29/10/2018 by EconTalk: Russ Roberts
Economist and author Michael Munger of Duke University talks about his book, Tomorrow 3.0, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Munger analyzes the rise of companies like Uber and AirBnB as an example of how technology lowers transactions costs. Users and providers can find each other more easily through their smartphones, increasing opportunity. Munger expects these costs to fall elsewhere and predicts an expansion of the sharing economy to a wide array of items in our daily lives.
Listen Date: 2018-11-12
The first half of the episode is a mix of the obvious and the (overly?) techno-optimstic.
As regards blockchain, I have the feeling (admittedly not backed by enough research or experience) that it’s a costly way to obtain 100% reliability. The question is, would a cheaper way with 95% reliability not do most of what Munger sees on the horizon?
The first time Munger brought up the prospect of Uber for power tools, I rolled my eyes because walking through Singapore HDBs, I see notice boards which tell you that you can borrow the common pool house tools any time. To his credit, later on in the episode he talks about how the economics of dense cities are different from the economics of suburbs and rural areas.
The discussion on reputation ties in with the In Our Time episode on The Fable of the Bees; and here too, it left talk of strictly economic discussions on using reputation in a two sided marketplace; and how reputation would become a major natural resource; to a larger philosophical discussion of whether we do good keeping our selfish interests and ends in mind; or because that’s the way we are. I am glad for that.
The one bit about “Yes, your reputation and your proclivity for being good distilled down to a numerical score is repugnant and creepy. But the industrial revolution commodified labour, and though it caused misery for those who were first rural farmers, it made the vast mass of humanity better off.” and its unspoken corollary of “What will the commodification of reputation eventually lead to?” was quite challenging.