- Research Program Mentor
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Economics (Micro/Macro), Finance, Statistical Analysis, Machine Learning, Economic Philosophy, History of Economic Thought
Robots, Bubbles, and Efficient Markets
There's an old joke in economics that goes like this. A financial economist is walking with his student, and the student sees a $100 dollar bill on the ground. The student is excited, and goes to pick it up, but the professor stops him and says, "there couldn't be $100 on the ground. If there were, someone would have already picked it up!" The professor is expressing the "Efficient Markets Hypothesis", that claims all stock prices are correct, because if they weren't someone could buy and sell them to pick up $100. Of course, many economists don't believe this! There is a whole school called Behavioral Economics that studies how markets fail, why prices are wrong, and the human psychology that causes these inefficient markets to emerge. Typically, behavioral economists work with volunteers, who trade stocks or play games (not the fun kind). The economist try to create price bubbles or market frenzies, and show how irrational people are. But what about AIs? We could program AI to play in these game environments together, and see if the same bubbles and market frenzies occur. Do they eventually turn into the efficient professor after playing the game many times? Can they adapt when the rules of the game are changed? What can we learn about ourselves by studying how robots behave in similar situations?
What Makes a Country Rich?
You can probably name some rich countries and some poor countries, but what makes a rich country rich? Is it natural resources? Their system of government? Their "human capital" -- education and civic spirit? Or is it just a capricious accident of history we have no control over? Whatever you think, the chess grand master Ben Feingold once said (I'm paraphrasing), "unless you know why you gave you answer, your answer isn't right!" How would you go above proving your theory? You could look at case studies, for example, what did the USA do in the post-war years? What did China do under Deng Xiaoping, or Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew? But... how do we know if these methods can generalize? To go from the general to the particular, this is the role of statistics! Using econometric analysis -- a fancy way of saying statistics -- we can test theories about what causes economic growth, and try to uncover some ideas for leaders and politicians who want to create prosperity for their nations.