Russ Roberts

November 2015

A Monthly Archive (10 entries)
 

Podcast episode David Mindell on Our Robots, Ourselves

EconTalk Episode with David Mindell
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Our%20Robots.jpg Are we on the verge of driverless cars and other forms of autonomous robots and artificial intelligence? David Mindell of MIT and the author of Our Robots, Ourselves talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the robotic revolution. Mindell argues that much of the optimism for autonomous robots ignores decades of experience with semi-autonomous robots in deep-sea operation, space, air, and the military. In all of these areas, the role of human supervision remains at a high level with little full autonomy. Mindell traces some of the history of the human interaction with robots and artificial intelligence and speculates on what the future might hold.

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What color is your unicorn?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

This week marked a significant milestone for us at EconTalk, Russ' 500th episode. To mark the occasion, he invited back his most popular guest, Mike Munger. Despite not having a "topic," the two had a wide-ranging conversation. Now it's your turn. Share your thoughts with us (including Roberts and Munger!) and let's continue the conversation.
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1. Both Roberts and Munger told the story of their "intellectual journeys." What's the story of your journey? What economists or philosophers or others have shaped your views? Have those influencers changed over time?

CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Extras



Podcast episode Michael Munger on EconTalk's 500th Episode

EconTalk Episode with Mike Munger
Hosted by Russ Roberts

500b.jpg Michael Munger of Duke University makes his 29th appearance on the 500th episode of EconTalk alongside EconTalk host Russ Roberts. He talks about his personal intellectual journey, his interest in public choice, and Unicorn economics. Other topics include the origins of EconTalk, Roberts's intellectual roots, and the EconTalk theme music. The conversation closes with a brief reprise of a few highlights from past Munger appearances on EconTalk.

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Psyching Ourselves Out

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Brian Nosek, professor of psychology and Executive Director of the Open Science Project, joined EconTalk host Russ Roberts for a follow-up conversation on the results of his meta-analysis of 100 psychology studies, seeking to replicate their findings.

So what did they find? The answer is complicated...But we're most interested in what you think of the results and this week's conversation. Share your reaction with us in the Comments, and strike up some conversations with your fellows!

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1. Nosek and Roberts make reference to the recent news that there's a link between bacon consumption and cancer. What does this story have to teach people about p values and statistical significance?

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Podcast episode Brian Nosek on the Reproducibility Project

EconTalk Episode with Brian Nosek
Hosted by Russ Roberts

bluesplotch.jpg Brian Nosek of the University of Virginia and the Center for Open Science talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the Reproducibility Project--an effort to reproduce the findings of 100 articles in three top psychology journals. Nosek talks about the findings and the implications for academic publishing and the reliability of published results.

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Perhaps Preventing Prevention is Prudent

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

In his newest book, Risky Medicine, physician Robert Aronowitz calls into question many of the health care norms we've adopted in our lives, including PSA tests for men and routine mammograms for women. In an unusual twist for EconTalk listeners, perhaps, Aronowitz suggests, the biggest problem in health care isn't too little information, but too much.

EconTalk host Russ Roberts also offers a very personal post-script (1:04:44) to this episode, and we're hoping you're willing to be a bit personal this week as well. Let us know how this episode has impacted the way you think about your own health, using the prompts below. As always. we love to hear from you.

Risky Medicine2.jpg
1. How do we confuse the means to good health with actual good health, according to Aronowitz? To what extent have you seen such confusion, either among people you know, or perhaps yourself?

2. What is the "elephant in green pajamas problem," and how does it describe what Aronowitz sees as wrong in medicine today?


CONTINUE READING...

CATEGORIES: Books , Data and Evidence , Extras , Health



Podcast episode Robert Aronowitz on Risky Medicine

EconTalk Episode with Robert Aronowitz
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Should women get routine mammograms? Should men get regular PSA exams? Robert Aronowitz of the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Risky Medicine talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the increasing focus on risk reduction rather than health itself as a goal. Aronowitz discusses the social and political forces that push us toward more preventive testing even when those tests have not been shown to be effective. Aronowitz's perspective is a provocative look at the opportunity cost of risk-reduction.

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We Know How to Make it Worse.

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

(So why don't we stop?)

If the poor aren't poor because they lack stuff, then why are they? And more importantly, what can we do about it? Michael Matheson Miller, director of the award-winning documentary Poverty, Inc., sat down with EconTalk host Russ Roberts to explore just that. He argues that we've been asking the wrong questions all along.

What did you think? Let's continue our conversation about these ideas.

1. Has this conversation changed the way you think about any particular poverty alleviation programs (TOMS shoes, NGOs, etc.)? Which one(s), and why? What might you do differently going forward, and why?

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Podcast episode Michael Matheson Miller on Poverty, Inc

EconTalk Episode with Michael Matheson Miller
Hosted by Russ Roberts


Michael Matheson Miller of the Acton Institute and the Director of the documentary Poverty, Inc., talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his award-winning documentary on the barriers facing the poor around the world. Topics discussed include the incentives facing poverty-fighting NGOs and their staff, the importance of secure and well-defined property rights, and the costs and benefits of agricultural aid.

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Hidalgo Follow-up

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts


There was an interesting moment in this week's episode when Cesar Hidalgo said the following when I was asking why he ignored the role of prices:

like Hayek said it, and basically it gets regurgitated even nowadays in every common section of every newspaper more or less when people are discussing the economy--since the role of prices in revealing information about supply and demand has been said, I tried to focus on aspects of information in the economy that had not been so much discussed in the literature.
Hidalgo's take on prices reminded me of this EconTalk episode with William Byers. Byers makes the point that there are some concepts such as "randomness" that can be defined. But you can spend a lifetime thinking about them and still not understand them completely. You can always go deeper.

For me the role of prices in steering information and allocating resources is one of those ideas. It's a very deep idea. But a lot of people (and Hidalgo seems to be in this group) treat it as been-there done-that idea. Let's move on to the more interesting stuff. Like when they don't work. Or they're good for explaining buying and selling so let's talk about trust and cooperation among networks of people, which is what Hidalgo finds more interesting.

But the role of prices in supply and demand is just the beginning. Of course it doesn't work perfectly except in textbooks. But what do we know about when it works better and when it works less well? And prices do a lot more than just take care of supply and demand--they create the division of labor and decide what receives attention from innovators and entrepreneurs. Prices coordinate undesigned cooperation across firms and across space ad across time. Prices encourage collaborators to work on some things and not others. Freely adjusting prices don't solve all problems. They aren't perfect. But their effects are not fully understood or appreciated. See Venezuela for one example.

And finally, not all prices are monetary. Commercial transactions are not the only results from a well-functioning price system. Again, see Venezuela. I have a feeling there isn't a lot of trust in a system where the price system isn't allowed to function.

I understand Hidalgo's interest in going beyond (or maybe it's beside) the role of prices. But I wonder if he's thought enough about them. I haven't and I think about them a lot. I do concede that they are often my hammer looking for a nail. (After all, I wrote a book about how prices create order and prosperity and flourishing.) I'm just encouraging Hidalgo to take a closer look at the hammer. It might be more interesting than it appears at first glance.

CATEGORIES: Extras



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