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Thread: The big questions of our time

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    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    The big questions of our time

    Here's a great blog post where a guy sums up the big questions of our time.

    https://patrickcollison.com/question...x7-6rTG9iNRNvk

    Why are certain things getting so much more expensive?
    Why do there seem to be more examples of rapidly-completed major projects in the past than the present?
    Why is US GDP growth so weirdly constant?
    How do you ensure an adequate replacement rate in systems that have no natural way to die?
    How do we help more experimental cities get started?
    How can we encourage the creation of more cities and more experimentation in their rules?
    How do people decide to make major life changes?
    Why are there so many successful startups in Stockholm?
    Is Bloom's "Two Sigma" phenomenon real? If so, what do we do about it?
    How can we better understand the dynamics of progress in science?
    Will end-user applications ever be truly programmable? If so, how?
    Should we just give up on our earlier visions of empowered users or is a better equilibrium possible?
    What's the successor to the book? And how could books be improved?
    What's the successor to the scientific paper and the scientific journal?
    What's the right way to understand and model personality?
    Why are programming environments still so primitive?
    What does religion cause?
    Why is there no canon for life's most important questions?
    Why are so many things so much nicer in Switzerland and Japan?
    Why isn't China (yet) producing a lot of top-tier research?
    Why don't we build nice neighborhoods any more?
    What influences when people act in accordance with their self-interest and when they don't?
    What's going on with infrastructure?
    Why did climatic variability suddenly decline in the Holocene period?

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    the baby-eater
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    Why are certain things getting so much more expensive?
    The Baumol effect (offered as an explanation in the linked articles) is quite interesting. As labour becomes more productive in some sectors, it raises the price of labour across all sectors, including service sectors where productivity is relatively unchanged: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baumol%27s_cost_disease

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    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfield View Post
    Why are certain things getting so much more expensive?
    The Baumol effect (offered as an explanation in the linked articles) is quite interesting. As labour becomes more productive in some sectors, it raises the price of labour across all sectors, including service sectors where productivity is relatively unchanged: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baumol%27s_cost_disease
    The entire blog post is gold. There's stuff for months of study.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Thus, so, wrong, iffy, veeery ineresting, nope, illogical, pedantic, market?, ....

    Yeah.

    Done.

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    The list omits one of the most pressing and difficult problems.
    How do we curtail the pernicious power of social media, especially Facebook?

    The latest Atlantic has an opinion piece worth reading. Have a bottle of whiskey handy while you read it, to salve your fear for the future if you're a sentimental sort.

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    Member aupmanyav's Avatar
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    Social media is not just Facebook.

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    Imagine a dystopic society in which cable news is tailored specifically, individual by individual. Viewers uninterested in real climate science, who are more likely to watch commercials when a climate change denier is speaking, are presented only with deniers. Viewer need not switch channels when a scientist appears: he's NEVER presented with science. When B's supporters fact-checking candidate A's lies irritates the viewer, those messages will be replaced with ads for A. Only parodies of B's views will be presented.

    Is this a desirable development?

    Quote Originally Posted by aupmanyav View Post
    Social media is not just Facebook.
    Did you read the linked article? Did you parse my emboldened "How do we curtail the pernicious power of social media, especially Facebook?"?

    One reason Facebook is "special" is that, unlike 4chan, reddit etc. Facebook has already taken giant steps toward the dystopic goal described above. We know exactly what garbage is being spouted at reddit.fart/hateblacks or whatever it's called. But Americans are being fed individualized content by Facebook that critics (never mind "regulators") cannot access.

    The article contains this choice quote (from years ago: the 4000 figure has since been exceeded. :-) ):
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Zuckerberg
    I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses … People just submitted it. I don’t know why. They ‘trust me.’ Dumb fucks.

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    the baby-eater
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    The list omits one of the most pressing and difficult problems.
    How do we curtail the pernicious power of social media, especially Facebook?

    The latest Atlantic has an opinion piece worth reading. Have a bottle of whiskey handy while you read it, to salve your fear for the future if you're a sentimental sort.
    I think the answer is simple: actually enforce the fucking law and bust Facebook down to size.

    Which leads to another question: why did the people in power let Facebook get this powerful?

    (BTW I read the article and found it failed to deliver on the promise of its title.)

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    the baby-eater
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    BTW I haven't bothered with Collison's list of questions since the last time I commented on this thread. While some of the questions interest me, they don't interest me enough to commit to months of study in order to attempt an answer.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aupmanyav View Post
    Social media is not just Facebook.
    Think of Facebook as a Cedar in a coniferous forest. They are all evergreens.

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