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Tyler Cowen AMA

Is the internet and social media driving global emotion and feelings? If so, what are the main outcomes and how should we be thinking about it? 

You have previously argued that envy is local (in either Average is Over or Great Stagnation), and in a recent talk (Why do liberal democracies feel stuck) you argued that the internet is a global engine for ideas more so than before. My feeling is that in the last ~7 years emotion and feelings are more becoming global due to the internet.  An important point is that people celebrate wins far less than they bemoan mistakes. No one talks about how Brexit allowed the UK to get vaccines faster or have more autonomy over their energy (albeit not that impactful), however in other circumstances it could have been. That they can regulate technology less than the EU etc. 

Just think of the the UK conservatives in the past 3 years.

  • PM Johnson: The country-wide anger at party-gate.
  • PM Truss: The reaction to her fiscal policies.
  • PM Sunak: Wasn't going to COP27, then after outcry he did.

Irrespective of what the correct thing to do in any of those cases was, my point is that the turn arounds were driven by the percevied emotion/feelings of the population which was spread faster and more quickly than ever before. This is what I mean by global. 

I think you have also mentioned that you think the US involvement in Vietnam wouldn't have happened today with Twitter (stand to be corrected).

A relevant follow-up for this platform is how does that affect progress and how should people who are proponents of growth better present themselves and their cause to the population? A practical version of this question is: How would you run a campaign to convince the greater population to think more long term and about the importance of progress?

Certain positive-expected-value projects can be driven by capable individuals or small groups (think FastGrants, ARC, OpenAI), however there are other fundamental projects which cannot be driven by individuals/groups alone (building more housing in hubs for example). 

Speaking very broadly, a lot of high-value projects require lots of autonomy for the leaders to get them done, and they have to have public support for that.