Who counts as a killer robot?

A front-page article in the FT today was titled US rules out 'Terminator' troops (in print). The digital version's title - "US to deploy robot combat strategists" - suggests that robots will not be asked to kill (yet) but they'll be asked to do other things. In the…

Is innovation faster when countries feel threatened?

In 1993, Joel Mokyr wrote for Reason: Especially after 1870, when the major European powers became steadily less friendly toward one another, the sense of one national identity competing against another was a powerful stimulus to many of the great inventors of the time [...] Governments increasingly encouraged and subsidized research…

Productivity growth (airport edition)

Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 3.1 fifteen years ago, probably thinking that no one would use it anymore. Originally released in April 1992, that version of the Windows operating system was improved somewhat since the preceding century (let's not comment on whether each new release of Windows was a true…

Who got most patents in 2014?

MIT was granted fewer patents than Facebook in 2014. This fun fact was hiding in plain sight on page 3 of this Intellectual Property Owners Association report: The University of California did better than firms like Yahoo, or Nike (or Facebook) - but it was granted just 18 more patents…

Roundup of links from this week (incl. National Parks in China)

Why I am still not excited by the Palma index (Branko Milanovic) Sharing Economy Workers Need a ‘Safety Net’ (WSJ) Putting an End to 'Us and Them' Capitalism (Lynn Forester de Rothschild) Happiness and health in China: The paradox of progress (Brookings) China Envisions Network of National Parks (NYT) Uber…

Rethinking Macro Policy: Ken Rogoff's remarks

Rogoff's remarks at this year's IMF Spring Meeting start at about 19:30. Many points are healthy food for thought, I just quickly wrote down five things that caught my attention: Entertainment is now virtually free in advanced economies. Uber allows for a more efficient use of the capital stock.…

Are sensors solving the “Akerlof problem”?

As consumers, we are so in love with getting (seemingly) free services in exchange for our data, that the new norm seems to be: “you have permission to track me, by default.” As an economist, I should welcome the fact that screening problems are becoming easier to solve. When an…