219: Matthew O. Jackson | Social, Financial, And Global Network Dynamics In “The Human Network”

Your social position determines your power, beliefs, behaviors, and the way that you interact with the world. Are you a central figure in groups that you participate in? Are you able to get information or leverage transferred smoothly? Did the financial institutions of yesterday have all the information that they needed?

Economics Professor Matthew O. Jackson of Stanford University discusses topics related to this in his book The Human Network. He graduated with a PhD from Stanford in 1988, and has done much research in economics and social networks over the past 25 years. He is also a member of the Santa Fe Institute, and wrote Social and Economic Networks prior to this version of it. We discussed his book contents, his career, and thoughts on networks.

Show notes:

  • how the degree of centrality, and the different kinds of centrality, impact how quickly information or influence can transfer from you or others
  • whose family benefited greatly from being a central figure in the Middle Ages, coordinating communication between many
  • what types of value can be provided in networks that you are currently part of
  • why externalities should be taken into account when decision-making, as they are part of the variable set
  • how the financial networks remain in a precarious situation with regards to global economic well-being
  • what it takes for a financial contagion to spread or take hold
  • what people take into account for how they group with similar individuals of economic or educational status
  • why reaching across groups can cause suspicion or thoughts of being a traitor
  • how the area you live in during youth is so relevant to future earnings, regardless of small changes like tax rates or incentives
  • how prediction market(like those created by Dr. Robin Hanson) show results of an issue before even knowing the result
  • why being aware of biases and flaws in analysis of what is seen counters effects of averaging

It was wonderful to have Professor Jackson on the show. I took solid notes on his book, with good subheadings, and enjoy the fact that he created the book as a more public version of his prior book. He does current research and finds models for networks that were not mapped out prior. You can check out his webpage, his research, and his book.