Jun 132014

Having just finished the Steve Jobs bio, and so freshly reminded of how Apple borrowed the idea of the graphical user interface from Xerox to great effect (only to later turn around and call Microsoft a thief for doing the same), I enjoyed this back and forth on Xerox. It’s a piece of an extremely

Apr 262014
Net neutrality is about more than small vs. big

With the FCC reportedly considering allowing paid “fast lanes” for internet traffic, the principle of net neutrality looks more at risk than ever. One of the big concerns of net neutrality advocates is that its absence might empower incumbent firms over newer, smaller, more innovative ones. That is a very valid and important concern. But small

Apr 052014
The promise of NYT Now

There are few if any media outlets that can really go up against the big social networks and have a prayer of stealing away attention. The New York Times might be an exception. When I first heard about NYT Now I didn’t think twice. It seemed like yet another addition to an already complicated, expensive

Apr 042014
Who cares if the stock market is rigged?

One of the most interesting bits of the debate over high frequency trading sparked by Michael Lewis’s new book is the question of why we should care that some Wall Street firms are ripping off other ones. One reason might be if Main Street’s money is disproportionately tied up in the funds that are getting

Mar 192014

Interviewed by Goldman Sachs, he comes to much the same conclusion as I did in my previous post on the attendant fees: Eric Posner: I think there could be some advantages of usingBitcoin over existing payment systems, but these advantages are not as obvious as they might seem. For example, probably themost compelling advantage is that

Feb 282014

As excitement over Bitcoin as a new form of currency has met with strong pushback from the economics world, the smarter commentators have shifted focus to cryptocurrency as a new way to move money around on the Internet. But how would that really work? The first thing you hear in these discussions is that Bitcoin

Feb 262014

It’s been interesting to see the debate over Bitcoin start with currency, move on to payments, and now there are rumblings that its real use isn’t for either. Rather, cryptocurrency could be a way of marking digital goods as unique, making them in effect rival. Technology Review explains: Or take digital art. Larry Smith, a

Feb 222014

Recall the classic utilitarian morality puzzle (via Wikipedia): There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you

Jan 302014

It’s no secret that I’m a bit obsessive about my news habits and filters, manifested most obviously in constant tweaking of my RSS feeds but also in who I follow on Twitter, what email newsletters I allow into my inbox, etc. The challenge in these adjustments is always to strike a balance between drinking from

Jan 262014
How will humans add value to algorithms?

Last month, I wrote a piece at HBR about how humans and algorithms will collaborate, based on the writings of Tyler Cowen and Andrew McAfee. The central tension was whether that collaboration would be set up such that algorithms were providing an input for humans to make decisions, or whether human reasoning would be the