Tyler Cowen on digital economy

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Interesting session with Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen at the OECD. Tyler Cowen is an economics professor at George Washington University, author, blogger and media commentator. In this discussion Cowen addresses the challenge of Huawei and big tech. Cowen is broadly pro big business, anti-small business and pro big tech in his outlook.

In his discussion in terms of big technology Tyler Cowen has an interesting position, though not something I would agree with. As it doesn’t allow for startups coming through in a winner-takes-all environment. Working agency side for clients as the dot com boom took off, you could see the impact of ‘Microsoft fear’ as it was shed in Silicon Valley. For instance, Yahoo! went out of their way to call themselves a media company rather than a technology company. Supporting big tech means supporting ‘just good enough’ bundled services, rather than a better product. It also reflects a very American-centric viewpoint.

Cowen is very concerned about biometric recognition (facial recognition, finger print analysis and gait analysis). He doesn’t realise that his concerns are at odds with his neo liberal pro-

Tyler Cowen is also very concerned about the dominance of Huawei in 5G network rollout. Whilst I understand his position, it lacks a certain amount of nuance in understanding network rollout and Huawei’s place in the networks (at least in western countries). It is also at odds with his general pro big tech stance.

An interesting nugget from interviews that Cowen has done (in promotion of his books) newspaper journalists were upset about Facebook, all radio journalists are anti-Amazon.

Tyler Cowen’s comments on trust are interesting. The key thrust is that online has allowed elites and their faults to be more available online.

It is well worth giving this a listen over a lunch hour (its 77 minutes long). More from Tyler here. More economics related content here.