Tyler Cowen – How to Think About the Future & Life-Long Learning

Business Interviews Top December 7, 2018
Tyler Cowen Interview


Tyler Cowen – How to Think About the Future & Life-Long Learning

David Gil speaks with Tyler Cowen (@TylerCowen). He is a Professor of Economics at George Mason University, the Chairman and Director of the Mercatus Center, a best-selling author, and co-author of the popular blog Marginal Revolution.

They discuss many things, including how one should think about the future, whether or not privacy is a fundamental human right, how to balance wealth redistribution with economic growth, what Trump has done right in Tyler’s view, how much time should be spent learning vs doing, and much more.

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Question Time Stamps:

(1:32) – Is it possible or even practical to expect people to care about someone born 200 years from now?

(2:25) – You say economic growth should take priority so long as it doesn’t impede on human rights, but what about a fringe right like privacy? Should economic growth or privacy rights take precedent?

(3:24) – How do you find the right balance between wealth redistribution and economic growth?

(4:19) – Should redistribution remain within borders or should wealthier countries like the US help impoverished nations?

(5:10) – How do you account for technological advancement when looking at inequality? Many point to stagnate wages when adjusted for inflation over the past 40 years, but they seem to neglect that the same wage today buys you an iPhone which you couldn’t have bought for $10 million if you wanted to.

(6:36) – Do you think it’s better to take the Bill Gates approach of amassing tremendous wealth in the first half of one’s life to then dedicate the second have to giving back a large amount of it, or would people be better off simply donating a percentage of their annual income?

(7:32) – You discussed recently in an interview with New York Magazine that you think we’re going through a political period similar to that of the 19th century. Do you think politics are cyclical in a similar way to economies?

(8:55) – Is Donald Trump trying to unify the US by making a common enemy out of China?

(9:30) – Is the current university model sustainable?

(10:28) – If you could make 3 changes to the current K-12 educational system to make the largest possible improvement what would they be?

(12:09) – What’s causing the increase in the cost to go to college?

(12:56) – Who’s modern work whether it be economic or philosophical do you think has the best chance of standing the test of time and be remembered 100 years from now?

(13:51) – Which idea in economics is the most overrated, and which is the most underrated?

(15:12) – Many countries have massive and increasing debts. Is it possible for a president or political leader to win a campaign that promotes austerity as the solution?

(17:18) – For 100 years now economists and others have been predicting a future of 20, 10, or even 5 hour work weeks, but those predictions have never come true. We see those same predictions being made today with the rise of AI, that within 40 or 50 years most people won’t be working or will work very little. Is this time different or are these people falling for the same trap? Are humans just drastically unimaginative when it comes to thinking about the future?

(18:07) – There seems to be a correlation between avid self-learners and successful entrepreneurs, do you think this a coincidence or is there something more there?

(18:35) – How much time should one spend learning vs doing?

(18:58) – As a life-long learner what’s something new you’ve learned in the past 12 months that you’ve been fascinated by or has maybe even obsessed you?

(19:39) – What was the last meaningful thing you changed your mind on?

(20:12) – What would success look like for you new fund, Emergent Ventures?

(21:35) – You’re an avid traveler and you often discuss the virtues of travel. But how do you suggest people go about traveling, what should they do when they arrive in a new place. Most people seem to just go to the common tourist attraction which often are popular for a reason,  but do you have any advice or a methodology you like to follow to get the most out of visiting a place?


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