"The main function of economics was to offset the stupid theorizing of other people."


Stripe co-founder and CEO Patrick Collison sat down with economist and author Tyler Cowen for a fascinating and wide-ranging interview. Cowen on how to think about the success of Silicon Valley:

I would suggest if we’re trying to figure out, like what makes Silicon Valley work, actually, by studying how they did what they did in the Florentine Renaissance is highly important. You learn what are the missing inputs that make for other kinds of miracles.
Ireland and writing would be another example.

On that last bit, the notion that our connected world is trending towards too much homogeny:

And I worry now that people in Ireland hear too much American English, too much English English, and that style of writing, talking, joking, limericks, is becoming somewhat less distinct. Still many wonderful writers from Ireland, but again, it’s like an optimal stock depletion problem, and maybe we’ve pressed on the button a little too hard.

And taking that thought into the world of tech:

With the tech world, in some ways, the tech world might be growing too quickly. People very quickly shift to Facebook, and that allows them to do much more socializing. And that, in some ways, actually limits the diversity of the world. They’re happier individually, but that’s another instance of cashing in that actually may not be socially optimal.

To that end:

And the extreme acceleration of connectivity through tech, I would say, is a huge, non-controlled experiment that we need to be a little cautious about.

As I quipped on Twitter, all these years we've been interviewING Patrick Collison, when it turns out he's a far better interviewER than any of us.


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