johnswentworth

Sequences

Gears Which Turn The World
Abstraction
Gears of Aging
Model Comparison

Comments

Problems Involving Abstraction?

Given how much the comments on this one diverge, sounds like there's a lot of confusion around it (some of which is confusion around how words work more generally). Guess I'd better talk about it.

I will be focused more on the abstraction aspects than the game-theoretic aspects, though.

Comparative advantage and when to blow up your island

Services are not "one sector", they're generally considered a category of sectors, and they comprise a majority of all first-world economic activity. If something is true of the service sectors, then it's true of the majority of the economy.

Your eleven business sectors are not all dominated by huge conglomerates. Automotive production is, but automotive sales aren't. Construction isn't. Electronics isn't. Finance is mixed bag, depending on the sub-sector. Healthcare isn't. Insurance has big conglomerates on the backend, but lots of small independent salespeople on the frontend. Internet infrastructure is dominated by large companies, but the volume of small e-companies operating on that infrastructure is massive. Oil and gas is more concentrated than most of these sectors, but I'd still guess that you've never looked at the numbers enough to notice the long tail of medium-to-small oil producers (I have seen some of those numbers). Pharma is also relatively concentrated, and there the pressure toward aggregation is real. Retail has a long tail. Telecoms is concentrated, though it's become less concentrated in recent decades.

Note that, in each of these sectors there do exist large conglomerates. That does not mean that the industry is dominated by conglomerates. The big conglomerates are highly visible and salient; the small companies are not.

So out of these, you're right on maybe half of them if I'm generous. Overall, it sounds like you're making a really strong claim without ever having looked at the data, and the data does not back the claim.

Problems Involving Abstraction?

At some point I need to write a post on purely Bayesian statistical mechanics, in a general enough form that it's not tied to the specifics of physics.

I can probably write a not-too-long explanation of how abstraction works in this context. I'll see what I can do.

Problems Involving Abstraction?

Ooh, good one. If I remember the trick to the algorithm correctly, it can indeed be cast as abstraction. 

Problems Involving Abstraction?

This plays well with impact measures, too. I can definitely include it.

Comparative advantage and when to blow up your island

Of course there have been particular cases where an industry consolidated during a particular period. You made a much stronger claim: that industries in general tend toward consolidation. Pointing to two or three examples where industries consolidated does not provide much evidence for such a claim. On the other hand, pointing to examples where industries did not consolidate provides significant evidence against such a claim.

Comparative advantage and when to blow up your island

Restaurants, car dealerships, spas and hair salons, construction, plumbers and electricians, doctors and lawyers. Every industry dominated by small businesses.

Even in some of the sectors you list - like automotive manufacturing - we haven't seen much net consolidation. We haven't seen a lot of new entrants, but's it's not like the number of car manufacturers is rapidly decreasing either. It's at an equilibrium, and that equilibrium has a lot more than just one company - which is not something you'd see if economic forces generally favored consolidation.

What posts do you want written?

A review of The Design of Everyday Things, ideally with some discussion of how the ideas there intersect with rationality-adjacent topics.

Toy Problem: Detective Story Alignment

If anyone tries this, I'd be interested to hear about the results. I'd be surprised if something that simple worked reliably, and it would likely update my thinking on the topic.

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