LinkFest 2016-03-18

We've Been Measuring Inequality Wrong

Lots of people forget that US tax and welfare policy is actually pretty progressive, in the fiscal sense. So you need to account for transfer payments to properly assess inequality.

You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

If the United States is to continue to serve as the global security utility, then this would be the kind of Navy we would need. If we aren't going to do that, then something else would be possible.

Putin Got Exactly What he Wanted in Syria

One of the best comments I ever saw on Putin was "he has a weak hand geopolitically, but he plays it well." Nowhere can you see this better than Syria.

The Power of Mental Models: How Flight 32 Avoided Disaster

There was an interesting discussion about driverless cars on Steve Sailer's blog. One of the questions Steve asked was, "Have corporate jets’ autopilots improved to the point where most executives are willing to fly with just one pilot?" My input was that autopilots are already that good, but we elect to have human beings as backups for the machines. For part of the reason why, the linked Lifehacker article is pretty illuminating. The autopilot isn't any better than the scenarios and logic programmed into it. This is why I am unimpressed when a computer beats a human at a game; the game has predictable rules, and it is really just a bunch of people using a computer as their instrument to beat another person at those rules. For anything less constrained than chess or go, we are not yet so good at telling the machine what it will do. An autopilot is probably faster and more consistent than any human pilot in expected conditions, but every once in a while doing what the computer tells you would mean death. For skilled pilots, the crossover point where this occurs is probably pretty different than for the average automobile driver, who is far less capable.