Monthly Archives: March 2015

Excel trying to take over the world

Intuitively, it is not just the limited capability of ordinary software that makes it safe: it is also its lack of ambition. There is no subroutine in Excel that secretly wants to take over the world if only it were smart enough to find a way.
— Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence

I wouldn’t be so certain about it.

There are “scientists” (economists) who think it is OK to use Excel for making predictions that affect several¬†people, as you can see from this article in The Guardian. Essentially, they didn’t add four years of data from New Zealand to a spreadsheet. Other methodological factors were in effect as well. And all of this¬†contributed to lots of people losing their jobs in various countries when the recommended austerity measures were put in place.¬†Imagine if Excel wanted to take over the world.

The paper that discusses in depth about Reinhart and Rogoff’s mistake is “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogo ff“.