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Robocalypse Now? Central Bankers Argue Whether Automation Will Kill Jobs - The New York Times
By JACK EWING JUNE 28, 2017

artificial intelligence threatens broad categories of jobs previously seen as safe from automation, such as legal assistants, corporate auditors and investment managers. Large groups of people could become obsolete, suffering the same fate as plow horses after the invention of the tractor.

“More and more, we are seeing economists saying, ‘This time could be different,’”......among the economists in Sintra there was plenty of skepticism about whether the Robocalypse is nigh......Robocalypse advocates underestimate the power of scientific advances to beget more scientific advances, said Joel Mokyr, a professor at Northwestern University who studies the history of economics.....Hal Varian, the chief economist at Google — whose self-driving technology may someday make taxi drivers unnecessary — said that the plunging cost of information technology “has virtually eliminated the fixed cost of entering a business.” Companies can rent software and computing power over the internet..... disruptions caused by technology help account for rampant pessimism among working-class and middle-class people across the developed world.
artificial_intelligence  automation  Benjamin_Bernanke  central_banks  David_Autor  developing_countries  economists  fixed_costs  Hal_Varian  job_destruction  job_displacement  job_loss  Joel_Mokyr  pessimism 
june 2017 by jerryking
Goodbye, Ivory Tower. Hello, Silicon Valley Candy Store. - The New York Times
By STEVE LOHR SEPT. 3, 2016

A number of tech companies are luring Ivy League economists out of academia with the promise of big sets of data and big salaries.

Silicon Valley is turning to the dismal science in its never-ending quest to squeeze more money out of old markets and build new ones. In turn, the economists say they are eager to explore the digital world for fresh insights into timeless economic questions of pricing, incentives and behavior....Businesses have been hiring economists for years. Usually, they are asked to study macroeconomic trends — topics like recessions and currency exchange rates — and help their employers deal with them.

But what the tech economists are doing is different: Instead of thinking about national or global trends, they are studying the data trails of consumer behavior to help digital companies make smart decisions that strengthen their online marketplaces in areas like advertising, movies, music, travel and lodging.

Tech outfits including giants like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft and up-and-comers like Airbnb and Uber hope that sort of improved efficiency means more profit....“They are microeconomic experts, heavy on data and computing tools like machine learning and writing algorithms,”
Silicon_Valley  massive_data_sets  economists  Steve_Lohr  Airbnb  Hal_Varian  digital_economy  academia  microeconomics  Ivy_League  insights  consumer_behavior  war_for_talent  talent 
september 2016 by jerryking
Tech startups: A Cambrian moment | The Economist
Jan 18th 2014

the world of startups today offers a preview of how large swathes of the economy will be organised tomorrow. The prevailing model will be platforms with small, innovative firms operating on top of them. This pattern is already emerging in such sectors as banking, telecommunications, electricity and even government. As Archimedes, the leading scientist of classical antiquity, once said: “Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth.”....yet another dotcom bubble that is bound to pop. Indeed, the number of pure software startups may have peaked already.... warns Mr Andreessen, who as co-founder of Netscape saw the bubble from close by: “When things popped last time it took ten years to reset the psychology.” And even without another internet bust, more than 90% of startups will crash and burn.

But this time is also different, in an important way.

the basic building blocks for digital services and products—the “technologies of startup production”,...Some of these building blocks are snippets of code that can be copied free from the internet, along with easy-to-learn programming frameworks (such as Ruby on Rails). Others are services for finding developers (eLance, oDesk), sharing code (GitHub) and testing usability (UserTesting.com). Yet others are “application programming interfaces” (APIs), digital plugs that are multiplying rapidly....Startups are best thought of as experiments on top of such platforms, testing what can be automated in business and other walks of life. Some will work out, many will not. Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, calls this “combinatorial innovation”. In a way, these startups are doing what humans have always done: apply known techniques to new problems. The late Claude Lévi-Strauss, a French anthropologist, described the process as bricolage (tinkering)..... software (which is at the heart of these startups) is eating away at the structures established in the analogue age....this special report will explain how start-ups operate, how they are nurtured in accelerators and other such organisations, how they are financed and how they collaborate with others. It is a story of technological change creating a set of new institutions which governments around the world are increasingly supporting.
anthropologists  Archimedes  bubbles  Cambrian_explosion  dotcom  entrepreneurship  Greek  Hal_Varian  innovation  innovation_policies  Marc_Andreessen  millennials  platforms  software_is_eating_the_world  start_ups  taxonomy  technological_change  urban 
february 2014 by jerryking
Understanding the Digital Economy: Data Tools, and Research
Jul 2001 | The Academy of Management Review.Vol. 26, Iss. 3;
pg. 463, 2 pgs | by Timothy G Babbitt.
Abstract (Summary): Reviews "Understanding the Digital Economy: Data
Tools, and Research, edited by Erik Brynjolfsson and Brian Kahin". In
the second part (Market Structure, Competition, and the Role of Small
Business) the authors examine in aggregate how the digital economy has
changed the nature of competition, markets, and the effect of small
businesses. Smith, Bailey, and Brynjolfsson examine how the internet
affects market efficiency and competition, paying special attention to
the recognition of unusually high price dispersion. In his chapter
Varian emphasizes the principle that "technology changes, economic laws
do not" through the application of economic fundamentals to e-commerce
competition. He analyzes software versioning, loyalty programs,
promotions, and shopbots to illustrate his point.
ProQuest  book_reviews  digital_economy  Erik_Brynjolfsson  Hal_Varian 
june 2011 by jerryking
Document Page: The Evolving Mission Of Google
Carr, David
The New York Times
03-21-2011
"There is no doubt in my mind they are becoming a media company," said
Mike Vorhaus, the president of the media consulting firm Magid Advisors.
"They are providing content to consumers and selling ads against it --
sounds like a media company to me."

So what, you might ask. What difference does it make what occupation
Google writes down on its driver's license?

For starters, being in the media business means looking at media a
little differently. Google has been spending a lot of time and some
significant money trying to help traditional media businesses stay in
business, in part because Google does not want its search engines to
crawl across a wasteland of machine-generated info-spam and amateur
content with limited allure.
Google  Hal_Varian  Netflix  competitive_landscape  mass_media  media  YouTube  strategy  sports  content  David_Carr  digital_media  layer_mastery 
march 2011 by jerryking
Google to map inflation using web data
October 11 2010 | Financial Times | By Robin Harding in
Denver. Google is using its vast database of web shopping data to
construct the ‘Google Price Index’ – a daily measure of inflation that
could one day provide an alternative to official statistics
The work by Google’s chief economist, Hal Varian, highlights how
economic data can be gathered far more rapidly using online sources. The
official Consumer Price Index data are collected by hand from shops,
and only published monthly with a time lag of several weeks.
Hal_Varian  Google  inflation  statistics  mapping  massive_data_sets  economic_data  CPI 
october 2010 by jerryking
For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word - Statistics - NYTimes.com
Aug. 5, 2009 | NYT | By STEVE LOHR. “We’re entering a world
where everything can be monitored and measured,” said Erik Brynjolfsson,
an economist and director of MIT’s Center for Digital Business. “But
the big problem is the ability of man to use, analyze and make sense of
the data.”" The rich lode of Web data has its perils. Its sheer vol. can
easily overwhelm statistical models. Statisticians caution that strong
correlations of data do not necessarily prove a cause-and-effect link.
E.g., in the late 1940s, before there was a polio vaccine, public health
experts noted that polio cases increased in step with the consumption
of ice cream and soft drinks, says David A. Grier, a historian and
statistician at GWU. Eliminating such treats was recommended as part of
an anti-polio diet. It turned out that polio outbreaks were most common
in the hot mths of summer, when people ate more ice cream, showing only
an association. The data explosion magnifies longstanding issues in
statistics.
Steve_Lohr  Hal_Varian  statistics  career_paths  haystacks  analytics  Google  data  Freshbooks  information_overload  data_scientists  Erik_Brynjolfsson  measurements  sense-making  massive_data_sets  correlations  causality 
june 2010 by jerryking
Google Asserts Its Worth to the U.S. Economy
By Mathew Ingram May. 25, 2010 | GigaOM | Assessing economic impact
Freshbooks  Google  value_creation  Hal_Varian  economics  research  Mathew_Ingram 
may 2010 by jerryking
New Economists Scour Urban Data for Trends - WSJ.com
APRIL 8, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | by CARI TUNA. New Ways
to Read Economy. Experts Scour Oddball Data to Help See Trends Before
Official Information Is Available. A growing number of economists and
urban planners [are] scouring for economic clues in unconventional urban
data—oddball measures of how people are moving, spending and working.
"Mr. Egan said he would like to build software to monitor Craigslist
prices for furniture, concert tickets, haircuts and other goods and
services to measure changes in local prices. The online classified-ads
site, he said, would give a quicker and more detailed read than the
bimonthly data from the Labor Department."

Broadway ticket sales are a favorite indicator for the chief economist of the New York City Economic Development Corp., Francesco Brindisi. He says they are a good gauge of city tourism.

In Jacksonville, Fla., community planner Ben Warner keeps tabs on calls to the city's 2-1-1 hotline for social services. Since late 2008, he has seen spikes in calls for help with food, housing, utilities payments and suicide prevention. It is "direct, real-time monitoring of the economic and social situation," he said.
data  urban  unconventional_thinking  economic_analyses  craigslist  Hal_Varian  hotlines  massive_data_sets  Freshbooks  economists  trends  pattern_recognition  measurements  real-time  forecasting  indicators  unorthodox  economic_data  metrics  Cari_Tuna  data_driven  unconventional  economics  non-traditional 
april 2010 by jerryking
The Web Gets Ugly
Dec. 6, 1998 | New York Times Magazine | by Paul Krugman
Information_Rules  informal_economy  Paul_Krugman  economists  economics  Hal_Varian 
july 2009 by jerryking
Hal Varian on how the Web challenges managers
January 2009 | The McKinsey Quarterly | interview with Hal
Varian . We have to look at today’s economy and say, “What is it that’s
really scarce in the Internet economy?” And the answer is attention.
[Psychologist] Herb Simon recognized this many years ago. He said, “A
wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” So being able to
capture someone’s attention at the right time is a very valuable asset.
And Google really has built an entire business around this, because
we’re capturing your attention when you’re doing a search for something
you’re interested in. That’s the ideal time to show you an advertisement
for a product that may be related or complimentary to what your search
is all about.
management  strategy  innovation  McKinsey  psychologists  attention_spans  Information_Rules  Google  Hal_Varian  digital_economy  scarcity  attention  intentionality  information_overload 
july 2009 by jerryking
The Three Sexy Skills of Data Geeks : Dataspora Blog
Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist, was interviewed a few
months ago, and said the following in the McKinsey Quarterly:
“The sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians… The ability
to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract
value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a
hugely important skill.” Put All Three Skills Together: Sexy. Thus with
the Age of Data upon us, those who can model, munge (data wrangling, sometimes referred to as data munging, is the process of transforming and mapping data from one "raw" data form into another format with the intent of making it more appropriate and valuable for a variety of downstream purposes such as analytics) , and visually
communicate data — call us statisticians or data geeks — are a hot
commodity.
analytics  data  data_scientists  data_wrangling  career  _paths  Hal_Varian  Information_Rules  statistics  visualization  value_extraction 
july 2009 by jerryking

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