11/29/2019

Mark Zuckerberg Interviews Patrick Collison and Tyler Cowen on the Nature and Causes of Progress

"TYLER COWEN: It’s important to understand, I think, how much this is an invisible crisis. So if you have a growth rate that is 1 percentage point lower, over the course of a bit more than a century, you could have been three times richer with a higher growth rate. That would be something like the difference between the United States today and Mexico. So by having a lower rate of productivity growth, in no given year does it feel that bad, but two, three generations later, you’re much worse off, it’s harder to pay off your debts, harder to solve climate change, harder to address a whole host of problems.


ZUCKERBERG: Yeah, so before we kinda dive into how we can improve this, what do you say to the people who question whether all this progress is positive? I mean, certainly as we make progress in one area, it creates issues in other areas, and that’s been a big topic that I focused on in my work at Facebook over the last few years and a lot of these challenge discussions. But how does that fit into the overall framework of what you’re studying and this discipline here?

COWEN: I don’t think economic growth is always a positive, but the world and America has serious problems. I would rather address those problems with more resources rather than fewer, whether it is paying off our debts, addressing climate change, fixing global poverty. And knowledge matters too. So there’s a recent paper by Ester Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee and they find if you give foreign aid combined with coaching, the rate of return to that intervention is maybe 100 to 400%. And that may or may not be true, but what I would like to see is a world where everyone is obsessing over that claim, over that debate, working very hard to figure out that it’s true, that should be on the front page. People should be talking about it, calling up their siblings: “My goodness, I just read this, what are we gonna do? Do you agree or not?”"