Friday 2016-12-23

From Tyler Cowen's chat with Joseph Henrich:

COWEN: Now we have the Internet. That’s very rapidly multiplied the number of combinations and connections over a 20-year period. Much quicker than almost anyone had forecast.

If we apply that to your model, what does your model predict, if only in broad terms? What effects will the Internet have on society given that genetic and cultural evolution are interacting and the number of permutations has gone up a lot quicker than we expected? Is this a train wreck waiting to happen or the greatest thing since sliced bread but 10,000 times better?

HENRICH: Certainly in the short term, it should increase the rate of innovation. It’s easy to exchange ideas amongst very diverse minds.

COWEN: But productivity growth is falling, right? In most countries? This baffles me.

HENRICH: You mean why productivity growth is falling?

COWEN: Right. Japan, US, Western Europe. Productivity growth is lower than it was, say, before the ’80s. I don’t blame the Internet for that, but it doesn’t seem to have helped very much.

HENRICH: I’m a cultural evolutionist so I want to see this on much longer time scale. Ask me in 200 years.

So some people will internet well, while many others get a "satisfactory", and perhaps many many others get a "needs improvement". We can synthesize a preview of our coming Internet future by examining those around us who internet well.

I nominate Derek Sivers because he a) keeps a huge list of everyone he meets email address, and then spams them with his ideas, and b) he puts his writings on his site, adverts them through FB/twitter/whatnot, and draws the commentary back to his site.

Who else internets well?