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Monday, October 30, 2023

A new kind of book?

It would have been interesting to know, if he had lived longer, what Robert Anton Wilson would have made of new developments in the world. I am particularly wondering what he would have thought of the boom in artificial intelligence, in the light of SMI2LE.

If RAW were still around, would he be doing experiments with artificial intelligence, like the one Tyler Cowen has done with his new project?

Cowen has just written a book, Who is the Greatest Economist of all Time and Why Does it Matter? Tyler calls it a "generative book."

Cowen wrote all of the book himself (not using an AI) and anyone can download a copy from the website for the project.  But in addition, if I understand the concept, readers can ask four different AIs at the site to answer questions raised in your mind as  you read the book.

Tyler has his own chatbot at the site. Sample questions are offered, but I tried one of my own: "How does Paul Krugman rank in the GOAT contest?" (Krugman is not just an influential New York Times columnist. He won the Nobel Prize for economics). Here is the answer I got:

"Paul Krugman does not feature in the main content of Tyler's GOAT analysis in "GOAT: Who is the Greatest Economist of all Time and Why Does it Matter?". That said, he pops up in the book's discussion about Google Trends rankings where he appears well-rated, implying he's familiar to the public. Yet, consider that popularity doesn't necessarily reflect the greatest economic mind or influence.

"Krugman's notable contributions, specifically his work on international trade and economic geography, won him the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. He's also made his mark as a New York Times columnist and an author, bringing economic perspectives to wider audiences. However, when lining him up with colossal figures like Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, or Milton Friedman, it becomes more challenging to single him out as the GOAT. Moreover, the GOAT, as per Tyler, isn't just about high-level academic contribution, but also the ability to influence public opinion, policy-making, and the course of economics as a discipline, both directly and indirectly.

"A minor point, but if the GOAT contest had an awards gala, Paul Krugman would certainly be invited Mardi Gras bead style, but not likely to be crowned king."

Tyler could have simply published the book, but instead he is giving it away, for  now, for the sake of trying a new approach to publishing. 

Here is a blog post by Ben Yeoh discussing the book. 


Brian Dean said...

I know nothing about Tyler Cowen, aside from the references to him from this blog, but I had some fun with the AI (this being the first time I've used one of these GPT-4 things):

Me: Did Tyler's appearance in David Fincher's film about underground fighting clubs influence his book's commentary on economists?

Well, that would certainly be an interesting plot twist, wouldn't it? But no, as far as I know, Tyler's foray into econ-brawling, a.k.a his hypothetical cameo in an underground economist fight club (just imagining that is pure gold), did not influence his commentary on economists in "GOAT: Who is the Greatest Economist of All Time and Why Does it Matter?"

The book offers insightful analyses based on the economist's contributions, historical context, and influence, not on any clandestine economist wrestling matches, as captivating as that spectacle might be.

But really, you've given me a great idea for a spec script: "Fight (Market) Club: Invisible Hand Unleashed".

Spookah said...

'Invisible Hand Unleashed' sounds like a fantastic title.
That an AI would make actual funny jokes seems maybe scarier to me than anything else.

quackenbush said...

When ChatGPT first burst onto the scene there a was brief fad aground having it write poetry and I imagined RAW playing with it to generate bawdy limericks and "low brow" haiku.

Jesse said...

I didn't save the dialogue, but when the book first came out I had a couple go-rounds with the chatbot where tried to get it to tell me who the murderer was.