They’re (not quite) taking our jobs: Tim Harford on robots, spreadsheets and automation in the workplace

These are two great episodes from the BBC’s excellent 50 Things that Made the Modern Economy. Episode: Robot The robots are coming! Sort of. Featuring Baxter and the Jennifer headset.More on Baxter here at WIRED. Episode: Spreadsheet Fantastic discussion of how the humble spreadsheet destroyed over 400,000 American jobs… and helped to create 600,000 more.

Resource: Tim Harford on 50 Things that Made the Modern Economy

If you haven’t thought much about economics, this series from the BBC is a first-rate introduction to a lot of key ideas about how markets work. Each episode is about ten minutes long and features at least one interesting, often entertaining and sometimes surprising ‘thing’ to illustrate fundamental principles of economics. There are lessons galore about how technologies take off…

Use, repair, copy, make: Tim Harford on bicycles and technological development in Japan

In a recent episode of 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy Tim Harford uses the bicycle to illustrate – among other things – how new technologies and industries grow out of old ones, and how technology and industries develop: The first safety bicycle was made in 1885 at the Rover factory in Coventry, England. It’s no coincidence that Rover…

Tim Harford: slow-motion multitasking

I love Tim Harford‘s stuff, and I’m surprised he hasn’t featured here before. 50 Things that Made the Modern Economy is a delightful romp through economic history from cuneiform to mobile money transfers by way of clocks and the Haber-Bosch process. For a more detailed review try this one by a chap called Ian Mann, who finishes off by describing…

Three questions from economics

What are the tradeoffs in this situation? What gains can be made from trade and cooperation? How can we reframe this question to find new answers, or change the way we feel about the answers we already have? Largely drawn from Tyler Cowen’s interview with Tim Harford.

Seeds (2): bikes, planes and automobiles

Many of the seeds of the automobile industry came from bicycle manufacturers (I touched on this in Use, Copy, Repair, Make), and on a visit to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu I learnt some more of the story. Karl Benz, widely credited as the maker of the first practical automobile, started in mechanical engineering and ironwork and started experimenting…

Toolkit (v0.1)

My last post got me thinking again about the toolkit for making change and building a good future. What follows started out as the tail of that post but grew too long, so I’ve cut it off and put it here as a springboard to bounce off (or a wave to ride) later. So here are some tools… There are…