human computation social computing crowdsourcing wisdom of crowds (e.g., prediction markets) group memory and problem-solving deliberative democracy animal collective behavior mechanism design organizational design public policy design ethics of collective intelligence (e.g., “-digital sweatshops”-) computational models of group search and optimization emergence of intelligence new technologies for making groups smarter
I don’t think Cowen failed to appreciate these points, but explaining the rate-of-change in productivity, mean income, asset returns, etc. in terms of a technological slowdown is still mainly a “story” that we are telling ourselves. We could also tell a story in terms of demographic structure and population growth. Both narratives are plausible, but difficult to show rigorously. Regardless of how we try to explain what has happened, it is uncontroversial that it is becoming harder to retire, and that fact has a large bearing on quality of life. It is difficult to quantify the gains from radio to television to color TV to Youtube on IPhone (where one might take pleasure in watching cigarette commercials from the ’60s and ’70s), but having to work or not seems a lot more straightforward, and stagnation on that front is more tangible. Of course, you will probably live longer in retirement, but can you afford that longevity? That is the more concrete issue here.