Digest 4: Rishi Sunak and Reagan; the neglected prophet of airpower; hedge fund managers vs venture capitalists
Bridgewater’s Chief Investment Officer: the UK was heading for a large balance of payments challenge, that markets were overlooking, before the recent mini-Budget
For two minutes. This recorded 12 September, 2022.
This isn’t to defend the Truss/Kwarteng mini-budget. Arguably with these pre-existing conditions, it makes the budget even more reckless. But to say, I don’t consider the fiscal event the sole cause of chaos. Sterling was already on the ropes.
Is Rishi Sunak on a candidacy path similar to Ronald Reagan?
This for four minutes (to 1:13:40) on Ronald Reagan’s loss of the Republican candidacy to Gerald Ford (1976), amidst war/runaway inflation, feels very relevant:
Ford lost to Carter in 1977, and Reagan came back to win the Republican nomination and then beat Carter in 1981 – with two successful terms, winning 49 states going into his second term.
[Timestamp just in case this video ever gets taken down: 1:09:20, American Experience, Reagan Part One.]
Sir Dieter Helm: the incentives for Net Zero are not well aligned
(October 2021; for ~two minutes)
Sir Dieter’s further suggestions:
Implement a carbon tax – domestically, and at the border. The only way to have it waived at the border is if the exporter has already paid the carbon tax in their own country. This would apply pressure/give an incentive to other countries (to want to collect the carbon tax themselves, not let the UK have it).
The US doing this would apply major pressure to China (in a global-positive way).
Governments the world over need to increase tax revenues. This is about the only thing left presently untaxed.
Steve Hsu: why spies/intelligence officials/world leaders are going to be reticent about drinking from cups/licking stamps in years to come
Billy Mitchell: the neglected prophet
Reading about Operation Crossroads, I came across the passage:
A quarter century earlier, in 1921, the Navy had suffered a public relations disaster when General Billy Mitchell’s bombers sank every target ship the Navy provided for the Project B ship-versus-bomb tests.
This 1962 documentary illustrating it is excellent. Clip: 9:55–16:
Billy Mitchell, who is considered the father of the Air Force:
faced unrelenting bureaucratic resistance
fought virtually alone for airpower
had foreign leaders (Mussolini/Hitler) taking note of the correct things he was saying much more seriously than his own country.
‘he was court-martialed for insubordination after accusing Army and Navy leaders of an “almost treasonable administration of the national defense” for investing in battleships instead of aircraft carriers.’
He was ultimately (post-humously) vindicated.
Hedge fund managers versus venture capitalists. How different are the personality types?
Sebastian Mallaby with Matt Clifford:
AI on the battlefield
My most vigorously highlighted passage of The Age of AI – Henry Kissinger and Eric Schmidt’s new book:
Whether an individual playing AI‑assisted chess might be counseled to sacrifice a valuable piece that sophisticated players had traditionally deemed indispensable is of little consequence, but in the context of national security, what if AI recommended that a commander in chief sacrifice a significant number of citizens or their interests in order to save, according to the AI’s calculation and valuation, an even greater number? On what basis could that sacrifice be overridden? Would the override be justified? Will humans always know what calculations AI has made? Will humans be able to detect unwelcome (AI) choices or reverse unwelcome choices in time? If we are unable to fathom the logic of each individual decision, should we implement its recommendations on faith alone? If we do not, do we risk interrupting performance superior to our own? Even if we can fathom the logic, price, and impact of specific alternatives, what if our opponent is equally reliant on AI?
A lighthearted perspective on the Queen’s funeral:
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