Sep 19, 2023Liked by Dave Karpf

Exactly Dave. On all 3 counts. I hope any repercussions around your APSA actions are positive for you, or at least manageable without too much strife.

These demographic things by economists are so very ridiculous. As a lifelong theologian and student of religion I recognize mythmaking when I see it. Economists are theologians of capitalism (Marxist economists are dissenters but still capitalism centric). The models that they produce are for the preservation, defense and adjustment of their world. You basically cease to be an economist once you start to imagine big differences in how people, at scale, organize their material existence.

Thing is, with climate change etc, things in the next 100-150 years are likely to make substantial changes. Maybe they will happen gradually and smoothly so the bulk of people don't realize it when it happens, maybe not. But at a world average temperature that stabilizes at about, say, 1.75 degrees C. above the pre-industrial baseline, adaptations will need to be made to more storms, wildfires, droughts, etc. People make such adaptations--for instance, you stop building beachfront houses & more people move out of deserts. Governments will likely change, borders & settlement patterns will likely change, economic systems will likely change. But lest we think we have to panic, look at borders, organization of production, governments, etc before 1830 or 1760. Things change. Concepts like economic growth and GDP may simply be quaint and antiquated for the 5 or 3 or 9 billion people who populate the world in 1773. And economists may be indulged as freemasons are today.

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Sep 19, 2023Liked by Dave Karpf

1) wow. He studied the utility of ChatGPT by studying consultants? Talk about carrying coals to Newcastle. A friend of my worked at a travel agency in SF with the bulk of the business being business travel. He said without a doubt the worst clients were from Boston Consulting. Demanding assholes who literally wanted him to pick up their dry cleaning.

2) example the Nth that conservatives choose to argue in bad faith because they believe it's their best option.

3) Economists man, economists.

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Sep 20, 2023Liked by Dave Karpf

Regarding "AI":

I make a living by making computers do tricks (i.e., I'm a software developer). And I've been doing that for quite awhile, so the current peak of the "AI" hype cycle is like deja vu all over again (e.g., remember "expert systems"?). For years, I've been telling people that whenever something is touted as featuring "AI", keep a hand on your wallet. That goes double these days.

Presumably, the (relatively) long-term game for the Silicon Valley crowd is indeed to sell their current overpromising-and-underdelivering wares to greedy and credulous executive types who are forever eager to replace people with machines, even if the machines don't work very well, and then milk them for support, maintenance, and upgrades.

Regarding the Claremont Institute and all that:

I grew up (near Claremont, it so happens) among conservatives (more specifically, fundigelicals). Delusions of persecution, bolstered by lies, were typical of them. Mr. Maranto would have fit right in.

Regarding pronatalism:

Meanwhile, most of the time in most of the world, worker productivity keeps rising; see, for example, Chart 6 in "International comparisons of GDP per capita and per hour, 1960–2011":


(That's from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. I'm citing it merely because it's the first credible reference DuckDuckGo gave me. Plenty of other references attest the trend.)

It follows that slower population growth or even population shrinkage need not entail less economic growth. Whether the latter happens depends on the rate of the slowing or shrinkage relative to the rate of increase in worker productivity.

Of course, it's reasonable to question, as few economists do, whether less economic growth must necessarily be a bad thing, but the point is that even if one doesn't, and even if one ignores the lousy record of long-term economic forecasting, one need not accept the pronatalist conclusion, because it doesn't follow from the pronatalist premises. Frankly, I suspect that any economist who rages against the slowing of population growth without even mentioning the growth of worker productivity is being disingenuous.

Also frankly, anyone who genuinely cares about, say, innovation should recognize that humanity is currently wasting much of its potential by failing to assure adequate food, health care, and education, among other things, for many of its members, including many children.

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It's nice reading something as sensible as this on the internet. I often wonder about people who take the AI threat, McKinsey and the like or the population crunch seriously.

The problem with conservatives is that the people have inherited everything consider anyone else getting anything a direct attack on the natural order. As far as they are concerned, they are the ultimate victims, bar none. They'd be easier to laugh at if they weren't so good at doing awful things to so many whenever they can.

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Isn't it weird that the biggest producers of vapid nonsense that is peculiarly well-compensated, essentially the fluffers of our business elites, are wholly unconcerned that it's their ass that's on the line first? I mean, this is your point, but I want to really pause and schadenfraudenly enjoy the strangeness of watching people enthusiastically slit their own throats while gargling "this is wonderful".

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Good to see someone with the same stance on Mollick. From my latest Stack: https://goodinternet.substack.com/p/the-anamorphic-spiralcore-of-ai-art

Some months ago i wrote about how AI will automatize mostly what David Graeber termed Bullshit Jobs: middle management, a lot of standard office work, writing elaborate sounding emails, summarizing excel sheets. Ethan Molick now did a study with a consulting company and the results are in: All consultants using AI were harder, better, faster, stronger. All you need to found a competetive consulting firm today is GPT, a suit and a shallow businessman smile. Looking forward to the coming automation bloodbath in the white collar bullshit job sector *evil grin*.

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Spot on Dave.

If those assignments are what Wharton MBA's are tasked with, no wonder why I am so anti MBA

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Great essay!! Thanks.

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