Sunday, May 31, 2015

Are wage increases a lagging indicator?

There's been a lot of handwringing over stagnant wages, but economist James Bessen tries to put it in historical context and makes the argument that the cause isn't technology (Vox):

There's been a lot of worry that increasingly sophisticated computers would replace more and more jobs, which could lead to a future where many low-skilled workers are unable to find a job at all.

But Bessen argues that this is a misunderstanding of recent economic trends. "I just don't see evidence of it," he says. "There are very few occupations where everything has been automated."

Bessen points to bank tellers as an example. During the 1990s and 2000s, banks installed thousands of automated teller machines. Yet surprisingly, the number of human tellers actually grew slightly during the same period
A similar interpretation from Ray Dalio at Bridgewater.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mexican proverb

Great quote: "They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds." h/t Tim Ferriss

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Daimler introduces the world's first self driving semi-truck

Demand isn't slowing down for logistics, but the ability to recruit drivers is. Makes sense and it's already legal in Nevada (wired):

The truck in question is the Freightliner Inspiration, a teched-up version of the Daimler 18-wheeler sold around the world. And according to Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, it will make long-haul road transportation safer, cheaper, and better for the planet.

The Freightliner Inspiration offers a rather limited version of autonomy: It will take control only on the highway, maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles and staying in its lane. It won’t pass slower vehicles on its own. If the truck encounters a situation it can’t confidently handle, like heavy snow that covers lane lines, it will alert the human that it’s time for him to take over, via beeps and icons in the dashboard. If the driver doesn’t respond within about five seconds, the truck will slow down gradually, then stop.

In hardware terms, the truck isn’t much different from the latest trucks and passenger cars Daimler is putting on the road. A stereoscopic camera reads lane lines. Short and long range radar scan the road up to 800 feet ahead for obstacles. No sensors face backward, because they’re not needed. There’s no vehicle-to-vehicle communication, no LIDaR. The software algorithms are adjusted versions of those developed for use in Mercedes-Benz’s autonomous vehicles.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Oddsmakers win in UK election upset

Markets again trump pollsters and pundits (TheConversation):

Interestingly, those who invested their own money in forecasting the outcome performed a lot better in predicting what would happen than did the pollsters. The betting markets had the Conservatives well ahead in the number of seats they would win right through the campaign and were unmoved in this belief throughout. Polls went up, polls went down, but the betting markets had made their mind up. The Tories, they were convinced, were going to win significantly more seats than Labour.

I have interrogated huge data sets of polls and betting markets over many, many elections stretching back years and this is part of a well-established pattern. Basically, when the polls tell you one thing, and the betting markets tell you another, follow the money. Even if the markets do not get it spot on every time, they will usually get it a lot closer than the polls.