[ExI] Economics 2.0

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Wed Oct 10 22:18:47 UTC 2012

Yes, I found the 4% quote program downright disturbing. Especially since 
I saw the story while listening to a colleauge who runs a research 
project looking at using software proof techniques to understand the 
behavior of economic software agents... and he was explicitly claiming 
(and defending!) that they were rational and would produce equilibria 

OK, his rationality argument was not 100% stupid: irrational agents will 
lose money and will be turned off. But as we have seen in finance, 
systems can make money most of the time and then occasionally fail with 
super-losses that outweigh the previous profit. So it hinges on the 
long-term rationality of owners, which is empirically suspect thanks to 
past history and drunk traders. Plus that we have no reason to think the 
system is stable since new agents and agent-agent behaviors occur. 
Shades of the delightful amazon.com agents that tried to sell a used 
book for a few million dollars. Or try to win the Turing test:

This is actually an area where even I, a crazy libertarian, think it 
would be smart to add friction to the system to get the quoting down.

But the amazon bots are even closer to the Economics 2.0 in the novel. 
As Carlos Bueno put it: "So with “Turing Test” we have a delightful 
futuristic absurdity: a computer program, pretending to be human, 
hawking a book about computers pretending to be human, while other 
computer programs pretend to have used copies of it. A book that was 
never actually written, much less printed and read."

In many ways that is more sinister. A stock market crash is just 
economic's way of telling you to be more cautious and invest in 
something else. These things on the other hand are spamming our markets 
and intellectual worlds with pseudo-information of little or no value.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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