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The David McWilliams Podcast

The Economics of the AI Revolution

Season 2023, Ep. 92

The board of Chat GPT may be firing its CEO, but that doesn't mean this revolution is slowing down. A whistle wind tour from the dawn of time with Stanley Kubrick, to Gutenberg in 1453, and up to now, we look at the economics of innovation. With AI are we now facing catastrophe or a creative surge? Listen up, as we explore the economics of AI.

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  • 47. Neoliberalism, my arse!

    During the European recent elections, you might have heard lots of people defining Ireland as a "neoliberal" country, governed by the ideology of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is a political and economic philosophy which emphasises free markets, deregulation, and reducing the role of the state. This episode dives into the myth that Ireland is a neoliberal state, a story often perpetuated but rarely challenged. By examining Ireland’s progressive tax system and vast social welfare network, we reveal a very different narrative. If Ireland isn't neoliberal, why does this myth persist, and what does it say about our understanding of politics and economics?
  • 46. Tomorrows World: Living With AI

    This week, we're diving into the fascinating world of AI economics with the brilliant Professor Eli Noam from Columbia Business School. This episode is a special treat as we're kicking off a series of AI events at the Dalkey Book Festival next week. We're talking about how artificial intelligence is shaking up industries, transforming job markets, and reshaping the entire economy. There's a lot of fear out there about AI taking over jobs and the ethical headaches it brings, but it's not all doom and gloom. We'll explore how smart policies and clever strategies can turn AI into a force for good, sparking new opportunities and driving economic growth. Tune in for a deep dive into the future of AI and what it means for all of us.
  • 45. Enemies to Lovers: The Conversation We Really Should Be Having Ahead of The European Elections

    This week, while navigating a mid-life crisis and an intensive French course in the south of France, we've decided to reflect on the importance of Franco-German relations and what they mean for the future of Europe and the euro. We delve deep into how centuries of rivalry and reconciliation between France and Germany have shaped the continent, leading to the creation of the European Union. From the devastating conflicts of the World Wars to the visionary treaties that established economic and political integration, we explore the pivotal moments that have defined this partnership. So tune in as we examine the current state and future prospects of the euro, discussing its strengths, challenges, and the role it plays in maintaining European stability.
  • 44. Independence Day for the UK, again?

    Is Rishi Sunak's announcement of a snap UK election the answer or a political gamble? Joining us to unpack this is Robert Shrimsley of the Financial Times. Can the Tories pull this one out of the bag? And, away from the political drama, on the economic side, we examine the UK's persistent productivity issues, its triple inequalities and the lack of novel macro-economic or strategic model from the major parties. This election, the absence of one old friend is conspicuous - Brexit, no on wants to talk about it. The UK is a house divided, could this election offer the solutions the UK desperately needs, or will it deepen the existing fractures and uncertainties? 
  • 43. Recognise Palestine, Now What?

    The Irish government stands with the Palestinians, as does most of the country. A moral foreign policy is a sign of what the country believes in but where does it take us beyond that? Will Ireland sanction Israel ? Many doubt it given the more than 5 billion euros in trade between both economies. Both economies are tied together by the global multinational tech industry, umbilically linked by corporate America. We paint the likely end-game in the Middle East, and conclude there are two broad ways forward. The first is the South Africa model where a pariah Israel changes tack and Ireland's gets first mover advantage - moral and ahead of the game. The second is the Jihad/Settler dystopia, where an ongoing jihad/settler war mutates constantly with no peace and Palestine becomes a ward of Hamas. This scenario means Irish foreign policy gets bogged down with consequences way beyond our control.
  • 42. The Price is Wrong with Brett Christophers

    This week, we delve into the economics of climate change with acclaimed author Brett Christophers - who has previously illuminated the pervasive influence of investment funds in our daily lives through books like "Our Lives in Their Portfolios". This time, he turns his analytical lens to the urgent issue of climate change. We'll explore why economic incentives alone may not be the solution we envision. Christophers critically examines the low investibility of wind and solar industries, questioning why big companies would pivot to renewables if they aren't profitable. So what can be done? Tune in for a compelling conversation that challenges conventional wisdom and seeks alternative strategies for effective climate action.
  • 41. Can the Premier League Teach Us About the Future of the UK Economy?

    The British are down on themselves, yet one thing they do well is repackage popular culture and the Premier League is a great example of this. Last year, its commercial revenues hit £4.4 billion, with TV rights increasing by 30%. Despite high revenues, 80% goes to player wages, highlighting a unique financial model where the 'workers' benefit most. This global phenomenon mirrors the 'Wimbledon model' where hosting top-tier events doesn't require domestic dominance. It underscores the UK's talent for repackaging and exporting culture as they have always done with entertainment. The UK economy could thrive by embracing globalisation, attracting global talent, and focusing on innovation and cultural export.
  • 40. 2024:40 The Opium Wars

    In this episode, we dive into the harrowing impact of the opioid epidemic in North America, recounting firsthand observations of addiction's toll in cities like Ottawa, Quebec, and Vancouver. How did a nation like Canada, with its extensive welfare and health systems, become engulfed in such a crisis? We explore the roots of the crisis, attributing it to the aggressive marketing and misinformation by pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma, driven by unchecked greed and profit motives. Poverty and homelessness exacerbate addiction, creating a sobering reflection on the complex interplay of corporate malfeasance, regulatory failures, and social vulnerabilities that fuel this devastating epidemic. Is Ireland next in line for an opioid epidemic?
  • 39. 2024:39 Letter from America with Evan Solomon

    As we delve into America in this pivotal election year, grappling with its geopolitical challenges, culture wars, and internal conflicts, Evan Solomon makes a crucial point: discussing America as a monolith is a common mistake—it's simply too vast and diverse. In today's infotainment era, narratives are no longer neatly collected but instead compete and diverge. This week, we're exploring the connections between nativism in the 1850s, the ongoing religious and cultural struggles, and the current display of nativism within the Republican Party. Tad Homer Dixon's definition of culture as a set of instructions passed from one generation to the next resonates strongly here. Once, those in power dictated cultural norms, but today, the power to shape discourse and culture is distributed among everyone. This dynamic shift is palpable in America, where we've moved from a uniform cultural landscape to one defined by diverse narratives. We're witnessing this shift firsthand with the rise of Christian Nationalism, which is being imported from Russia and fusing with nativism. The question now is whether this represents a new force in the US or merely a passing trend. Let's watch closely to see where this leads.