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Charlie Stross, Paul Krugman Discuss the Future

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the i'll-have-the-vegetarian dept.

Sci-Fi 127

Peripatetic Entrepreneur writes "At the Science Fiction World Convention in Montreal, Hugo Award winning author Charlie Stross and Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman opened the show with a 75-minute, wide-ranging conversation on stage. From flying cars to decoding the genome of the Pacific Ocean to vat-grown Long Pig, it's all there. Audio is also available — video soon."

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127 comments

Yummy! (1)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29018895)

Mmmm, Long Pig! Tastes just like chicken!

Re:Yummy! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29019145)

long dick

Re:Yummy! (1)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019199)

Ugh, why would anyone want to grow human flesh intended for consumption? (And no, I'm not going to LTT75MFA (listen to the 75-minute fucking article).)

Re:Yummy! (2, Interesting)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019467)

It isn't intended for consumption. It's just that if some muscle grafts fail QC for internal use, you might as well fry it up. Plus, PETA has a reward out for "vat grown meat", but they didn't specify the species.

Human flesh that hasn't been abused for 30 years is probabally quite tasty. Or at least it smells pretty good when cooked by accident, so it might taste good when cooked on purpose.

Especially if there isn't any same-species viral concerns.

Re:Yummy! (1)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29020313)

Not likely vat grown human will be a legal food source. Long Pork was just word candy; keep in mind the speakers are science fiction authors.

Even if there are no viral/prion concerns, it'll never happen; at least not in the US. The FDA or USDA would see to that.

Re:Yummy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29022931)

That is so true for Paul Krugman. Everything he writes is science fiction and fantasy.

Re:Yummy! (1)

kumanopuusan (698669) | more than 4 years ago | (#29020335)

Human flesh that hasn't been abused for 30 years is probabally [sic] quite tasty.

Good luck finding that on slashdot. Oh right, that's why we need the vat meat!

what I really want to know (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29018909)

is when they gonna let me tap it?

Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all that.. (0)

popo (107611) | more than 4 years ago | (#29018987)

Krugman is no psychic. He didn't exactly see the financial meltdown coming in advance, so hearing him discuss the future has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29019069)

He's also a former Enron advisor, of course.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019105)

That's because the "financial meltdown" is an inherent property of the system... everyone sprints to the middle arena for the food and a bloody mess ensues when the food runs out. It doesn't need prediction because we already KNOW it is going to happen over and over and over again.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

jeanph01 (700760) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019123)

Yeah. Krugman tell also that the economic crisis is over. But it seems that this is just another bubble and when the governments spending will end, the economy will be hit hard. In the meantime, Krugman has his time of glory.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (2, Interesting)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019181)

Krugman is of the opinion that the economic crisis will come back when the government spending is done. You're thinking of Jim Cramer who thinks it's over.

http://www.thestreet.com/_yahoo/story/10569659/1/cramers-mad-money-recap-cramer-vs-krugman-update-1.html?cm_ven=YAHOO&cm_cat=FREE&cm_ite=NA [thestreet.com]

Sorry, don't have the original article by Krugman, don't really follow him, but the relevant part is at the beginning.

"He [Cramer] refuted an article by noted New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who argued the economy is slowly getting worse.
According to Krugman and others skeptical of the market's recent rally, the economy is simply being propped up by government spending and will return to March lows as that spending wanes. But Cramer asked his viewers pointedly, 'Are things slowing getting worse for you?'"

It seems "experts" in economics, uh, aren't. At least not all the time.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (3, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019157)

He didn't exactly see the financial meltdown coming in advance

neither did anyone investing in the market that lost any money. the ability to predict market crashes has little to do with predicting things over the long term. the market recovers and people move on. the real reason why predictions of the future are more often wrong than not is because people have a tendency to expect what they think is interesting [flying cars] rather than anything of practical use. if you want an accurate prediction make one that is the result of several small practical steps away from what exists now. for example; I predict that hybrid cars [or some offshoot of them] will make up a majority of cars within 50 years. not a very exciting prediction but it's probably more accurate than expecting flying cars any time soon.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (4, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019387)

actually, everyone who was in the market knew it was a bubble. the only thing they didn't know was when it would burst. everyone stays in hoping to cash out before it bursts. anyone who was predicting that housing wasn't a bubble was either lying or he is a charlatan.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019477)

you would think that if everyone knew it all was a bubble including the FED then there would e a lot more pitchforks and torches at the white-house right now to force a change in how things are done. no.. I suspect there are more people who do not understand how the economy works than those who do- even among economists. anyway, back to the topic- along the same lines I think that anyone that really has any understanding of history and technology knows that the future is going to e practical and mundane. normally the knowledge of if or when the bubble was going to collapse wouldn't have much effect on what the future looked like [the economy recovers after all] but in this guy's case, it might bring his abilities into question now that I think about it..

History reruns (1, Offtopic)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019925)

Similar things happened for the great depression which is why to some extent this depression didn't become "great" and has slowed down (doesn't mean that it is over or that the fall will be quite slow.)

The DIFFERENCE with this re-run? the PRESS and the CONGRESS WORKED TOGETHER to expose what was going on to the public which helped create the political will necessary to make meaningful changes; however, it was not enough to undo the newly created FED which helped create the whole mess in the 1st place as they did this time. People in the know tell me FED this and FED that but forget that during the weakest moment in history the FED won.

Krugman is an OK guy. HOWEVER, he is not a Nobel Prize winner! Its a way for some bankers to promote their economic policy to the world with a fake Nobel and everybody falls for it! Think about it and do some research. Nobel is only for science and peacemaking. Economics is neither and its degrading to the Nobel Prize. Mathematical models for voodoo is not credible work-- chaos as an equation if proven possible-- fine; but until then.... Other sciences can not win the Nobel yet we allow them to hijack it for economics?!!

You want serious predictions of the future? They are not pretty. The global warming stuff-- will be worse than the predictions 10 years ago because most were going from the most positive hopeful range of the projections just so they could be easier for people to accept. Behavior trends like that not only extend into other areas but also continue with present day predictions trying to be accepted by the mainstream. The bubble economic system will continue and those who question it will remain largely silent and work within it (as Krugman did and still largely does.) Madoff wasn't a freak he was a product of the system (or attracted to it.)

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 4 years ago | (#29021593)

The FED created the bubble to reduce misery until what everyone was assuming was the next emerging technology boom -- biotech. It was supposed to blossom by 2010. The boom was severely hindered by government policies (oversubsidizing of basic research, hindering of steam-cell research, complete failure to recognize that terrorism's main target is stable society and treating it as a traditional military threat, etc.). Populations don't come out with pitchforks unless a very certain demographic exists -- lots of young people who are not yet established in life. US is not there at the moment. But if the current President's policies continue, it might get there within 5-10 years (2nd baby boom happened '98-'05).

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (0, Flamebait)

mrlibertarian (1150979) | more than 4 years ago | (#29020219)

anyone who was predicting that housing wasn't a bubble was either lying or he is a charlatan.

Right. Also, no one in the market is a true Scotsman. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying or he is a charlatan.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 4 years ago | (#29020735)

actually, everyone who was in the market knew it was a bubble.

Every time one of these bubbles has been in the making, I hear 99% of people saying this is a "new era", or a "new economy". Internet, housing, debt, whatever. While I was not around at the time, people have sincerely believed that things are truly DIFFERENT this time! during every bubble throughout history if you care to read it. And then made up some cock and bull story about knowing it all along, all the signs being obvious etc. after the bubble bursts.

And the reason these bubbles keep forming is that the average person is a) herd following and b) of average intelligence. As a result of b), they ignore other examples in history and other countries that would serve as warnings. Even when they have a modicum of intelligence most people don't trust their own judgment. They would rather be a lemming heading over the cliff with all his compatriots than the one lemming who heads in the opposite direction and gets ridiculed.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

TempeTerra (83076) | more than 4 years ago | (#29021181)

Re: lemmings; if you're a rational player in this economy what's the best thing to do? Follow the bubble like everyone else and cash out early. For most of the economic cycle the smart action and dumb action are the same.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 4 years ago | (#29021547)

Every time one of these bubbles has been in the making, I hear 99% of people saying this is a "new era", or a "new economy".

This is how most rational people knew this was a bubble. If this is the justification given, just calmly ask yourself the question: what has changed us as a specie? If you can't figure out the answer, look for ways to profit from the new bubble and for to figure out what will signal the end.

Krugman called FOR the bubble (2, Informative)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019221)

Writes the future Nobel laureate in the NY Times, August 2, 2002:

To fight this recession the Fed needsâ¦soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. [So] Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/02/opinion/dubya-s-double-dip.html [nytimes.com] Krugman and the Keynesian economists don't predict economic downturns, they create them. They believe that "bad" money in the short term is better than "good" money and say that in the long term we are all dead. Krugman's prize wasn't for being a good economist but for his mathematical model much like John Nash. Personally after reading Krugman the past two years I believe he is also just as nuts.

Re:Krugman called FOR the bubble (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019313)

>>Personally after reading Krugman the past two years I believe he is also just as nuts.

Yeah, I've read a lot of his articles and have come to the same conclusion.

Not that Charlie Strauss is much better. His fiction, especially Accelerando, reads like he just made a list of all the memes he could come across on teh intarwebs, and crafts a loosely structured story around it.

Re:Krugman called FOR the bubble (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019473)

Not that Charlie Strauss is much better. His fiction, especially Accelerando, reads like he just made a list of all the memes he could come across on teh intarwebs, and crafts a loosely structured story around it

He flat out admits that in the recording("short attention span" and "read the internet too much")

Re:Krugman called FOR the bubble (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29020393)

>>He flat out admits that in the recording("short attention span" and "read the internet too much")

Heh. Nice to see that my wildly speculative criticisms of an author are right every once in a while. =)

Re:Krugman called FOR the bubble (1)

jamesswift (1184223) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019515)

I don't read that as calling for a bubble, rather he is pointing out that Greenspan is trapped and must create another one to sustain the already inflated valuations. This implies that he's putting off a problem rather than dealing with it. Which does seem to be what subsequently happened.

Re:Krugman called FOR the bubble (1)

klenwell (960296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019701)

I don't read that as calling for a bubble, rather he is pointing out that Greenspan is trapped and must create another one to sustain the already inflated valuations. This implies that he's putting off a problem rather than dealing with it. Which does seem to be what subsequently happened.

That's how I read it, too. Krugman continues in the same article:

Bear in mind also that government officials have a stake in accentuating the positive. The administration needs a recovery because, with deficits exploding, the only way it can justify that tax cut is by pretending that it was just what the economy needed. Mr. Greenspan needs one to avoid awkward questions about his own role in creating the stock market bubble.

Bush and Greenspan needed a bubble to sell their tax breaks. More recently, others (as Krugman has noted) have been demanding a bubble, too:

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/recession_plagued_nation_demands [theonion.com]

Wow you're REALLY missing the point (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019953)

"Bubble" in the mouth of Krugman and other "leftist" (where "leftist" means anyone not drinking the austrian economics kool aid) economists is a very, very dirty word. He can't possibly advocate it as a policy; he's just saying that it's "the only way it can justify that tax cut", by creating the illusion of recovery through another bubble.

Re:Krugman called FOR the bubble (2, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29020345)

I read that as a pretty open attack on Greenspan rather than any sort of advocacy. He's accusing Greenspan of trying to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble, as a way of trying to produce some fake normalcy by "curing" one bubble with a new one. And that's pretty much what happened.

Re:Krugman called FOR the bubble (4, Informative)

SnapShot (171582) | more than 4 years ago | (#29023855)

Seriously? A +5 mod for a misquoted line in an article? Did you actually read this article?

The basic point [of the "double-dip" fearing economists such as Steven Roach] is that the recession of 2001 wasn't a typical postwar slump, brought on when an inflation-fighting Fed raises interest rates and easily ended by a snapback in housing and consumer spending when the Fed brings rates back down again. This was a prewar-style recession, a morning after brought on by irrational exuberance. To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.

Judging by Mr. Greenspan's remarkably cheerful recent testimony, he [Greenspan] still thinks he can pull that off. But the Fed chairman's crystal ball has been cloudy lately; remember how he urged Congress to cut taxes to head off the risk of excessive budget surpluses? And a sober look at recent data is not encouraging.

Reading those two paragraphs, you've interpreted it as Krugman calling for a housing bubble? Perhaps as some sort of Keynesian conspiracy to cause an economic downturn? Is English a second language for you?

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29019233)

Hubris. He has it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EPd2i4Jshs

You would think an economist would have an understanding of stats and say "I'm sorry, I don't have a large enough sample for what I had in mind," and abort the experiment.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (3, Informative)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019235)

He didn't exactly see the financial meltdown coming in advance

He was pointing out back in September of 2007 (and perhaps earlier - I didn't check any further) that housing prices were far too high with respect to historical price-rent levels and that a reckoning was coming. You're right, he didn't predict the collapse - he just predicted the precursor and had been warning about the deregulation that turned it into a disaster.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (0, Troll)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019251)

Woohoo after the bubble has started to deflate the Keynesian morons notice what they have created!

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29019903)

Wise up dumbshit-- after you laissez faire fuckwads drove the economy off a cliff, it's the Keynesians who are saving your sorry ass.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29024439)

Which "laissez faire fuckwads" want the government to set interest rates (yes, yes, the Fed isn't technically part of the government, blah-de-blah)?

Doesn't seem very "let do"...

Oh the chutzpah (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019963)

The keynesians haven't created anything, genius, they weren't in power in that time frame, it was Greenspan and his merry band of Chicago boys.

Re:Oh the chutzpah (0, Troll)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29024391)

Greenspan is a Keynesian you moron.

What do you think the Greenspan Put was, if not the Keynesian "government takes up the slack" approach?

This is satire, right? (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29024521)

Von Hayek was a commie, too.

Re:This is satire, right? (2, Interesting)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29024689)

No it's not.

Seriously what is government intervention to pump money into the economy when the economy looks like it is starting a downward trend, if it isn't stock standard Keynesian IS/LM curve shifting?

Sure Greenspan called himself a free-marketer, but actions speak louder.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29022573)

Woohoo after the bubble has started to deflate the Keynesian morons notice what they have created!

..and there you have the [Milton] Friedman-ite mantra in action: blame everyone else. "The market didn't collapse because of our failed policies, it just wasn't free enough." Same story, same blame-game since the Pinochet days.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29024491)

It's pretty damn obvious that the economy collapsed due to over leverage.

Artificially low interest rates are an pretty damn obvious cause of that.

You really think the financial sector would have leveraged 40:1 and loaned money to deadbeats if interest rates were at the 20% level that the market would have set them?

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29024555)

And also, it's not "wasn't free enough".

The market would work fine if it was "completely free" - you would get booms and busts and the busts would suck for those who did stupid things in the booms.

It would also work if it was "completely" regulated - you would get booms and busts and the busts would suck for those who did't do stupid things in the booms.

What doesn't work is regulating one side and not the other. You can't regulate interest rates to low levels and regulate loans by putting the government in as a backstop AND also allow unregulated market action by the financial sector. Obviously that will implode. The only surprising thing is that the shell game went on so long.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (-1, Troll)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019265)

Yes, it couldn't have been the artificially low interest rates, which means they are increasing the monetary supply much more than they should, which caused the housing bubble (not to mention the NASDAQ bubble), its that darn "deregulation," which of course means different regulations and happened over the course of 3 decades.

Of course, Krugman actually advocated created a housing bubble in 2002.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/02/opinion/dubya-s-double-dip.html [nytimes.com]

Krugman is just an organ for the Federal Reserve and the state.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (0, Troll)

plnix0 (807376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019413)

Of course, Krugman actually advocated created a housing bubble in 2002.

For anyone who thinks parent might be exaggerating, it's no joke. Krugman is quite literally insane. Here's a direct quote from the linked article [nytimes.com] (emphasis added):

The basic point is that the recession of 2001 wasn't a typical postwar slump, brought on when an inflation-fighting Fed raises interest rates and easily ended by a snapback in housing and consumer spending when the Fed brings rates back down again. This was a prewar-style recession, a morning after brought on by irrational exuberance. To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29019657)

That is at best a mischaracterization of his position. He is saying Alan Greenspan's only option to not head into the double dip is to create a housing bubble. He is NOT advocating that option.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29019783)

Exactly. These morons don't know how to read.

They'll keep spreading this "Krugman advocated the bubble" bullshit meme forever even though it makes absolutely no sense and is clearly contradicted by reading the actual article and everything else Krugman has ever written. If that isn't enough, there's this [nytimes.com] as well. But these guys are ideology first, facts and common sense... never.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1, Interesting)

cowmix (10566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019709)

Yes, it couldn't have been the artificially low interest rates, which means they are increasing the monetary supply much more than they should, which caused the housing bubble (not to mention the NASDAQ bubble), its that darn "deregulation," which of course means different regulations and happened over the course of 3 decades.

Of course, Krugman actually advocated created a housing bubble in 2002.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/02/opinion/dubya-s-double-dip.html [nytimes.com]

Krugman is just an organ for the Federal Reserve and the state.

I just reread that post and I don't understand how in that op-ed piece Krugman advocated creating the housing bubble.

Can you explain this to me?

thanks

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (5, Funny)

hirundo (221676) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019253)

Krugman is no psychic. He didn't exactly see the financial meltdown coming in advance...

That's not fair. Krugman predicted 11 of the last 3 recessions.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (5, Funny)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019323)

That's not fair. Krugman predicted 11 of the last 3 recessions.

You should be more careful. Mixing binary and decimal notation can really confuse some people.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29019715)

It's especially unfair because not only did the troll steal that old joke [newsgroper.com] about the Fed, he's not likely to know what binary notation is.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (5, Informative)

MagicMerlin (576324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019281)

The problem with Krugman is that he is relentlessly political and that is a bad trait for an economist. He tireless argues for greater and greater interventions in the marketplace (that is, he's a statist) without taking into account the secondary effects of those interventions because that would contradict his world view. He's also very popular in Washington :-).

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1, Funny)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019457)

Here's a hint, grasshopper: almost all economists are political. Even a hands-off stance like the Chicago School is in and of itself a political position.

Now take your teenage libertarianism and your copy of Rand's complete works, and shove them where the sun doesn't shine.

Mart

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29019593)

The problem with Krugman is that he is relentlessly political and that is a bad trait for an economist.

[Citation needed] on the bad trait part. There is a need for somebody who knows his stuff to stand up to the bad science in Washington.

He tireless argues for greater and greater interventions in the marketplace (that is, he's a statist) without taking into account the secondary effects of those interventions because that would contradict his world view.

[Citation Needed] again. Just because you do not agree with him does not make him wrong.

WHAT? (-1, Flamebait)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019969)

The right wing economists have been trumpetting their bullshit for decade, justifying the retarded policies of the ultra right, from Pinochet to Bush.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (2, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29020353)

The problem with Krugman is that he is relentlessly political and that is a bad trait for an economist.

Do you apply that to all politically outspoken economists, across the spectrum? So you would say, for example, that Milton Friedman was a bad economist?

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (3, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29022617)

The difference is that Krugman changes his recommendations based on the political party of the politician backing the economic policies. There were economic policies that he supported when the Clinton Administration proposed them and opposed when the Bush Administration proposed them. If he had said that he used to support such policies but now realized that they were wrong, it would have been one thing, but he instead wrote as if he had always opposed such policies and only an idiot would support them.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

sheldon (2322) | more than 4 years ago | (#29023819)

There were economic policies that he supported when the Clinton Administration proposed them and opposed when the Bush Administration proposed them.

I'd love for you to give some specific examples.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (4, Interesting)

MagicMerlin (576324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29023121)

That's a very fair point. I'll say this though: most libertarian economists warn about the dangers of governments using policy to direct economic matters. This criticism is very well founded; generally things start out well, but inevitably things go wrong and the perpetrators end up blaming the free market for all the problems. There are of course examples and counter examples on both sides, so things are completely black/white, but as a general trend it rings true. While libertarian economists (to use a stereotype) are political in the sense that they look at the economic problems resulting from political issues, they tend to think that economic policy should be apolitical...that is, get politicians of all striped out of the money business. Krugman is the nemesis of that line of thinking.

Krugman - before and after his NY Times column (3, Interesting)

br00tus (528477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29020387)

Before getting a New York Times column Krugman was not overtly political, and used to praise some of the ideas Milton Friedman came up with, while also praising Keynes's ideas. Another thing is prior to the NY Times column, very importantly, Krugman was a mainstream, well respected economist. Not that I think that means much, but he was not some hack with no economic background like so many people spouting op-eds in the Wall Street Journal or CNBC.

Once he got the Times column, he began analyzing Bush's budgets and saying the numbers did not add up because they were wildly over-optimistic. This brought him into the political arena more.

Also - what mainstream economist does NOT argue for intervention in the economy? Milton Friedman who is supposed to be the free market guru supported a government/Fed run expansionary money policy. This is a capitalist economy, do the capitalists who run it and own it pay attention to any economists who don't advocate government control over at least money? The answer is no. In fact, the capitalists who run this capitalist economy were who advocated the bailout of the banks and all of this.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 4 years ago | (#29020815)

The problem with Krugman is that he is relentlessly political and that is a bad trait for an economist.

Isn't that the purpose of an economist ? To spatter some figures and graphs and theories over whatever politics ? It doesn't come out of the blue, there's always an ideology behind it. There's no such thing as a "true" economy.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29021043)

Well, we arrive at a point in economical research where it can begin to be called a science. Are scientists political when they say that creationism is just bullshit ? Krugman's models say that some policies are right and some are wrong. He offers an opportunity to discuss the model itself not just to yell "socialist ! " "fascist !" in place of conversation.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

plnix0 (807376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019395)

Especially considering his "solution" to the meltdown is more of what brought it on in the first place.

Why do people make shit up? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29019411)

You, sir, are smoking crack.

Of all the economists to go after for having poor "prognostication skills" you couldn't have picked anyone worse, except for maybe Nuriel Roubini. The fact is that Krugman called the bubble in at least May 2005 [nytimes.com] , warned of disastrous consequences in August of that year [nytimes.com] , and continued to do so all the way to when the shit hit the fan. From his August 8 2005 piece:

"If housing prices actually started falling, we'd be looking at a very nasty scene, in which both construction and consumer spending would plunge, pushing the economy right back into recession. That's why it's so ominous to see signs that America's housing market, like the stock market at the end of the last decade, is approaching the final, feverish stages of a speculative bubble."

This is when Fox, CNBC, and the Fed were rah-rahing about how everything was fine and shouting down those who'd voice otherwise.

It was worse than even he suspected, as the bubble continued to grow [nytimes.com] , he continued to point it out [nytimes.com] . For anyone who read his column and blog in the years leading up to this clusterfuck it was quite clear that Krugman had a very prescient and accurate prediction of the varied causes and effects of the chaos that would ensue along with numerous warnings not to let it happen. So the parent can shut his pie hole because he clearly hasn't read a word the man has written.

I invite anyone to Google and read Krugman's columns for yourself. Because this is insane backwards bullshit. The guy was crying his head off that this was going to happen.

broken clock can be right twice a day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29020123)

And doom sayer sooner or later fall right on their prediction. Many economist predicted the bubble to bust over the years. Krugman isn#t the only one, even some politics did the same, or even mathematician. A good economist will narrow it down to a few month maybe one year. But FFS he did it from 2002 and maybe even earlier, 5 to 6 years before it happened. In economical terms , it is nearly an eternity.

Re:Why do people make shit up? (1)

kisak (524062) | more than 4 years ago | (#29020969)

Republicans make shit up and lie because the truth has a liberal bias. It is dangerous to the predominant reagan free marked propaganda that rules all the thinking in the US these days that liberals like Krugman has a much deeper and better understanding on how the economy works and improves than all those lazy rich daddy frat boys that makes up the republican party in the US. So they lie about anything and attack all people who try to use reason and look at the facts. And then their followers repeat those lies in forums like slashdot. Some will say this is how democracy functions, others would say trying to silence intelligent people with lies is hurting democracy. But when the party that lies controlles the media, who is going to stop them?

Anyway, no reason to be all gloom. Bush showed us all that even with a good propaganda machine, the truth has a tendency to prevail.

Re:Why do people make shit up? (2, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#29022773)

People make up arguments like this to discredit sources who they disagree with but have the annoying habit of being right.

The thinking that tends to lead to making up this sort of thing is:
1. I believe $BELIEF.
2. $SOURCE demonstrates using all sorts of incontrovertible facts and logic that $BELIEF is completely wrong.
3. If $BELIEF is so obviously completely wrong, than I'm an idiot.

Here's where the thought process starts to go wrong, thanks to cognitive dissonance:
4. Since I'm not an idiot, $BELIEF is actually right.
5. Since $BELIEF is right, $SOURCE demonstrating that it was wrong is either stupid or lying.
6. Since I can't prove $SOURCE is stupid and/or lying, I'll make stuff up to make it look like $BELIEF is stupid and/or lying, which will convince people that I'm not an idiot.

In this particular case, substitute "Liberal economists can't predict anything useful" for $BELIEF, and "Paul Krugman - liberal economist" (he would describe himself as such) for $SOURCE.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

Tibia1 (1615959) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019501)

I'm just glad they addressed nanotechnology, virtual reality and fusion reactors, but who cares about that stuff? Soon we'll have self piloting cars, and better kitchens!

What? (2, Informative)

br00tus (528477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29020329)

What? Krugman wrote "The Return of Depression Economics" in 2000. He has been saying something is fundamentally wrong with the world economy since then, while the median response by economists is that everything is fine, the free market has to take its course etc. Krugman has been throwing closer to the bullseye than most other mainstream economists.

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (1)

wcboyd (1330597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29022103)

Asking Paul Krugman what the future holds is like asking a blind person to reproduce the Mona Lisa with those big fat kindergarten crayons. That is something I would actually buy because it would help someone who needs it. On the other hand there is NOTHING about Krugman that I would buy.

oil speculation (1)

ProfBooty (172603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29022115)

he also claimed on numerous occasions that there was no oil speculation. He finally reversed himself earlier this summer when he acknowledged what those who track oil shipments already knew, that oil was sitting in tankers/storage but prices were high.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/08/oil-speculation/ [nytimes.com]

If the Nobel prize winner can't even figure out trends that basic, how exact can his future predictions be?

Re:Krugman's prognostication skills aren't all tha (2, Informative)

SnapShot (171582) | more than 4 years ago | (#29023627)

Asking an economist to predict the stock market is like asking your channel 7 weather man to model global climate change.

Nevertheless, if you've been following Krugman he's certainly not been an optimist about a lot of the aspects of economy leading up to the meltdown. Here's a pretty pessimistic article about housing prices from 8/2005: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/08/opinion/08krugman.html?_r=1 [nytimes.com] Of course, at the time people accused him of being a pessimist.

it's slashdotted (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29018997)

poof. gone.

Krugman and Stross Transcript (4, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019017)

Krugman and Stross Transcript

Paul Krugman (PK). Nobel Prize winning economist and columnist for the New York Times.

Charlie Stross (CS). Hugo-winning science fiction author.

Anticipation World Con, Montreal, Quebec
August 6, 2009

Transcription by Edwin Steussy, Apogee Communications. Please send corrections to ed âoeatâ my last name âoedotâ com.

CS: Good evening, weâ(TM)re very pleased to be here and thank you very much for inviting us to talk.

PK: Yeah, this is different for me, but it should be a lot of fun. ⦠(Set up problems) ⦠What do you really think the world is going to look like, say, 30 years from now?

CS: Ummm, thereâ(TM)s a very simple answer to that and a misleading one, I think, and the simple answer is unless we are really, really unlucky the world in about 30 years time is going to look more complex. By really, really unlucky â" nuclear war, major plagues or similar â" the world in 30 years time after that is going to look a lot simpler, though not a good way.

PK: Right. Obviously what Iâ(TM)m thinking about is the technology. Given my perspective â" I was thinking about his coming up â" and thinking that â" maybe it was just my age or something, but things donâ(TM)t seem to have changed as much in the last 30 years as myself as a sci-fi reader would have expected them to. And I donâ(TM)t know if Iâ(TM)m missing something â" kinda that perspective.

CS: I think things have changed a lot in the last 30 years, but not in the direction that somebody 30 years ago would have expected. The 20th Century, and going back to the 19th Century, the real visible vector of change technologically was transportation speeds. You go back to 1809 and to get across the English Home Counties, the areas around London, you go via stagecoach and it would take you a couple of days to cross them, it would cost you probably about a monthâ(TM)s wages and cause you considerable discomfort. 2009, it costs about the same amount of money, it takes about the same time and the same amount of discomfort to get from here to New Zealand. The whole world has shrunk to the scale of the English Home Counties in 1809 over about two centuries. At the same time weâ(TM)ve gotten used to performance improvements in speed. Thereâ(TM)s this weird sort of political thing in the early 20th Century called air-mindedness. Everybody knew that flight was going to be the next really important technological revolution. They were all trying to find ways of making money from it or using it to demonstrate how important and modern and with-it they were and how on the cutting edge they were â" sort of like computers today with politicians. Who will never pass up a photo-op with a computer even if they donâ(TM)t even know how to type. Now the whole air-mindedness thing, the problem we ran into was ⦠it was sigmoid curve â" we had a slow start, a very rapid period of improvements where we went at about 20 years from biplanes to supersonic jets. And then the curve stopped going up â" it flattened off. And the reason it flattened off is all to do with energy. To go much faster, you need more and more energy inputs. Itâ(TM)s not a linear input increase but virtually an exponential one. We hit a point at which chemical propulsion wouldnâ(TM)t send us any faster. And for a variety of reasons including both engineering and politics, nuclear power wasnâ(TM)t an acceptable answer. And airliners today are slower than they were 20 years ago. However, the big difference is that everyone and his dog flies today, whereas 20 years ago, or 40 years ago more accurately, thatâ(TM)s where the term jet-set came from, its because those were the people who could afford to fly long distances.

PK: And yet, let me press on. What I kind of expected. Let me show my age here. What you came out believing if you went to the New Yorkâ(TM)s World Fair in 1964 was that we were going to have this enormously enhanced mastery of the physical universe. That we were going to have undersea cities and supersonic transports everywhere. And there hasnâ(TM)t been that kind of dramatic change. Itâ(TM)s not just that airplanes are no faster. My favorite test, which shows something about me, is the kitchen. If you walked into a kitchen from the 1950â(TM)s it would look a little pokey, but youâ(TM)d know what to do. It wouldnâ(TM)t be that difficult. If someone from the 1950â(TM)s walked into a kitchen from 1909 theyâ(TM)d be pretty unhappy â" they might just be able to manage. If someone from 1909 went to one from 1859, you would actually be hopeless. The big change was really between 1840 and the 1920â(TM)s, in terms of what the physical nature of modern life is like. Thereâ(TM)s been nothing like that since. So we can do fancy information searches in a way that no one envisioned 30 years ago â" as one of my colleagues at the Times, Gail Collins, likes to say all the time where are the flying cars?

CS: Yeah, where is my food pill, where are my jetpacks. Actually, flying cars are really bad idea, if I can just go off on a tangent. Your flying car is great, what about your neighbors flying car when his 15 year old son gets into it and tries to impress his girlfriend in it. Normal cars have a simple failure mode; they stop moving, hopefully at the side of a road. Flying cars, if they have a failure mode, they stop moving and then they move very rapidly straight down.

PK: But the robot driver for the car? Itâ(TM)s the other thing thatâ(TM)s supposed to be around by now, and itâ(TM)s not. Itâ(TM)s even on the information side.

CS: Partly, there are obstacles to getting some of these technologies out. I think that what has been happening rather than progress continuing and accelerating in a visible direction that everybodyâ(TM)s expected from 1960, weâ(TM)ve seen immense progress in other directions and the effects are not immediately obvious because they take time to sink in. Faster transport brings its own side effects, most of them would have been fairly immediately obvious to anybody if you told them how it would work. Itâ(TM)s not a great cognitive leap from aeroplanes capable of carrying loads to bombers. Itâ(TM)s a hell of a leap from idea of getting a cheap camera chip and adding it to a mobile phone and coming up with a phenomenon of âoeHappy Slappingâ. I donâ(TM)t know if everyone knows what Happy Slapping is, it isnâ(TM)t Slapping, and it isnâ(TM)t Happy, but its where kids basically find some random stranger beat them up while one of their friends videos it with their camera and then upload it to YouTube. As social phenomenon go, thatâ(TM)s not one you can predict from the input technology. Thatâ(TM)s a second order effect. Weâ(TM)re still seeing the second order effects emerge from the information technology, and as for biotechnology, thatâ(TM)s barely off the starting blocks. â¦. Where was I going with that one â¦. hold this thought for a moment.

PK: Thatâ(TM)s the thing about technology â" you never know where itâ(TM)s going to lead.

CS: Weâ(TM)ve already seen some effects of information technology outsourcing mind workers to the developing world was not possible before the current upsurge of communications technologies and computers. Itâ(TM)s having large scale effects today, but where itâ(TM)s going to go ultimately go is still not clear.

PK: There is no question that things have changed, but the rhythm of daily life .. and maybe itâ(TM)s a generational thing ⦠it used to be that if you saw someone talking to themselves on the streets of New York, he was crazy.

CS: Now theyâ(TM)ve got a mobile phone! Theyâ(TM)re an executive!

PK: In some ways, I still have the sense that the transformation in the quality of life that I thought would be happening by now, it has not really happened. Lotâ(TM)s and lotâ(TM)s of changes and consequences. If I can veer off into something I allegedly know something about, whatâ(TM)s amazing about, in case you havenâ(TM)t heard, we have a global economic crisis. Whatâ(TM)s amazing about it is how much itâ(TM)s traditional.

CS: A good, old fashion banking crisis.

PK: They happen to involve complicated institutions that are not called banks, they do rely on IT, you no longer have to have rows of tellers to provide people fast access to cash, not subject to standard bank regulation, they can manage to have bank runs all the same. You read John Maynard Keynesâ The Great Slump of 1930, and with just a few words changed itâ(TM)s a very fine description of whatâ(TM)s happened to the world in the past year. We havenâ(TM)t actually changed the structure of how we do things to anything like the extent one might have imagined.

CS: Working hypothesis. Itâ(TM)s a working hypothesis that Iâ(TM)m trying to get my head around. Back to 1970-ish, do you remember the book by Alvin Toffler called Future Shock?

PK: Yeah.

CS: My working hypothesis is that we are living in a future shocked civilization in fact the future shocked globe. There is a lot of evidence of it all around. The ascendancy of religious fundamentalism in all sorts of cultures is one particular response. People donâ(TM)t like rapid change when itâ(TM)s applied to them against their will, when itâ(TM)s coercive, and when people donâ(TM)t like something, an external stimulus, they tend to kick back against it. Religious fundamentalism boils down very largely to one thing: certainty in life. Itâ(TM)s one thing, someone will tell you how things are and this is the one way to live. And to people who are disoriented and distressed by the way the world around them is changing thatâ(TM)s got to be a source of ⦠a very attractive offer of mental stability.

PK: You know, I think this is where being an American makes a difference. And knowing that weâ(TM)ve had these crazies with us consistently as a major feature of our political scene. Going back to certainly the 1920â(TM)s.

CS: Donâ(TM)t they seem to be a bit louder now?

PK: They have their ups and downs. But, a lot of what we see now is ⦠read H.L. Menken on the fundamentalists and itâ(TM)s the same ⦠it sounds very similar. In a lot of ways, I think that the modern world began in the 20â(TM)s with radio and the penetration of mass culture into places that previously had been comfortable with their bibles. So this is not so new. They got louder ⦠Iâ(TM)m about to go off onto a discourse on US ⦠itâ(TM)s not clear that the fundamentalists got any more fundamentalist ⦠what happened was that we had a political shift in the United States at least that empowered them ⦠the break up of the old weird coalition between basically Northern labor unions and Southern segregationists ⦠created a place where the religious right had power again but I donâ(TM)t think that thereâ(TM)s ⦠maybe ⦠Iâ(TM)m about to switch sides here ⦠there has been a rise in religious fundamentalism among unusual groups there are ⦠amazing number of relatives of mine who have the next generation on and their kids that have suddenly turned orthodox and that was not something anyone quite envisioned ⦠maybe some kind of future shock.

CS: Iâ(TM)ve noticed in the UK over the past decade there has been an increasing (small âoecâ) conservatism in the electorate fostered by a feedback loop with some newspapers. Standard headline is, âoeThreatening entity here going to do something hideous to you.â

PK: Thatâ(TM)s my column for tomorrowâ(TM)s New York Times actually.

CS: Thereâ(TM)s a wonderful website called the Daily Mail-o-matic that generates Daily Mail headlines and about one in ten of them is eerily accurate ⦠Are Chavs Ripping Off the British Taxpayer, subtext: you are the taxpayer.

PK: That sounds a little like the application that I just saw this afternoon which is something that will generate a Kenyan Birth Certificate for you.

CS: I mean, this stuff is everywhere. And we have a pathological news media whoâ(TM)ve discovered that by terrifying people they can sell more copies. And scared people ⦠(applause)

PK: Yeah, people have been talking about the ⦠remembering what ⦠itâ(TM)s not as if we were all calm in the months before 9/11. We were all terrified of, at least if you were watching ⦠was shark attacks. 2001 was the summer of shark and then they found something else to worry about for awhile. ⦠Iâ(TM)m still trying to think about ⦠My question, if I still walk into a kitchen ⦠food obsession here ⦠if I walk into a kitchen in the year 2039 â¦

CS: Youâ(TM)ll see something very different by then. Let me explain. One prediction that I have PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, did something very unwise earlier this year. Never mind demanding that everybody start referring to fish as âoeSea Kittensâ â" thatâ(TM)s just an irrelevant publicity stunt. No, they went and offered a million dollars to the first inventor who could demonstrate a vat machine for basically delivering vat grown meat. And I donâ(TM)t think they realize how close we are to this and which industry will develop this machine first because it just so happens that an awful lot of people in the biotech sector are working very hard to deliver machines that will generate bits of meat to order. Specifically, Long Pork. For the organ transplant business. One of the scenes in the next novel Iâ(TM)m working on set in about 15 years time will involve the ladies of leisure in Morningside a fairly posh part of Edinburgh who lunch together â" they dine out on each other. From the point of view of a very, very disturbed police officer whoâ(TM)s trying to figure out what, if anything, to charge them with.

PK: I donâ(TM)t want to think about that one. (laughter) So youâ(TM)re saying our future society will be Polynesian?

CS: Itâ(TM)ll be Poly-something.

(Cross talk)

PK: Change has been ⦠if youâ(TM)re into IT, or youâ(TM)re part of the chattering classes it means that youâ(TM)re making your living with the dissemination of information, then it all it seems tremendously rapid ⦠itâ(TM)s been oddly diffuse in the way it actually affects lives. One of the things that was really striking ⦠we had this question back in the 70â(TM)s and through the 80â(TM)s when IT was clearly well underway ⦠not the Internet yet, but ⦠a lot of transformation ⦠I remember ⦠doing statistical work on a hand calculator. I actually did my dissertation ⦠my dissertation was a big box of punch cards that had to be brought in and then you waited for an hour for the Gods of the computer room to do whatever they were going to do with it. So all that changed and yet there was this long period when you really could not see it in productivity, couldnâ(TM)t see it in economic growth, nothing was showing up and â¦

CS: Thereâ(TM)s a huge latency in information technology. For example, one of the reasons we donâ(TM)t have driverless cars yet is because the car has to be able to sense its surroundings in three dimensions, including hazards, in real time. Right, and thatâ(TM)s a lot of computing power required. I mean, we just saw about two years ago the DARPA Grand Challenge was won for the first time by a vehicle that drove 200 kilometers across the desert under its own control. Now Iâ(TM)ve got a hypothesis incidentally about where this is going. Itâ(TM)s going to be one of these things where there is going to be a sudden step change. One moment, self-driving cars are science fiction, the next self-driving stuff is going to show up very rapidly once it falls below a certain price point. Initially in luxury cars, but within five years in cheap ones. Afterward, weâ(TM)re going to have some real fun with it because ⦠you want to send your kid to school on the other side of town? Put them in the back of the car and car to drop them off at the school gates. Alternatively, you want to go to the pub. You drive to the pub, then get out of the pub after drinking six pints of beer and then get into the back of the car and say, âoeHome, Jeeves.â And shortly after that, something else is going to happen driven by the insurance industry. About 90% of all automobile accidents are caused by a driver error. When the automatic self-driving vehicles get sufficiently good that they are less likely to be in a collision than a human driver, your premium will go up if you insist on driving manually. Yeah, thatâ(TM)s going to go up steeply a few years later. I think we may be seeing the end of human beings allowed to drive the public highways within 30 years.

PK: I was about to say in New Jersey, it canâ(TM)t come a moment too soon. (laughter) Thereâ(TM)s a favorite story about this among the economic historians and itâ(TM)s about electricity. Which is that electrification ⦠widespread electrification is a phenomenon of the 1880â(TM)s and particularly factories were electrified in the 1880â(TM)s and it did nothing much for productivity because they were still building factories the way ⦠a 19th century factory was a five story brick building ⦠very tight spaces ⦠which has a steam engine in the basement ⦠driving trains and pulleys and shafts and it took about 30 years for them to figure out that, hey!, with each machine having itâ(TM)s own electric motor, we can have a wide spread out single story floor plan with lots of space and we donâ(TM)t have to be moving stuff up and down these stairs and we can have plenty of room for material flow and ⦠we saw a little bit of that in IT, but the thing was it was terribly disappointing because although it actually does show in the GDP numbers, what was the first place where people really figured out what do with IT in a way that was productive, and the answer was Wal-mart. It turns out that all this unglamorous stuff like inventory management, basically knowing what exactly is left on the shelves the moment it is checked out of the counter being able to plan your whole system for something big box stores brought in and actually you can see thatâ(TM)s where the GDP growth â¦

CS: Logistics is vastly underrated. Itâ(TM)s invisible.

PK: Thatâ(TM)s right. Thatâ(TM)s the other thing, with globalization ⦠about the outsourcing ⦠about the Internet and the IT ⦠but thatâ(TM)s a relatively minor thing so far, probably much bigger in ten years so, but the big thing was the freight container.

CS: Oh yeah, the freight container and the fork lift and pallet.

PK: Right. And the big cranes and the bar code on the side of the container.

CS: Actually, if I had to make a guess at one of the major things thatâ(TM)s going to affect us in the next 20 years ⦠periodically, I keep hearing about peak oil and the long emergency thatâ(TM)s going to come ⦠and itâ(TM)s going to be very, very grim ⦠and how our food travels an average of a couple of thousand miles between where its produced and where we consume it. I have a slightly different way of looking at this. Weâ(TM)re going to come to the end of cheap energy not because energy is going to be innately expensive because weâ(TM)ve used all the oil up, but because we canâ(TM)t afford to keep pumping more carbon into the air. Now weâ(TM)ll be able to actually maintain an oil-based economy indefinitely. My betting is on Craig Venter, the guy who founded Celera Genomics tried to bootstrap a private enterprise genome program. His current venture with Shell is to try and crack the problem of producing diesel oil using genetically produced algae. And theyâ(TM)re throwing large amounts of money at this problem. I would reckon in 50, 60 years time Shell will still be selling you oil. It wonâ(TM)t be oil theyâ(TM)ve pumped out of the ground, though, it will be oil theyâ(TM)ve synthesized using atmospheric carbon, so it will be carbon neutral. Thatâ(TM)s a whole lot cheaper than switching to a hydrogen economy because you donâ(TM)t have to scrap all of your plant and tankage, just keep using the same stuff. But going a step further, thereâ(TM)s a huge inefficiency in these hub and spoke models of distribution and shipping stuff long distances. If you can produce stuff locally, and distribute it locally, that gives you a huge advantage. I think one of the things logistics is going to ⦠well, computers are going to give us, is much tauter supply chains between production and consumption.

PK: Thatâ(TM)s by the way one of the mysteries ⦠we donâ(TM)t quite know why thereâ(TM)s so much stuff being shipped long distances, particularly ⦠its one thing where weâ(TM)re talking about oil because oil is where it is, it has to be shipped to get to other places, but ⦠there was a time, again thinking of the United States, a time when we knew what Detroit did for a living, we knew Troy, New York was the detachable collar and cuff center of America and all these local specializations and you could explain why stuff was being shipped back and forth. These days, itâ(TM)s very very hard to figure out whatâ(TM)s different about the economies of different cities and so if ⦠why is there so much ⦠who are all those people on the plane today. Why were they traveling and ⦠better still, when youâ(TM)re flying between Cleveland and Atlanta, what is it that Cleveland has that Atlanta needs? What is it that Atlanta has that Cleveland needs? Actually, what is that Atlanta has that anyone needs? I actually did try to figure out what Atlantaâ(TM)s economy is about ⦠it seems to be about the airport. Weâ(TM)re not quite getting it.

CS: But isnâ(TM)t Fedexâ(TM)s main hub in Atlanta? [Editor note: Memphis is the main FedEx hub.] There you have it.

PK: More economics. When you are looking at a city and you try to figure out what is the common thread linking the export industries, not international, but string themselves to other cities and so, famously, although now its kind of a basket case, Rochester had Eastman Kodak, Xerox, Corning ⦠itâ(TM)s all about optics, itâ(TM)s all about light. But if you try to do that with Atlanta, the closest thing I could come up with was the damn airport. If we can all have short supply chains why donâ(TM)t we have that now for all of the services that cities generate and yet we have all of this trucking going back and forth among seemingly very similar US cities.

CS: Because I reckon that complexity, the number of different components, the number of different of different specialties that you need to run a modern, high tech civilization has mushroomed by orders of magnitude over even the past 50 years. And all of this stuff is really small, very, very specialized, thereâ(TM)s only a very few people who do it in one place and it has to get shipped about even though it looks similar.

PK: Thatâ(TM)s the working hypothesis, something like that. Letâ(TM)s totally change this. How the hell do you come up with ideas for these novels? (laughter) If I could say to everybody, this is what I cannot fathom. I live reading Charlieâ(TM)s stuff and ⦠I just canâ(TM)t imagine just gestating ⦠I can write within a very, very confined set of rules that structure the thing so easily, but I canâ(TM)t imagine just where does this thing come out of?

CS: Well, partly Iâ(TM)d have to say ⦠hell, I canâ(TM)t reuse Roger Zelaznyâ(TM)s old thing about writing off to a PO box in Poughkeepsie can I? I get bored easily. Thatâ(TM)s one reason why I write such different novels. More to the point, I have a short attention span and I read too much on the web. (laughter) There is so much happening all around us in different fields that are highly compartmentalized. Thatâ(TM)s why I brought up the whole complexity thing earlier. There is so much going on that is just so bizarrely specialized. You get new stuff not by coming up with it out of the ether or out of pure imagination but by taking a couple of existing ideas and banging them together and seeing whether they mesh. For example, if you look at a road map that Intel has rolling out for the next five or ten years, what youâ(TM)ll find is they know how long it takes to build a new chip fab, they know how that it will be such-and-such an improvement in the resolution of the process theyâ(TM)re using to make the chips. You can therefore guess that the performance of the chips that will be made on it. This in turn gives you some idea of what applications they can be put to. And there are all these wonderful trade bodies out there that come up with new standards, for example, you may have a 3G phone or data stick these days. The 4G standards are pretty much nailed down already and are in prototype. Theyâ(TM)ll be showing up over the next couple of years. And you can bet that within ten to fifteen years time itâ(TM)s gonna be out there and its going to be as old and slow as your GSM phone from five years ago. Itâ(TM)ll be cheap and itâ(TM)ll be available. So if you want to write near future SF, these industry road maps are a good way to go.

PK: So that explains ⦠I can understand Halting State, a little bit. The Laundry novels, I canâ(TM)t imagine.

CS: I always had fun with spy thrillers and HP Lovecraft.

PK: Or the Family Trade novels.

CS: The Laundry novels were basically ⦠Iâ(TM)ve worked for the NHS. Iâ(TM)ve worked for an American software multinational from Santa Cruz in fact ⦠Iâ(TM)ve seen various organizations on different scales and they all seem prey to one form of dysfunction or another. The American software company, we always knew when the executives were going to come visiting the London development office because our managers would go around the morning before, taking down all the Dilbert cartoons that had been stapled to the cubicle walls. (laughter) All of these organizations have interesting dysfunctional approaches to passing information from low down the chain to high up the chain. Itâ(TM)s information flow again.

PK: I still donâ(TM)t get it, but thatâ(TM)s OK. Letâ(TM)s go back ⦠do you think that true Ai is anywhere in my lifetime?

CS: Oh god, oh god, oh god. The first rule of AI in computing is if we can do it computationally, then itâ(TM)s not AI. Chess playing, checkers playing. We have worldclass chess and checkers playing robots now. Weâ(TM)ve got cars that can drive themselves across a desert. Expert systems that can diagnose most diseases with better accuracy than physicians. None of this is AI any more. Iâ(TM)m not sure quite why, but its become a set of self-moving goal posts. The real question of whether weâ(TM)ll actually get a robot friend whoâ(TM)s fun to be with ⦠thatâ(TM)s another matter. We donâ(TM)t even know what human consciousness is or quite how it works. And until we have a better idea of how we work, I donâ(TM)t think weâ(TM)ll be able to implement something equivalent in a machine.

PK: That was sort of the point though ⦠it was long ago, probably in college, when I took computer science that the instructor told us all that by getting chess playing computer programs weâ(TM)d learn alot the nature of consciousness and we ended up learning a lot about the nature of chess.

CS: Dead Danish computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra [ed. note: Dutch] had a number of pithy aphorisms starting with anybody who teaches a student how to program in BASIC should be shot. One I particularly like is the question of whether a machine can think is no more interesting than the question of whether or not a submarine can swim. The point being Boeing 737â(TM)s and seagulls can both fly, however, we donâ(TM)t try to replicate seagulls when weâ(TM)re designing a new airliner.

PK: Again, thinking about what I believed when I was in high school that we would have that we would have by the year 2009 ⦠obviously HAL from 2001, but just in general we imagined there would be a level of interactiveness of intelligence in machines but that hasnâ(TM)t come.

CS: Iâ(TM)m not sure this is a bad thing actually because ⦠autocorrecting your spreadsheet is bad enough, imagine HAL9000 in charge of autocorrecting your spreadsheet.

PK: Now the web ⦠once Google introduced page rank, instead of going for AI weâ(TM)ve gone for cyborgs.

CS: Weâ(TM)ve gone for augmented intelligence, not artificial intelligence.

PK: And itâ(TM)s the weirdest thing â" by finding the eigenvector with the largest eigenvalue you end up in effect doing a computer meld of many peoplesâ(TM) intelligence without knowing it.

CS: Amazonâ(TM)s Mechanical Turk ⦠actually, Amazon is very big on human intelligence emulating AI. They have a system called the Mechanical Turk where they pay people piecework to do basic tasks and farm them out using the network and if you want to throw money at a problem, you can find a hundred thousand pairs of eyes to work on it if you can divide it up suitably.

PK: Whatever the algorithm that Amazon uses to make recommendations â¦

CS: That scares me.

PK: It scares me too because I took a look, once they started selling music, they started recommending music to me. And Iâ(TM)ve never bought music from Amazon. And they were mostly right.

CS: What scares me was ⦠a friend of mine pointed out ⦠people sell the most amazingly weird things on Amazon. Thereâ(TM)s one seller who sells tins containing about an ounce of uranium ore. People who bought this product also bought one of my books.

PK: On the other hand, the algorithm that TIVO uses to recommend programs needs work. What lately its been recommending to me are these shows which are live filming of surgery, where you actually see them cutting people open. I donâ(TM)t know what it is in my viewing habits that makes it think I want to watch that but it insists that I do.

CS: Amazonâ(TM)s page ranks can have some pretty weird results as well if you accidentally contaminate their database. For example, my wife has some interesting interests in stuff she can make. She asked me to buy her some books using my Amazon.com account a while back. Thereafter I was plagued by corsetry books and Georgette Heyer romances for the next six months.

PK: I want to come back. Not only were the music predictions reasonably accurate, they included some of my more embarrassing tastes ⦠I think Iâ(TM)m going to stop right there.

CS: When youâ(TM)re in a hole, stop digging. The other stuff we havenâ(TM)t even looked at are genonomics and medicine and the biomedical sciences. I came along just a few years late to get sucked into bioinformatics, which is something I probably would have ended up in naturally if Iâ(TM)d been around to study computer science in school a few years later. Now, if I remember correctly, the original price prediction of the Human Genome Project when they got started around 1990 was about 20 years and 100 million pounds or thereabouts of that order. They finished it several years early under budget and they did 90% of the work in the last six months.

PK: Right.

CS: Getâ(TM)s better. At that point, sequencing an individual human genome could be done for about ten million pounds. A while later it got cheaper and now weâ(TM)re seeing gene sequencers coming on the market over the next year or so where its basically on an integrated circuit that should be able to do personalized genome scans to the same level of detail for about $5,000 in three hours. And its still getting cheaper. They have sequenced quite a few mammalian and other genomes since then it is getting cheaper all the time. Craig Venter came up with an interesting project a couple of years ago to sequence the Pacific Ocean. If you have a bucket of seawater, it contains probably on the order of a billion organisms most of which are viruses, probably single virus particles in that bucket from a number of species. It turns out when they did shotgun sequencing on a bucket of seawater 98% of the genes they discovered were hitherto unknown. Thereâ(TM)s a lot of stuff out there that we do not have a clue about. About 90% of those unknown genes were from viruses and we have no idea what the host organisms of them were ⦠basically, viral soup. Thereâ(TM)s a lot of stuff we donâ(TM)t know about how the genome works. Itâ(TM)s not, as was widely thought in the 50â(TM)s and 60â(TM)s, a blueprint. Itâ(TM)s more like a very very messy snapshot of a running computer program. In proper bits weâ(TM)ve been looking at and referring to as genes, the exons are, if anything, just the static data strings encoded in the program while its running. Things such as the actual text in a variable containing the copyright date and the name, stuff that doesnâ(TM)t change. A lot of the interesting work seems to be ethogenetic as various enzymes tag methyl groups onto genes to activate and inactivate them. And weâ(TM)re not quite sure what weâ(TM)re looking at except ⦠pointing a debugger at the running program and saying lets change the value in this variable and see what it produces.

PK: And that goes back to some of the things I was talking about in the beginning ⦠weâ(TM)ve scaled this awesome mountain which is sequencing a whole human genome and it turns out that now we can do this and it turns out this doesnâ(TM)t actually give us, at least so far, the ability to predict, control, achieve stuff that one might once have thought it would.

CS: Actually, it showed us that the system is a lot more complex than that but weâ(TM)re making huge amounts of headway. Itâ(TM)s sort of like the early days of the microprocessor revolution, weâ(TM)re still in the 1960â(TM)s but its fairly visible that the rate of change is ramping up. There are going to be some astonishing breakthroughs over the next decade. I for one am hoping to live long enough that we find a cure for the collective package of malfunctions that give rise to senescence and aging. Thereâ(TM)s a strong argument that the whole aging process is the result of an evolutionary blind spot that once youâ(TM)ve passed reproductive age the mutations that cause slowly growing damage arenâ(TM)t weeded out. You reproduce before this would impair your reproductive prospects.

PK: Nature really has no interest in keeping you whole past 40 or so because the odds of your being gored by a mammoth by then are pretty high. I donâ(TM)t know whether to be worried by the prospect that I might not live long enough to benefit from this or worried by the prospect that I will.

CS: My take is that Iâ(TM)d rather live as long as I want to live than be sort of hurried off it by some really unpleasant degenerative disease. And from where Iâ(TM)m sitting it looks as if senescence is a really unpleasant degenerative disease that weâ(TM)ve all got.

PK: But think of what it will do to the finances of Social Security?

CS: Well theyâ(TM)re going to have to abolish pensions and retirement for one thing.

PK: Tell me, what are you working on now?

CS: Iâ(TM)m working on a sequel to Halting State. Iâ(TM)m trying to set it about five years further out and Iâ(TM)m trying to get my head around the implications of 3D printers and rapid prototyping technology when they become ubiquitous enough that an actual desktop 3D printer is about as common as laser printers were in 1995, around the time that national mints and police began taking a serious interest in color laser printers that could produce something indistinguishable from a bank note. Also trying to figure out what the criminal applications are.

PK: If you really do figure it out, youâ(TM)re not going to write that novel, right? Youâ(TM)ll do something more lucrative.

CS: Itâ(TM)s well known that the first real use of any successful new technology is pornography. I knew that machina and MMOâ(TM)s were successful when I saw that wonderful musical presentation called, The Internet is for Porn, sung in World of Warcraft.

PK: OK, I havenâ(TM)t seen that one.

CS: Iâ(TM)m talking 3D printers because its something we actually have here today. It is a very fallible, very crude approximation of the sort of things people expect of Eric Drexler-style magical mannered tech pixie dust where we wave a magic wand and manufacture anything. The difference is that 3D printers exist, you can write a check or use a credit card and buy one and it will make 3D objects out of plastic or bits of metal here and now. What are the effects on society going to be once we actually have machines that can basically build anything you can feed a blueprint into?

PK: We still havenâ(TM)t figured out the economics of easy information dissemination. Even though the Internet is all old hat, we still havenâ(TM)t seen the economics of it play out. One of the big problems is we donâ(TM)t know how do people get compensated for producing information when it can be â¦

CS: This is a personal preoccupation of mine, shall we say.

PK: Itâ(TM)s to some extent mine, although more of one of my employers. The New York Times has got enormous web presence, four million or so people read it online and yield the corporation very little in the way of revenue in the process. Whereas the dwindling number of people who want the dead tree paper are the source of ⦠and the thing survives to some extent because people still like a piece of paper with their breakfast coffee but also to a large extent because you still canâ(TM)t online get quite the visual quality of color advertisements for luxury goods that you can get in the New York Times Magazine. But youâ(TM)re relying upon a very thin lag in technology to make the whole enterprise of creating and disseminating information viable. And if that starts to apply to lots of physical goods as well, weâ(TM)re going to see whole sectors just implode.

CS: Oh, yeah. On the other hand, with physical goods, youâ(TM)re still going to need mass and energy to assemble the frames. As for the intellectual property, I try not to get too worked up about it. Thereâ(TM)s a lot of people angsting about piracy and copying of stuff on the Internet, publishers who are very, very worried about the whole idea of ebook piracy. I like to get a little bit of perspective on it by remembering that back before the Internet came along, we had a very special term for the people who buy a single copy of a book and then allow all their friends to read it for free. We called them librarians.

PK: Which is why ⦠we used to work the professional journals, something I do know something about, professional journals sold about a couple of thousand copies worldwide, at an enormous price because every university library felt it had to have them and still does to some extent, but thatâ(TM)s an enterprise near to collapse because everybody reads the things online now.

CS: If it was up to me, Iâ(TM)d figure what weâ(TM)re looking at with copyright today is a smoking hole in the collective landscape. It doesnâ(TM)t work. Attempts to patch it donâ(TM)t work, attempts to enforce it leads to travesties such as 32-year old single mothers being sued for several million dollars by large record companies. This is not good. We need to get away from this model. But the model is locked in through international treaty laws. We canâ(TM)t simply wave a magic wand and change the copyright laws to something sensible. So probably a better solution would be to encapsulate it below some other layer and shove it off to onside so it doesnâ(TM)t affect people. Now the best thing Iâ(TM)ve been able to come up with is an idea for doing this is a tax on bandwidth. Basically, if you have a mobile phone, if you have a broadband connection, if you have a modem connection, a chunk of what you pay goes in tax. The tax goes into a pool which is then distributed to content creators on the basis of some kind of sampling or rating mechanism thatâ(TM)s sampling the traffic thatâ(TM)s going across the network. How to enforce this, let alone deal with it internationally is mind-numbingly donâ(TM)t-go-there, Iâ(TM)m not paid to go there, but at least it has the one supreme advantage that if you have such a regime in place, you can legislate that if youâ(TM)ve paid your tax, you are then immune from prosecution for copyright violation. Yes, we can cuff the whole copyright issue off to one side and just do ⦠there is a tax base here and it will be distributed to the creators of the content that is trafficked over the network.

PK: I was just following the chain of thought here. We have this financial crisis. Part of the problem was the rating agencies. Basically, thereâ(TM)s three â" two and a half really: S&P, Moodyâ(TM)s and Fitch. The ratings agencies were willing to take these extremely complex, newly created financial assets that really had no track record and classify them as AAA. Now the question is why would the rating agencies be willing to do that and it turns out a lot of it probably has to do with an intellectual property issue. When the ratings agencies originally came existence they would produce a book of ratings and people would buy the book and that was how they made their revenue. And that has long since been impossible, people tend to disseminate the ratings too easily, so nobody buys the books so they had to find a different revenue stream. And some decades back the source of the revenue stream was that issuers of assets would pay the ratings agencies to rate their assets. Thatâ(TM)s actually the revenue model that we have right now and you think about the incentives there and it actually does happen that if the rating agency isnâ(TM)t sufficiently cooperative you go to one of its competitors â¦

CS: Thatâ(TM)s going to end well.

PK: Right. And that has not ended well. Except now the question is, what do you do? And everybody looks at this and says, âoeThis is a terrible way to do this.â But then the question is how are you going to fund that rating agencies? And there is a certain number of people who say, âoeThey should be public.â They should be the BBC. But in America of course, well that wouldnâ(TM)t work, itâ(TM)d be government. So we canâ(TM)t use that. So, weâ(TM)re actually doing nothing to solve the problem. Because we have this fundamental lack of appropriability of information so weâ(TM)ve ended up with a really God-awful technique for financing these needed institutions which creates all sorts of wrong incentives but weâ(TM)re not able to come up with a fix. These are real world problems, but yeah itâ(TM)ll become worse.

[Break for questions]

Re:it's slashdotted (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019363)

poof. gone.

Oh. You were talking about the webpage? For a second there I thought you were talking about the economy...

The most interesting segment is at the end (2, Interesting)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019007)

Krugman theorizes that the Third World could develop by providing long term stabilized individual and group labor contracts to multinational corporations. This has the chance to restore profitability and competitiveness while incentivizing labor through different reward systems, like food and shelter, since the money supply is so irrationally tightened in the wake of the AIG mess.

Re:The most interesting segment is at the end (1)

Yaos (804128) | more than 4 years ago | (#29021991)

Paul Krugman is only 200 years behind the rest of the world.http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=african+imperialism&cts=1249994560076&aq=f&oq=&aqi=g10

Save the Choad! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29019033)

Good on ya, Charlie. To a.t, and the days when working for an operation in SC was an hono(u)r.

Attention span issue here. (0)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019093)

You can't honestly expect that anyone on /. is going to read this thing??? It's more than a few paragraphs. We need sound bites and information nuggets. Find me an RSS feed.

What about government? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29019231)

75 minutes and no discussion of the change in government? In the future, governments will be open sourced [wikipedia.org]

The evil overlord? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29019283)

Science fiction goes nowhere if the government isn't an evil overlord. Deal with it.

moderntainment: the future? (2, Informative)

Niubi (1578987) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019373)

I don't think the future of entertainment will be so different than it is today, or even 500 years ago. The medium may change, but that's really about it. Humans like to be entertained, period. Here's an interesting new development in 'moderntainment'; http://us.dubli.com/The-New-York-Spygame__3_2913?gmt=-60 [dubli.com] which I think could really indicate how people are starting to think about their space and entertainment, and how to make the most of something that even a few years ago was pretty much the preserve of novels and OTT Hollywood shows. Food for thought, I think.

Krugman... (-1, Flamebait)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019449)

That's right. That's the other thing, with globalization...about the outsourcing...about the Internet and the IT...but that's a relatively minor thing so far, probably much bigger in ten years so, but the big thing was the freight container.

And people listen to this guy? They don't make Nobel winners like they used to.

The box (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019829)

but the big thing was the freight container.

He's right. There's a great book called "The Box", which is a history of modern shipping containers. Containerization reduced the cost of ocean shipping of manufactured goods by about 90%. Breakage and theft went way down, too.

A few decades ago, if you went down to the docks in New York or San Francisco, there were thousands of big guys lifting and carrying stuff. Not only did containers end that, they ended the ports of New York and San Francisco - both were replaced with new ports in New Jersey and Oakland. If you go to a container port today, you see very few people around.

The other big development that made international trade work was fax machines. With fax machines, you could send ordinary business paperwork to people far away. Even if they didn't speak your language, they could probably figure out a purchase order. So you could do the basics of commerce at a distance. This cut out many of the expensive middlemen in international trade. It used to be that to import something, you had to deal with an importer, who dealt with an exporter at the sending end, who dealt with the manufacturer, possibly with a wholesaler and a warehouse company somewhere in the chain. With fax machines and containers, you cut the deal with the manufacturer by fax, they filled a container, and the container came to you without any intermediaries who cared what was in the box.

Re:The box (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29023997)

Isn't all that horrible? Imagine the industry that would still exist in the USA without this - EPA-regulated industry and US labor protections instead of the 19th century smokestacks and Dickensian labor conditions of the Indias and Chinas of today...

RE: ObamaCare -- Nazi Inflirtration (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29019571)

In order for Obama to realize a five trillion dollar in cash windfall in the illiegal organ transplants market, he will have to establish a brothel system to grow and harvest human organs and body parts from childrem born of the Obama Brothel System (OBS).

The future? (-1, Flamebait)

benob (1390801) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019695)

Did you learn anything new in this interview? Seriously, all that has been discussed and rediscussed on Slashdot. Take the new stuff in science, add your personal preference, et voila!

Revisions revisions (1)

dugrrr (582161) | more than 4 years ago | (#29019735)

I am the Eschaton. I am not your God.
I am descended from you, and exist in your future.
Thou shalt not violate causality within my historic light cone. Or else.

Oh, and The Internet is for porn.

Re:Revisions revisions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29020587)

It's a pity that he didn't figure out how to go on with that storyline.

Re:Revisions revisions (2, Interesting)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29023775)

He'll come back to it sooner or later, I'm sure. It just might take him a while. I understand his problem with writing more... he's started with a beginning that promises a particular kind of ending, and it's hard to wrap your head around how he can get to that ending. That doesn't mean it's impossible, though, and I'll bet one day he'll come up with an answer...

ugh (-1, Flamebait)

Yaos (804128) | more than 4 years ago | (#29021961)

Every time Paul Krugman opens his mouth idiocy flies out. There's not one part of this transcript where he's right, he even gets everything in the past wrong. He is so stupid he can't even read My First Computer golden books.

Re:ugh (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29024023)

You're 13 aren't you? Not that there's anything wrong with being in Junior High. Some of the smartest people on the planet were once in Junior High but then they grew up.

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