Why Information Grows

Why Information Grows

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What is economic growth? And why, historically, has it occurred in only a few places? Previous efforts to answer these questions have focused on institutions, geography, finances, and psychology. But according to MITa€™s antidisciplinarian CAcsar Hidalgo, understanding the nature of economic growth demands transcending the social sciences and including the natural sciences of information, networks, and complexity. To understand the growth of economies, Hidalgo argues, we first need to understand the growth of order. At first glance, the universe seems hostile to order. Thermodynamics dictates that over time, ordera€”or informationa€”disappears. Whispers vanish in the wind just like the beauty of swirling cigarette smoke collapses into disorderly clouds. But thermodynamics also has loopholes that promote the growth of information in pockets. Although cities are all pockets where information grows, they are not all the same. For every Silicon Valley, Tokyo, and Paris, there are dozens of places with economies that accomplish little more than pulling rocks out of the ground. So, why does the US economy outstrip Brazila€™s, and Brazila€™s that of Chad? Why did the technology corridor along Bostona€™s Route 128 languish while Silicon Valley blossomed? In each case, the key is how people, firms, and the networks they form make use of information. Seen from Hidalgoa€™s vantage, economies become distributed computers, made of networks of people, and the problem of economic development becomes the problem of making these computers more powerful. By uncovering the mechanisms that enable the growth of information in nature and society, Why Information Grows lays bear the origins of physical order and economic growth. Situated at the nexus of information theory, physics, sociology, and economics, this book propounds a new theory of how economies can do not just more things, but more interesting things.... there is a fundamental relationship between the cost of the links and the size of these networks: the cheaper the link, the larger the network. ... Samsung, Seagate, or Fujitsu; a memory made by Kingston, Corsair, or PNY; and a network card made by DLink, TPLink, or Netgear. ... The problem we face in this line of argument.

Title:Why Information Grows
Author:Cesar Hidalgo
Publisher:Basic Books - 2015-06-02


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