Thursday, January 23, 2014

Algorithms and the Changing Frontier

That is the title of a new paper that we recently uploaded to SSRN. The paper was prepared for an NBER conference on the changing frontier in science and innovation - a retrospective on the world since Vannevar Bush's seminal Science The Endless Frontier. The abstract:
We first summarize the dominant interpretations of the "frontier" in the United States and predecessor colonies over the past 400 years: agricultural (1610s-1880s), industrial (1890s-1930s), scientific (1940s-1980s), and algorithmic (1990s-present). We describe the difference between the algorithmic frontier and the scientific frontier. We then propose that the recent phenomenon referred to as "globalization" is actually better understood as the progression of the algorithmic frontier, as enabled by standards that in turn have facilitated the interoperability of firm-level production algorithms. We conclude by describing implications of the advance of the algorithmic frontier for scientific discovery and technological innovation.
The full paper is freely available at SSRN.

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