Algorithms and the Changing Frontier
Chapter in NBER book The Changing Frontier: Rethinking Science and Innovation Policy (2015), Adam B. Jaffe and Benjamin F. Jones, editors (p. 371 - 410)
The notion of the "frontier" has changed from being a geographical one, to one that delineates the pursuit and production of scientific knowledge. We first summarize the dominant interpretations of the "frontier" in the United States and predecessor colonies over the past 400 years: agricultural (1610s-1880s), industrial (1890s-1930s), scientific (1940s-1980s), and algorithmic (1990s-present). We describe the difference between the algorithmic frontier and the scientific frontier. We then propose that the recent phenomenon referred to as "globalization" is actually better understood as the progression of the algorithmic frontier, as enabled by standards that in turn have facilitated the interoperability of firm-level production algorithms. We conclude by describing implications of the advance of the algorithmic frontier for scientific discovery and technological innovation.
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.7208/chicago/9780226286860.003.0012This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w20039, Algorithms and the Changing Frontier, Hezekiah Agwara, Philip Auerswald, Brian Higginbotham
Commentary on this chapter: Comment, Timothy Simcoe
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