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#333 Tim O’Reilly - Who Gets What & Why

Tim O’Reilly has spent the last 40 years as a Tec…

Updated on April 20

Key Smash Notes In This Episode


Tim O'Reilly adopted this phrase from Alvin E. Roth's book, Who Gets What — and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design.

We used to think that the free market got to determine who gets what and why, but nowadays algorithms do a lot of deciding instead. Even markets are now mostly designed by somebody, like Google or Facebook, and the political battles are now about having controls over the rules for those markets.

You can read more about this in Tim's new book, WTF?: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us .


Yes. The future is something that we shape by the decisions we make.

In order to get to a better future, we have to go through ups and down, continuously rising up over the long-run.

As we over-optimize for one goal, we inevitably neglect something else, and then we have to go and fix what has been neglected. The same has been true for human-powered decision making, and is true for algorithmic decision making.

Although it may seem the opposite, but as technology gets better, we are able to respond and course correct a lot faster than generations before.


Civilization progresses when we take care of each other. So far, we have been unusually focused on hyper growth, but if we continue at this rate, we'd have 9 Billion people demanding 100x more resources that 8 Billion people need today. That is not going to work.

What if instead of growth, we tried to optimize for human happiness? Storytelling is a mechanism for trust at scale. What story would help 8 billion people to survive together? That should be our objective function.

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