[ExI] Leveraging temporary income
anders at aleph.se
Thu Oct 4 19:21:21 UTC 2012
On 04/10/2012 16:43, Stefano Vaj wrote:
> On 3 October 2012 23:49, David Lubkin <lubkin at unreasonable.com
> <mailto:lubkin at unreasonable.com>> wrote:
> More generally,
> what can any society do with a temporary (years or decades,
> not longer) surge of cash to create a sustainable advantage?
> Hey, is this question really asked on a transhumanist ml? :-)
> Sure, it remains to be seen which R&D programmes should prioritised.
R&D is also a public good to a large extent. There is no doubt that a
good university or research facility has spillover effects nearby - you
have a good chance of getting a few spin-off companies, the local
intelligentia may trigger a Richard Florida-type creative class cluster,
and you get a public with higher human capital. But the R&D results can
be hard to harness locally: many places find that their findings produce
useful benefits far away, but not locally. Sweden, for example, is doing
lots of good R&D but due to a lack of entreprenurship most patents and
companies end up abroad. If you only care about the total good, this
might not be a problem, but I suspect the recipients of windfalls are
not total altruists.
Typically investing in human capital has good returns: even if people go
abroad to work, remittances to families back home are worth a lot (more
than all foreign aid in total, in fact). Similarly for institutional
capital: rule of law, predictable and effective regulations, higher
trust are good things for any society, and tends to give a cumulative
advantage. That can also be done with relatively little money - in fact,
huge influxes of money in a society with weak institutional capital is a
recipe for corruption.
If you are going to invest in R&D, my current pet opinion is that the
return per dollar spent is much higher in underresearched and totally
new areas than any mature areas. So you might want to invest in a lot of
little wild projects in the hope that one or two takes off, rather than
spend it all on something obviously worthwhile but well researched. It
works for venture capitalists.
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the extropy-chat