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Thread: Econ and sci-fi
July 25th, 2009, 11:04 AM #1
Econ and sci-fi
I'm a (budding) economist, and I'm interested in sci-fi that tries to get the economics right. Any suggestions?
I'm currently reading Accelerando, which A) is a good book, and B) makes a valiant attempt to deal with the econ. I think it gets a bunch of things wrong...then again, so do most economists! I am a little annoyed by the idea of "post-scarcity"...unless we have godlike AIs providing for our every whim (a la Iain M. Banks' "Culture" universe), it's a bit hard to imagine people everywhere being completely and utterly satiated. The idea of "solving the calculation problem" - calculating how much of what people will want at every point in the future, based on their observable characteristics - is a bit far-fetched without Banks-style Minds doing unfathomable amounts of work for the benefit of a lowly humans.
July 25th, 2009, 02:18 PM #2
That assumes economists get the economics right.
The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper
Shorter but more strange:
Subversive by Mack Reynolds
"Subversive" is, in essence, a negative term—it
means simply "against the existent system."
It doesn't mean subversives all agree ...
July 25th, 2009, 02:35 PM #3
July 25th, 2009, 04:46 PM #4
The first thing that springs to mind is Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books. It's been a loooooong time since I've read them so I don't remember many of the details. I seem to recall that the second and third books, Green Mars and Blue Mars, dealt a fair bit with economics. Robinson explored a system not built (at least not entirely) on capitalism and even had a debate on it in one of the books. Of course, he also had a ton of political, technological, and socialogical stuff too. Sorry I can't remember anything in more detail.
July 26th, 2009, 07:43 AM #5
I do not pay that much attention to the economics, but the following authors economics did at least seem to make some sense.
Peter Hamilton, especially in the commonwealth novels
Greg Egan, for example in permutation city
David Louis Edelman
July 26th, 2009, 01:03 PM #6
Here is part of a review of The Cosmic Computer
If a living, life-giving fountain still is out there, should we go? And if not, what shall we do? What is worthwhile? And what is economics anyway, if not human action, as Ludwig von Mises says? Junkyard Planet is H. Beam Piper's adventure-meditation upon this theme, and it is a solidly enjoyable story.
I consider the information and ideas presented in sci-fi stories to be a major reason for reading them. Even if a story is great entertainment if that is all it is then I don't really consider it to be first rate. There is an aspect of the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov in Cosmic Computer but it takes a while to get to that.
July 27th, 2009, 11:03 AM #7
- Join Date
- Jul 2009
econ near future
Since you mention Accelerando, I'm going to mention another Stross book that addresses the economic issues in a near future scenario: Halting State. Very economics-focused, one of the main characters is an auditor! Addresses the economics of virtual worlds on internet, but has stuff behind it that slices into economic hegemony through hacking. I recommend it.
July 29th, 2009, 04:14 PM #8
Heinlein's Moon is a Harsh Mistress has some interesting ideas about a nearly anarchic economy with private currency and law.
July 29th, 2009, 05:05 PM #9
July 29th, 2009, 05:12 PM #10
I guess what I'm really hoping for is some sci-fi that deals with some of the "market failures" that economists have studied in more recent (post-1930) decades...public goods, negative externalities, asymmetric information, coordination games, etc. Technology could change (has changed!) the way a lot of those things impact society (e.g. if information can't be locked up, what's the incentive for anyone to do research? And would reputations be sufficient to solve the asymmetric information problem, or could false information be disseminated quickly enough to foil the market?).
Unfortunately, modern economists haven't done a very good job of bringing these concepts into the mainstream. People in the general public who think about econ often still think about really old stuff, like the Austrian school or socialism or pure neoclassicalism.
July 29th, 2009, 07:28 PM #11
Hm, maybe Market Forces by Richard Morgan? Note, I haven't read this book so I can't say if it might be something you're looking for or not.
July 29th, 2009, 08:32 PM #12
So when have economists said that EVERYBODY should know accounting?
Where is a culture like that portrayed in sci-fi? What would the effect be?
Here is a little economic satire from 50 years ago:
July 30th, 2009, 03:55 AM #13
July 30th, 2009, 11:51 AM #14
August 28th, 2009, 09:03 PM #15
Play some EVE Online for some economics and sci-fi.