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Eliezer_Yudkowsky comments on Cascades, Cycles, Insight... - Less Wrong

13 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 24 November 2008 09:33AM

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Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 24 November 2008 05:17:23PM 2 points [-]

James, this is a great intro for students but it doesn't deal with an economy of ideas, it talks about ideas in the economy. There is no mention of how many units of scientific input it takes to produce one unit of scientific discovery. This is hard for economists to study because each discovery only happens once, and it won't be clear what the important inputs were because key nonrival info won't have been visibly purchased.

Which isn't a critique of economics. You would have to be a cognitive scientist in order to discover the brain processes that repeat regularly to produce such discoveries. Economists study mostly repeatable processes, like "put a car together" or "pay a scientist $5". That's fine. They're not supposed to be studying the scientist's prefrontal cortex doing some kind of prefrontal thingy over and over again. But it means that you have to drag in concepts from outside standard econ to make sense of where ideas come from and what sort of optimization velocity they might have.