Herbert Simon

First, most producers are employees of firms, not owners. Viewed from the vantage point of classical economic theory, they have no reason to maximize the profits of firms, except to the extent that they can be controlled by owners. Moreover, profit-making firms, nonprofit organizations, and bureaucratic organizations all have exactly the same problem of inducing their employees to work toward organizational goals. There is no reason, a priori, why it should be easier (or harder) to produce this motivation in organizations aimed at maximizing profits than in organizations with different goals. If it is true in an organizational economy that organizations motivated by profits will be more efficient than other organizations, additional postulates will have to be introduced to account for it.

What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.

Over Christmas, Allen Newell and I created a thinking machine.

It is not my aim to surprise or shock you—but the simplest way I can summarize is to say that there are now in the world machines that think, that learn and that create. Moreover, their ability to do these things is going to increase rapidly until—in a visible future—the range of problems they can handle will be coextensive with the range to which the human mind has been applied.

The world you perceive is drastically simplified model of the real world.

This is the last lecture I am giving you. From next class on, I will only respond to your questions. This course has plenty of readings. If you don't have questions, it is either because you have not done your reading, or you are too stupid to be in this course.


Memorable Quotations: Economists