The Paradox of Technological Déjà Vu

Blockchain is one of several technologies du jour. It combines clever methods from peer-to-peer decentralized computing to provide an online tracing function for virtual transactions, and, once someone sets it up, it requires minimal intervention from a central auditor. While Bitcoin is the most well-known application of this innovative computer science, verification of authenticity and …

Adjusting to Autonomous Trucking

News coverage of automation and machine learning tends to focus on extraordinary events, such as computers winning at Jeopardy and Go, and robotic arms flipping burgers in short-order restaurants. Additional headlines foster a sense of nightmares, conjuring pictures of autonomous cars killing pedestrians and newly automated establishments laying off their workforce. The combination of headlines …

Insider Privileges

Prairie Home Companion begins with a mischievous maxim that all children in Lake Wobegon are above average. The equivalent adage in Silicon Valley goes like this: Every insider acts like an outsider. This adage reflects mythology as well as savvy public relations. The largest technology firms possess names recognized in most households, and they perceive …

The Value of Free in GDP

Did the rise of free information technology improve GDP? It is commonly assumed that it did. After all, the Internet has changed the way we work, play, and shop. Smartphones and free apps are ubiquitous. Many forms of advertising moved online quite a while ago and support gazillions of “free” services. Free apps changed leisure long ago—just ask any teenager or any parent …