Since usually new good stuff is more fragile than old crap, there is an extremely strong barrier to entry for new good stuff.Who knows that it is more fragile? Perhaps this is where asymmetric information can actually be of benefit, in the medium-long run.

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"On average new things are w0rse ... "

And you know this how?

I also think the phrase "usefully innovative" is unhelpful. If you look at a frequently cited definition of innovation like Peter Drucker's it refers to "changes that adds value or a new dimension of performance." The usefulness of "betterness" of what is dfferent is what qualifies it to be considered an innovation; otherwise it is just different.

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I currently shadow an orthopedic surgeon, and I think the article misrepresents the situation a bit.

The metal-on-metal hips are good. One manufacturer--DePuy--messed up. The metallic ion worry still has not been tested. Orthopedic surgeons do yearly follow-ups on all their hip replacement patients; it is a successful procedure. It rids people of chronic pain and allows them to walk and exercise again.

Metal-on-plastic hips have a much worse displacement rate.

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The blog post is about allocating scientific reward to maximize social good. In particular, how "new" is a far worse heuristic than "innovative".So here's a humorous tangent: a theory paper (STOC'11) about how mis-allocation of scientific reward can increase the collective productivity of the scientific community:Mechanisms for (Mis)Allocating Scientific Credit by John Kleinberg and Sigal Oren

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Yes, you have made the ecological fallacy.


Individuals in a group do not have the characteristics of the average of the group unless the group is extremely homogeneous, i.e. composed of identical units. The error of stereotypes is common because most individuals don't have the ability to recognize the differences that are important in groups they are not familiar with.

New things can be mostly crap, provided there is a way to weed out and abandon the crap. If the crap gets grandfathered in because of the high status of grandfathers, then we are stuck with the old crap and what ever new crap the grandfathers like.

Since usually new good stuff is more fragile than old crap, there is an extremely strong barrier to entry for new good stuff. The old grandfathers with their crap can usually beat down the new stuff unless it is much better.

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It doesn't seem like it matters if the set of professionals or ideas is too expansive, so if the expectation of participation were actually sufficient to drive participation then the details seem pretty immaterial. Here is a particular minimal implementation.

The community (read: whoever wants to) creates pages for arbitrary new things (google, metal on metal hip implants, a particular war, a trendy software development paradigm), which are merged liberally. Anyone who wants to participate can like or dislike any of these pages.

Wikipedia pages are an example where the community already maintains similarly detailed structure (and would be passable if co-opted for the purpose). If you want to know who actually hosts and administrates the stuff, lets say some random startup that has some creative, vague proposal to one day convert its popularity into money.

The community could also cite particularly suggestive commentary or decisions of visible authorities (who weren't themselves participating). For example, if I say 'X is the future' or 'X is a destructive fad' today, it could get put in with the stream of likes and dislikes of X for today (and Wikipedia again provides a reasonable example of community-enforced standards for verification, though this might be enough of a sticking point to kill this part of the proposal).

No one officially reviews past activity, in the same way that no one officially reviews current endorsement of innovation to allocate status. There are a handful of gimmicky tricks that could make past activity salient. All activity could replayed on some fixed delay(s) ("Two years ago, Paul Christiano approved of " appearing in feeds of people who follow Paul Christiano or , etc.), activity could be hidden for some fixed period before being displayed publicly, or ideas of current significance could be highlighted with a focus on the pattern of likes / dislikes early in their history; for example, an article on metal-on-metal hip implants could link to such a page. Or you could display a community driven featured page, a la Wikipedia.

I doubt such a website would ever get social traction, particularly because you have to have a lot of people participating for a while before you start getting the data you are interested in (so you'd probably have to stick it as a rider on some other business model); if the question is how to get people to replace their current status allocation mechanism with an alien one, then that seems much harder. I originally intended to reply to Russell Wallace, who seemed to suggest that the hard part was thinking of a replacement for the status quo.

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Innovations reflect intelligent design, mutations do not.

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An example of a modern community which lets a few interested expert members use new technologies, watches them to see what happens to them, and then communally discusses their results and collectively bans or permits innovations is.... the Amish.

- http://www.kk.org/thetechni...- http://www.kk.org/thetechni...

I suspect an American society which was like the Amish in this regard would be much poorer than it is now.

So, if one were to try to implement your suggestions, in practice, would we end up with a more efficient scientific society which fully rewards innovators... or Amish America?

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I only consider things that are actually within the realm of possible reality to be “reasonable”. Things that are impossible are never reasonable.

You are being delusional if you seriously think that a government could exist taking only 2.5% in taxes “without giving up military defense, police, and courts, or a viable market economy.”

If you are not being delusional then you are being disingenuous. If not disingenuous then hypocritical.

Unless you want the 2.5% tax to only apply to yourself and for everyone else to be taxed at 25%. Then you are a status seeker too, with your measure of “status” being what fraction of your income you pay in taxes.

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Your suggestion needs a lot more detail before I could evaluate it. Who lists "ideas", how do you decide who is a "professional," and how looks back how to evaluate in a "couple of years"?

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A place with nothing approach effective and consistent law enforcement is likely to have a tax that's way higher than 2.5%, or even 25%; it may reach 100%. It's just not consistently applied.

I rather thought that when I said "I want a place with low taxes" you would take it as having the subtext "without giving up military defense, police, and courts, or a viable market economy," just as when I said "I want to see Saturn's rings close up," I assumed you didn't need to have me spell out, "without giving up oxygen, food and water, or an environment near standard temperature and pressure."

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Thinking about mutations will clear this up right away.

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William, you miss my point. It is not spending that is driven by status acquisition it is wealth acquisition that is driven by status acquisition. That is why the super wealthy are never satisfied with whatever wealth they have because what they want is status and that is the one thing that is zero sum.

You already could move to a place that has low taxes. I hear that the income tax in Somalia is less than 2.5%.

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What are "reasonable material wants?"

Chaucer describes his "clerk of Oxenford":

For him was lever have at his bed's headTwenty bookes clad in black or redOf Aristotle and his philosophyThan robes rich or fiddle or gay psalt'ry.But albeit that he was a philosopher,Yet hadde he but little gold in coffer,But all that he might of his friendes hentOn bookes and on learning he it spent. . . .

That is, he dreams of having so much money that he can own twenty books! Well, I own somewhere between 20 and 100 times that number . . . and there are several more I'm currently planning to buy when I have money to spare. I dream of being well off enough to own a vastly bigger library, with some expensive books, and living space large enough to hold it. The Clerk of Oxenford surely would not have called that a "reasonable material want": he might not even have imagined having that many books in Heaven. But by my standards it's a modest wish.

And I don't think it's driven by status to any significant degree. It's driven by my loving books and reading.

Talking about "reasonable material wants" is begging the question. What does "reasonable" mean other than "those we can afford for most people to have now?" If that's your restriction, then if everyone's wealth increased tenfold, of course we wouldn't be spending much of it on reasonable material wants; by definition, ninety percent of it would be spent on unreasonable things! But that doesn't mean that spending would be driven solely by status motives. A large part of it could very well be spent on entirely material wants that people now don't think are "reasonable" because they know they'll never be able to afford them and have trained themselves not to think about them.

When I can take a vacation trip to see Saturn's rings close up, and carry the entire Library of Congress in an e-reader, and pay for serious life extension, and have imagery of the quality of the Lord of the Rings films for my roleplaying campaigns, and have a polity to live in where the government takes 2.5% of what I make instead of 25% . . . we can talk about whether my material wants are exhausted. Until then, I think this is a case of what Arthur Clarke called "failures of imagination."

Though I will say that if Robin is having that kind of failure of imagination, to where he can only envision status wants, it surprises me.

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Possibly, but that filter removes existing firms/institutions also, so the filtering must be fairly severe to result in net progress. Milton Friedman noted that economic losses were probably more important than economic profits for economic development. How exactly this filtering is occurring in a world of pre-determined preferences, I'm not sure. Income effects alone don't seem to cut it.

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On average new <del>things</del>institutions are bad, but those that are eventually retained are hopefully better

Made some corrections for those that like fences in the middle of the road.

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