany’s NZZ Online, Edenhofer lays out just what the climate talks are all about:

NZZ: The new thing about your proposal for a Global Deal is the stress on the importance of development policy for climate policy. Until now, many think of aid when they hear development policies.

Edenhofer: That will change immediately if global emission rights are distributed. If this happens, on a per capita basis, then Africa will be the big winner, and huge amounts of money will flow there. This will have enormous implications for development policy. And it will raise the question if these countries can deal responsibly with so much money at all.

NZZ: That does not sound anymore like the climate policy that we know.

Edenhofer: Basically it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization. The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War. Why? Because we have 11,000 gigatons of carbon in the coal reserves in the soil under our feet — and we must emit only 400 gigatons in the atmosphere if we want to keep the 2-degree target. 11 000 to 400 — there is no getting around the fact that most of the fossil reserves must remain in the soil.

NZZ: De facto, this means an expropriation of the countries with natural resources. This leads to a very different development from that which has been triggered by development policy.

Edenhofer: First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.
Is this for real? If so, the whole UN climate dealing is more politics than science.

If CO2 is so deadly that we have to keep it in the ground, how will throwing a lot of money at Africa help that? Just the opposite. CO2 is a population problem. If the coal should stay in the ground, then Africa should stay undeveloped.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Diversity harms productivity

A reader recommends this podcast:
Garett Jones returns to the podcast to discuss the issue of ethnic diversity. There is a wide body of research showing that ethnic diversity can reduce the productivity of teams, firms, and even whole countries. ...

Williams and O’Reilly (1996)
review dozens of studies showing that ethnic diversity has a negative impact on group performance. In the two decades since, more research has reinforced that result. Alesina and La Ferrara (2005) find that increasing ethnic diversity from 0 (only one ethnic group) to 1 (each individual is a different ethnicity) would reduce a country’s annual growth by 2 percent. Multiple studies (La Porta et al., 1999; Alesina et al., 2003; Habyarimana et al., 2007) have shown that ethnic diversity negatively affects public good provision. Stazyk et al. (2012) find that ethnic diversity reduces job satisfaction among government workers. Parrotta et al. (2014a) find that ethnic diversity is significantly and negatively correlated with firm productivity. ...

Given that diversity is so costly for organizations, there is a huge industry dedicated to diversity training to mitigate these effects. However, a recent issue of the Harvard Business Review argues that diversity training seems to be a general failure.
These studies are new, but I think that the main ideas were known in ancient times. Most of those arguing for the benefits of diversity today are just lying to you.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Chinese race is a big family

The London Financial Times reports:
“The Chinese race is a big family and feelings of love for the motherland, passion for the homeland, are infused in the blood of every single person with Chinese ancestry,” asserted Chinese premier Li Keqiang in a recent speech.
The article goes on to explain that the Chinese do not distinguish "Chinese nation" from "Chinese race".

I am not agreeing or disagreeing. Just pointing out ethnic allegiances.

While we often hear of Mexican-Americans or Russian-Americans, we often hear "American-born Chinese" instead of Chinese-American. In other words, even if they are born in the USA, they think of themselves as primarily Chinese.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Man is more attached to his family

Here is one way of looking at the difference between Left-wing and Right.

Sailer quotes:
Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg writes: "This is our challenge. We have to build a world where everyone has a sense of purpose and community. That’s how we’ll bring the world closer together. We have to build a world where we care about a person in India or China or Nigeria or Mexico as much as a person here."

“It is a known fact in human nature, that its affections are commonly weak in proportion to the distance or diffusiveness of the object. Upon the same principle that a man is more attached to his family than to his neighborhood, to his neighborhood than to the community at large, the people of each State would be apt to feel a stronger bias towards their local governments than towards the government of the Union; unless the force of that principle should be destroyed by a much better administration of the latter.”
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist XVII
The leftist Zuckerberg seems to just assume that global togetherness is a good thing. He does not attempt to explain why it is good to care about a person in India as much as someone next door.

It is not a good thing. The world would be a horrible place if Zuckerberg got his way. He won't, because of human nature.

Hamilton directly addresses human nature. I guess he is arguing that sometimes local govt should let federal govt handle some matters, but he recognizes that the federal govt is going to have to it better to convince ppl.

Right-wingers are more likely to start by recognizing human nature. Sometimes they will propose something that goes against human nature, but at least they understand what they are up against.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Progressives want to kill white babies

I am seeing more and more explicit white-haters, such as this:
Beyond Pro-Choice: The Solution to White Supremacy is White Abortion ...

White women: it is time to do your part! Your white children reinforce the white supremacist society that benefits you. If you claim to be progressive, and yet willingly birth white children by your own choice, you are a hypocrite. White women should be encouraged to abort their white children, and to use their freed-up time and resources to assist women of color who have no other choice but to raise their children. Women of color are in need of financial and humanitarian resources.
Crazy as this sounds, there is a logic to it. Aborting white babies is helping the progressive cause.

Do you ever hear progressives say that we need more white babies? No, I don't. Such views are denounced. They do everything to reduce white babies, relative to non-white babies.

The web site complains that it gets negative emails about its offensive articles.
I dared to voice my opinion online, and Internet Trolls descended on me
The Wash. Times reports:
A Connecticut college professor has created a firestorm for calling white people “inhuman a-holes” who need to “die” following last week’s shooting attack on congressional Republicans.

Trinity College’s Johnny Eric Williams’ social media feed after the June 14 shooting of Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise included racial tirades and commentary calling on minorities to “confront” white people and “end this now,” a reference to an alleged system of “white supremacy.”

“It is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be ‘white’ will not do, put end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system. #LetThemF–ingDie,” the associate professor of sociology said June 18 in a series of Facebook posts. “The time is now to confront these inhuman assholes and end this now.”
Yes, they are teaching white genocide in the schools now.

Update: The above white abortion article may be a hoax. It has other articles that hilariously take Ctrl-Left thinking to its logical extreme.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Our most unpopular President

I am beginning to think that Barack Obama may have been the USA's most unpopular President.

Sure, his approval ratings were good, he got his Nobel Peace prize, and the TV comedians did not make fun of him. But what is his legacy?

A better measure would be to look at the long-term electoral consequences of his presidency.

The public has firmly rejected everything he stood for:
During his eight years in office, the Democrats lost 11 seats in the Senate and 69 in the House, relinquishing control of both chambers. Add to that a loss of 13 governorships and nearly 1,000 state legislative seats around the country — and now, of course, the White House. By those measures, the Democrats are politically weaker than at any time since the Coolidge administration.
Has any other President done so poorly?

Richard Nixon was widely disliked, but many of his policies were popular and he did not damage his party very much.

Donald Trump causes embarrassment among liberals, and he triggers wacky emotional responses, but is he turning Republicans into Democrats? On balance, I doubt it.

Jimmy Carter was bad enuf to lose the White House and the Senate, but did not also lose the House.

When was the last time Obama even said anything that anyone paid attention to?

Let's face it. He was just a figurehead President, and he did not work out well for his political party.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Population Bomb Is Still Ticking

The NY Times reports:
In tiny Lesotho, a landlocked kingdom in southern Africa, about one-third of its estimated two million people spent much of the past two years in danger of starving because of the lingering effects of a drought. ...

More than 40 years ago, I made Lesotho the centerpiece of a book, “The Alms Race,” that explored why so many development projects kept failing. I chose it because in 1974 it received more development aid per capita than any other nation.

It could also have been voted most likely to vindicate Thomas Malthus’s warning in 1798 that human numbers would inevitably outrun the resources on which our lives depend. ...

Even with only 1.2 million inhabitants in 1974, Lesotho’s leaders saw the country was overpopulated. A 1966 British Colonial Office study estimated that the land could support 400,000 people at best — a number Lesotho had reached by 1911.
The article goes on to explain that international aid is futile, as the Africans there reproduce until they die of starvation and AIDS.

Normally it would seem racist to point out these facts, because they lead the reader to some uncomfortable conclusions. But the article goes on the argue that it is all Donald Trump's fault!

Telling the story of Lesotho probably would not have made the pages of the NY Times in the Obama administration.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cars will punish jaywalkers warns:
In January, Carlton Reid wrote that Makers of driverless cars want cyclists and pedestrians off the roads. He quotes Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, who says pesky cyclists "don't respect any rules usually." ...

In the Guardian, Laura Laker describes Street wars 2035: can cyclists and driverless cars ever co-exist? She worries that, because AVs are designed to recognize and not run over pedestrians or cyclists, chaos will ensue. ...

Proposed solutions include RFID beacons built into bicycles to warn AVs (and perhaps our cellphones, talking to lamp posts and cars, as we showed a few years ago) or criminalizing walking in front of cars, which would take a photo and send it to the police department, who “will come and arrest you for annoying an autonomous vehicle.”
This is plausible. Pedestrians and others will learn that they can take advantage of autonomous cars being programmed to avoid pedestrians at all costs. So jaywalking will become popular. But then the car lobby will demand that the cars become a jaywalking police force, and videorecording all bad behavior by pedestrians and others and reporting to police. Maybe if you even just make an obscene gesture on the sidewalk, a self-driving car will record it and report it. We have red-light cameras now, but this will be 100x more intrusive.

I suspect that we will also see Mohammedans reprogramming the autonomous cars to be deadly weapons, and to run over pedestrians. These cars will not have secure operating systems, the necessary code will be downloadable from ISIS.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Cosby got hung jury

Bill Cosby has about 60 accusers, but I assume that the trial was based on the strongest case against him. We got a hung jury:
The New York Times asked some top criminal law experts who have been monitoring the case to provide their assessments of the trial. Here are their analyses.

Some jurors were no doubt moved by Ms. Constand’s contradictory statements to police during the initial investigation. She denied having been alone with Mr. Cosby before the alleged assault; she denied having contacted him afterward; and stated that the assault occurred in March of 2004. All demonstrably false.
NPR Radio reported this by interviewing a woman who complained about an incident with Cosby in 1969!

Constand said that she voluntarily took drugs with Cosby, but I am not sure that her alleged symptoms are consistent with any known drugs.

I knew a girl once who suspected that she was drugged at a college fraternity party. She went to the emergency room, and her blood tested positive for the drug. The perps were prosecuted. So it is possible for an accuser to prove her case.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

How Scotland abolished marriage

A divorced man writes:
In 2006, Scotland changed its laws so that a person who says that he or she lived with someone else can, within a year “after the day on which the cohabitants cease to cohabit.”, go down to the family court and sue for property division and alimony, just as if the two parties had been married. ...

In litigation-oriented societies, I wonder if this Scottish idea will catch on. If the opportunity to litigate is a positive thing for people who were once married, why not for people who once lived together, however briefly?
This is more evidence of the end of marriage.

Some will say that it is pro-marriage, because it recognizes various relationships as if they were marriages, thus inducing more de facto marriages.

Marriage used to mean voluntarily making a deal, and then becoming an autonomous unit. This is putting Scottish couple under the arbitrary supervision of the state. It is the leftist totalitarian state taking over their private lives.

The USA has its own goofy leftist court decisions:
But what happens when a child born abroad to an unmarried couple has one parent who is a U.S. citizen, and one parent who is not? Well, strangely, until today, it all depended whether the foreign parent is the child’s mom or the child’s dad. ...

Under §1409(c), that ten-year requirement is reduced to just one year as long as we’re talking about the year prior to the child’s birth, and as long as we’re talking about the child’s unmarried mother, and not the child’s father. If you’re thinking that this sounds kind of unfair to fathers, you’re definitely getting it.
No, the law was not so strange.

I am all in favor of being fair to fathers, but if the mom is in the USA for the year preceding birth, then the unborn child is also in the USA for 9 months of it. The same cannot be said for the dad. This is a biological reality, and just some arbitrary discrimination.

The article says the vote was 8-0, but it was really only 6-2 in favor of the dicta against the discriminatory law. Under tradition legal interpretation, such an opinion is meaningless, because it did not affect any party to the case. But the court liberals are determined to deny that pregnancy makes women different from men.

Stop the cultural appropriation

An Indian-born British writer dares to say:
For this is an essay in defense of cultural appropriation.

In Canada last month, three editors lost their jobs after making such a defense.
United Nations Wants to Outlaw “Cultural Appropriation” Worldwide:
The UN wants to expand intellectual property regulations to include cultural entities and concepts, such as clothing, dances, arts, medicines, etc. The UN’s efforts would allow for legal action to be taken by minority groups against those who supposedly steal or monetize a piece of their culture.

The United Nations has been making efforts to outlaw “cultural appropriation” for over fifteen years.
Maybe this idea is not so crazy, and we should start by stopping non-whites from appropriating white culture. The next time you see some non-white or MENA guy driving a car or using a cell phone, tell him that UN policy considers him a thief.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Evergreen college chaos continues

Here are some anonymous college Jews who hate whites:
A Letter to Bret Weinstein from some Jews bent on the destruction of White Supremacy

... However, the fact that Jews have not always been enmeshed in whiteness does not negate the fact that today many Jews in this country benefit from and uphold white supremacy. ...

We will not allow him to invoke our history, the history of our ancestors, as an excuse for his vile and inexcusable behavior. We, Jewish people, wish to express our unequivocal support and solidarity with undocumented, Latinx, black, MENA and Arab, Native, disabled, and trans and queer students, staff, faculty, and residents of the surrounding Olympia area.
The term MENA is used for the purpose of identifying Jews and Arabs as non-white.

This letter seems like a parody, but I don't think it is. Weinstein is a typical Jewish leftist professor, and not a white supremacist. But it appears that he has been kicked off campus anyway.

The letter is saying that Jews should unequivocally support the invasion of the USA by illegal/undocumented non-whites. They will support anything that undermines and demeans white ppl, I guess.

Speaking of weird Jewish views:
Oliver Stone started a “cringe-worthy” fight about Israel with Stephen Colbert on the latter’s CBS show that never made it on-air. ...

Stone said words to the effect of: “Israel had far more involvement in the US election than Russia.”

The “Platoon” director further challenged Colbert by saying, “Why don’t you ask me about that?” — but we’re told that the host shot back, “I’ll ask you about that when you make a documentary about Israel!”

(The source described Stone’s Israeli argument as “a classic anti-Semitic canard.”)
So the major news media goes crazy with paranoid fantasies about Russian influence on the American election, but mentioning Jewish or Israeli influence gets you censored from a supposedly-live show.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hayek was wrong about central planning

Friedrich Hayek is known for making this argument against a centrally planned economy:
When Hayek explains the obstacle to effective central planning, his claim is not merely that information is widely dispersed and therefore hard to acquire. Rather, it is impossible to acquire (Hayek 1973, 51). When prices are set periodically by a central planner, rather than instantaneously by consumers and producers who are the first and typically the only people to have that information in reliable and timely form, prices inevitably carry less reliable, less timely information. ...

A central planner could have the world’s most powerful computer, beyond anything imagined when Hayek published “Use of Knowledge” in 1945. No computer, however, could solve the problem that Hayek was trying to articulate. The problem is not lack of processing power so much as a lack of access to the information in the first place. ...

Although computers cannot solve the problem, Hayek thought radically dispersed decision making by buyers and sellers can and does solve the problem, so far as it can be solved. Sellers who charge too much end up without customers; they learn to be more efficient or else go out of business.
I never found this argument convincing. Nowhere does he estimate or compare the computational resources needed.

Sure, it was obvious in 1945 that computers of the day could not do it. He may not have been aware of any computers at all. But what about today?

If radically dispersed decision making by buyers and sellers can solve the problem, then surely computers can if enuf info is digitized. Amazon could soon understand the buying habits of consumers better than they understand them themselves, if it has not already.

Hayek would have said that Amazon is impossible, as Amazon is essentially an empire that is bigger and more complicated that the centrally planned economies that he contemplated.

Amazon seems to be more efficient than the markets it is replacing. Isn't it a counterexample to Hayek? Wouldn't Hayek have said that dispersed independent bookstores would be more efficient than Amazon?

There are other arguments for the freedoms that Hayek advocated, but I am not buying this one.

I had this exchange with a Hayek buff:
You should send this to Russ Roberts of Econ Talk. He is a big Hayekian and is very interested in this type of discussion. You've got some credentials... get on the show!
How can he be a disciple of a guy who wrote in 1945 about the limits of computers, and there aren't even any numbers or formulas in the analysis?
Well, he would argue that you are never going to be able to run the whole economy that way. There is an infinity of markets, prices and preferences, always changing. I' m serious. Russ is a good guy, I've met him. Put your argument in a concise form and get a dialogue going. He loves this kind of stuff.
This is sometimes an argument against AI: a computer can never make an optimal choice among an infinity of possibilities.

First, it doesn't have to make an optimal choice. It only has to outperform humans.

In 1945, these arguments said that computers would never play chess.

Look at Amazon today. I don't have any hard data, but I bet its complexity is already greater than that required to manage the whole economy of more than half the countries of the world.

I log into Amazon, and its seems to already know what I want to buy and what I am willing to pay. In some cases it is better, as it recommends a product that I would not find on my own. And it gets better all the time. It may soon be the case that its predictions are better than my own
shopping skills.

If you look at its distribution system, where it can buy products in China or wherever, ship them to warehouses in my state, and deliver them to me on a 2-day order. That is already better than what humans can do. Only a centrally managed computer system can do that.

I can't keep up with a serious Hayekian tho. He'll probably point to the failure of managed economies like N. Korea. But there has never been one with the ruthless efficiency of Wal-mart or Amazon.
Well, there is no doubt that computers have come farther, faster, than most people predicted. Kasparov has interesting things to say to Harris on this, and points out that a man-machine blend will beat the strongest computer. But ultimately, you have to bet on the pure machines (I don't think Kasparov does, yet).
Kasparov is engaging in wishful thinking. As I understand it, the best chess computers are now rated above 3200. Kasparov at his best was about 2800, while the average grandmaster is 2400 and the average expert is about 2000. So the computers will beat him every time, and man is no help to a man-machine blend.
Amazon and Walmart are a little different story. In principle, they are like huge supermarkets (which were themselves a tremendous innovation). They know what you like, and what you might like (like a good store clerk who has waited on you before). They also have a very efficient delivery service. They are outstanding at reacting to local information, like shipping out salt when there is a sudden outbreak of snowstorms. As a book addict, it is truly magical how Amazon has "gathered" all the used books out there and made them available for about $5 each. But to manage an entire economy... well, that is very different. There is so much local knowledge that would have to be constantly gathered, updated, collated, predicted-upon, reacted-to.. and it is a lot more complicated than what Amazon is doing, because you have the whole logistics and manufacturing chain behind it, not to mention agriculture, which is dependent on weather... Layer on top of that finance, investment, capital markets... Anyway, we have a history of being scared by bigness. And of course the biggest problem of all (forget the system becoming to vulnerable to hacks/viruses, etc.) is the control of the system. Big government anyone? I think a healthy fear of centralization is a good thing... who tweaks the inputs to that vast computer algorithm? Thanks, I think I'll opt for a chaotic, dispersed ecosystem that contains some huge megafauna like Amazon, but leaves plenty of space for the little guys. Don't you know some fancy complexity/chaotic systems theorems that would give you pause?
Let's figure out what is possible before discussing the policy implications.

If Hayek is right that big govt central control of the economy is impossible, then why fear it? If it is possible and harmful, then we need to take steps to prevent it. If it is possible and beneficial, then we should welcome our new robot overlords.

The new high-tech economy appears to be a winner-take-all economy. Look at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, etc. have all thrived by using massive economies of scale and central planning to dominate their markets. The Libertarian-Hayekian dream of a diversity of vendors is needed to address a diversity of consumers has turned out to be false.

We are finding out that at the billion-user scale, it is a whole new game, and computer AI takes over. Humans and Hayekian bargaining are as useless as humans trying to team up with that 3200-rating chess computer. The systems are just too complex for humans to tweak. It is big-data and AI all the way.

There are a lot of professors who projected limits to AI based on their experiments will millions of data items. But a lot of those problems evaporate when you jump from the million-scale to the billion-scale.

There are some AI programs used by Google and others with as many as a billion parameters that are determined by training on billions of data items. No one knows what the parameters do. No human can eyeball the parameters and tweak them for better results. It is impossible for any human to even understand 1% of it.

Look at this recent WSJ article:
Facebook is launching new tools to help marketers optimize their ads to target the people most likely to buy their products.

Some advertisers already share purchase data from their websites with Facebook via a tracking pixel so they can measure whether ads on the social network are generating sales. But the launch of the new tools, announced in a blog post Monday, will be the first time advertisers can use this data to optimize their campaigns toward the highest-spending customers.

Advertisers spend huge amounts of their budgets on researching the desired target audiences for their products. The idea for both new tools is to reduce the amount of money advertisers spend targeting the wrong people—known in the ad industry as wastage.

Facebook is hoping its algorithms, which take advantage of the rich set of data it has on its 1.9 billion users, will be able to do some of this job for them, or at the very least help them focus their ad campaigns on driving real purchases rather than just clicks. If Facebook can prove it is driving sales, advertisers are likely to increase their spending with the platform.

“This is a priority product for the company,” a Facebook spokesman said.

The first of the new tools, Value Optimization, uses prior purchase data to estimate how much money a person might spend in an advertiser’s store over a seven-day period. The tool then adjusts the advertiser’s campaign to send ads to the people it anticipates are most likely to actually spend the most money.

The second new product is an add-on to an existing tool called Lookalike Audiences, which launched four years ago and finds people on Facebook who display similar traits to advertisers’ existing customer lists. The add-on, called “Value-Based Lookalikes,” as the name would suggest, finds the Facebook users among those with similar traits who are also most likely to make a purchase after seeing an ad.

Both tools are rolling out from Monday and are free for marketers to use.
This is only possible because Facebook has a billion users, has millions of computers in server farms, and has sophisticated big data AI program managing everything.

The Hayek vision of a farmer bargaining with a vendor in his local village is obsolete.

Sure, there is room for little guys selling products, but more and more of them are going to end up advertising on Google or Facebook and selling on Amazon. Soon the little guys will not even be setting their prices, as they find it more efficient to let Amazon AI programs set them. They will just be cogs in a massive centrally-planned machine.

Maybe the Hayek fans have answers for all this, but I doubt it. What do they say about what Amazon and Facebook have already accomplished?
Here is the classic article:

Sowell wrote an outstanding book on this called Knowledge and Decisions. ... Always thought it was the best econ book I ever read. It re-launched my interest in free-market economics.
If they are thinking of markets on the million-scale, they might be right. But on the billion-scale I think that they are wrong.

They would probably say that the larger the market, the more you need independent human decision-makers. That is probably true up to the point up to the limits of the human brain. When you get to the billion-scale market, humans are useless and computer central planning becomes much more efficient.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Regulators killed the electric car

From Tesla's Elon Musk:
Here’s a screenshot of Musk’s missive, which he later followed up with a tweet urging people to watch the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?”
I saw that movie, and my recollection is that California regulators tried to artificially create a market by requiring the car companies to either sell a lot of electric cars or sell none. The companies decided that the minimum sales could not be met, so they had to abandon the electric cars.

Musk's company depends on huge subsidies for all its sales. The subsidies are based on a theory that the cars are good for the environment, but nothing that expensive is good for the environment. If you pay a lot of money, then a lot of resources will get used somehow.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Cars will double as security cameras

Many new technologies are privacy-invading, and most of the companies like Google and Facebook try to hide this problem. Intel just revealed one problem.

CNBC reports:
The benefits of having self-driving cars go far beyond automatic parking or fewer accidents, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich told CNBC on Thursday.

Among those other benefits: Driverless cars will double as security cameras, he said from the sidelines of the Code Conference in California.

"I always say that the cars are going to be out there looking, so the next time an Amber alert comes up and they're looking for a license plate, the cars should be able to find that license plate quite rapidly," said Krzanich.

The idea could bring up concerns about privacy, but Krzanich has already thought of how to minimize those worries.

"We'll have to put limitations on it," he said. "We'll have to encrypt that data and make sure I can't tell that it's John's [car] necessarily," said Krzanich.

"I think there will be rules and new areas we'll have to explore, but the amount of social good that can come from that far outweighs those concerns," he said. "We just have to deal with them."
Most Amber alerts are based on a dad seeing his child outside the court-approved hours, and the mom calling the cops on him.

For that, we will have 10 million cars video recording everyone in public, and keeping a record of where everyone is at all times. In a few years, you will not be able to go anywhere without your trip being recorded in a database accessible to law enforcement, advertisers, credit bureaus, insurance companies, and subpoenas in civil lawsuits. Get used to it.

Banned from SoundCloud

A UK site reports:
Richard Spencer has had his podcast banned from SoundCloud because it violates the audio platform’s terms of use which explicitly forbid hate speech.

The leading white supremacist, who rose to fame for being punched at an anti-Trump protest, is credited with coining the term “alt-right” and used his podcast to discuss his controversial views with guests. ...

A spokesperson for SoundCloud told The Independent why they had chosen to remove the podcast, saying: "SoundCloud is an open platform, so freedom of expression is important to maintain credibility and authenticity with our creators and users. ...

A gym in Virginia recently removed Mr Spencer's membership after a university professor confronted him while he was working out and accused him of being a neo-Nazi. ...

Spencer, who is president of the far-right National Policy Institute, has previously said he rejects the label of white supremacist and instead calls himself an “identitarian”. He supports a white homeland for a “dispossessed white race” and calls for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” to put a stop to the “deconstruction” of European culture.

He once claimed: “Hispanics and African Americans have lower average IQs than whites and are more genetically predisposed to commit crimes.”
I suspect SoundCloud is a Nazi service. If they want everyone to believe that Spencer is right, the best way is to announce that what he is saying is so dangerous that it cannot be refuted.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Losing sleep over climate change

Wondering about the consequence of opting out of the Paris climate agreement? The temperature will be about the same, but you might lose some sleep. Or maybe not.