GPI Journalism Fellows

— The Mercatus Center's Global Prosperity Initiative Journalism Fellows are a great bunch. Matt Welch, Mark Hemingway, and Melinda Ammann are some of my favorite people. Somehow, I've never managed to meet Matt, but we emailed back and forth when this blogging thing was starting (his wife said I was cute!), and I can't imagine not actually liking him. Matt's off to Romania with Mercatus's Dragos Aligica (also one of my favorite people!) and some Mason grad students. Mark is headed back to the Philippines for a second summer with Steve Daley, an Australian number-crunching machine from Mason, to get the human angle on microfinance and entrepreneurhsip in the slums of Manila. Mark is a great writer, a great talker, and, well, a decent drinker. And I knew Melinda back before there was an internet. I remember her talking about becoming a journalist her freshman year at Iowa, and I'm happy she's doing it (philosophy detour notwithstanding), especially in league with a program I helped get going. She'll be great in Botswana.
Now that I've been away from Mercatus for half a year, and have a little more perspective, I find, rather modestly, that I'm pretty impressed with what we started and were doing with GPI. Read about this summer's field studies here. And check out GPI's public interest comment on the Millenium Challenge Account.

3 thoughts on “GPI Journalism Fellows”

  1. I’m sorry. My left brain interpreter has to object. Let’s assume the walls of my reality come crashing down and I wake up in the laboratory as Knobe says. Why would I take my monitor’s word that I am a beta? Shouldn’t I be a tad suspicious of anything they say? (Think of it this way, Knobe’s thought experiment would have been the optimal strategy for the malevolent artificial intelligence in the Matrix. Whenever some poor soul like Neo wakes up in his pod, tell him it’s not worth waking up. That’ll keep him there.) Furthermore, doesn’t a willingness to reboot demonstrate a woeful lack of curiosity? It is true, reality may be an ugly sight. Have you been to Los Angeles? But wouldn’t it be worth investigating? What strange civilization produced these machines you find yourself in? And why? These questions lead to another weakness in the Knobe results: the fear of self-knowledge. Contrary to the herd, I would want to know who I was before I entered the machine. Why did I program it the way I did? (Why so average? Why not a Nobel winner?) Or: why did I program my loved ones that way? Am I my parents’ creator? Why did I make them that way? Answers to all these questions would be interesting and they would shed some light on who I really am.
    So I propose Knobe tries another experiment to follow this one up, asking respondents questions like, “Would you care to know who you were in this reality before you signed up to Recall?” and “Would you want to investigate this new world?”
    Ask those questions. Some will still want to return to the machines. It cannot be denied. Some need security blankets. But my bet is that most will still want a taste of reality, however small and brief.

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