Saturday, November 30, 2013

New Tyler Cowen book

I have been reading the new book by Tyler Cowen, Average Is Over, about how "machine intelligence" will change life in the near future. (Apparently, he uses the term because he wants to refer to a category of machines that includes computers but is broader.) Robert Anton Wilson wrote about the effect of automation eliminating jobs; Cowen's book has a lot about that but also tackles other effects. His book is full of striking passages:

It's already the case that 60 percent of U.S. employers check credit scores before making a hire -- this is a reality, not some dystopian science fiction world of the distant future. 

Cowen says that the ability of chess players is closely and accurately rated and predicts that similar ratings will be publicly available soon for professionals. We're about to discover, he says, that most doctors are on a C or B- level.

Cowen's blog is here. It's consistently interesting, although in his books Cowen makes more of an effort to write for people who don't have a degree in economics. His recent posts today include one on reverse shoplifting as a form of art in Japan. He also has a post on a Turing test for social media, which he says he covers in the book; I haven't come to it yet.

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