info-econ   34

Linus's Law - Wikipedia
Linus's Law is a claim about software development, named in honor of Linus Torvalds and formulated by Eric S. Raymond in his essay and book The Cathedral and the Bazaar (1999).[1][2] The law states that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow";

--

In Facts and Fallacies about Software Engineering, Robert Glass refers to the law as a "mantra" of the open source movement, but calls it a fallacy due to the lack of supporting evidence and because research has indicated that the rate at which additional bugs are uncovered does not scale linearly with the number of reviewers; rather, there is a small maximum number of useful reviewers, between two and four, and additional reviewers above this number uncover bugs at a much lower rate.[4] While closed-source practitioners also promote stringent, independent code analysis during a software project's development, they focus on in-depth review by a few and not primarily the number of "eyeballs".[5][6]

Although detection of even deliberately inserted flaws[7][8] can be attributed to Raymond's claim, the persistence of the Heartbleed security bug in a critical piece of code for two years has been considered as a refutation of Raymond's dictum.[9][10][11][12] Larry Seltzer suspects that the availability of source code may cause some developers and researchers to perform less extensive tests than they would with closed source software, making it easier for bugs to remain.[12] In 2015, the Linux Foundation's executive director Jim Zemlin argued that the complexity of modern software has increased to such levels that specific resource allocation is desirable to improve its security. Regarding some of 2014's largest global open source software vulnerabilities, he says, "In these cases, the eyeballs weren't really looking".[11] Large scale experiments or peer-reviewed surveys to test how well the mantra holds in practice have not been performed.

Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow? Revisiting Eric Raymond with bug bounty programs: https://academic.oup.com/cybersecurity/article/3/2/81/4524054

https://hbfs.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/how-many-eyeballs-to-make-a-bug-shallow/
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5 weeks ago by nhaliday
The Constitutional Economics of Autocratic Succession on JSTOR
Abstract. The paper extends and empirically tests Gordon Tullock’s public choice theory of the nature of autocracy. A simple model of the relationship between constitutional rules governing succession in autocratic regimes and the occurrence of coups against autocrats is sketched. The model is applied to a case study of coups against monarchs in Denmark in the period ca. 935–1849. A clear connection is found between the specific constitutional rules governing succession and the frequency of coups. Specifically, the introduction of automatic hereditary succession in an autocracy provides stability and limits the number of coups conducted by contenders.

Table 2. General constitutional rules of succession, Denmark ca. 935–1849

To see this the data may be divided into three categories of constitutional rules of succession: One of open succession (for the periods 935–1165 and 1326–40), one of appointed succession combined with election (for the periods 1165–1326 and 1340–1536), and one of more or less formalized hereditary succession (1536–1849). On the basis of this categorization the data have been summarized in Table 3.

validity of empirics is a little sketchy

https://twitter.com/GarettJones/status/922103073257824257
https://archive.is/NXbdQ
The graphic novel it is based on is insightful, illustrates Tullock's game-theoretic, asymmetric information views on autocracy.

Conclusions from Gorton Tullock's book Autocracy, p. 211-215.: https://astro.temple.edu/~bstavis/courses/tulluck.htm
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october 2017 by nhaliday
Health Services as Credence Goods: A Field Experiment by Felix Gottschalk, Wanda Mimra, Christian Waibel :: SSRN
A test patient who does not need treatment is sent to 180 dentists to receive treatment recommendations. In the experiment, we vary two factors: First, the information that the patient signals to the dentist. Second, we vary the perceived socioeconomic status (SES) of the test patient. Furthermore, we collected data to construct several measures of short- and long-term demand and competition as well as dentist and practice characteristics. We find that the patient receives an overtreatment recommendation in _more than every fourth visit_. A low short-term demand, indicating excess capacities, leads to significantly more overtreatment recommendations. Physician density and their price level, however, do not have a significant effect on overtreatment. Furthermore, we observe significantly less overtreatment recommendations for the patient with higher SES compared to lower SES under standard information. More signalled information however does not significantly reduce overtreatment.

How much dentists are ethically concerned about overtreatment; a vignette-based survey in Switzerland: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4474445/
Are Dentists Overtreating Your Teeth?: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/are-dentists-overtreating-your-teeth/
Have you had a rash of fillings after years of healthy teeth? The culprit may be “microcavities,” and not every dentist thinks they need to be treated, reports today’s Science Times.
How Dentists Rip Us Off: https://www.dentistat.com/ReaderDigestArticle.pdf

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130356647
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october 2017 by nhaliday
A Model of Protests, Revolution, and Information
A population considering a revolt must participate in sufficient numbers to succeed. We study how their ability to coordinate is affected by their information. The effects of information are non-monotone: the population may coordinate on a revolt if there is very little information or if they know a lot about each other’s preferences for change, but having each agent know about the the willingness of a few others to revolt can actually make non-participation by all the unique equilibrium. We also show that holding mass protests before a revolution can be an essential step in mobilizing a population. Protests provide costly signals of how many agents are willing to participate, while easier forms of communication (e.g., via social media) may fail to signal willingness to actively participate. Thus, although social media can enhance coordination, it may still be necessary to hold a protest before a revolution in order to measure the size of the population willing to revolt. We also examine how having competing groups involved in a revolution can change its feasibility, as well as other extensions, such as what the minimal redistribution on the part of the government is in order to avoid a revolution, and the role of propaganda.
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july 2017 by nhaliday
Revealing the Economic Consequences of Group Cohesion
A comprehensive program of new experiments reveals the considerable economic impact of cohesion: higher cohesion groups are significantly more likely to achieve Pareto-superior outcomes in classic weak-link coordination games. We show that effects of cohesion are economically large, robust, and portable. We identify social preferences as a primary mechanism explaining the effects of cohesion.

...

Our workhorse to study group outcomes is a weak-link coordination game chosen because it captures economically interesting problems endemic to organizations and teams (e.g., Camerer and Weber (2013)). In our version of the weak-link game, inspired by Brandts and Cooper (2006), group members simultaneously choose an effort level. Payoffs to each group member then depend on their own effort and the lowest effort chosen by anyone (the “weakest link”) in the group. The game has multiple strict Pareto-ranked Nash equilibria in material payoffs. This feature makes it particularly interesting for our purposes because it combines two dimensions of group success: features of coordination (choosing the same effort level as other group members) and cooperation (groups achieving Pareto-superior Nash equilibria). We expected our weak-link game to be a “harsh” environment in the sense that most groups who play this game under anonymity and in the absence of pre-existing social relationships will collapse to the Pareto-worst equilibrium and never escape from it (Brandts and Cooper (2006), and own replication).

As we show in Section V, group cohesion is a key determinant of behavior in our experiments: low cohesion groups usually descend rapidly to minimum effort; high cohesion groups fare much better and high cohesion appears necessary (though not sufficient) for achieving Pareto-superior outcomes. Surprisingly, our measure of group cohesion is the only variable that successfully predicts cooperation success; none of more than twenty control variables (demographics and group characteristics) explain minimum effort. Further experiments show that our results are robust to the timing of oneness measurement (before or after play of the weak-link game). By benchmarking our results against the effect of monetary incentives, we also show (Section VI) that the effortenhancing effects of group cohesion are sizeable: large financial incentives are needed to achieve the levels of minimum effort expected for high cohesion groups.

In Section VII we turn to an explanation of our results. A rational choice perspective suggests three natural channels through which group cohesion could operate: it might affect some combination of group members’ social preferences, their beliefs or the form of their strategic reasoning. Considering social preferences, it is plausible to assume that members of highly cohesive groups care about one another and so place weight on each other’s earnings.1 In our weak-link game, if players do draw utility from each other’s earnings, this is tantamount to (some) sharing of earnings, which reduces strategic risk and fosters coordination on Pareto-superior equilibria.2 In relation to beliefs, highly cohesive groups may be more confident in simulating other group members’ thought processes and likely actions, perhaps because of a history of interactions in different (related) situations, which allows for implicit learning (e.g., Holyoak and Spellman (1993), Rick and Weber (2010)). Finally, group cohesion might influence the nature of strategic reasoning in more substantive ways. For instance, according to one model of strategic thinking, “team reasoning” (e.g., Sugden (2003), Bacharach (2006)), people think in terms of what would be best for the team (e.g., picking the Pareto-best equilibrium) and are inclined to do their part in implementing the group-optimal outcome. An interesting possibility is that team reasoning may be more likely the more cohesive the team is. These three channels might operate jointly and potentially reinforce each other in high cohesion groups. By contrast, low cohesion groups may have low levels of social preferences, little implicit learning to draw on from shared situations, and no team perception to facilitate team reasoning.

We probe these possibilities in two steps. We first show that subjects who report high oneness with their fellow group members are indeed more likely to expose themselves to the strategic risk of choosing high initial effort in our weak-link games; they are also less “harsh” in their responses when others’ effort levels are below their own. In highly cohesive groups, these tendencies apply across group members promoting coordination on equilibria above the Pareto-worst.

Our second step is to identify the social preferences channel as a promising route for explaining observed effects of group cohesion. We demonstrate this via additional experiments in which unrelated and anonymous group members play weak-link games but with all earnings shared equally. We interpret this manipulation as inducing a limiting form of social preferences (where all put equal weight on everyone’s material payoffs). The results show patterns of effort (opening levels and dynamics) very comparable to the top third most cohesive groups from our main experiment. Thus, social preferences provide a parsimonious candidate explanation of how group cohesion promotes Pareto-superior equilibria.

Smart groups of smart people: Evidence for IQ as the origin of collective intelligence in the performance of human groups: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289616303282
Group-IQ almost exclusively reflects individual cognition. (80% variance explained)
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june 2017 by nhaliday
How Transparency Kills Information Aggregation: Theory and Experiment
We investigate the potential of transparency to influence committee decision-making. We present a model in which career concerned committee members receive private information of different type-dependent accuracy, deliberate and vote. We study three levels of transparency under which career concerns are predicted to affect behavior differently, and test the model’s key predictions in a laboratory experiment. The model’s predictions are largely borne out – transparency negatively affects information aggregation at the deliberation and voting stages, leading to sharply different committee error rates than under secrecy. This occurs despite subjects revealing more information under transparency than theory predicts.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
The More Parents Pass on Earning Power to Offspring, the Weaker the Argument for..., Garett Jones | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty
...the welfare state as social insurance.

After all, if you know how your kids are going to turn out, what's there to insure against? Sure, you'd like to grab resources from other people--the raiding party has a long history--but it's only when you're not sure how your kids will turn out that you start fretting over whether insurance markets face major market failures and whether government-mandated redistribution can fix those market failures.

...

The Great Gatsby Curve has made the rounds recently, showing that in countries with higher income inequality, your parent's income does a better job predicting your income. One version from Chrystia Freeland, author of the new book Plutocrats (source: WonkBlog).

...

Coda: I'm trying to get in the habit of often using "productivity" instead of "income" or "earnings." I use the term neutrally, referring to private productivity not overall productivity, so a successful raiding party is just as productive as a McDonald's.

Subcoda: I saw Freeland speak about her book earlier this year, and she places substantial weight on productivity-side explanations for the rise of the new plutocracy.
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march 2017 by nhaliday

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