EconTalk
Russ Roberts

Podcast episode James Bessen on Learning by Doing

EconTalk Episode with James Bessen
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Learning%20by%20Doing.jpg Are workers being left behind when the economy grows? Is technology making the human workforce obsolete? James Bessen, author of Learning by Doing, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role of learning on the job in the past and in the present. Bessen argues that during times of technological innovation, it often takes years before workers see higher wages from productivity increases. Bessen stresses the importance of the standardization of education on the job as workers adapt to new technology.

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Are YOU propping up a tyrant?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

EconTalk host Russ Roberts showed us a very personal challenge this week...As a self-professed hard-core free-trader, this week's guest Leif Wenar had Russ re-examining some of his views. I know this week's episode had quite the same effect on me...So what about you?

If we care about the oppression of people living in oppressive regimes rich with oil, what should we do? Or more precisely, what can we do that would help the people we're hoping to help? Can we escape the "blood oil" ties to tyrannical regimes through government action? Is there a way to avoid blood oil using a bottom-up strategy? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments, and thanks for listening.

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1. How is the Oil Curse different from the Resource Curse we've long heard about, or what makes oil a special case, according to Wenar?

2. To what extent is the legislation Wenar advocates to combat blood oil just another form of "fair trade"? (Revisit this 2013 episode with Amrita Narlika to explore the differences between free trade and fair trade.)

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Podcast episode Leif Wenar on Blood Oil

EconTalk Episode with Leif Wenar
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Willis/Blood%20Oil.jpg Should the United States allow its citizens to buy oil from countries run by bad men? Is this a case where morality trumps the usual case for free trade? Leif Wenar, professor of philosophy at King's College, London and author of Blood Oil, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the morality of buying resources from countries that use the resulting revenue to oppress their citizens. Based on the ideas in his book, Wenar argues that in many cases, importing oil is equivalent to buying stolen goods where the low prices cannot justify the purchase. The conversation discusses the possible outcomes from banning foreign oil from tyrannical regimes along with the resource curse and the case for fair trade.

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Will YOU trust the algorithm?

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

EconTalk host Russ Roberts shows a pessimistic side this week in his conversation with Pedro Domingos on machine learning. What promise does the future of machinae learning hold? What's the difference between AI and machine learning? Will a Master Algorithm become possible when the best of these schools of machine learning are joined? And more interestingly, will you trust it?

These were just some of the issues touched on in this fascinating conversation, on which we'd like to hear your input as well. Consider some of the questions posed here, and share your response in the Comments. And/or try some of these thought experiments out on your friends...You just never know where a great conversation might take you...

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1. We're somewhat accustomed to Russ's optimism about all things technology, but this week was a little different. How would you characterize the nature of Russ' skepticism about the potential for the emergence of a Master Algorithm? To what extent do you share his skepticism?

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Podcast episode Pedro Domingos on Machine Learning and the Master Algorithm

EconTalk Episode with Pedro Domingos
Hosted by Russ Roberts

Master%20Algorithm.jpg What is machine learning? How is it transforming our lives and workplaces? What might the future hold? Pedro Domingos of the University of Washington and author of The Master Algorithm talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the present and future of machine learning. Domingos stresses the iterative and ever-improving nature of machine learning. He is fundamentally an optimist about the potential of machine learning with ever-larger amounts of data to transform the human experience.

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Culture Change and Chasing Tails

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed back one of our favorites this week, Arnold Kling. to talk about his forthcoming book, Specialization and Trade: A Reintroduction to Economics. Kling argues that with its reliance on aggregate models, economics today has lost sight of its most important insight, dating back to Adam Smith. Russ ends the conversation with Kling, an MIT trained economist, ruminating on why they have each departed so far from their early training.

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1. What does Kling mean when he says that macroeconomics is not an experimental science, but "a bunch of observations?" How does Kling describe his own odyssey as an economist from his days in grad school at MIT? Have you experienced a similar transformation? Tell us about it...

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Podcast episode Arnold Kling on Specialization and Trade

EconTalk Episode with Arnold Kling
Hosted by Russ Roberts

globalapps.jpg Arnold Kling, economist and author, speaks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his latest book, Specialization and Trade: A Reintroduction to Economics. Kling argues that macroeconomics ignores the challenges of buyers and sellers working together in the real world of specialization and trade. Instead, most macroeconomic theories struggle to incorporate the differences across workers and products. Kling points the listener toward a different perspective on macroeconomics and the business cycle that focuses on those differences. Kling also lays out related insights on political economy as well as his take on G.A. Cohen's parable of the camping trip.

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Time is Money

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

Tough talk on taxes and spending in this week's episode, as Russ sat down with Harvard's Alberto Alesina to talk about the promise and perils of austerity. Which is better to shore up a nation's fiscal situation- tax increases or spending cuts? How long are government deficits sustainable? What's unique about the case of Greece?

Please lend some more of your considerable consideration to these issues, and share your thoughts with us in the Comments. We love to hear from you.

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1. What's the difference between "strategic" and "oh my gosh!" austerity? Under what circumstances does each arise? Is one more dangerous- or more promising- than the the other?

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Podcast episode Alberto Alesina on Fiscal Policy and Austerity

EconTalk Episode with Alberto Alesina
Hosted by Russ Roberts

austerity.jpg Alberto Alesina of Harvard University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his research on fiscal policy and austerity. Alesina's research shows that spending cuts to reduce budget deficits are less harmful than tax increases. Alesina discusses the intuition behind this empirical finding and discusses other issues such as Greece's financial situation.

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Socialism, Sportsmanship, and the Stanley Cup

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis

This week, EconTalk host Russ Roberts sat down with golfing buddy and former editor-in-chief of ESPN Magazine Gary Belsky. Their conversation ranged over many sports, with discussion of American football, Indian field hockey, British tennis, and the mystique of the Stanley Cup. And Belsky's newest book...On the Origins of Sports.

Now of course we want to hear what you think...Is sportsmanship a thing of the past? Are sporting contests always a zero-sum game? Are there too many rules in sports today? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments...We love to hear from you.

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1. Why does Belsky think football players would suffer fewer concussions if the only time they wore helmets was during games? What would be the costs, if any, if this change were implemented?

2. What's your least favorite rule in sports? What would be your remedy for the problem that rule was enacted to mitigate? (Don't even start on designated hitters...)

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