5 min read

An Economic Choice

An Economic Choice
Does DALL-E think that we should buy diplomas?

This week I’m morphing the format again. As How to Robot-Proof Yourself gets closer to being done, I’m going to share more excerpts from it. Don’t worry, there’s still a “Research Round-Up” in every newsletter for the curious minds and masochists.

You want to support my work but don't need a keynote from a mad scientist? Please become a paid subscriber to this newsletter and recommend to friends!

Research Roundup

The recent papers that grabbed my attention:

The emergence of economic rationality of GPT” finds GPT acts even more rational than real humans, because our public writing is who we want people to think we are rather than our actually irrational selves. (As every analysis I’ve done on Facebook and Twitter data has shown, it’s all self-deluding lies!)

A citywide experiment testing the impact of geographically targeted, high-pay-off vaccine lotteries” showed that a lottery to encourage people to get vaccinated had absolutely no effect. Tax the thing you don’t want, same with lotteries.

Does Wealth Inhibit Criminal Behavior?” In Sweden, at least, the answer is “no”. Winning the lottery had a “statistically insignificant effect of lottery wealth on players’ own conviction risk” and “child delinquency”. This is related to my belief that UBI won’t “free” people to become more creative.

Weekly Indulgence

I joined Chanda Smith Baker on her podcast "Conversations with Chanda: Amplifying AI for Social Impact"!

We talked about using AI to help humans thrive and how to nurture qualities like resilience and meaningfulness. Follow your preferred media link below to hear more about mad science work in AI and why I do it.

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | YouTube

Stage & Screen

If your company, university, or conference just happen to be in one of the above locations and want the "best keynote I've ever heard" (shockingly spoken by multiple audiences last year)?

<<Please support my work: book me for a keynote or briefing!>>

SciFi, Fantasy, & Me

The most science fictional thing I saw all week was Monty Python & The Life of Brian with my kids. (Other mom is away working hard and so we indulge.) "That's not science fiction," you say. Well, go watch it again and tell me how a spaceship battle with aliens is not scifi (no commentary about the Bible necessary).

With any luck I should offer a review of The Three Body Problem next week. Warning: I expect to be disappointed.

“The Weaver’s Son, 1803”

Jeremiah exploring the Americas

“This is just like the Industrial Revolution; just like all of the weavers that founded the fashion industry.”

– Pompous Mansplainer

Jeremiah sat hunched over his journal, quill in hand, meticulously describing the delicate wings and antennae of the Philaena lineataria moth he had recently captured. His eyes shone with the fire of discovery as he poured over the tiny creature, carefully noting every detail.

"Jeremiah! Where are you, boy?" his father's gruff voice bellowed from the fields.

He stiffened, knowing the harsh punishment that awaited for neglecting his chores. But the wonders of the natural world called to him in a way the farm never could. With a resigned sigh, he closed his journal and headed out to face his father's wrath.

As the switch struck his backside again and again, Jeremiah couldn't help thinking how unfair it was that he suffered for his curiosity while his brothers’ trudging through the fields was held up as a virtue. They mocked his passion for studying with the Vicar, calling it "soft work". If only they knew the true labor of expanding one's mind.

Later, he walked the familiar path to the Vicar's home, eager to delve into the tomes on natural history. He may have been beaten black and blue, but here he felt truly alive. As he studied the ancient texts, a strange insect caught his eye, preserved between the pages.

"The Libellula cancellata," he murmured, recognizing the dragonfly from Linnaeus's descriptions.

Marveling at the matchless craftsmanship of nature, Jeremiah couldn't fathom why his brothers didn't share his awe and curiosity. If only they could see what he saw—the miracles unfolding all around them.

Over the next few years, the world seemed to be changing at a dizzying pace. His mother, as skilled a weaver as any in the village, found herself idle more and more as cheap fabrics from the new mills flooded the markets. The traditional livelihood of half the women in the county had all but disappeared.

"Why must progress mean machines over people?" Jeremiah lamented as he accompanied his mother to her new life in service to the family of a merchant, the income barely enough to keep their family afloat. 

Historians would later reflect on the cruel paradox of those times—how the blossoming industrial revolution cost so many their trades and autonomy even as it opened up opportunities for a rare few like Jeremiah. Rather than freeing weavers from drudgery, it decimated one of the largest industries in the world. As one British diplomat noted in a missive home, “The bones of the cotton weavers are bleaching the plains of India.”

Discover Jeremiah's fate when Robot-Proof hits the shelves!

Vivienne L'Ecuyer Ming

Follow more of my work at
Socos Labs The Human Trust
Dionysus Health Optoceutics
RFK Human Rights GenderCool
Crisis Venture Studios Inclusion Impact Index
Neurotech Collider Hub at UC Berkeley