22 October 2008

Paul Krugman inspired by Asimov's "Foundation" series

When asked by Jim Lehrer why he became an economist, Paul Krugman replied:

[There's] a very old series by Isaac Asimov—the Foundation novels—in which the social scientists who understand the true dynamics save civilization. That's what I wanted to be; it doesn't exist, but economics is as close as you can get, so as a teenager I really got into it.

Indeed, economics is the closest thing we have to what I'd call "people engineering": studying or designing systems (institutions) with people as their components and identifying principles, mathematical in nature, that govern their behavior. It is humbling that this works and astonishing that it works well.

Update, 25 May 2009: Google economist Hal Varian cites the same inspiration! [Source: Wired Magazine, Secret of Googlenomics: Data-Fueled Recipe Brews Profitability]

No comments:

Post a Comment