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Employers use interviews to learn more about job applicants. But what if the apparent facts gleaned are actually fiction? The author of this article has conducted research showing that interviews can be worse than useless – they can undercut more objective measures of an applicant because of the narratives interviewers create in their minds. One experiment gave subjects the task of predicting the future grade point average (GPA) of other students, based on past GPA and students’ planned courses. Predictions were less accurate for subjects who also interviewed the students. Furthermore, subjects didn’t notice and even reported that they learned more about students who gave random answers to yes/no questions. The author warns against unstructured interview formats; they may be counterproductive if humans form a coherent narrative from any pattern. But perhaps we should be cautious drawing broad conclusions from a study on students’ GPAs – research in other contexts would be valuable.
This article outlines AI progress and key issues, reporting the results of a panel discussion of technologists from Google, Harvard Law, Microsoft, MIT and Duke University. Their responses centre around the ethical issues of the values that will be written into AI decision-making in industries as varied as medicine, justice and recruitment.
Some people devote their political energy to creating a more just society, protecting the vulnerable and, generally, making things better. Others steal money from the poor. Bizarrely, this latter group claims that they are the real heroes – they claim that if poor people had even less money, they would work harder and thus be better off. In this article, an economist at the University of Chicago asks whether a 1996 American law cutting welfare helped those who had money taken from them. Specifically, the author studies the stricter medical requirements introduced for certain recipients of a disability benefit. The requirements only applied to those who turned 18 after the law’s passage, and so the author can compare those who turned 18 just before the law to those who turned 18 just after. While those subject to the stricter requirements did earn a little more, overall they were worse off. Across the 16 years following the law’s passage, after discounting and accounting for their increased earnings, the law’s victims had US$76 000 less than they would’ve had they been born a few months earlier.
The Financial CHOICE Act, introduced by US Republican Jeb Hensarling to replace the Obama-regime’s Dodd-Frank Act, has an advantage. It appeals for a simple leverage ratio rather than conforming to complicated Basel rules. This is something that Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, would die for. However, the usage of the age-long leverage ratio cannot prevent regulatory arbitrage; it needs to be improved (at a minimum). Chicago Booth’s John Cochrane offers his viewpoint on how to make such improvement.
The BBC’s Future Now project asked scientists, technologists, business leaders and entrepreneurs to name what they saw as the most important issues of the 21st Century. They come up with quite a range, from overpopulation, safe use of gene-editing in humans, resistance to antibiotics and natural disaster communications.
Using data from Denmark, this study shows that women are no less good at maths than men, nor do they receive lower payoffs to studying advanced maths. However, the way maths is promoted and taught in high schools is not encouraging young women to pursue study in these areas! This means a lot of potential mathematical talent is not being put to use. Changing the high school system could see more women making it to the top in the areas of science, finance and mathematics.
This study used plant, soil, and ecosystem carbon storage data from two long-term grassland biodiversity experiments to show that greater species richness increases economic value on the carbon market, by enhancing carbon storage. The ecologists and economists involved in the research pinned down the monetary value of carbon storage as a single practical service that biodiversity provides to people. This demonstration of the economic value of biodiversity provides a foundation for assessing its value in decisions about land management.
Steven Durlauf outlines some of the massive contributions of Kenneth Arrow, who died last February. The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic recipient shifted economics towards a formal approach, built on robust mathematics and providing the field with logical foundations. Five of Arrow’s PhD students have also received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic and his legacy will probably enlighten economics for ages.
This article looks at how globalisation over the last thirty years has caused structural changes that are relatively faithful to trade theory predictions. In skill-abundant, developed regions, manufacturing became more skill-intensive, while in skill-scarce Asia, labour-intensive manufacturing expanded. According to Adrian Wood from Oxford, the current political backlash against globalisation maybe due to the failure of governments to pay enough attention to predictable social problems that have resulted from the process.
One of the drawbacks for the way academia values journal publication and citations is the resulting publication bias and the bad incentives faced by researchers. Many disciplines have tried to combat this by publishing a journal comprised of articles submitted to other publications, but rejected because of insignificant or unsurprising results. Andrea Menclova from the University of Canterbury proposes the idea of a journal for economists which accepts these articles.
Not a joke (but still kinda funny). Poor guy had an e-cigarette in his pocket.