Monday, September 27, 2010

From the no-brainer department. “We should staple a green card to PhDs in science and technology,” West says with a sigh. “They’d like to stay here!”

"Because when we have the best talent, we have the best innovations. That’s how we landed Google, Intel and the atomic bomb. Immigrants are about twice as likely as native-born Americans to start a small business, and they’re 30 percent more likely to apply for a patent."

In the short-term, it's great for educated Americans like me if most of our competitors are kept out of the country. In the long term, it's better for me and my descendents if more talented people live and work here (and advanced degrees are a proxy for talent, however imperfect). The talented don't capture the total value of their work in their income. A lot of the value is captured by other people that to do business with them (i.e., gains from trade) and/or live under the same government as them (i.e., government redistribution). These the facts are indisputable.

Now for some more speculative remarks: I think having a slightly larger fraction of talented people in the population will slightly improve the quality of the aggregrate decisions of voters and the average quality of our burearucrats. Also, mere open immigration for the talented involves very different head-counts than actual open borders. Thus, fears of cultural and linguistic change should be relatively muted.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I guess this means Prof. Cowen isn't buying any 20-year treasuries... So, how many years do give the US before its sovereign debt crisis? (Last year, I bought a 10-year TIPS; I pointedly did not buy any 20 or 30-year US debt.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Regarding the mind

1) What do you tend to think about?
I think most people have one top idea in their mind at any given time. That's the idea their thoughts will drift toward when they're allowed to drift freely. And this idea will thus tend to get all the benefit of that type of thinking, while others are starved of it. ...[J]ust take a shower. What topic do your thoughts keep returning to? If it's not what you want to be thinking about, you may want to change something.

2) Why is it advantageous for humans to consciously think at all?

3) Is consciousness more like the punter of the brain than the quarterback of the brain?

4) What would happen if I habitually denied "I am happy/sad/etc" in favor of "my brain is telling me to be happy/sad/etc"?

5) Is artificial dreaming a prerequisite for strong AI?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The closing of the last major incandescent light bulb factory in the United States. Come 2014, many folks will miss these bulbs. (That's when most of them will be banned in the US.) Prediction: most Laredo folks won't miss them, because they will walk across the bridge (and go shopping).